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Alphabet's Eric Schmidt Recruited by the Pentagon to Lead a Special Defense Board

March 3
6:34 AM 2016

The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that Alphabet Inc.'s chairman and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been recruited  to join the agency's special technology elite initiative. Mr. Schmidt will lead the new Defense Innovation Advisory Board, which was formed to bring Silicon Valley-style innovation to the military bureaucracy.

According to CNET, the board will consult to the military on issues that are considered deeply familiar to Silicon Valley companies. Those issues include data analysis and the use of mobile apps and Internet services. The new team will consist of 12 members, all of the potential candidates hold an important position in prominent Silicon Valley or other tech companies. Latest reports revealed that candidates have been identified but not yet contacted.

Although the Pentagon has been expressing its interest in Silicon Valley for relatively a long time, the appointment of Mr. Schmidt as the head of the board isn't a company initiative. The Wall Street Journal described the decision as a rather a personal move. In his position in the special defense board, Mr. Schmidt is expected to advise the Pentagon on best practices in innovation, rather than speak for the company. Defense Secretary Ash Carter also revealed that he had personally known Mr. Schmidt for a long time.

By recruiting Silicon Valley talents, the Defense Department aims to speed weapons development and sustain its advantage over other country's forces, including China and Russia, with a sense of security. The Pentagon has been pushing some innovation agenda to support that matter, with forming a special defense board being one of the efforts. The Silicon Valley executives recruitment happened amid increased tensions between the government and some tech companies over the FBI's demand for Apple to hack into an iPhone previously owned by one of the San Bernardino attackers.

Other than recruiting the executives, Pentagon has also opened offices in Silicon Valley and attended some big confabs including the RSA security conference this week. USA Today also reported that The Department of Defense is introducing a program called "Hack the Pentagon." It's a bug bounty program that encourages hackers to find breaks in the system's security and report them for prize money. Even though such practices are common in industries, that would be the first time the Department has done the program.

Pentagon announced the recruitment of Alphabet's Eric Schmidt as the leader of its new special defense board. It's one of some efforts made by the agency to bring Silicon Valley's innovation to the military bureaucracy, as well as improving security to support its operations. 

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