Army Draws Battle Lines Against Proprietary Silos

Loraine Lawson

The Army isn’t playing around when it comes to silos. The military branch is committed to only using common data standards from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, even if it means soldiers can no longer use a popular — and proprietary — commercial data-analytics solution.

Since the Army is the largest player right now in the battlefield-intelligence business, this has put them in the Congressional spotlight, as former marine and House Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) publicly took military officials to task for essentially locking out Palantir, a proprietary system that many soldiers are trained on and prefer because of its ease of use.

Things got a little heated between Hunter and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno about three weeks ago during a House Armed Services Committee.

But the Army isn’t backing down, saying it is “aggressively pushing forward with a more user-friendly release” of the military’s own system, the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A), according to Federal News Radio.


The DCGS-A is an “end-to-end collection of integrated IT systems it developed beginning in 2007 for intelligence collection, analysis, dissemination and tasking,” according to Federal News Radio. It’s designed to be deployed in the cloud so other apps and systems can access it.

Each military branch has its own variation, but what unite them are the National Intelligence Office’s common data standards.

The military began switching to the common data standard in 2005 with help from the IT industry, which “sacrificed profit” to develop the new models, Lt. Gen. Mary Legere, the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, told Federal News Radio.

The Army currently handles the largest amount of battlefield-intelligence work, so its hardline stance could be key to the standard’s survival and the long-term integration and sharing of intelligence data.

While the standards are designed to make information sharing between all intelligence units easier, there’s also a very real return on the investment for the Army, which has already realized $300 million in real procurement savings, and anticipates a $1.2 billion savings in cost avoidance, according to the article.

As for Rep. Hunter, the Army arranged a tour of the new system, and hopes to win him over by rolling out a system that’s easier to use, but also by convincing him of the long-term benefits of committing to a common, non-proprietary standard.



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