SEATTLE — Secretary of Defense Ash Carter continued his wooing of the tech sector with stops at Microsoft and Amazon during a Thursday swing through Seattle where he focused on cloud technologies and learned best practices from the digital giants.
Carter also stopped at traditional defense powerhouse Boeing where he met newly installed defense chief, Leanne Claret.
Fresh off reaching an agreement with Microsoft to purchase 4 million licenses of its Windows 10 operating system, Carter praised the company and others for pushing the realm of the possible.
"We need partners like Microsoft and the others in this room because I always tell people we don't build anything in the Pentagon," Carter said during a breakfast event hosted by the company. "That's not the American way. The Soviet Union tried that; didn't work out very well for them. We have the best technology because we have a connection to the most innovative technology community in the world. That's why."
During a tour of Microsoft's facilities, Carter was briefed about cybersecurity capabilities, including a tour of the Cyber Crimes Unit, which works with law enforcement to deter and detect criminal activity on the Web.
The secretary then traveled to one of Amazon's downtown offices, where he met with founder Jeff Bezos. Amazon hopes the Pentagon will use more of its cloud-computing services, with Mark Ryland, chief solutions architect with Amazon Web Services, telling reporters he felt the company could bring some "really great capabilities" to the department.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Carter said the point of his trip was not just to learn about technology, but to gather information about best business practices that could be modified for the department.
"Talking to others about how they run things and also about how we look to them holds up a mirror to us, and that's a very healthy thing for any organization," Carter said. "So we do learn things about how to make ourselves more efficient, how to make ourselves an easier partner for industry to work with. So I'm going to take back some things."
Seattle is the second stop on a West Coast swing that saw Carter announce two major new initiatives to reach out to Silicon Valley and the tech industry as a whole.
During the breakfast event, Carter said he hoped some of the Seattle tech community would join the newly created Defense Innovation Advisory Board, headed by Google executive Eric Schmidt.
Ryland said Carter's outreach to the tech community has not gone unnoticed.
"Just this week seems like a real breath of fresh air," Ryland said.
The day concluded at Boeing, where Carter chatted with Claret and toured a KC-46A Pegasus tanker and a P-8 anti-submarine aircraft.