AI in the Cards for DOD of the Future

Stephanie Meloni

By Stephanie Meloni, consultant

Across the Department of Defense artificial intelligence and machine learning are gaining real traction. And plans are in the works to establish a center dedicated to delivering AI solutions across the DOD, as well as a proposal for an AI and machine learning council as part of the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act.  DOD agencies are very interested in using AI to combat and overmatch potential adversaries — and there’s no shortage of use cases across the DOD. Going forward, technology companies will want to be aware of differences between customer environments before engaging with a potential customer.

Recently, early adapters gathered at an AFCEA DC luncheon to discuss recent developments and challenges in AI and machine learning. Here are some highlights.

DISA, an example of a non-tactical customer, is looking at how to use machine learning for cyber situational awareness. DISA uses commercial machine learning technologies and contractors for Acropolis and their Big Data Platform to combat cyber threats and attacks. AI can help them shift their cyber strategy from reactive to proactive.

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3 technologies law enforcement will need this year

By Tom O’Keefe, consultantTom O'Keefe

Law enforcement agencies are facing a myriad of challenges today, and they’ll be looking toward new technologies like artificial intelligence to help meet mission needs.

That was the message from government panelists at this week’s AFCEA Bethesda’s Law Enforcement & Public Safety Technology Forum. While the challenges raised by government are nothing new, interest in new solutions to these problems was expressed by leaders from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Each of these solutions has one common theme: ways in which law enforcement agencies can better manage, integrate and understand the massive amounts of data they collect in their day-to-day operations.

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The Great Migration: DISA’s Reorg and What it Means for COTS Vendors – Part 2

Building on last week’s blog post, focusing on DISA’s major reorganization where I gave an overview of the new offices and divisions and their responsibilities.  Today I’ll provide an update on how they see their role in major technology areas such as cloud and mobility playing out over this calendar year.

DISA org without names_Update

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Automation and Cybersecurity Take Center Stage in Air Force FY15 IT Modernization Priorities

Stephanie Headshot 65x85by Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

Last week, key Air Force Fighter Jetleaders engaged with industry at AFCEA NOVA’s Air Force IT Day to speak about opportunities and challenges their organizations are facing, and where they need industry support. The Air Force is the only one of the military services to request an increase in their IT budget for FY15; within their $5.9B request for FY15, about $2.3B is earmarked for capital expenditures for the Air Force to purchase new technologies and capabilities. This shows their commitment to focus on more innovative solutions that meet challenges they face every day. The Air Force wants to be able to incorporate more emerging technologies into their operations and leverage inputs from experts in industry, academia, and the rest of DOD.

Since Air Force’s main priority for FY15 is IT modernization, they’re going to want to spend theirs IT dollars on either technologies that will help them save money on operations —which allows them to divert funds to modernization efforts — or technologies that will help drive new and innovative capabilities.

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Highlights from the AFCEA DC Cybersecurity Summit 2014

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

In late May AFCEA DC hosted the Cybersecurity Summit 2014 in Washington DC. The event gathered together hundreds from industry and government who focus on the cybersecurity issues
of today. The panelists and keynote speakers represented both civilian and defense sectors of government and spoke on a wide gamut of security topics. Here are some common themes when the panelists and speakers were asked to provide advice for industry:

  • Have internal technical people market your product for you. Agencies need to do a better job of differentiating between products marketed very well and those who can demonstrate453786897 risk reduction in performance rather than on paper.
  • Help those agencies that are less mature when it comes to security and risk reduction; understand where their immaturity lies and come to them with what they need.
  • Demonstrate what gap you’re filling. How can your tool do the work better and cheaper than those already in the ‘shed’?
  • Particularly within DOD, highly customized solutions are not ideal. If you are making something just for Army, but it is not interoperable with the Army and Air Force, then it is less than ideal. DOD requires interoperability in a joint environment.

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What Air Force Wants in a Cloud Broker

Stephanie Headshot 65x85by Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

Speaking at an AFCEA event, held January 17, Dr. Tim Rudolph, U.S. Air Force Senior Leader for Integrated Information Capabilities, stressed that the Air Force is moving to the cloud too slowly. He admitted that the organization is behind on implementation and that a cultural change is needed. Along with the Navy and Marine Corps, the Air Force appears reluctant to adopt Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) as their cloud broker. At a separate AFCEA event, held January 21, DISA program managers were in agreement that cultural change is needed when vetting solutions across DOD agencies with “140+ engineers in a room”— each one wanting their own perfect solution.

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Reprograming the IPO Could Create New Opportunities with Electronic Health Records

Tomas OKeefe_65x85by Tomas O’Keefe, Senior Analyst

The future of the Interagency Program Office (IPO) is up in the air. Originally designated to develop an integrated electronic health record (iEHR) between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, the office used to boast a budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars. However, with the decision earlier this year by the Department of Defense to pursue its own EHR, the buzz seems to be that most of the IPO’s budget is being reprogrammed. We continue to hear from both DOD and VA officials that there is still the goal of having an integrated and interoperable EHR, but expect both DOD and VA to pursue their own solutions at this point, while maintaining an open dialogue about how the disparate systems can still work together.

At AFCEA Bethesda’s Health IT Day in mid-November Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Chief Medical Informatics Officer at VA, discussed one of the likely solutions to the data sharing challenges between the VA and DOD with an update to VA’s current EHR system termed VistA Evolution. VistA Evolution is relying on an agile development schedule to roll out new interfaces and applications in short development timeframes in the hope of providing “disruptive evolution” to the overall program suite by introducing new technologies. VistA is a legacy system that the VA has relied upon for quite some time, but it operates off a fundamental architecture that can be updated to meet many of the needs of today, including enhancing interoperability with DOD systems, and the only barrier to updating VistA seemed to be cost. With money now freed from a potentially defunct IPO, expect the VA to move ahead on an aggressive update schedule, with several contracts to work on VistA already awarded.

Dr. Cullen is veryiEHR Blog conscious of how the next stage in the development of the applications and databases that handle health information will be handled. Health information on VA systems remains siloed and while the Department has made progress addressing this challenge, it seemingly pales in comparison to the task of being able to interface with DOD medical systems. This may be the future of the IPO, to act as more of a governance and policy agent to determine the standards that the VA and DOD EHRs have to operate off of, rather than as a functional office that actually undertakes development opportunities.

This reprogramming could open up new opportunities for COTS vendors who can provide CRM solutions, health data and records management, and middleware and SOA tools to ensure the differing systems can actually talk to each other. These joint efforts to strengthen interoperability remain high-visibility and have a lot of support on the Hill, with language in the 2014 VA spending that would actually mandate that DOD and VA operate off of one EHR. Expect the Departments to keep this in mind when pursuing their solutions in the event that the law requiring a single EHR actually passes, however unlikely that may prove to be.

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