Reinvigorating Innovation for National Security

RINSIntroducing the National Security Innovation Base (NSIB)

The United States has a long tradition of innovative research and development (R&D). Innovation has been particularly important for national security, with the development of advanced weapons systems, superior reconnaissance and surveillance systems, and sensors and detectors intended to help the military defend the nation. Many innovations for national security purposes spill over into benefits for the commercial sector. Sometimes, commercial innovations and products spill over into benefits for national security.

Lately, much has been discussed about the “national security innovation base.” The term appears to derive from the 2017 US National Security Strategy but was not formally defined there. Instead, the term has evolved and is generally considered a network of individuals, companies, and institutions that transforms ideas into capabilities to benefit US national security. The “national security innovation base” should not be confused with the intersecting but distinct concepts of “national security industrial base” or “defense industrial base.”

There is concern that the US network of innovation for national security is not performing as well as in the past. The basis for this concern is two-fold: 1) innovators within the US are more intent on commercial products and less devoted to national security issues; and 2) other countries, particularly China, have learned to be innovative in their national security and military affairs and, in some cases, are outstripping US innovations.


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