What you need to know about Army’s IT modernization strategy

By Stephanie Meloni, senior consultant

The Army views multi-domain operations as the future operating concept it needs to gain a competitive advantage against adversaries.

Despite the possibility of receiving increased funding under a new administration, the Army will largely be focused on readiness, as opposed to modernization. Readiness ensures that soldiers have proper training and equipment, while modernization would mean investing in new capabilities and technologies.

The good news for the IT industry is that multi-domain operations is a concept that addresses both modernization and readiness. And it will ultimately help the warfighter out-maneuver adversaries in land, cyber and intelligence. (You can hear more in my recent on-demand webinar on the Army’s IT Modernization Plan.)

Implementing multi-domain operations will entail significant changes to enterprise architecture and networking infrastructure to give the Army the flexibility it needs when it comes to configuration management and data sharing. This concept is all about data integration—and performing analysis on the data itself. Here are some ways the Army will be using its data to improve operations:

Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT): One of the DOD’s most tangible IoT projects so far is the IoBT, where the Army wants to set up a Collaborative Research Alliance (CRA) between academia, non-profits and industry to figure out the best way to connect and configure its sensors. By 2020, the Army predicts there could be 50 billion devices connected to the internet. With this project, the service wants to look at all the connected sensors and devices and associated infrastructure, information sources and analytics.

The Army Research Laboratory is leading the project and it wants to look at all the data from these devices and provide intelligence command and control across the battlefield. Figuring out how to configure and connect all these sensors to derive meaning from the data each collects will be a key element to IoBT.

Autonomous systems: TRADOC just released the Army’s “Robotic and Autonomous Systems Strategy,” which relies on autonomous systems where possible to help maintain a competitive advantage and lighten the warfighter workload.

Some early applications of this strategy could be seen in machine learning or other sensor data collection, similar to IoBT, where swarming systems would collect and report information. This isn’t meant to take humans out of the decision-making loop, but one of the key differentiators in the future battlefield is going to be data collection.

Data can provide a huge tactical advantage. Using machine learning and analytics on all the data being collected from planes, satellites, sensors and drones will be a key differentiator to use to our military’s advantage.

Intel analysis for situational understanding: The world of intel analysis has become more complex than ever as more and more data enters the scene. Intelligence is seen as the best way the Army has to understand challenges with resources, infrastructure and culture. The Army would like the ability to perform analysis on these factors to know when a crisis will occur. It wants tools to help ingest and interpret meaning from social media data feeds.

Since analysts are collecting more and more data, Army will need help sorting through it so it’s truly meaningful. Proliferation of mobile devices is one thing that makes it harder to draw connections between individuals. Army will also be looking to increase use of cloud technology for better automation and continuity of operations when it comes to integrating and storing all that data and making effective use of cross domain solutions.

To hear more about IT trends in the Army, listen to my on-demand webinar, “Army’s IT Modernization Plan—What Lies Ahead?”

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