TAK as a Guide For How Army Wants Integration Done

Here’s an article titled “Pentagon Officials to Industry: Bring Us Tech That is Easy to Integrate”. There are three key points I’d like to highlight here. First, the DoD recognizes that building technology so that the system can realize its full potential is important. Second, the push for realizable cyber-security needs to be built into the system, not an afterthought. Third, they call out one example for the DoD — TAK.

A few Observations here. First, Maj. Brinkman (SOCOM CTO) highlight’s the open source nature of ATAK and its large community of developers (which is likely to grow given the recent GPL release). Second, I don’t know where the 40,000 users comes from. Perhaps that’s 40,000 SOCOM users? Third, its ironic that the panel seems to be asking industry to create tech best practices that’s easy to integrate, when TAK has a Government team led by the TAK Product Center as the lead.

Below are key excerpts from the article:

Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, head of the Defense Information Systems Agency, said in Wednesday session that innovation in the information technology frontier is not just about creating new technology but about making sure the full potential of that technology is realized. 

“We have all kinds of technology that we don’t use, that we use 5%, 10% of the capability that’s in it,” said Norton, responding to a moderator question. “We have to figure out how to actually use the capability that’s embedded in the technology.”

Speaking on the same panel, Maj. Adam Brinkman, deputy to the chief technology officer for the Army Special Operations Command, agreed with Stanton’s assessment. Brinkman emphasized the need for industry to make systems that integrate in order for their products to stay viable. 

“The problem that we’ve actually, honestly had is making sure the technology we receive can be successfully integrated,” Brinkman said. 

The Android Tactical Assault Kit, according to Brinkman, is a good example for industry developers to follow when it comes to creating solutions that fit the Army’s integration vision. Also known as the Android Team Awareness Kit, ATAK is an off-the-shelf software tool with 40,000 users across the Defense Department. Brinkman highlighted ATAK’s availability to a community of developers and its open-source code as contributors to its success. 

“What you have is essentially a meeting place where people can develop and create tools for you to quickly integrate into your environment,” Brinkman said. 

A key to making information systems that are easy to integrate is building security protocols into tools from the very start of development, Norton said. As customers, DISA and the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization are looking for IT providers that are able to meet standards such as the Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model Certification, or CMMC, rather than pre-existing tools that add on security measures as an afterthought.  

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