At a breakfast with business, government and military leaders in Seattle on Thursday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter asked for help to “build and rebuild bridges” to local communities.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called for stronger ties between the Pentagon and the private sector as he kicked off a tour of Seattle-area businesses and military facilities.
At a breakfast with business, government and military leaders in Seattle on Thursday, Carter asked for help to “build and rebuild bridges” to local communities.
“We have to try harder to connect our military to our society than previous generations needed to,” Carter said. “I look to you to help me do that.”
Carter’s visit followed a stop this week at a San Francisco cybersecurity conference. Asked during Thursday’s forum what he message he heard from the technology sector there, Carter cited the lingering hangover following Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the extent of the government’s reach into the Internet.
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More broadly, he said it could be a challenge in a tight labor market to lure the best and brightest technology minds to come to work for a seven-decades-old institution better known for bureaucracy than innovation.
“We have to bend over backward to look like an appealing place to work,” he said.
The Pentagon this week announced a pair of programs designed to draw on the skills of the technology industry in modernizing the Defense Department.
Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet, was named the first member of the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, a panel of private sector leaders offering Carter and his successors expertise from the business leaders.
A separate program, Hack the Pentagon, will invite technology experts to try to breach the Defense Department’s computer systems, an effort similar to the bug bounties many technology firms offer to try to find flaws in their software.
“Data security, and this includes encryption, is a total necessity” for the Pentagon, Carter said.
Carter said the department was aided in that effort by Microsoft, which arranged Thursday’s event. The Pentagon is beginning a massive program to update about 4 million personal computers and tablets to Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system in the next year, a move Carter said was “unprecedented” for the Defense Department.
Carter later on Thursday was scheduled to visit Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing. He is also expected to stop by Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the first visit by a sitting Defense Secretary to the base since 2008, according to The News Tribune of Tacoma.
“The forces and capabilities we have here in the Pacific Northwest are and will continue to be a critical part” of the country’s security apparatus, Carter said.