‘Patriot entrepreneurs’ fight against DOD bureaucracy to green light future tech: defense expert

0
13
philippone military contracts


Join Fox News for access to this content

Plus get unlimited access to thousands of articles, videos and more with your free account!

Please enter a valid email address.

Military leaders have bought into advanced tech that “patriotic entrepreneurs” are inventing, but the Pentagon’s bureaucratic slog has created major challenges to getting those innovations onto the battlefield, according to a defense expert.

“Now we have this thing where this great landscape of patriot entrepreneurs that are devoting their whole life to building cool tech that helps the broader citizenry,” said Doug Philippone, who invests in defense tech through his firm Snowpoint Ventures. The real challenge, he told Fox News, is getting the Department of Defense to adopt the inventions at a competitive speed.

“That’s something that the DOD is just — I’m just thinking of some word to insult them — but they just cannot do it,” Philippone said.

WATCH MORE FOX NEWS DIGITAL ORIGINALS HERE

Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Jurgensen, however, noted the speed DOD has moved since Russia invaded Ukraine and pointed to strategies military initiated this year and last to expand the defense industrial base.

“DOD remains committed to using the full range of acquisition and contracting tools Congress has provided in order to deliver capabilities that outpace the current and future threat environment — quickly, cost-effectively, and most importantly, at scale,” Jurgensen said. “Since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, DOD has shown it can — and is — moving rapidly, having obligated more than $30 [billion] on contract under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and to replace equipment drawn down from U.S. stocks.”

“Contracts that used to take months are being awarded in a matter of weeks,” Jurgensen added. “For example, a contract to accelerate Stinger production was awarded in just 22 days.”

Philippone, who’s headed Palantir’s Global Defense team since 2008, has a history of casting blunt judgment on the Pentagon, particularly when it comes to acquisition.

PENTAGON TURNS TO SILICON VALLEY TO ACCELERATE AI TECH DEVELOPMENT, ADOPTION: REPORT

AI-powered robot for infrastructure

Doug Philippone believes Gecko Robotics’ devices, which can crawl over infrastructure in order to identify and predict weak points, could save the Navy significant taxpayer money. (Courtesy of Snowpoint Ventures)

“We started out politely, but now our basic message to them is, ‘What you’re asking for won’t work and will waste money, so you’re either stupid or corrupt,’” Philippone told Fortune in 2017 as Palantir was fighting to upend how the Defense Department doles out contracts.

In one legal filing, Palantir called the Pentagon officials “irrational,” driven by “a desire to cover up the failures of their own program” and motivated by “an instinct to preserve relationships with entrenched ‘inside the Beltway’ contractors (and perhaps the ‘revolving door’ relationships often entailed in those relationships,” Fortune reported.

While he told Fox News he owned those words, admitting he “was a younger, more immature version” of himself, Philippone also said he and Palantir “were fighting like hell to break in just to give soldiers something that they were already asking for, and bureaucrats were blocking us.”

HOW A LIZARD-LIKE ROBOT COULD HELP THE NAVY ‘PREVENT CATASTROPHES’: DECORATED VETERAN

“They were reinforcing failing instead of buying something that the soldiers were saying, ‘this works,” continued Philippone, an Army veteran who commanded multiple Joint Special Operations Command outstations. “It’s cheaper, faster, better, and just out of stubbornness [the bureaucrats] just weren’t doing it.”

Pentagon

Pentagon bureaucrats created time-consuming hurdles that make it challenging for stat-ups to get innovative, effective and cheap tech to the troops, Doug Philippone says. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

At the time, the Pentagon had decided to update what Fortune called “a deeply flawed system” created by some of the staple D.C. beltway defense contracts, including Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Palantir, a young outsider, was blocked from bidding on the contract.

Philippone said the specs on Palantir’s product “would lead a normal person to believe that you should just buy this thing.”

“But sometimes the Department of Defense does things, or the broader government does things that, you know, are not what normal citizens would think were rational decisions,” he told Fox News.

‘THIS SCARES ME’: AS CHINA WATCHES, THIS DECORATED VETERAN SOUNDS ALARM ON AN AMERICA STRETCHED TO ITS LIMITS

Since then, military leadership has accepted that start-ups can deliver game-changing tech, but “it’s still harder than it needs to be by a long shot,” Philippone said.

Unmanned drone with AI

A firm within Snowpoint Ventures’ portfolio, Shield AI, developed the V-BAT. The drone, capable of vertical take off, can complete its missions even in warzones where comma or GPS is cut. (Courtesy of Snowpoint Ventures)

“I do think that the leadership landscape across the broader government, for the most part and across the DOD, for the most part, has bought into this,” he continued. “It’s just that either the frozen middle or the bureaucratic state, whatever you want to call it—we got to get through that.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

It’s not just about Palantir and Snowpoint or its portfolio, Philippone said. A number of smaller firms are pushing to sell better —and cheaper — equipment to the military and “to help out the world.”

“Is it going to be hard? Yes,” Philippone added. “But I guess that’s my raison d’etre.” 



Source link