The Department of Defense (DoD) announced on April 4 that Doug Beck, a vice president at Apple, will serve as the new director of the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).

As director, Beck will oversee the department’s efforts to adopt commercial technology and also serve as a senior advisor to the secretary and deputy Secretary of Defense on tech innovation, competition, and strategic impact.

In an April 4 memo, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also announced updates to DIU’s reporting and management structure. Under the realignment, Beck will report directly to Austin, who will have “authority, direction, and control” of DIU.

“The DIU director shall serve as a leader inside the department to catalyze engagement with and investment into private sector communities where commercial technology can be adapted and applied to meet our warfighters’ requirements,” Austin said in the memo.

“The DIU director will also serve as a focal point for new and emerging commercial technology sectors to help identify dual-use pathways and adaptions that enable rapid transition and fielding of new technologies and as an advisor to me and to the deputy secretary of defense on their potential strategic impact,” Austin added.

Within 90 days of appointment, Beck will also need to submit an assessment to Austin detailing the DIU’s ability to meet these objectives – along with a proposed plan of action.

Beck has served at Apple for over 13 years, reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook since joining the company in 2009. However, Beck also has experience working with DIU, as he founded its joint reserve component in 2015 and led it through 2019.

Previously, Beck has also served as an appointed member of the Secretary of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, an executive advisor to three chiefs of naval operations and to Special Operations community leadership, and an adjunct lecturer on strategy and innovation for flag and general officers at the Naval Postgraduate School.

He is also a Captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve and served from 2006 through 2007 in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.