Pentagon: We Want You — to Get Us Into The Cloud Much Faster 

Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan speaks during a roundtable at the Pentagon, Oct. 18, 2017. Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is on his left.

DOD / Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

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Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan speaks during a roundtable at the Pentagon, Oct. 18, 2017. Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is on his left.

We need the private sector's help to vault DOD into the world of elastic computing and machine learning.

Swarming drones on the battlefield and sophisticated cyber attacks on our networks are obvious examples of how technology continues to transform the art of war. The Department of Defense must adapt much faster.

That is why Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and I are putting new emphasis on technologies like elastic computing, data management and analytics, cybersecurity, and machine learning. We are accelerating the department’s adoption of these advancements and disrupting traditional models to ensure that DOD moves at a speed relevant to warfighters.

While the Department has made strides, our computing platforms are not keeping pace with private industry, or even international actors. To maintain advantage over increasingly capable and brazen adversaries, DOD must have a worldwide, secure, exponentially elastic, and resilient information environment that continually learns and adapts. We must adjust more rapidly than our opponents and deliver a superior understanding of the battlespace in order to deliver weapons on time and on target.

We are aggressively pressing forward and invite the private sector to partner with us in this vital endeavor. That is why DOD has taken two unprecedented actions: First, I directed the department to aggressively accelerate our adoption of commercial cloud infrastructure and platform services by establishing the Cloud Executive Steering Group, a department-wide task force led by the former Silicon Valley experts who run the Defense Digital Service. This is the first time DDS has been in charge of such an initiative. Second, we aim to use the scale of DOD and the importance of its mission to enable us to move at cutting-edge speed. To that end, last week the department released a request for information on FedBizOpps, seeking recommendations from the private sector’s best and brightest about accelerating enterprise cloud adoption.

The move to the cloud is a small but integral part of larger reforms by the department along three lines of effort: to increase the lethality of our forces, build our international partnerships, and remain careful stewards of our tax dollars.

Transforming the way DOD does business will allow us to reduce costs and better invest our resources in the types of capabilities needed in an increasingly competitive security environment. As part of these larger reform efforts, DOD must capitalize on the potential of commercial technology, innovate at the speed of relevancy, and ensure military readiness on every front.

This rapid adoption of cloud infrastructure and platform services is not the end, but a beginning: laying a foundation that can revolutionize how DOD deploys information technology services, develops advanced capabilities, and unleashes the power of agile computational resources and advanced data analytics.

Advancing DOD’s computing environment means transforming how the department uses technology to create a more lethal fighting force. Harnessing the cloud will enable mission owners to transform data from disparate sources into actionable information at mission speed to support real-time decisions across the world.

We are changing the culture at DOD to move faster and bring the best minds and technologies to bear in defense of the nation. And we need the tech industry’s involvement. The department recognizes the value of innovative voices from the private sector and we need to benefit from them now more than ever.

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