Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has been picked by Pentagon to head a new advisory board on defense innovation.
About the same time, Pentagon Press secretary Peter Cook announced on Wednesday in Washington DC that Defense Secretary Ash Carter met Schmidt during the annual RSA Security Conference in San Francisco.
Schmidt will be the chairman of the first Department of Defense Innovation Advisory Board and will work with Carter to select up to 12 members of the board.
In a statement, Cook said the initiative is an effort to tap innovators from the private sector in Silicon Valley and beyond, and board members will “represent a cross-section of America’s most innovative industries, drawing on technical and management expertise from Silicon Valley.”
While tasking the board to identify and adopt new technology concepts, the Pentagon spokesman said Schmidt has “a unique perspective on the latest practices in harnessing and encouraging innovation and in the importance of technology in driving organizational behavior and business operations.”
The Pentagon expected the board to advise on areas that are familiar to Silicon Valley companies, such as rapid prototyping, iterative product development, complex data analysis in business decision making, the use of mobile and cloud applications, and organizational information sharing, Cook said.
He clarified that the board will not engage in discussion of military operations or strategy.
Carter has been on the U.S. West Coast for a week and before his departure from Washington D.C., he told a news conference that he would strengthen ties with the tech community, expand thinking and strengthen the defense department against what he called “future threats.”
In light of the federal government’s recent disputes with the tech industry, like the one between Apple Inc. and the Department of Justice over the unlocking of an iPhone once held by a deceased terror killer, Carter said he meant to “rebuild bridges” with “some of our nation’s most innovative industries.
“We in the Pentagon have to innovate and think outside our five-sided box,” Carter said.