The U.S. Army is taking advantage of commercial capabilities to address challenges warfighters face at the tactical edge, according to the service branch’s top IT official.


Raj Iyer, the Army’s chief information officer, explained that warfighters execute complex missions in contested and demanding environments, and that their success in those missions requires real-time actionable intelligence that comes in an easy-to-consume format. 


The Army faces two significant challenges in contested or demanding environments – adversarial attacks on communication networks and limited real-time data. 


Commanders also must deal with making critical decisions with limited information in a stressful environment. To address the data-delivery challenge, Army officials are looking to make more resilient data flows a key element by bringing cloud capabilities to the tactical edge, Iyer explained. 


“Getting the right data to the right entity at the right time is crucial for future conflicts. Enabling cloud technologies, especially at the edge, is an important aspect,” Iyar said during a FedInsider virtual event on April 18.


Iyer also talked about the importance of partnering with commercial satellite providers and cloud service providers to take advantage of satcom capabilities for a more resilient data transport architecture. 


“For the Army, at the tactical edge means being able to successfully perform mission goals in contested environments. Our warfighters must be careful and mitigate attacks on their communication networks,” Iyar said.


As an industry veteran now in a public service role, Iyer sees the attractiveness of commercial capabilities to address these challenges. For example, increased access to satellite communication allows for greater resiliency in transport and communication “better than we have ever seen before,” he explained.

Before deploying any commercial capabilities or devices, however, the Army puts those services through rigorous testing to make sure they fill the service branch’s needs, the CIO said.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.