The Pentagon lost another top IT official on April 18, with the resignation of Preston Dunlap, the founding chief architecture officer of the Air and Space Forces.
In an open resignation letter posted to social media, Dunlap said that he was proud of the three years he spent at the Defense Department but that bureaucracy, a risk-averse culture, and other internal issues made innovation more difficult than it should have been.
He said that the department fostered an environment in which it was “hard, but not impossible” to innovate, and compared the effort required to break through Pentagon bureaucracy to the effort needed to push satellites past Earth’s gravity.
“I’ve spent the last three years working to defy gravity and get desperately needed technology into our operators’ hands,” Dunlap said.
“By the time the Government manages to produce something, it’s too often obsolete; no business would ever survive this way, nor should it.”
Dunlap’s resignation follows that of Pentagon Chief Software Officer Jason Weiss earlier in April, and that of Air and Space Forces Chief Software Officer Nicolas Chaillan in October. Both Weiss and Chaillan had used their resignations to warn that out-of-control bureaucracies were preventing a talented and dedicated workforce in the Defense Department from succeeding.
“This is a massive loss for DoD,” Chaillan said in reference to Dunlap’s departure. “The number of top talent leaving the Pentagon is very concerning.”
“I don’t know anyone who is as good as Preston in the entire Department. [He] Will be very tough to replace, particularly since they have yet to replace me. Even worse after [Weiss] left last month too.”
In the eight-page document marking his departure from the Pentagon, Dunlap painted a bleak picture of a military bureaucracy run amok, with little to no resources or support available for those trying to change the status quo.
“Not unsurprisingly to anyone who has worked for or with the Government before, I arrived to find no budget, no authority, no alignment of vision, no people, no computers, no networks, a leaky ceiling, even a broken curtain,” he said. “You get the picture. Sadly, I was probably better off than most who show up to serve.
“Ironically as I’m writing this, I received notification that the phone lines are down at the Pentagon IT help desk. Phone lines are down? It’s 2022, folks.”
Dunlap noted that there was a strong cadre of dedicated individuals who had worked to stand up to the Pentagon’s efforts at building a next-generation fighting force, but that they were too often blunted by bureaucracy.
He singled out a handful of individuals for gratitude in continually supporting the mission regardless of the trials faced. Among them was Gen. John Hyten, former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Like Dunlap, Hyten also tried to combat the growing military bureaucracy and, in the final months before his retirement in November, sounded the alarm on what he saw as a number of red flags for U.S. military readiness.
In his resignation letter, Dunlap gave the impression of hope in the face of long odds, and said that it was still possible to find talent lost in the woods of military bureaucracy or hiding behind a title that would normally be overlooked for technical expertise.
This is an excerpt from The Epoch Times.
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