The admiral who planned and organized the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden was named Friday by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to the new Defense Innovation Board meant to strengthen ties between the Pentagon and Silicon Valley.
In addition to retired Navy Adm. William McRaven, Carter also named LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and author and journalist Walter Isaacson, the former chairman of CNN and managing editor of Time, to the board created in March and led by Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google.
In making the announcement at the Defense One Tech Summit in Washington, D.C., Carter said he expected the new board members "to advise me and future defense secretaries on how to continue building bridges to the technology community, and on how we can continue to change to be more competitive.
"And we've got some additional amazing innovators lined up, so stay tuned for who else will be joining them," Carter added. "They will begin their work over the summer, and I expect to receive their first recommendations in the fall. Among other things, I've charged them with keeping DoD imbued with a culture of innovation in people, organizations, operations, and technology."
The secretary said that the United States has "always been able to out-innovate our enemies," but the Pentagon needed new input to stay in the lead.
McRaven retired from the military in 2014 and now is chancellor of the University of Texas system, which includes 14 institutions and has more than 210,000 students.
As head of U.S. Special Operations Command, McRaven was considered an innovator himself in pressing for technology to give troops an advantage on the battlefield.
"Getting stuff out in the field faster and faster is important," Carter said, noting that he met privately Wednesday at the Pentagon with Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, co-founder of Tesla Motors, and co-founder of PayPal, to hear his thoughts on high-tech management.
"It was about innovation," Carter said of the meeting with Musk. "This is one of the great innovators of our country," the secretary added, and it was gratifying that "he takes an interest in what we're doing. We didn't talk business but we were talking innovation."
--Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.