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Apple executive Doug Beck tapped to lead the Defense Innovation Unit

Beck will oversee efforts to accelerate DoD’s adoption of commercial technology
The Defense Innovation Unit, along with the Air Force Research Lab and the U.S. Space Force led a virtual workshop May 4-7, 2020, on the challenges facing the U.S. space industrial base. Credit: DIU

WASHINGTON — Apple executive Doug Beck has been named as the next director of the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), the Defense Department announced April 4.

DIU, based in Silicon Valley, was established in 2015 to tap technologies from the commercial market for military applications. In recent years DIU has invested in several space projects, including satellite communications, space logistics and servicing, cislunar space operations, geospatial imaging and other technologies.

 The agency was an early advocate of the use of commercial rockets to launch military payloads. 

A U.S. Navy veteran, Beck is currently vice president of Apple, Inc., and has been with the company since 2009. He has led Apple’s businesses in Northeast Asia and the Americas, and most recently ran Apple’s worldwide education, health and government business.

Doug Beck. Credit: CNAS

Beck is a captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve and served in combat operations from 2006 through 2007 in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, and Presidential Unit Citation.

He previously worked with DIU when he founded the agency’s joint reserve component.  For the past eight years Beck has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for a New American Security and of the Advisory Board for Yale’s Jackson School of Global Affairs.

DIU realigned

As head of DIU, “Beck will oversee efforts to accelerate the department’s adoption of commercial technology throughout the military and also serve as a senior advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense on technology innovation, competition and strategic impact,” DoD said in a statement.

DoD also announced a realignment of DIU. Instead of functioning as a defense agency under the office of the undersecretary of defense, the director of DIU will report directly to the secretary of defense.

“DIU’s mission is to accelerate the adoption of commercial technology at speed and scale, and these changes will further enable it to effectively execute this critical mission,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Beck replaces Michael Brown, who left DIU in September 2022 to join the venture firm Shield Capital.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...