back to article DoD taps Apple exec to lead commercial tech adoption unit

The US Defense Department is getting a shiny new director for its Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) in the shape of Apple exec Doug Beck. Per the Department of Defense, Beck's new role will involve overseeing efforts to adopt commercial technology for military use, as is the DIUs mission. The DoD also said Beck would serve as a …

  1. bazza Silver badge

    History Lesson

    It's interesting to consider the extent of adoption of commercial technology that already exists.

    Firts and foremost, a lot of today's commercial standards owe their longevity and success to the DoD. Posix was strongly driven by DoD, which helped *nix OSes win over things like VMS. VME is another, still going strong after all these years, and has evolved into OpenVPX. And, let us not forget the role of DARPA in the development of the Internet (DARPAnet).

    Secondly, an awful lot of electronics in defense applications is entirely commercial components. It's been a very long time since anyone manufactured components specifically for military environments. So, mil-spec these days is largely about packaging to look after commercial parts.

    Thirdly, a good armed services person is always on the lookout for stuff that makes their jobs better, easier, whether it's better boots, drones. Improvisation brings a military advantage, always has done. The most important thing is probably to facilitate that, not manage / direct it.

    The thing that is often overlooked when considering commercial tech for military applications is that sometimes it's far more dangerous than it is useful. Eg a drone, bought off the shelf. Great toy, wonderful real time imagery, a useful capability. But, it's phoning home to China, because that's where the app came from, and the position of an entire regiment is compromised.

    Half the battle these days is probably stopping the adoption of commercial tech that comes with traits that, commercially, are merely a privacy concern waived through on the back of an EULA, but in a military context could prove to be catastrophic. It's a bad idea to have a mobile phone for example, or an AirTag.

    So that's going to be the challenge. The commercial norms of always connected data acquisition that Apple has help foster are the very thing that makes commercial tech dangerous to our war fighters.

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