Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, USA, chief information officer (CIO)/G-6 policy, and Maj. Gen. Nickolas Justice, USA, program executive officer, Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), had a lot to say about innovation in the U.S. Army at the Gov 2.0 Summit last week.
Panel moderator Dr. Linton Wells, Transformation Chair and distinguished research professor at National Defense University, asked them why pursue innovation on the edge. Gen. Sorenson took the opportunity to explain challenges faced by the military in today's enviroment. "If you look at warfare today, it has dramatically changed from when your father or grandfather fought it," he said. "We have to function in environments that are asymmetrical, where the enemy is not in uniform and may be in front, behind, around you." He made a distinction between strategic operations and tactical operations but noted that the two are no longer separate. "You now have tactical forces doing strategic operations," he explained. "They have to have the best situational awareness at that front edge. The only way to do that is to make sure that data [they need to complete the mission] is available accessible and accurate."
Gen. Justice had a different perspective on why innovation matters most on the front line. "It's all about money," he said. "If I can get my warfighters to solve my problems for me, then I don't have to go back to the Pentagon to ask for the money to address these capabilities."
Gen. Sorenson said that in his experience, he'd run across soldiers with intuitions or experience to discern what was needed. When that happens, he continued, "You get some magic." He is always astonished to find that warfighters are "using systems in ways that were never imagined when we wrote the requirements for it."