• Dana Deasy, the Defense Department’s CIO, pictured speaking at AFCEA’s 2018 Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore, is stressing the role of cloud and artificial intelligence as part of DOD’s new Digital Modernization Strategy. Credit: Michael Carpenter
     Dana Deasy, the Defense Department’s CIO, pictured speaking at AFCEA’s 2018 Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore, is stressing the role of cloud and artificial intelligence as part of DOD’s new Digital Modernization Strategy. Credit: Michael Carpenter

DOD Releases Digital Modernization Strategy

July 17, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
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Defense Department’s latest IT-related strategy emphasizes cloud and cognitive computing


On Friday, the Defense Department released its DOD Digital Modernization Strategy, aiming to greatly improve the military’s digital environment. The strategy aims to modernize the DOD’s joint information enterprise environment by advancing its fixed and mobile networking capabilities,; DOD-wide enterprise information technology (IT) services, coordinated technology refresh efforts, joint cybersecurity capability and access to data.

The priorities of DOD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy—cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, and command, control and communications (C3)—provide the basis for the four digital modernization goals. Those goals include:

  • Innovate for Competitive Advantage;
  • Optimize for Efficiencies and Improved Capability;
  • Evolve Cybersecurity for an Agile and Resilient Defense Posture; and
  • Cultivate Talent for a Ready Digital Workforce.

“The modern battlespace extends into space and cyberspace, and adversary capabilities in these areas can be expected to expand in tomorrow’s strategic environment, increasing competition in and across all domains,” the strategy report stated. “To preserve and expand our military advantage in this new digital operating environment, the Joint Force must be adaptive, innovative and capable of seamlessly employing its capabilities across multiple regions and all domains. Agile, resilient, transparent, seamless and secure IT infrastructure and services that transform data into actionable information and ensure dependable mission execution in spite of the persistent cybersecurity threat are vital.”

In particular, the DOD will harness cloud and AI to improve defense business platforms as well as to improve warfighting operations. Here, the DOD will rely on secure commercial cloud capabilities, paired with AI, with help from the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) that is working to accelerate the use of AI tools in the department.

“Our strategy is to build a world class cloud and use services such as the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center,” said Deasy in a DOD statement and video from David Vergun and Anastasia Tompkins, respectively. “However, if we can’t communicate out to the warfighter, then those first two strategies really don’t matter. And that leads me to the third strategy component, which is C3—command, control and communications. That is all about how we ensure that we can get the end results from our cloud and our AI solutions out to the tactical edge.”

The CIO aims to deliver an enterprise cloud environment that harnesses commercial advancements, including providing cloud services to the tactical edge in denied or degraded environments, according to the strategy.

The DOD JAIC, led by Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, USAF, will work across the department to develop an enterprise infrastructure technology stack that can support AI deployment “at speed and scale.” JAIC leaders also will continue to establish partnerships with industry, academia and allies to identify state-of-the-art AI capabilities, according to the strategy. In addition, DOD leaders will work to test and certify the AI algorithms, data, and models that are developed for JAIC Implementations.

The broad strategy also looks to modernize command, control, communications, and computer (C4) infrastructure and systems; improve allied interoperability; treat data as a strategic asset; advance the transport structure of the Defense Information Systems Network, or DISN; modernize DOD IT components; and move to agile electromagnetic spectrum operations, among other measures.

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