Eric and I spent Day 3 at AFCEA’s LandWarNet having a lot of conversations with vendors and with members of Army programs. The main themes of our discussions were security, collaboration, and connectivity. All three are interconnected. Army members must be interconnected if they are going to be able to communicate with each other, particularly in a warfighting environment where events in Southwest Asia are tied into teams back in the United States in real time or near real time. They must collaborate to share ideas and to stay ahead of a very smart and very motivated enemy. Finally, they must act in a secure IT environment (much less a secure physical environment) to ensure that the same enemy doesn’t discover our plans and get into our decision cycles.
One of the means by which solders can and should be connecting with each other is through the Army’s knowledge and content management system, Army Knowledge Online (AKO). It’s one of, if not the, largest knowledge management systems in the world. It has over two million users, and hundreds of thousands of pages. What it does not have is a good way for people to discover each other and common communities of interest. A good example is when the Stryker Brigades deployed to Iraq. In the beginning, there was no knowledge how to deploy, since nobody had done it before. However, as more and more knowledge (tactics, techniques, and procedures) is developed, it should be shared for new Stryker leaders to leverage. AKO could be a way to push information to people who may need that information. By leveraging this portal to share information in a way similar to the Netflix recommendation engine, the Army could disseminate information more quickly and help innovate. The enemy in the Global War On Terror is innovating; we need to make sure our soldiers have the tools to innovate as well.