• Gen. Daniel Hokanson (r), USA, chief, National Guard Bureau, speaks with soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery Regiment, at Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center, Guernsey, Wyoming, in August 2021. Armed with a new chief data officer, Martin Akerman, the guard aims to unite its data from all of its components to better support its warfighters and decision-making. Credit: U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Kristina Kranz
     Gen. Daniel Hokanson (r), USA, chief, National Guard Bureau, speaks with soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery Regiment, at Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center, Guernsey, Wyoming, in August 2021. Armed with a new chief data officer, Martin Akerman, the guard aims to unite its data from all of its components to better support its warfighters and decision-making. Credit: U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Kristina Kranz

National Guard’s New Chief Data Officer Starts with Modernization

December 10, 2021
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
E-mail About the Author

In addition to uniting the service’s data community, the new CDO leads the National Guard’s contribution to the DoD data lake.


The U.S. National Guard Bureau has put in place its first chief data officer. In his role as CDO, Martin Akerman, the former director of data strategy for the Department of the Air Force, is leading the National Guard’s Digital Modernization “from the ground up,” the service reported.

Some of the CDO’s early efforts will include uniting the guard’s data community across its Army, Air and Space National Guard components and the 54 states, territories and Washington, D.C. Akerman also will lead the National Guard’s contribution to the Defense Department’s data lake, called Advana. Moreover, Akerman will work to embed the National Guard’s data catalog and associate knowledge graph that the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center will rely on to further the military’s use of artificial intelligence, according to a guard spokesperson.

Akerman, along with the guard’s chief technology officer and chief information security officer, all report to the service’s chief information officer(CIO)/J-6, Ken McNeill.

“[Akerman and the CIO/J-6 team will] ensure that technology across the Army National Guard, Air National Guard and the National Guard Bureau is able to pivot at the speed of the mission and that the entire National Guard is able to maintain information confidentiality, integrity and availability throughout the modernization process, making data visible, accessible, understandable, linked and trustworthy with a focus on interoperability and security,” the spokesperson stated. “McNeill and Akerman share similar philosophies, that the future will depend on our ability to rapidly integrate capabilities from the private sector, our biggest military asset. Akerman brings unique knowledge to the fight, with a background on convening international collaboration, academic research and public-private partnerships on data efforts.”

During his stint at the Air Force, Akerman helped the Defense Department move to a more agile and datacentric posture, through his drafting and establishment of the mandatory Enterprise Data Management policy. He also assisted in the Air Force's response to COVID-19 to support altered data and workflows from geographically separated teams. Previously, the new CDO was a federal faculty researcher at the University of South Florida, part of Booz Allen Hamilton’s Strategic Innovation Group and data architect for the State Department’s Millennium Challenge Corporation.

At the National Guard, Akerman and the CIO/J-6 team will work to introduce more private sector offerings into the service, including personal device containers, web collaboration suites and multicloud microservices. The guard must meet increasing demand signals from its warfighters for advanced command, control, communications & computers/cyber (C4) capabilities “that stretch far beyond” legacy email, phone and voicemail technologies.

“The National Guard is working with partners across the Department of Defense and industry to help accelerate an ‘API-first’ [application programming interface] culture, emulating the cultural changes that make modern American enterprises so successful,” the spokesperson said. “This includes prioritizing mission use cases to help map business processes, identify resources, user interfaces and ultimately the points of interoperability (data assets) that make each part of the DoD and National Guard tick.”

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