Photo: US Navy/Yuki Klein

The Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and its Forward Defense program’s Commission on Defense Innovation Adoption contends that now is the time to reform the defense innovation ecosystem.

Co-chaired by 27th US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper and 23rd US Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and comprised of a distinguished group of Commissioners, the Commission will develop recommendations to better enable the Department of Defense (DoD) to rapidly absorb commercial technologies.

The Commission will consider how DoD officials can recalibrate the department’s risk tolerance, realign relevant acquisition and budgetary processes, and make big bets on novel commercial and dual-use technologies critical for the future of US security and defense.

This Atlantic Council Commission will help spur a new approach to defense innovation. Harnessing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, directed energy, synthetic environments, and robotics will be imperative to deterring and, if necessary, prevailing in future wars with China and Russia, but existing defense acquisition and budgetary processes are insufficient for doing so. Outdated processes and rigid bureaucratic barriers are severely impeding DoD’s ability to rapidly embrace technological innovations. And while the Third Offset Strategy spurred numerous initiatives, and industry leaders are paving the way for high tech warfare, the arduous process for partnering with DoD dis-incentivizes innovative firms from making big bets on defense capabilities.

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Engage with Forward Defense as we put forth a roadmap for resolving critically important defense innovation adoption problems.


Apr 12, 2023

Atlantic Council Commission on Defense Innovation Adoption interim report  

By Eric Lofgren*, Whitney M. McNamara, and Peter Modigliani

The DoD must accelerate defense innovation adoption from the leading edge of the private sector. This report has ten recommendations to do so.

China Defense Industry

In the News

May 8, 2023

Sec. Mark Esper and Sec. Deborah Lee James promote DoD budget flexibility and program management reform in Defense One

By Atlantic Council

Sec. Mark Esper and Sec. Deborah Lee James co-wrote an article in Defense One discussing two key recommendations from the Atlantic Council’s Commission on Defense Innovation Adoption interim report.

Defense Industry Defense Policy


Apr 17, 2023

Clementine Starling and Stephen Rodriguez write op-ed in Defense News on the Atlantic Council Commission Defense Innovation Adoption’s interim report

By Atlantic Council

Forward Defense Director Clementine Starling and FD Senior Advisor Stephen Rodriguez emphasize that the United States does not have an innovation adoption, but the US Department of Defense has an innovation adoption problem. To address this, they discuss in this Defense News piece the findings and key recommendations of the Atlantic Council Commission on Defense […]

Americas Defense Industry

In the News

Mar 9, 2023

Former secretaries Mark Esper and Deborah Lee James publish op-ed in The Hill

By Atlantic Council

Former Secretaries Mark Esper and Deborah Lee James publish Op-Ed on accelerating DoD adoption of commercial tech.

Defense Industry Defense Policy


Missed our interim report launch event? Watch the recording below

Meet the Commissioners

The Commission’s two co-chairs are joined by a team of Commissioners and Industry Commissioners comprised of former government and current industry executives.

Commission co-chairs


Industry commissioners

Report authors

Project team

Foundational Sponsor

Booz Allen Hamilton


Accrete AI
Advanced Concepts and Technologies International, LLC
Applied Intuition
Primer AI
Rebellion Defense
Schmidt Futures
Snowpoint Ventures


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Forward Defense

Forward Defense, housed within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, shapes the debate around the greatest military challenges facing the United States and its allies, and creates forward-looking assessments of the trends, technologies, and concepts that will define the future of warfare.