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Tenets of National Defense Strategy at Heart of Defense Department CIO Efforts

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (July 30, 2020) -- The National Defense Strategy, which provides momentum to the Defense Department, also drives its information technology efforts, DOD's chief information officer said.

"The efforts of the NDS are all about getting modern, effective technologies into the hands of our warfighter," Dana Deasy said during a conference call today. "Our program ... covers cloud, artificial intelligence, command, control and communications -- or C3 -- cybersecurity, and our latest effort, data."

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Efforts in all of those areas, he said, address and advance National Defense Strategy priorities, which include lethality, partnerships and enterprise reform.

Cloud efforts such as the commercial virtual remote environment, which enables online collaboration between both teleworking and in-office department employees, is now enabled for more than 3 million DOD employees. It has contributed significantly to lethality by ensuring the work of defense employees around the globe has not been stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deasy said department personnel were able to roll out that program in less than 60 days and delivered it in late March.

"Normally a program of this scale and complexity would take over a year to design, engineer and deploy," he said.

Also supporting lethality are department efforts to push the latest, most secure software to warfighting systems as quickly as possible.

"Our software modernization effort, which is being worked collaboratively across many offices of the DOD, works backward from the goal of delivering new capabilities directly into the hands of the warfighter and addresses both the technical and, I must emphasize, ... the nontechnical obstacles to that vision," Deasy said.

One example there, he said, is his office's designation of the Air Force's DevSecOps platform, "PlatformONE" as an enterprise service for the Defense Department, which Deasy said ensures departmentwide availability of that capability.

Efforts at the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center are "laser-focused on the priorities of the National Defense Strategy," Deasy said.

Using AI-predictive analysis, he said, the JAIC is working to develop an "operations cognitive assistant" to enhance human-machine teaming and to drive faster and more efficient decision-making in direct support of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept, or JADC2.

In support of the NDS's partnership focus, the JAIC's international engagement team is facilitating discussion with allies and partners, he said-- including those in NATO, the European Union, and the Indo-Pacific region -- about how AI can shape security cooperation and defense partnerships.

"AI is just one example of how the department is preserving its military and technological advantage as outlined in the National Defense Strategy, as well as leveraging the innovation of America's technology industry to deliver safe, responsible and effective solutions to our warfighters," Deasy said.

The "Mission Partner Environment," with the Air Force as the executive agent, will also facilitate stronger relationships with partnerships with allies, Deasy said.

"When fully deployed in fiscal year 2028, it will provide information sharing, command and control, intelligence collaborative capabilities, supporting the full range of military operations," he said.

Deasy said this office is running a robust digital modernization program focused on delivering the capabilities that are called for in the National Defense Strategy.

"Each element of that program builds upon the next element," he said. "We face a future battlefield environment across all domains that will be more complex, more lethal, and more dynamic than ever before. We also know that competitors including China and Russia are pursuing many of the same technological advances that we are. To maintain our edge, we have to adapt to this future in a way that is faster, smarter and more flexible than our adversaries."

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