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Roger Zakheim, director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation & Institute, discusses innovation efforts at the Pentagon, and how they can keep up with the threat from near-peer competitors.

Ensuring that the military stays on top of technological advancements and weapon development is a top priority for the Department of Defense, and the department is quickly amassing a mosaic of teams looking for ‘innovation.’ Roger Zakheim, director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation & Institute, says that incorporating tech innovators into the national security space is important not just for the Pentagon, but for the whole government.

“A lot of these companies are in the tech space, that need the STEM workforce, that do not have deep experience working with our military and with national security agencies. We also found that they are interested in doing that. Some of the work that Secretary Ash Carter and those after him kind of emphasized in getting that community to interact is beginning to pay dividends, but it really needs to be scaled up,” Zakheim said. “It’s not just about getting these companies to work with the Department of Defense. It’s also about government recognizing that we need to keep that national security innovation base healthy to make sure it doesn’t go overseas, to China or any other country, because in the absence of the government controlling that, that great sucking sound out of China can take it away.”

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