The Army’s Enterprise Cloud Management Office is set to be in full swing by March, said the service’s chief information officer, following the force’s data strategy push to modernize and safeguard its networks against great-power competitors.
Last year, more than $730 million in reallocated funds — dug up through curtailing other programs during “night court” review sessions — were tallied solely to beef up the Army’s cloud efforts through fiscal year 2023.
These shifted funds helped pave the way for the new cloud office to stay “organized and funded” to support the Army’s Data Plan and modernization focus to operationalize data across the Army, said Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, the Army’s CIO/G-6, at AFCEA’s IT Day Tuesday, with more cloud and data trials ahead.
“We needed to centralize all things cloud,” Crawford said. “The ECMO is designed to better Army commands through a centralized office, and improve the ability to facilitate cloud projects and oversee migration to the cloud network.”
The primary function of the ECMO, first reported in November, is to serve as a cohesive, dedicated cloud migration resource for Army data and application owners, Army officials said, when the office was established.
“[The cloud and data migration] is a monumental task,” Crawford said to conference goers. “We can’t do it without harvesting our data, divesting any of the legacy applications, and moving the data that’s most important into a cloud.”
Once fully operational, the cloud office will deliver the Army’s Enterprise Cloud and facilitate the operationalization of data — transforming the Army from an industrial age to an information age.
INDUSTRY LEADER AT THE HELM
Paul Puckett III — who arrived from the commercial industry — was recruited to be ECMO’s first director in November, when the new office was announced. In the business world, Puckett led “large cloud migrations, strategy, architecture development, and security efforts in a cloud environment,” officials said.
Puckett also has IT and cybersecurity contract experience, as well as artificial intelligence and machine-learning capability development. This know-how will all be utilized by the Army’s latest data effort, Crawford said.
As director of the cloud office, Puckett will lead “the unified vision and delivery of cloud services and resources to turn information into a global strategic asset of the United States Army,” stated a news release, adding however that his top priority will be talent recruitment.
Although the office will operate with a small number of staff, Crawford said, its mission is “less about numbers and more about capabilities.”
Although, standing up the ECMO is a key task of the Army’s Data Plan, Crawford said it’s far from the only networking pushes on the horizon.
5G TECH SUPPORTING MULTI-DOMAIN OPERATIONS
Sometime this quarter, the Army — along with its sister services — will test fifth-generation wireless connectivity at four military bases to the tune of $275 million, allocated through the National Defense Authorization Act, Crawford said, with a previous amount of $52 million.
The Army selected Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, the foremost location of the Multi-Domain Task Force, Crawford said.
“The Army has built an organization of living, breathing people with heartbeats at McChord,” Crawford said. “We have an actual [MDO] organization there.”
The Army’s role in the MDO concept was first wrote up by officials 18 months ago, he said, and it outlines how the services — within their respective joint-force duties — can counter and defeat near-peer adversaries capable of contesting the United States in all domains — including air, land, maritime, space, and cyberspace.
How 5G technology will integrate into MDO remains to be seen. However, the tech chief added, “the scope and depth of what 5G will deliver has the opportunity to be a game changer in terms of capacity. This isn’t just a faster 4G, it’s the capacity to become a critical infrastructure.”
Down the road, the joint services plan to share 5G experimentation lessons learned with each other.
Another technology linked to cloud computing is the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, goggles. Developed with Microsoft’s HoloLens, the lightweight, high-tech glasses are meant to give Soldiers an edge in close combat, by fusing digital technology into the warfighter’s field of view.
Also, the cutting-edge goggles are capable of both facial recognition and language translation, said Maj. Gen. David G. Bassett, program executive officer of Command, Control, Communications Tactical, known as PEO C3T.
“What you see through your goggles, you can take a picture of and then translate the image or language to something you can understand,” Bassett said.
“The goggles are for young Soldiers, who finish their [physical training], have breakfast, they can put on goggles the size of Oakley’s and have leverage in an interactive, virtual-reality type capability, and they can train on any piece of turf there is in the world,” Crawford said.