This month, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced a new strategy that makes data a mission-critical component in support of warfighting. In order for this strategy to be successful, siloed data within DoD agencies must be unlocked and made easily shareable to improve readiness and overall mission success.
The strategy, published on October 8, 2020, was the result of the listening tour DoD’s new Chief Data Officer, Dave Spirk, took to determine new ways to use data to benefit the military. It emphasizes the use of data as a strategic asset and highlights its usefulness in building battlefield advantage. The strategy also reiterates the need to treat data and information systems with the same level of importance as weapon systems.
In order to ensure that the strategy is implemented at the right scale and speed, Spirk has expanded the military’s CDO Council with data leaders from other DoD agencies, including those from combatant commands.
“Questions over data security, cultural silos, and bureaucratic morasses have often stymied DOD’s data-sharing efforts in the past,” explained Spirk. “Defense officials have expressed that the DOD still has a long way to go in realizing many of the goals in the strategy, like making large databases more widely available and creating military-wide standard application programming interfaces (APIs). But the new strategy is a first step in the right direction. This does mean that we need to acknowledge that data is the ammo of the future.”
While acknowledging that data is critical to future successes, Spirk also noted the immense amount of siloed data in DoD agencies. Data silos, which ultimately undermine mission success, are negated when agencies learn to eliminate barriers.What’s needed is an ecosystem for agencies that connects them to their data and each other’s by deploying workloads across different regions; in this way, data is shared and consumed in a secure environment.
“This new strategy sheds light on a few important aspects specific to the use of data within DoD agencies,” explained Nicholas Speece, Chief Federal Technologist at Snowflake. “It not only reiterates treating data with equal importance compared to weapon systems, but it also explains the pressing need to break down data siloes in agencies so that all valuable insights are accessible to our warfighters and other defense members.”
It’s clear that the DoD’s new data strategy further instills the importance of data as a strategic asset and it’s paired with a call to action – make data accessible among DoD agencies. In this way, data becomes more valuable. How? It benefits today’s warfighters and from there, helps to meet mission goals.
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