Army repurposes cyber planning office to focus on digital modernization strategy

Brig. Gen. Martin F. Klein, director of Department of the Army’s Management Office-Strategic Operations (DAMO- SO), in 2017 when he was a Col. (Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris/U.S. Army)

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The Army has changed one of its cyber planning offices to a “strategic operations” team to focus more on the digital modernization of warfighting systems and linking multi-domain operations, its director said during a Tuesday media roundtable.

What used to be known as the Department of the Army’s Management Office-Cyber (DAMO-Cy) became the DAMO-Strategic Operations (DAMO-SO) in February. The team will guide the Army’s Operations and Plans Directorate, designated G-3/5/7, on digital modernization.

The shift marks the importance the Army is placing on thinking broadly about its digital future and how operations beyond just cyberspace will be affected by technology, said Brig. Gen. Martin Klein, the director of DAMO-SO. The directorate now has a broader portfolio, including electronic warfare and new domains like space.

Here’s what it means for anyone who keeps tabs on the Army’s digital capabilities: The directorate is working on tactical edge cloud data migration, an electromagnetic spectrum strategy and other battlefield digital transformations. It also is working within the Army on its “Project Convergence,” the Army’s multi-domain operations effort.

Beyond the Army, the directorate also will run point in linking with the Joint Staff and other military services on IT and emerging technology projects, including the new network-of-network system called Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2. The Air Force has taken the lead on designing the common data architecture and doctrine of JADC2, but the Army’s DAMO-SO is working closely with the Joint Staff on the program, Klein said.

It’s not the only office to take up the mantel of trying to shift the Army from the “information age” to the “cognitive age” where emerging technology will both enable and replace human decision making. But DAMO-SO’s work is uniquely targeted as a cross-functional team working to plan data migration to the cloud and strategizing for war-fighting operations supported by digital tools.

The directorate serves as the lead for “Army warfighting transformation by integrating, prioritizing, and synchronizing multi-domain, data-enabled warfighting systems,” according to a July 21 release.

“What we are doing is really reckoning the new dynamics in the information environment,” Klein said.

Cloud Efforts

The office is focused on tactical edge cloud computing that can share data with warfighters in “denied and degraded” environments with limited bandwidth. Those efforts are happening in partnerships with Army Futures Command and the CIO’s office, which are working with the private sector to find and migrate data to new cloud solutions. Cloud migration and broader data sharing has been transformative for the directorate, Klein said.

Currently DAMO-SO is working to bring “cloud-agnostic” software to operations to be able to transition tools to whichever cloud service provider the Army and Department of Defense decide to go with for an enterprise system. The DOD’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) has been stalled in protests and delays, but Klein said his directorate is working to be able to use whichever service provider the DOD CIO decides to go ultimately launch for the Pentagon.

DAMO-SO is “trying to build those cloud agnostic tools so that as a department we can immediately lift in various levels,” Klein said.

While Klein is pro-cloud and said being able to share more data is critical to the success of the Army he cautioned against cloud over-hype.

“I don’t believe that the cloud is a panacea,” he said. “It will not solve all things.”

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Air Force, Army, Cloud, IT Modernization, Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI)
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