You didn’t hear much about them during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but DARPA, small businesses, and universities were the people who most impressed retired Gen. Hoss Cartwright when he was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he and the services scrambled to find weapons to give American troops a combat edge.
“DARPA was incredible to our ability to gain advantage. Small businesses and universities were hotbeds of innovation for us,” Cartwright said during a panel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on lessons learned from the last dozen years of war. He made no mention of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, or BAE Systems — or any of the other large defense companies.
What made them special? “Their willingness to take risks… made a huge difference and saved countless lives on the battlefield,” Cartwright said. And he said that in Afghanistan and (previously) Iraq, “[the] battlefield is not driven by platforms” — tanks, ships, planes — which take so long to design, build, and deploy.
Another avenue of innovation at the Pentagon sprang from the acquisition processes of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which has the right to just buy things in small quantities if it really needs them.
Keep reading this article at: http://breakingdefense.com/2013/11/dod-acquisition-heroes-during-iraq-afghanistan-small-biz-and-darpa/