Lawmakers launching new Defense Modernization Caucus

The bipartisan caucus will be focused on championing policy and funding priorities.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - APRIL 19, 2018: A stone version of the Great Seal of the United States embellishes the exterior of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

In a move to intensify and advance Congress’ support as an essential enabler of the Pentagon’s major technology adoption and innovation pursuits, lawmakers are establishing a new Defense Modernization Caucus.

Reps. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y. and Rob Wittman, R-Va., who will co-chair the group, are hosting a kickoff to celebrate its launch on Thursday afternoon.

The bipartisan caucus is envisioned to “amplify and champion key policy and funding priorities necessary for the technological evolution of the U.S. Department of Defense and associated national security functions,” an aide told DefenseScoop ahead of the event and official announcement. 

While many modernization efforts have been rife with bureaucratic and other challenges, Pentagon leadership has long been working to update defense infrastructure and ultimately accelerate their department’s development, procurement and use of existing and emerging technologies for operational and business purposes.


The formation of this new caucus comes as the DOD is pursuing a number of nascent high-stakes technology initiatives — including Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2) and Replicator

Its launch is also inspired by lawmakers’ firsthand experiences and frustrations they’ve dealt with associated with attempting to drive defense modernization.

“When I returned home from Iraq, I co-founded a company that deployed cutting-edge analytics software to support our troops in harm’s way. We navigated the often-winding halls of DOD, working to find ways to break down barriers for innovative and disruptive technologies,” Rep. Ryan told DefenseScoop in an email Thursday.

Ryan, who earned two Bronze Stars from his time serving two combat tours in Iraq, is the first-ever West Point graduate to represent that academy’s congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We, as Members of Congress, need to continue to push DOD to do more and do better at working with innovative companies to partner, develop, and deploy technologies that will change the game  — and I’m thrilled to co-chair the bipartisan Defense Modernization Caucus, which will continue this critical work,” he said.


During a National Security Innovation Base Summit hosted by the Ronald Reagan Institute on Wednesday, Wittman acknowledged that “through the years, the whole [military tech modernization] process — both in Congress and in the Pentagon — has been slow.”

“Our focus needs to be not just exquisite systems, but how do we get capability and capacity quickly? How do we get expendable platforms? We see that happening in Ukraine, those are incredibly effective. How do we get to attritable platforms that are also great conduits to use technology that leverage what we can do quickly? We can generate mass, we can increase the risk calculus for China. All those things are incredibly important,” Wittman, the vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said.

Jon Harper contributed reporting.

Brandi Vincent

Written by Brandi Vincent

Brandi Vincent is DefenseScoop's Pentagon correspondent. She reports on emerging and disruptive technologies, and associated policies, impacting the Defense Department and its personnel. Prior to joining Scoop News Group, Brandi produced a long-form documentary and worked as a journalist at Nextgov, Snapchat and NBC Network. She was named a 2021 Paul Miller Washington Fellow by the National Press Foundation and was awarded SIIA’s 2020 Jesse H. Neal Award for Best News Coverage. Brandi grew up in Louisiana and received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

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