Revolutionizing Operations: Data-Centric Plans, AI and Tech Concerns Revealed

By Diego LajeSeptember 6, 2023

The Army's data-driven transformation emphasizes cybersecurity, hardware protection and AI integration.
Panelist discuss the Army's digital transformation on the final day of TechNet Augusta 2023.
Panelist discuss the Army's digital transformation on the final day of TechNet Augusta 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Amid a landscape of rapid technological evolution, the U.S. Army stands on the cusp of a profound data-driven transformation.

Speaking Thursday at AFCEA's TechNet Augusta 2023, held in Augusta, Georgia, August 14-17, military leaders discussed the service's ascendancy of information plan in a shift that hasn't been witnessed in nearly four decades.

"It's the first time in almost four decades that I've seen the Army aligned behind the network and communications and cyber, that I've ever seen since I've been in, and you have to be excited about that," said Maj. Gen. Jeth Rey, director of the U.S. Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team.

The expert panel discussed how data sharing, processing and security initiatives reach the majority of those in uniform across roles and functions in the Army.

“This is probably the first time you're now getting the operational folks and the actual operators into the conversation on what is the relevant data,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph Papenfus, USAR, chief of staff at the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Panelists stressed the security built around information that allows it to flow while seeking to feed the edge, where connectivity may be a limitation.

They also addressed competition from adversaries and how critical it is to stay ahead in every possible domain, including hardware.

"Some of those foreign militaries that we might compete with in a kinetic environment are the same militaries that we will compete with for IT parts going forward," said Maj. Gen. Robert Edmonson, commanding general of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command.

The panel directly addressed businessmen in the audience.

“As we acquire capability, what we're asking industry to ensure is that you may have [suppliers] that are out there doing a circuit board for you. We really need to ensure that there's quality control behind those circuit boards that are being built out there,” Rey said.

Among the many issues behind quality control lies the traceability of hardware and software to prevent malicious actors from exploiting vulnerabilities.

“If there is an issue along the supply chain, we can defend not only what we have but to understand where defense goes in depth across the supply chain,” said David M. Markowitz, chief data and analytics officer, U.S. Army.

Markowitz stressed that both hardware and software had to be protected as the United States operates with allies and partners.

“Our allies are being asked as our same industrial base, so understanding where those choke points are throughout both the United States and our international partners is critical so that we understand dependencies,” Markowitz added.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Maj. Gen. Jeth Rey, USA


"It's the first time in almost four decades that I've seen the Army aligned behind the network and communications and cyber."

The panel also addressed generative artificial intelligence and large language models.

“At the Department of Defense level, there's a project, Project Lima, that's going to look at thirty plus use cases and large language models and really identify where they fit because some are going to fit well, some are not,” Markowitz said.

The expert offered his preliminary opinion.

“I personally believe that one of the best use cases is software development,” Markowitz told the audience.

The panel "Synchronizing Critical Roles to Enable a Data-Centric Army" was moderated by Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, USA (Ret.), founding partner and co-CEO of Touchstone Futures.

Col. Eric Van Den Bosch, USA, commander, 7th Signal Command, also participated in the panel.

The panel Synchronizing Critical Roles to Enable a Data-Centric Army is held Thursday, August 17, at AFCEA's TechNet Augusta 2023 in Augusta, Georgia.