AUSA 2021 Podcast: Defense and Industry Transforming for the Future Fight

AUSA 2021

AUSA 2021 returned to the Walter E. Convention Center in Washington D.C. and was bustling with military leaders and the defense industry. For three days, they connected on the latest technologies, trends, and updates on how to transform the service, its people, and its capabilities for the future.

The editorial team for The Modern Battlespace was on the show floor listening to updates on programs and talking with industry leaders. We had the opportunity to learn more about how collaboration is such a big part of maintaining overmatch and staying ahead of the technology curve while getting new tech into the hands of the warfighter faster.

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Ms. Heidi Shyu, the Undersecretary of Defense Research and Engineering, told us that she sees the opportunity to “harness the incredible innovation that exists across this nation…to extract the innovation and enable us to integrate the capabilities into a force multiplier for the U.S. military.” Shyu outlined three main priorities, the first of which is leveraging technology and innovation to “enable us to solve the toughest operational problems.”

Of course, understanding what those problems are in the modern battlespace requires collaboration between defense agencies, industry, and the warfighter. Terry Halverson, former CIO of the DoD, and now head of federal programs for IBM, told us that the biggest shift in the battlespace is data. “Data, data, and then data. And if that wasn’t enough, data. The modern battlespace has become a data environment and who rules that data, own it, moves it the fastest to get decisions…wins.”

Gen. John Murray, commanding general for Army Future Command, shared a similar sentiment during a panel discussion on the future of Project Convergence. As he looked at future iterations of the exercises, he noted that “we continue to advance, identify areas of improvement, and adapt. Because tomorrow is worth protecting. Convergence gives us decision dominance, and decision dominance gives us the overmatch we need. But we still have more work to do. Because whoever can see, understand, and act first…will win.”

We spoke with Elaine Bitonti, Vice President of JADC2 Demonstration and Experimentation at Collins Aerospace, about the role that technology will play in this transformation. She noted it’s not just a future initiative, but transformation needs to happen today. To accelerate the transformation today, Bitonti said that “there have to be open standards that are common among services so that industry doesn’t develop stovepipe solutions. It’s critical for government to define what these open standards are and how the industry can implement them in a common manner.”

Heather Robertson, Vice President and General Manager of Integrated Solutions for Mission Systems at Collins Aerospace, noted that transformation will go beyond the technology. “Transformation is going to happen from multiple different aspects. First, the different branches of the DoD will need to communicate with each other and fight together as we go into the future battle.”

We’ve pulled together these interviews and more into our latest AUSA 2021 Podcast. Listen to our discussions with these leaders here: