The Pentagon’s lead data official on Wednesday lauded the Army’s new digital transformation strategy, saying the service is doing a “tremendous job” in its push to integrate data-driven concepts to support future operations.

“I think the Army’s doing tremendous right now, a tremendous job. They’re really in the midst of a pretty profound transformation into a digital and data-driven future,” David Spirk, the DoD chief data officer, told reporters. “I’m all in on the Army. I think their trajectory is great. But it is a big turn and I think we need to be patient and understand that taking concepts to change doctrine is a long process. Doctrine exists for a reason. New data-driven warfighting concepts will begin influencing that doctrine and I think we’ll start to see that change in ‘22 and ‘23 as we realize some of those opportunities.”

The 50th Expeditionary Signal Battalion (Enhanced) and 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion conducted a combined Large Scale Combat Operations (LSCO) communications exercise on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, September 29, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Eric Messmer)

The Army’s digital transformation strategy, released in October, established a series of new information technology initiatives to ensure modernization efforts maximize capability to support future Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) and the new Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) construct (Defense Daily, Oct. 20).

The plan includes prioritizing the use of data as a strategic asset, such as bringing in artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation to upgrade data management capabilities on a tactical and enterprise level.

Raj Iyer, the Army’s chief information officer, told reporters recently a priority under the strategy for 2022 is to “more aggressively start to close on-premise data centers as we start to move these systems to the cloud and harness those savings for additional data center closures in FY ‘23 and beyond” (Defense Daily, Dec. 14 2021). 

Spirk noted the Army’s plans to grow the use of its new Palantir [PLTR]-supported Vantage platform, which is a data-driven system designed to aid senior leader decision-making.

“When you start to think through how [the Army] has organized themselves, the data stewards and custodians that they’re placing across the echelon, the training they’re giving their uniformed soldiers to become more data-fluent and thereby more data-demanding, I think you’re starting to see people realize exactly what they can do,” Spirk said.

Spirk also cited the Army’s recent Scarlet Dragon exercise at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, led by Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla, Commanding General of the XVIII Airborne Corps, which brought in the joint force to run AI systems powering data workflows to expedite targeting and leveraged technology borne out of the Pentagon’s Project Maven effort. 

“I think you start to see the edge and what the art-of-the-possible is and there’s a lot of leaders who have a few data-driven technology integration reps under their belt now,” Spirk said. “You’re really starting to see a center of excellence of what future warfighting could look like emerging from the Fort Bragg location.”