Insight by Nutanix

DoD’s drive toward better tactical capabilities begins with simplicity, capacity

Part 2 of the interview:


Recently, the Defense Department participated in the Enhanced Logistics Base or ELB demonstration Norway. The goal of this exercise called Trident Juncture 2018 is to test, refine and further develop existing or new capabilities while coordinating and integrating with NATO and other partners.

The exercise demonstrated future capabilities of autonomous and automatized systems within military logistics. The integrated Enhanced Logistic Base will cover all aspects of future logistics in a military-civilian demonstration to include a fully integrated autonomous and automatic logistics stream.

Sounds like a fascinating effort that can show the potential of technologies like remote machine guns, cubed storage and a field made 3D printer.

But none of these great technologies will work to their full capacity without data and connectivity.

It’s imperative for DoD to ensure warfighters can access data from anywhere, at any time.

One way that’s starting to happen is the increased use of cloud computing services, which many see as critical to maintaining the nation’s military advantage.

Today and tomorrow, cloud services can help transform the warfighter’s ability to meet their mission in a safe and secure manner.

Add to that emerging capabilities like artificial intelligence and machine learning, the potential to make warfighters better and faster is huge.

Maj. Gen. David Bassett, the Army’s program executive officer for command, control and communications–tactical (PEO-C3T), said is following a halt, fix and pivot strategy.

“We will halt efforts which we know will not get us to our end state. We will make changes, fix some programmatic efforts in some new capabilities that we know we can bring to the field quickly. We will pivot to a new process for experimenting and delivering technology as well as a new set of capabilities that will get us to the network that we know we need in the future,” Bassett said on the IT Innovation Insider show. “It will not happen overnight, but we’ve been on that path and have begun experimentation.”

The Army is doing this across four lines of effort:

  • Unified transport, which is about putting the communication infrastructure in place to get data from point A to point B, both in the tactical space and back to enterprise systems.
  • Mission command systems and moving to a common operating environment where the Army doesn’t have systems that are stovepipes, but can leverage software to give soldiers a common operating picture that works across the battlefield applications and reduces the amount of servers and infrastructure needed in the field.
  • Interoperability across services and with allied partners.
  • Making command posts more deployable, more survivable and more capable.

“Across all four of those lines of effort we have efforts underway both programmatic and experimentation,” Bassett said. “We want to learn from immediate soldier feedback so we can move toward a model where don’t necessarily start with a set of requirements that were written in a school house somewhere, but rather get equipment quickly in the hands of soldiers, be able to leverage what technology can deliver and make much quicker decisions about what we can field across the force.”

Part 1 of the interview:

Retired Lt. Gen. Stephen Boutelle, the former Army CIO and now a visiting fellow at MITRE, said the tactical edge means so many different things to each of the services there isn’t a generic approach will not work for all the services.

“It’s really important to define the environment,” he said. “As we look at it, we have to look at the lowest level of the tactical edge all the way up to the enterprise.”

Scot Susi, the director of DoD for Nutanix, said the military, and for that matter than organization that works in an austere environment, must get away from cobbling systems together that are difficult to maintain and are complex to use.

“We need to give the folks in the field a simple interface, things that they are used to interfacing with like the iPhone or iPad that make it as simple as possible and reduce the number of moving parts,” he said. “That way there are fewer things to break, and when they do break, they are easier to fix in the field without having to send a highly trained, highly paid service engineer to complete rebuild an entire application stack.”

Bassett added the Army would layer on functionality after functionality, which added to that complexity. Now, the Army’s changing its current process to make simplicity and usability to the forefront.

“Some of that can be helped along the way by systems that employ artificial intelligence to help abstract away some of that complexity and help commanders turn all that battlefield data into actionable intelligence,” he said. “Some of it is about managing those functions and making sure the things we deliver work together well. We are figuring out how we can leverage commercial capability but not utterly rely on it so we can operate in that congested and contested environment. It’s absolutely at the heart of where we are trying to go with this network modernization.”

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