Joint Chiefs CIO on JEDI: ‘Our warfighters need this capability now’

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Bradford Shwedo meets with members of the 85th Engineering Installation Squadron during a tour in Maltby Hall at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, May 22, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

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If the Department of Defense’s acquisition and adoption of an enterprise cloud capability through the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract is delayed any longer, it will “negatively impact” national security and military competitiveness, says a top military IT official.

Lt. Gen. Bradford Shwedo, CIO of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a declaration earlier this month explaining the urgency and importance of DOD implementing JEDI as rapidly as possible. The letter was released publicly this week as part of the case file in Oracle’s lawsuit protesting the potential 10-year, $10 billion JEDI acquisition.

“Delaying implementation of the JEDI Cloud will negatively impact our efforts to plan, fight, and win in communications compromised environments, and will negatively impact our efforts to improve force readiness and hampers our critical efforts in AI,” Shwedo wrote. “This position has been forwarded and is supported by all of the U.S. Combatant Commands. Our adversaries are employing these technologies; our warfighters need this capability now.”

Since late 2017, DOD has been developing the JEDI acquisition plan to adopt an enterprise commercial cloud that supports the sharing of both unclassified and classified information. But for the better part of the past year, the acquisition has been stagnant as cloud vendors, namely Oracle, have protested the department’s decision to issue a single award and use gate requirements to trim the competition to just two companies — Amazon Web Services and Microsoft — among other things. Oracle claims this has done harm to its business.

If the Court of Federal Claims were to rule in Oracle’s favor next month after final oral arguments, it would almost certainly force the Pentagon to go back to scratch developing a JEDI acquisition strategy that fit the court’s orders. If Oracle is denied, DOD could soon after look to award the JEDI contract. But even then, the likelihood of a post-award protest is highly likely, continuing the delay of implementing JEDI.

Shwedo pointed to three examples where once operational, JEDI significantly boost U.S. military advantage: enhancing use and integration of surveillance data, building a more reliable communications link in adversarial and austere regions, and increasing force readiness with better training and equipment maintenance.

In a new cross motion, DOD’s lawyers highlight Shwedo’s comments as evidence of how “the potential harm to our national defense is substantial and outweighs any potential harm to Oracle.” The lawyers continue: “Accordingly, delaying implementation of the JEDI Cloud will negatively impact our military’s lethality and strategic readiness.”

Moreover, DOD makes the argument that even if the contract didn’t have the technical gate requirements, Oracle wouldn’t stand a very good chance of competing for JEDI.

“Oracle’s odds of being awarded the JEDI contract are slim, even if the Gate Criteria it challenges were removed. Contrary to the suggestion in its supplemental brief, Oracle is not in the same class as Microsoft and AWS when it comes to providing commercial IaaS and PaaS cloud services on a broad scale… Even if Oracle were reinstated into the competition, its chances of being awarded the JEDI contract would be slim, minimizing the harm of its exclusion.”

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Amazon Web Services (AWS), Bradford Shwedo, Cloud, Department of Defense (DOD), JEDI, joint chiefs of staff, Microsoft, Oracle
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