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Army Ramps Up Cloud Modernization Ahead of Unified Network

The service’s upcoming efforts are honing in on advanced data management and analysis to expedite decision-making and joint operations.

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image of Deputy Chief of Staff, G-6, Lt. Gen. John B. Morrison highlighted Army Risk Management Framework reforms during keynote remarks at the 2022 TechNet Cyber event in Baltimore.
Deputy Chief of Staff, G-6, Lt. Gen. John B. Morrison highlighted Army Risk Management Framework reforms during keynote remarks at the 2022 TechNet Cyber event in Baltimore. Photo Credit: U.S. Army

The U.S. Army is spearheading a large-reaching initiative to better mobilize data analytics and information transference to advance its force readiness and strategic edge.

Speaking on a call with reporters, Lt. Gen. John Morrison, deputy chief of staff for cyber at the Army, provided more insight into how the service and broader Defense Department is creating the structural foundations needed to mobilize next-gen capacities and ultimate effort toward Joint All-Domain and Control (JADC2).

These measures represent a defense iteration of the kind of enterprise unification and data integration models. Army’s contribution toward JADC2 is both in its plan for a unified network and Project Convergence.

“Back in October of 2020, we released the Army Unified Network Plan. In February of 2021, we released the Army Unified Network and Augmentation Plan, which was codified in an order. That said, we’re now going to start establishing this notion of a unified network,” Morrison said.

The ultimate goal of this project is for the U.S. to maintain an edge in operational decision-making against nations referred to as “near-peer adversaries,” or those whose own defense advancements could potentially rival that of the U.S. Data assets, and capacities that can compute these with unprecedented celerity, will better inform large-scale strategic planning while refining the rapid tactical choices that occur during active military operations.

This necessitates the development of what Army officials refer to as a “unified network” — one that has both the interconnectivity to transfer data at the necessary speed, as well as the supporting cloud capacities needed to mobilize this scope of information delivery possible.

“Think of a network with global reach. Think of a network that is resilient. Think of a network that will survive in a contested and congested environment against a near-peer adversary. If we don’t have this unified network and we remain balkanized, we will not be able to maneuver at the speed a data-centric Army and supporting Joint Command and Control needs. So this notion of unified network is an absolute operational imperative,” Morrison said.

This movement toward an information network that is wide-reaching, resilient, yet flexible, has led to investments in cloud modernization. This has helped shape the Army’s overall enterprise modernization toward a more integrated model that creates a more unified approach to systems transformation.

“If you looked at Army a couple years ago, we had two separate and distinct modernization activities, and they were not aligned. Those days are gone. We have fixed that. We’ve also aligned our cloud activities with our network modernization activities in this transition toward being data centric,” Morrison said.

Army leadership is now preparing to deploy these new data-enabled capacities into the hands of more ground-level planners and warfighters.

“You will see a much more rapid movement to the cloud over the next year. That foundation has now been set. We are putting the requisite capabilities into the hands of our operational formation so they can understand the applications that need to move to the cloud. And we are aligning the requisite combat power to assist in that migration,” Morrison said.

As a foundation for securing these maturing cloud capacities and new deployments, Army is also moving to implement zero trust security to protect critical information and overall network integrity.

“When you couple that with this notion of zero trust principles, it increases operational effectiveness, it increases security, but it also will dramatically drive down costs. We will start that pilot as well. We are targeting nerve centers that may be out in remote areas where we may not otherwise want to extend military infrastructure and communications, and we can now leverage what is out there with this virtual infrastructure,” Morrison said.

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