ARMY

Army looks at future capabilities as it shapes its IT strategy

Editor's Note: A version of this article originally appeared on FCW.com.

The Army has short- and medium-term plans for IT modernization but is still in search of a long-term vision, according to CIO Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell. To fill that void, Ferrell convened a strategy session in mid-September with the service’s technology gurus and outside experts, he said Sept. 25 at a conference hosted by AFCEA’s Washington, D.C., chapter.

The group was comprised of officials from the Army’s program executive offices, as well as representatives of Mitre Corp. and IT specialists at Johns Hopkins University, Ferrell said. Prescribing technologies for the Army to target in the long term might be a fool’s errand because of the pace of technological change.

Instead, Ferrell said, it would be wiser to focus on deliverable capabilities he would like the service to zero in on for the long-term.

A longer-term Army IT strategy would help contractors plan their R&D investments, Ferrell said at the conference. He floated software-defined networking and “self-healing” networks as types of capabilities the Army might explore. The lieutenant general expects to release the strategy in the second quarter of fiscal 2016.

The short and medium-term planning for Army IT is covered by the Army Network Campaign Plan that Ferrell released earlier this year. That strategy runs through fiscal 2021 and includes a push to make better use of IT at the edge of Army networks by taking advantage of tools such as data consolidation.

Ferrell made clear why more strategizing is needed. “Right now, we have so many disparate networks” and “too many vulnerabilities, too many backdoors that can get into our enterprise,” he said. “When you talk about the cyber threat, we can’t even see ourselves.”

On the cyber front, Doug Wiltsie, the Army program executive officer for enterprise information systems, said the service will award a big contact for cyber defense operations within a week. The contract will include conducting a pilot project for cyber infrastructure and supplying “toolkits” to the Army’s cyber protection teams, the specialists charged with network defense.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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