- The US Army is looking for technology companies to build a prototype for its new “operational backbone”.
- Palantir, Gitlab, Salesforce, Oracle, RedHat, IBM and others submitted “requests for information” to build the prototype, one step before submitting an offer.
- The prototype would handle the deployment of troops, as well as the supply and distribution of missiles, guns, tanks and other weapons.
Palantir, Oracle, Salesforce and other technology companies have expressed interest in building a prototype for the US Army’s Enterprise Business Systems Convergence program, an “operational backbone” initiative that will combine several different systems from the army, including those who manage the deployment of troops and the distribution of weapons such as missiles and tanks.
The companies submitted “request for information” documents, which are forms that ask the military the necessary questions before they begin to flesh out their offers. Submitting an RFI does not necessarily mean they will submit an offer, but it often does.
Details of the project, including interested vendors, are publicly available through a set of documents the Army has posted as an appendix to the online “Notice of Opportunity” for EBS-C. Other companies that submitted RFIs for the prototype, as noted by a document, include GitLab, RedHat and IBM.
The EBS-C program is managed by the Joint Army Munitions Command, a command within the army that provides bombs, guns, bullets, missiles, tanks, helicopters and other munitions and supplies to the troops. According to a fact sheet, the Army estimates “more than 193,000 unique users across multiple commands” will use the system built through EBS-C.
More than 300 tech companies attended EBS-C Industry Day, a move that shows the value of working on a contract – if not as a prime or prime contractor, then as a sub. – dealing or as a third party selling technology through another company. As noted by a “list of registered vendor attendees,” Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft are among the companies that have registered employees for the event, which took place virtually on Aug. 30.
A Palantir spokesperson confirmed that the company is in the “request for information (RFI)” phase and is “supporting the military…providing feedback on the approach.”
“Palantir looks forward to participating in the Army’s journey to add next-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) to its enterprise systems portfolio and realize Secretary Wormuth’s vision of bringing transformative, agile technologies and the right data in the hands of all military decision makers,” the spokesperson said.
Microsoft declined to comment, and Salesforce and Oracle did not respond to requests for comment.
The company or companies selected to build the prototype will be notified at the end of Q3 2023, according to the Industry Day slide presentation. The final EBS-C contractors will be selected about a year later, with a “limited rollout” of the system starting in early 2026.
It is not known who could be the favorites. SAP is currently supplying the JMC software to manage the command’s finances and logistics, and it has also submitted an RFI to build the prototype. Palantir has an $823 million contract with the military for data mining and analysis. Oracle and RedHat provide cloud services for the Department of Defense, and IBM is a notoriously prolific contractor for the DoD. Gitlab worked as a prime contractor for the military and Salesforce for the navy, but it’s been many years since the contracts ended.
It’s also unclear whether Amazon, Google, or Microsoft will contribute to the project in some capacity, including as a contractor. Employees of these companies, particularly Google, have sometimes protested their company’s involvement in military projects. Google and Amazon employees recently staged a protest outside four Google offices to protest their companies’ involvement in a $1.2 billion contract known as Project Nimbus, which provides the Israeli government and the military with cloud computing technology.
As Insider reported, Google, Amazon, and other big tech companies frequently contract with military agencies, as well as DHS agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. using third parties to sell their technology or participating as sub-contractors.
And in 2018, when thousands of Googlers protested the company’s involvement in Project Maven, a Pentagon contract to build AI software for use in drone warfare. Google chose not to renew the contract following the protests, and Amazon and Microsoft took their place.
Amazon and Microsoft are also already supporting the JMC by providing cloud storage and infrastructure, according to a document released by the military that lists every task the two companies are tasked with handling.
According to a description of the contract, the Army is looking for a “senior systems integrator” to develop a tool that integrates mission operations support and the acquisition, transport and management of weapons and supplies. This implies, according to public documents:
- “Ability to consider and facilitate mass deployment of troops, integration of supply and equipment processes.” This equipment could include “spare parts, fuel and ammunition”.
- “Ammunition supply chain, transport and distribution and security management”, including the management of “explosive weight data”.
- “Ability to support cradle-to-grave processes for weapon systems.” Cradle-to-grave processes often involve hazardous waste.
A document with sample data that EBS-C would handle lists a variety of weapons and supplies, including:
- “General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle”, a drone.
- “M1A2 SEP V3 TANK”, a war tank.
- “MH-60 HELICOPTER”, a war helicopter.
- “PATRIOT RADAR SET”, an aerial missile system.
- “MACHINE GUN, 50 CAL.
The contract has no assigned value yet. The military has required all contractors to complete a “pricing matrix” that lists the cost of their labor if hired.
Estimated contract prices are always subject to change if projects take longer than expected, which often happens. But work on EBS-C should be completed, at a minimum, by January 2028. A document says JMC’s current system for managing its finances and logistics, Core Component from SAP, “will not be supported by the vendor. ” after 2027.
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