Data awakening: The role of American Industry in integrated deterrence

How innovative approaches to data-sharing will enable the United States to outpace the competition.

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The United States is facing strategic competition in an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape. Competition and conflict occur on a continuum with blurred lines and accelerated time windows, especially as the U.S. faces evolving challenges in the all-important Indo-Pacific region.

Regional forces in the Indo-Pacific are immersing operations in data now more than ever, especially given the dispersed nature of future conflict and rapidly evolving challenges across this vast theater. The joint force needs synchronous intelligence gathering and coordinated command and control to ensure timely, accurate decision making. To achieve decision advantage and integrated deterrence in the region, the U.S. must create new pathways for American industry to address data-sharing challenges with emerging technology.

Overcoming data-sharing challenges

The most recent U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS) states, “Integrated deterrence means using every tool at the Department’s disposal, in close collaboration with our counterparts across the U.S. Government and with Allies and partners, to ensure that potential foes understand the folly of aggression.”

Deterrence in today’s geopolitical landscape requires an innovative and all-encompassing approach to data-sharing, according to Booz Allen’s Global Defense Sector President, Judi Dotson.  

“The exponentially increasing volume of information generated across the force and throughout the Indo-Pacific region demands a decisive approach to managing assets, centralizing siloed data, and eliminating complexities with speed and efficiency,” Dotson said. “To achieve integrated deterrence, the U.S. must be positioned to share data seamlessly across the entire enterprise, including with our allies and partners. This requires the best people from the Department of Defense, American industry, the intelligence community and our allies and partners coming together in a coordinated approach.”

Another challenge to data-sharing is confirming the veracity of the data itself.

“Disinformation is a real threat. We’ve all seen it, and I worry about the potential for disinformation to be leveraged to justify escalation,” she added. “Operations in the Indo-Pacific could require a level of decision-making under degraded conditions and uncertainty that underscores the importance of trusted data sources.”

Countering these data-sharing challenges will demand new levels of engagement and investment from American industry as part of integrated deterrence, according to Dotson. For industry, this means partnering with the DOD to innovate and deliver new, ruggedized ways of ensuring the Department has persistent and secure data access and interoperability in highly contested environments at the tactical edge.

“We’re in a strategic competition. Now is the time for American industry to rise to the challenge of the times. And now is the time for the U.S. federal government and DOD to think differently about how to create new pathways for industry to support defense missions,” said Steve Escaravage, Executive Vice President in Booz Allen’s Global Defense business.

Rallying American industry for defense missions

When asked how to supercharge American innovation, Escaravage pointed back to the NDS, which states that deterrence is strengthened by three key areas: denial, resilience, and cost imposition.

“Tech innovators should look at those three areas as a rubric for how they can support defense missions,” Escaravage said. “When it comes to denial, the U.S. has great capabilities around electronic warfare and cyber defense. Resilience is where autonomy and contested logistics come into play. Cost imposition is an area where commercial and attritable tech are crucial.”

How can the defense industry drive transformation and create opportunity for new commercial entrants to apply dual-use technology to defense missions? Escaravage pointed to two ways that Booz Allen is investing in the future.

The first is by launching its corporate venture capital arm, Booz Allen Ventures, a $100 million fund investing in early-stage technology poised to transform mission outcomes for the public sector.

The second is by thinking differently about how the company cultivates its own warfighting mission system capabilities through investment in engineering infrastructure, tools, and enablers across three categories.

“We selected a set of missions that we’re investing behind and that we believe are at the core of transformation and modernization within the DOD,” Escaravage said.

Escaravage outlined the categories as follows. Each shares the central thesis that AI and autonomy will drive future competitive advantage.

  • Expeditionary edge mission technologies – hardware and software integrated with partners to provide persistent function of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, processing, or command and control.
  • Tactical edge mission technologies – outfitting future warfighters with technology to support cognitive processing of the battlefield and offloading some of their cognitive load to machines.
  • Digital enablers – networks, computing, reach back communications, and the interfaces that are needed to help process information.  

Now is the time to act, Dotson and Escaravage urged.

“Armed conflict is not inevitable, but competition is,” Dotson underscored. “In the future, if the U.S. begins to find mission gaps in technical capability, we’re going to wish we had made foundational investments today that mirror the operational environments we may face tomorrow.”  

Learn more about Booz Allen’s approach to decision advantage in the Indo-Pacific. Please note, the editorial staff of Defense One was not involved in the preparation of this article. 

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