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Pentagon seeks ‘data advantage' in new strategic guidance

The Pentagon is implementing new policies and procedures to codify best practices in the department’s data management operations in an effort to ensure US armed forces maintains “data advantage” over its adversaries in future conflicts.

“Data is a strategic asset [and] transforming the [US] Department of Defense (DoD) to a data-centric organisation is critical to improving performance and creating decision advantage at all echelons from the battlespace to the board room, ensuring US competitive advantage,” Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks wrote in a 5 May memorandum that was officially released by the Pentagon on 10 May.

The policy memorandum focuses on five main pillars across four major target areas within the department, designed to “ensure all DoD data is visible, accessible, understandable, linked, trustworthy, interoperable, and secure”, she said in the memo. Those pillars include efforts to maximise data sharing and data use rights across the DoD, as well as to ensure the common data interfaces utilised by the department consist of “industry-standard, non-proprietary, preferably open-source, technologies, protocols, and payloads”, the memo stated.

The other pillars, in terms of data publishing and storage, state all data assets should be published in the Pentagon’s federated data catalogue, while storage should be conducted in a “platform and environment-agnostic, uncoupled from hardware or software dependencies”, according to the memo. Finally, DoD data policy makers are aiming to develop and adopt “industry best practices for secure authentication, access management, encryption, monitoring, and protection of data at rest, in transit, and in use”, it added.

The memorandum comes several months after the Pentagon issued its overarching strategy on how it will gather, store, and manage collected data, and leverage it towards development of advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

A US Army specialist with the 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade uses a Category 5 cable to establish a network connection at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Indiana. (US Army )

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