WASHINGTON — Bringing new cloud and data capabilities to the tactical edge is a top priority for the U.S. military this exercise, according to the service’s chief information officer.
Following the release of its digital transformation strategy last fall, the Army plans to begin various efforts to catapult the service into a digital native organization.
“As we start doing more exercises this year, we’re going to start integrating more and more cloud capacity and capability,” Army CIO Raj Iyer said during a virtual presentation on May 13. January hosted by the AFCEA Northern Virginia Chapter.
Iyer said the Army is looking to launch cloud efforts in 2022 to make the Army more expeditionary. One such effort is to use the Command Post Computing Environment, a web-based system that will consolidate current mission systems and programs into a single user interface. The goal, ultimately, is to be able to integrate large volumes of data from multiple levels of classification into a single common operational picture. The Army has ongoing efforts to expand this through the cloud while modernizing the interface and data platform, Iyer said.
Army officials explained the key role certain units are playing in this experimentation to help determine how it will deploy and develop these technologies around the world for all formations.
“We are now actively working with units where we allow them to experiment with mission threats and operational scenarios using the capability in the cloud and on the platforms we have established,” Iyer said, noting that the goal is for the CIO and technical organizations to resolve technology issues, freeing up units to focus on operational use cases.
Maj. Gen. Robert Collins, who leads the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Tactical Communications, added that his office has worked with the IOC, XVIII Airborne Corps, 101st Airborne Division and 82nd Airborne Division. to migrate some capabilities. to the cloud. He added that these types of technologies lighten tactical formations and allow them greater operational flexibility.
Collins also emphasized the importance of having a true data structure that is flexible and able to move information from the corporate level to the tactical level and vice versa. There must also be a balance between the data soldiers have access to when fully online and how much they can access offline.
“You may need to, under certain conditions, deploy with a certain set of data so that when you’re disconnected from the enterprise, you can continue to operate,” he said.
However, this data structure is not a single monolith, but rather a federated system.
“We’re not laser-focused on any particular data structure,” Brig. Gen. Jeth Rey, director of the network’s cross-functional team. “We think they are going to be more global. There will be several types of Data Fabric. We need these data fabrics to be, again, open source, where they can actually collaborate with each other and provide the machine learning and AI that we need to aggregate these sensors and all the structured data and unstructured that are going to go through that particular web of data in order to create an informed decision that our commanders can execute.
Iyer noted that the service is on track to implement the first Army cloud outside of the United States in the Indo-Pacific region in conjunction with Army Pacific, I Corps and Task Force multi-domains. This will allow the Army to integrate the cloud into all aspects of experimentation and establish state-of-the-art cloud computing in the Pacific theater. Army officials have previously said the multi-domain task force is a primary pilot effort for emerging data and cloud initiatives.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.