Inspire Connect


Promoting a culture of innovation in the national security community.


Inspire, connect, and empower people by convening events, forging partnerships, and delivering tangible solutions to promote a culture of innovation in the U.S. national security community.


Adam Grant, testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee, April 27, 2021

"DOD’s culture is a threat to national security."


Our Story

The seeds of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum were planted in 2012 with the publication of The Military Needs More Disruptive Thinkers in the Small Wars Journal. This call to arms started DEF on the path to promoting a culture of innovation in the national security community.

Originally identifying as “disruptive thinkers,” a likeminded tribe of junior Service members quickly came together through virtual asynchronous interactions, leveraging Twitter and other social media platforms to facilitate critical discourse. Essays and commentary covered topics like the state of affairs in Village Stability Operations, Air Force social media practices, and even implications of military culture for innovation more broadly.

​It was at this point that the connections, ideas and momentum could no longer be contained virtually. A crew of enterprising members in this new movement determined to get together in person and see what happened.

Supported by a friend who had recently departed active duty to get an MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, DEF2013 was announced in much the same way as previous discussions: with a blog post.

DEF2013 solidified the need for continued action and saw over one hundred participants come together to share ideas, dig through lessons learned, and attack problems with counterparts who all saw the same pressing need: to innovate, and quickly.

Today, disparate networks of individuals, spanning all ranks and services, continue to flesh out the most pressing issues of the day in non-traditional ways. DEF continues to grow and promote collaboration and innovation across defense, science, and technology communities. 


In early 2018, DEF 3.0 was announced as a focused effort to round out the third pillar of our mission: truly empowering members in order to change culture in the national security community. Having inspired and connected people for the first half of a decade, the next five years will be focused on building pathways for an expanding membership base, including corporate supporters and a growing number of volunteers.


Thanks to our sponsors & supporters

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