U.S. Military Wants Tech Startups To Build Weapons Of War

The Biden administration has recently requested $115 million to fund a new Pentagon unit called the Office of Strategic Capabilities, aimed at helping tech startups build weapons of war for the military.

The Pentagon is seeking to enlist Silicon Valley startups in its effort to fund and develop new weapons technology and more-nimble suppliers, as the U.S. races to keep pace with China’s military advances.

The push to tap private capital comes in the midst of concern that U.S. defense-industry consolidation has led to dependence on a few large companies that rely on government funding for research and is hampering innovation. Meanwhile, China has pulled ahead in some key technologies, ranging from small drones to hypersonic missiles, helped by Beijing’s use of external public-private guidance funds, according to current and former Pentagon officials.

Steve Blank, co-founder of the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation at Stanford University, said some estimates place Beijing’s capital infusion into the tech sector at more than $1 trillion.

“China is organized like Silicon Valley,” and the Pentagon is organized more like a Detroit auto maker, he said. “That’s not a fair fight.”

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The Biden administration recently requested $115 million to fund a new Pentagon unit called the Office of Strategic Capital, which is designed to attract more investment, particularly venture capital, into companies producing technology and products viewed as critical to the military. It is the latest in a variety of Pentagon-backed efforts to harvest ideas from outside the traditional defense sector.

These efforts coincide with rising interest by venture-capital investors in the military business, spurred by Washington’s focus on China, and the success of such companies as Elon Musk’s SpaceX in winning Pentagon business.

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