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Army IT Day Recap: Network Enabling in a Dynamic Environment

Published: May 08, 2019

ARMYCloud ComputingDEFENSEInformation Technology

AFCEA held the 18th annual Army IT Day on May 1, 2019.  The theme for this event was Network Enabling in a Dynamic Environment.  The conference provided a venue for Army Senior Leaders to provide Industry information regarding their vision as well as near and long term plans.

Gregory Garcia (Deputy Chief Information Officer/G-6) kicked off the first keynote address indicating this is an exciting time in modernization.  He indicated the Army is going to go through a period of revival and stressed the importance on maintaining a culture of innovation.  People within the organization are one of the greatest resources so it's vital to leverage their skills.  The network is more important now than ever in a multi-domain environment (land, sea, air, space and cyberspace).  Garcia discussed the Army Enterprise Information Technology as a Service (EITaaS) (See GovWin Opp ID: 178553), a current initiative to help the Army determine the most effective way to deliver a reliable, resilient, and secure network.  The Army is continuing to examine Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to protect our nation.  AI and Machine Learning will "fundamentally change the face of warfare" in terms of access to information and improved decision making to dominate in a multi-domain environment.  Garcia stressed the importance of partnerships in helping the Army achieve its modernization goals.

LTG Paul Ostrowski (Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army Acquisition, Logistics and Technology and Director of the Army Acquisition Corps) provided the second keynote address.  The Army has shifted $30B across the Future Years Defense Program to improve readiness and better support to the Army's six modernization priorities.  For the first time since 1973 the Army re-organized and established the Army Futures Command. Ostrowski indicated they are not looking for "peer to peer", instead the goal is to establish and maintain dominance.  Ostrowski discussed three pillar associated with AFC.  The first pillar is "Futures and Concepts" and is responsible for developing the doctrine in the fight to win.  The second pillar is "Combat Development" and covers how the Army is going to fight.  This includes the types of tools and technologies are going to be utilized (i.e. AI, Robotics, Hypersonic weapons, etc.).  The third pillar of AFC is "Combat Systems" and deals with acquisition.  This is where Industry has the opportunity to come in and provide solutions.  During the Q&A portion, Ostrowski discussed that moving forward there are going to be a lot less LPTAs and the focus will shift towards Best Value procurements. Additionally, in regards to OTAs, there has been discussion on putting the brakes on creating any more consortiums.

MG David Bassett (Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical) gave the third keynote address.  He indicated they still want to utilize all different types of acquisition vehicles not just OTAs.  In 2017 they took a hard look at our tactical network and discovered they need a new approach; shifting toward an incremental approach to developing technologies through two year capability set phases.  Continuing resolution does however effect the timelines for these capability sets.   Basset emphasized the fact that they don't deliver buzz words, rather they deliver actual systems.  Capability sets will include both divergent (i.e. looking for capabilities) and convergent (i.e. narrowed or focused) phases.

The first panel of the day included senior leaders from PEO C3T.  An upcoming event for the Integrated Tactical Network and Air to Ground Network Integration Technical Exchange Meeting was discussed which is scheduled for late May 2019.  This event will cover experimentation and design decisions still to be made for Capability Set 21.  It will provide a venue for both Industry and other government organizations to align their efforts with the Army tactical network. COL Jay Chapman (Division Chief, Mission Command, HQDA G-3/5/7) stated that as a result of the changing landscape a new global force deployment model is needed to deal with adversaries.  One of the current challenges is identifying which forces need to be equipped with what equipment and prioritizing who gets it first.  COL Troy Denomy (PEO, Soldier Warrior) discussed the Nett Warrior system (an integrated dismounted situational awareness and mission command system for use during combat operations) and stressed the importance of an intuitive system that is both simple to understand and easy to use.  Michael Monteleone (SES, Director Space and Terrestrial Communications) covered the Army Futures Command main goals which include modernizing the Army through science and technology, providing engineering support to the lifecycle management commands and PEO communities, and enabling prototyping, experimentation and demonstration of next generation technologies.  Monteleone indicated this is the first time he has seen this much focus and collaboration across the community.  Monteleone stated the current area of focus is on Capability Sets 23, 25, and beyond looking further into autonomy and intelligence in the network.

Mr. Ronald W. Pontius (Deputy to the Commanding General, U.S. Army Cyber Command) gave the final keynote address.  Pontius covered the six lines of effort for the Army Cyber Command:

  • Attract, develop and sustain a world class workforce
  • Aggressively operate and defend networks, date and weapon systems
  • Deliver effects against adversaries
  • Increase lethality and improve readiness
  • Transform the Command to Army Information Warfare Operations Command by 2028
  • Strengthen and expand partnerships

The final panel included PEO EIS Program Managers.  The moderator, Katrina McFarland (Army Research & Development Board, National Academy of Sciences) discussed the challenge of maintaining the balance of national security vs. public good.  COL Robert Mikesh (PM, AESIP) discussed the need of real-time information and the role of the Army Leadership Dashboard in achieving this goal.  This tool integrates, analyzes, and visualizes information from multiple disparate data sources, both classified and unclassified.  Tom Neff (Project Director, Enterprise Services) highlighted the Army Enterprise Service Desk IV effort (See GovWin Opp ID: 167443) as a key initiative looking for a commercial solution to maximize the use of automation. COL James F. McNulty (Project Manager, IPPS-A) put things in perspective by stating today it takes about two weeks to answer the question of "how many female captains are in the U.S. Army?"  The challenge is that there are currently too many systems and data lakes.  A roadmap is being developed for the path forward.  During the Q&A portion, OTAs were a topic of discussion.  The Army is continuing to proceed with caution when it comes to OTAs which are under a good deal of scrutiny and could potentially be taken away.  One of the key benefits in utilizing OTAs is the ability to "fail fast and learn early".   In terms of feedback from audience on OTAs, one concern voiced by an audience member is the fact that there is a lack of feedback on submissions.  McFarland closed out the panel encouraging industry to continue to think about the "why, what and how" when it comes to solutions in helping the Army achieve its modernization goals.