Ben Kohlmann is a naval officer, founding member of the Chief of Naval Operation’s Rapid Innovation Cell and Chairman of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum. The views are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Navy or Government.
On Wednesday, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus unveiled a slew of transformative personnel reforms during a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy. At the opening of his remarks, Mabus told the assembled midshipmen that their careers would “be defined by flexibility, transparency, and choice.” To a socially networked generation, this strikes the exact right tone. Over the past 50 years, our technology has evolved to meet emerging threats. Yet, our promotion models have not kept pace with an evolving society. Recognition at the highest levels of this paradigm shift is commendable.
The chief of naval operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, preaches “Warfighting First” as his primary tenet, and nearly every flag officer echoes this sentiment in some way during public and private remarks. Yet, one would hardly know this by looking at the Navy’s annual mandated training schedule.
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eric Chan
Throughout the Cold War, the Department of Defense was on the cutting edge of technological development. It was an integral part of the strong, three-pronged partnership that included academia and industry. Technologies as diverse as the atom bomb and the internet trace their roots back to defense-driven innovation, and DoD was one of the catalysts for what became Silicon Valley.