Seizing initiative, 10th MTN journey to cloud

By Andrew SpiessMarch 29, 2023

WASHINGTON-- When it comes to innovation and technology, the 10th Mountain Division is no stranger to leading from the front. As one of the early adopters of cloud computing, they have streamlined their operations and helped shape the landscape of warfighter command and control.

By leveraging the benefits of cloud computing, the 10th MTN has been able to enhance their situational awareness, improve their decision-making processes and increase their operational agility, explained Andrew Spiess, Enterprise Cloud Management Agency Warfighter Mission Area Liaison Officer.

The move is exemplary with the recent focus of adoption of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) within the Army.

“This visionary approach has set the standard for the future of military operations,” said Spiess. “It has solidified their place as a leader in the digital transformation of the military.”

The 10th MTN’s move to cloud computing was not without its challenges. In the early stages, there were limited resources and provided an opportunity for the unit to take the lead in shaping the future of warfighter command and control.

“My officer-in-charge said I had two weeks to get 10th MTN into the cloud and have something working,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Patrick McNamee, 10th MTN Information Services Technician. “We ended up meeting the timeline and getting some systems in the cloud. The process was initially daunting, but as I became more familiar with it, it became easier."

The 10th MTN division started with a cautious approach to cloud computing, but soon embraced its potential. They added more than 60 systems to the cloud and connected them to their on-premises services to benefit from the scalability and flexibility offered by the cloud.

Additionally, they deployed nearly all their tactical systems into the cloud, which made accessing crucial information in real-time easier.

“We have to be ready, and we have to sustain readiness as you go off on short notice around the world to reassure our allies and partners,” said Gen. James C. McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army.

To further maximize the benefits of cloud computing, the 10th MTN developed and deployed a virtual desktop that reduces bandwidth consumption, providing users with a seamless and secure experience, regardless of their location or device. With this innovative solution, they have been able to leverage the power of the cloud without the need for a complex on-premises system.

10th MTN saw the potential of cloud computing to revolutionize military operations and explored its capabilities. Despite facing numerous limitations, the division persevered, and their efforts paid off.

“The division is at a place where they can be deployed in one theater of operations overseas but is managing and deploying resources for brigades conducting exercises at Joint Readiness Training Center” said Spiess, “Here is the kicker, one person is doing this from a single virtual desktop!”

By creating a standard for the Army's use of cloud computing in a connected and disconnected state, they have paved the way for other units to follow suit and reap the benefits of this technology. The novel approach resulted in the 10th MTN not only improving its own operations, but also laid the foundation for the Enterprise Cloud Management Agency to enable tactical formations to be more connected, agile and informed.

"Initially we did not use the cloud at all. It seemed more like a buzz word to say we were in it than it was something functional or that provided operational benefits," McNamee added. “In some cases, there are still hesitant personnel that are not comfortable with the cloud concept. Over time, the more people we involved in the conversation the more buy-in we received. We plan to use the cloud to support 2BCT’s JRTC rotation, which is a huge step in utilizing the cloud from a warfighter perspective.

“I'm most proud of the support from my command and G6, along with our external partners that helped implement the architecture and has continued to support cloud development.”

“Cloud computing and digital transformation in the military are a team sport, and this is because they require collaboration and coordination across multiple departments and stakeholders,” Spiess explained.

“The Army operates in a complex and dynamic environment and digital transformation requires a comprehensive approach to modernizing its technology infrastructure and processes,” Spiess continued. “Successful implementation of cloud computing and digital transformation initiatives in the military require collaboration between multiple stakeholders to align technology goals with the overall mission, and integration of cutting-edge technologies into existing infrastructure requires a cross-functional team of experts to ensure seamless operation.”

This approach has set the standard for the future of military operations and has solidified the 10th MTN's place as a leader in the digital transformation of the military.