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Availability of technical talent is a key factor in an organization’s ability to remain on the cutting edge of technological advancements. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes this truth but is struggling to recruit and retain the technical talent it needs to keep up with the latest private-sector advancements and execute its essential mission.

The RAND National Security Research Division hosted a moderated panel discussion to examine the key role technical talent will play in DoD’s digital transformation, the factors behind the department’s current shortage of technical talent, and the steps DoD can take to address recruiting and retention barriers.

The panelists included Diana Gehlhaus, a research fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology and senior adviser for talent in DoD’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office; Maria Lytell, a senior behavioral and social scientist at RAND and co-author of Demographic Diversity of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce in the U.S. Department of Defense: Analysis of Compensation and Employment Outcomes; and James Ryseff, a senior technical policy analyst at RAND, author of Exploring the Civil-Military Divide over Artificial Intelligence, and co-author with Gehlhaus of The Race for U.S. Technical Talent: Can the DOD and DIB Compete? Kirsten M. Keller, a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, moderated the discussion.

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