Pentagon IT Challenge: Introducing New Technology, While Still Using Legacy Systems

Sailors simulate the navigation of a littoral battleship in Integrated Tactical Team Trainer 2 at the LCS Training Center, April 6, 2021. In 2007, the LTF became the first surface warfare training facility to provide tactically integrated bridge and combat systems – scenario training for seafarers assigned to a warship on the coast. US Navy / 2nd Class Mass Communications Specialist Kevin K. Lightner

Arlington, Virginia – As the U.S. Department of Defense races to develop 21st century systems of systems connecting all services, commanders, platforms and personnel, two senior Pentagon officials say the challenge will not be simply acquiring new technology, but getting rid of the old things of the 20th century.

The Joint Defense Domain Management (JADC2) strategy aims to connect sensors from all military services – the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Space Forces – into a single intelligence, surveillance and intelligence sharing (ISR) network. data to enable faster decision making. Change is needed because in the digital world, decisions in future conflicts with deteriorating environments will have to be made quickly, perhaps within seconds, Pentagon officials say.

An unclassified version of the public release strategy is still awaiting approval from Defense Minister Lloyd Austin and other leaders, Marine Lt. Gen. Dennis Krall, chief information officer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J6), told the C4ISRNET virtual conference on April 21. King, who heads JADC2, said Army General Mark Millie, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks had already been informed of the document. “We’re doing some final revisions of this project and it needs to move quickly” from Millie to Hicks and then to Austin, he said, probably “in days.”

The mass transition to artificial intelligence and machine learning in the department is a test of a decade-long platform-oriented culture, King said. “The biggest challenge is our own history,” he added, noting that once the old platforms and technologies launch, it is “extremely difficult” to bring the new thing on board.

“Then you have a problem with resources. You have to keep the legacy alive as you get on the very thing you’re trying to do, “King said, adding that there’s a curve in the cost continuum where” it’s most expensive to work through this transition. “The way funding flows are provided needs to be scrutinized,” the general said. “We need to tear down those things that are both expensive and ineffective.”

At the last session of the conference, Vice Administrator Jeffrey Trasler, Director of Naval Intelligence, made a similar opinion on Project Overmatch, the Navy’s plan to develop a new naval architecture using artificial intelligence and equipped manned / unmanned teams to enable distributed naval operations. .

“The Navy is platform-oriented service, large capital ships and submarines. That’s what we do, and that gives us the opportunity to work around the world 24/7/365, “said Trasler. “Because we entered the information age in the 21stst century, the Navy discovered, as well as all services, and we must be able to connect these sensors and transmit data seamlessly to each other.

“It’s not really a technological problem,” Trasler said, “our challenge in this technology is the old platforms and systems we have now,” and replacing them in 298 naval ships with software-defined radios and other digital systems.