Carter: Reservists Provide Tremendous Reservoir of Tech Talent


Reserve component members provide a tremendous reservoir of technical expertise for the Defense Department, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said yesterday at a news conference in Santa Clara, California.

Reservists use the expertise developed in their civilian experiences when they serve, the secretary said.

The classic example of this was in 2003 in Baghdad. The Baghdad Museum was looted and officials called on an Army reserve unit from Maryland to examine the museum and catalogue what was left and what had been stolen. The unit was perfect for the mission, Carter said, as many members worked as curators at the Smithsonian here.

The new head of the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental -- Raj Shah -- served as an Air Force reserve F-16 pilot in the Middle East. He is an excellent bridge between DoD and private tech partners, Carter said.

High-Tech Reservists

Reservists at the DIUx work in high-tech fields in their civilian jobs, the secretary said. They put on the uniform, “but during the rest of the week, they are leading engineers, project managers, managers of all kinds in the leading technology companies in our country,” he said.

“What a great gift that is,” Carter added.

Many reservists provide civilian-sector experience that DoD cannot duplicate, the secretary said.

And reservists are doing important jobs, the secretary said.

“When I was up in Seattle a few weeks ago, … there is a reserve unit there that focuses on cyber,” Carter said. “And they're one of our key tools. They are, for example, hardening our nuclear command-and-control system to cyberattack.

“Who is it being done by?” Carter continued. “It’s being done by reservists that are based in Washington state who work there on weekends and evenings, and at Amazon and Microsoft and other great companies in the region by day. What a wonderful way to get talent. That's how the mechanism works and we're determined to tap into that talent.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @Garamone@DoDNews)