Innovating Tomorrow’s National Defense in Silicon Valley

Date: Thursday, October 22, 2015
Time: 6:00pm-8:30pm
Location: VMware World Headquarters
3425 Hillview Avenue
Hilltop A Building
Elastic Sky Theater
Palo Alto, CA 94304


Over the course of the past century, the nation’s war-fighting dominance has been underwritten by federal investment in research and development and the Department of Defense’s ability to put novel, break-through technology to use at scale. Today the technological ecosystem for national security has evolved significantly. Much of our technology is commercial and the technology base is global.

At least fifty countries around the world, including China and Russia, have sophisticated national innovation strategies that link native technology development to military applications. In this increasingly competitive and fast-moving technology environment, America’s continued strategic dominance relies on innovation from a variety of different sources; internally from the Department’s labs and externally, with our partnerships with the defense industrial base, small businesses, universities and organizations within ecosystems such as Silicon Valley.

To achieve this, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter created a new unit in Silicon Valley, the Defense Innovation Unit – Experimental or DIUx, as a pilot program to scout for breakthrough and emerging technologies while functioning as a local interface between the DoD and Silicon Valley’s high tech industry, academia and emerging startups.

Please join our panel to discuss how the Department of Defense and its new DIUx outpost in Silicon Valley can best collaborate and innovate for our nation’s security.




Dr. George Duchak

Director of DIUx,
Office of the Secretary of Defense

Dr. George Duchak is a member of the Senior Executive Service and Director of the DIUx. He is the former Director, Information Directorate, for the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, NY, and was awarded the 2015 Federal Laboratory Directorate of the Year Award for his contributions to innovative research and technology transfer. While at AFRL Rome, he lead basic research and advanced development activities in information exploitation, information fusion, information understanding and management, cyber operations, connectivity and networks, command and control, and advanced computing architectures. Dr. Duchak was also a program manager at DARPA and is an entrepreneur. Dr. Duchak is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.



Rear Admiral Brian Hendrickson

Military Deputy of the DIUx,
Office of the Secretary of Defense

Rear Adm. Daniel “Brian” Hendrickson is the Military Deputy of the DIUx. Upon receiving his commission from the United States Naval Academy, he served as a division officer aboard the USS Aquila (PHM-4) before transferring to Naval Special Warfare and completed basic underwater demolition/SEAL training in 1990. His service includes assignments to SEAL Team 1, SEAL Team 3, the Naval Special Warfare Command and the United States Special Operations Command. He has additionally performed joint task force assignments in Colombia, the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Afghanistan and the Philippines. His campaigns include Operations Restore Hope, Desert Shield, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Rear Adm. Hendrickson is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and has experience with start-up ventures.



Major Raj Shah

Senior Director of Strategy,
Palo Alto Networks

Raj Shah is Senior Director of Strategy at Palo Alto Networks, and previously the CEO and Co-Founder of Morta Security, which was acquired by Palo Alto Networks in 2014. Before Morta, Raj was Vice President of Federal Systems, a private investment firm. Prior to that he was a Special Assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He began his business career as a consultant with McKinsey & Co. Raj has also served an F-16 pilot in the United States Air Force where he completed multiple combat tours. Raj holds an AB from Princeton University and an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Raj is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and an affiliate at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC).



Peter Newell

Managing Partner,
BMNT Partners

Peter Newell is the Managing Partner at BMNT Partners in Palo Alto, CA. BMNT provides a platform that brings together mutually supporting and trusted networks of innovators, researchers, defense and security officials in pursuit of disruptive solutions to emerging problems. Peter is the former Director, U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force where he led the investment of over $1.4B in developing solutions to the most pressing needs among troops. Among the initiatives he developed were the $66M effort to develop and deploy renewable energy systems on the battlefield and the $45M effort to design an integrated system to gather the data required to determine the potential causes of Traumatic Brain Injury on the battlefield. He was also responsible for the U.S. Army’s first deployment of mobile advanced/additive manufacturing labs in a bid to more closely connect scientists and engineers to problems on the battlefield. Peter proudly served the Army as both an enlisted National Guardsman and active duty officer in Panama, Kosovo, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.




Nawaf Bitar

Sr. VP & Gen. Mgr. Cloud Platform Business Unit,

Nawaf Bitar is Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Cloud Platform Business Unit at VMware. He also is a Venture Partner at Allegis Capital. Before joining VMware, Mr. Bitar served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Security Business Unit at Juniper Networks. Prior to Juniper, he served as Vice President of Engineering and Operations of Security Technology at Cisco Systems, having joined that company in 2007 through the acquisition of IronPort Systems, where he was Senior Vice President of Engineering. Before IronPort, he served as Vice President of File Systems and Services at Network Appliance, and previously held roles at Silicon Graphics, Apollo Computer and other firms. Mr. Bitar graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts degree.