ARLINGTON, Va. – Army Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Deputy Chief of Staff, G-6 (DCS G-6) leaders engaged with hundreds of Army Information Technology (IT) Days attendees on January 20-21.
The virtual event’s theme was “Enterprise to the Edge: Cloud and Data Enabling Multi-Domain Operations,” and CIO Dr. Raj Iyer and DCS G-6 Lt. Gen. John Morrison were keynote speakers. Army Chief Data Officer Dr. David Markowitz participated in a data environment panel with several senior service leaders.
The Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association’s Northern Virginia Chapter hosted Army IT Days. The chapter’s 6,000 members include industry, government employees, veterans and service members. The Army IT Days series is normally conducted as in-person events, and over 550 people registered to attend this 20th iteration.
Dr. Iyer talked about the realignment of the previously consolidated CIO/G-6 staff into two separate staffs advising and supporting the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army. “Never before in the Army has the CIO been empowered to make decisions like we have today,” he said, describing his role as the principal advisor for information technology to the Secretary of the Army.
He also spoke about how the Army is going to have to “leapfrog” its innovation forward to fully leverage the use of data and cloud technology to support operations on the ground, air, sea, space and cyber domains. “That requires a revolutionary approach to adopting information technology and digital transformation to achieve that mission outcome. Our peer and near-peer adversaries have adopted many of the technologies [developed in the U.S.] that we are talking about today,” Iyer said.
In his keynote remarks, Lt. Gen. Morrison also emphasized the importance of industry IT and network innovations that can be applied to military capability requirements, with establishing a unified network as a top priority to enable multi-domain operations.
Eliminating barriers between separate Army tactical and enterprise networks while applying the appropriate measures to protect networks and data “is a significant shift in the way we approached network modernization from the past.”
The DCS G-6 emphasized the Army’s investment of personnel going into operating, maintaining, securing and defending Department of Defense information network operations on Army networks from the global to the tactical level.
Dr. Markowitz opened the data environment panel – which included leaders from the Army’s Office of Business Transformation, the Program Executive Officer for Enterprise Information Systems, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Corporate Information directorate – by discussing the Army’s emerging enterprise data strategy’s three lines of effort.
“[The strategy] has people, culture and building a foundation,” he said. “We want to ensure the Army has the people to take full advantage of the emerging technology to help the Army in the way it is going to fight in the future.” The strategy’s first line of effort calls for data scientists and data specialists with analytics skills, and generalists empowered by them to make data and data tools more accessible to a wider audience.
“Data as the new ammunition” is a culture change for the Army, Markowitz explained. Like the ammunition logistics lifecycle the Army has used since its formation 245 years ago, “[w]e need to make sure we get [mission-specific data], curate it, get it to the right person, it meets the need at the point of decision, and then know when to keep it and when you throw it away.”
“We [are trying to] build our people as they get experience with data and data analytics,” Markowitz said as he closed.
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