The Army Focuses on Key Product Development Criteria for Industry
The U.S. Army unveiled three key criteria for industry to guide product development, as it increases its focus on training.
“Two years ago, we started really laying in a strategy to get after this unified network based off of zero-trust principles,” said Lt. Gen. John B. Morrison, deputy chief of staff responsible for planning and implementing communication strategies and cyber operations for the U.S. Army.
After extensive planning, the Army produced sprawling plans that were problematic.
“We had a network requirement literally for everything often duplicate, often de-synced and often outdated,” Gen. Morrison told the audience at AFCEA’s TechNet Augusta 2023 on Tuesday.
The need for a global and reliable data flow facilitated by a network is a key capability currently under construction.
“We need to continue to transform rapidly, at the proper tempo—I won't say ‘speed’—continue to modernize as well, to give us that overmatch that we do need with our adversaries across all domains, signal and cyber being one of them,” said Gen. Gary Brito, commanding general of the U. S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
Part of this evolution is based on an industrial base that must provide capabilities that are nimble and can evolve at the speed of technology. Thus, Gen. Morrison laid out three principles for product development based on software-hardware flexibility, low signature electromagnetic communications and flexible network security.
“If you're going to bring us something that is tightly coupled to a hardware solution, we're probably not very interested. We need something that is decoupled from hardware,” Gen. Morrison said.
“We need help dealing with the spectrum. At the tactical edge you will hear a lot about the Army moving towards this notion of sensitive but unclassified encrypted because we have to move away from where perishable information is at play, from our traditional Type-1 radios, which give off a signature to something that hides far easier inside the noise floor,” Gen. Morrison told the audience.
“We also need industry's help grading what we're doing from a zero-trust perspective and making sure that we are not locking ourselves into something that's going to cause us to do this spin-up again in five to 10 years,” Gen. Morrison offered as his third consideration for industry.
We had a network requirement literally for everything.
While Gen. Morrison stressed that this transition is happening at breakneck speed, there is also concern about how soldiers will be recruited and trained in a fighting force that sees dramatic technological change.
“We will continue to bring in the very best soldiers that we need from all walks of life, train them, develop them and retain them in this field—the cyber lane and signal lane,” Gen. Brito told the audience.
Thus, the new challenges the Army faces force the institution to think and rethink as it moves forward.
“Our capabilities need to continually be assessed, analyzed and tested, experimented and made better so that we have that overmatch. We need it all the time,” Brito said.
Our capabilities need to continually be assessed, analyzed and tested, experimented and made better.
Three generals spoke to a room full of business leaders as the event kicked off. For one of them, a central concern is applying intuitive design for easy operation despite the educational increases the force introduces. More capable soldiers should not waste time operating unfriendly technologies. Better products will further empower warfighters to do their primary tasks.
“Soldiers need to be focused on pulling triggers, slewing turrets, making decisions to beat our enemies if we find ourselves in large-scale combat operations,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Stanton, commanding general of the Cyber Center of Excellence of the U.S. Army, during his opening remarks at the event.
Gen. Stanton introduced the speaker lineup and major themes to be addressed at the Augusta, Georgia, conference. This year's TechNet Augusta will continue until Thursday.