Space Force, the newest branch of the Armed forces and the first completely digital agency in the United States released their digital vision in May. It outlines how they plan to operate their organization in a fast-paced, ever changing, modern world, where they must be ready to adapt to any threat.
In the plan, John W. Raymond, who leads the Space Force said that becoming a digital service was a warfighting imperative. Adversaries are developing a variety of threats at an alarming pace, challenging our stability in space and the many benefits we have as a spacefaring nation. This creates the need to act faster and more decisively in all areas: leadership, acquisition, engineering, intelligence, and operations.
Being the first digital agency will enable Space Force to achieve these objectives. Without the shackles of antiquated technology and legacy processes, Space Force can establish the future of what is possible for a combat domain.
Space Force is pushing for the procurement of services from the commercial space industry, according to an April article in Space News. Space Force is optimistic that they will be able to quickly transition from the status quo of government-created legacy programs to innovative products offered by commercial space companies. However, building a culture where commercial services can be leveraged faces some challenges.
Military procurement officers worry about the reliability of commercial providers and their services, and that they may not have the proper cybersecurity controls.
However, Space Force is weighing these risks against the benefits of being able to use privately funded new technologies, rather than the government having to develop these services and products inhouse, from scratch. Leveraging the commercial market will give Space Force better access to innovative services like communications, remote sensing, and surveillance.
Another important distinction for the fledgling agency is its acknowledgment that technology alone will not allow it to forge into the future. Change requires people and process in addition to technology. Because it is small, accomplishing their goals will require “digitally fluent” Guardians that are more proficient, efficient, and agile than any force in history. Recognizing that an improved process will result in an ongoing sustained advantage, Space Force plans to “flatten bureaucracy and empower rapid, data-driven decision-making at all levels.”
The Space Force refers to its advancements in people, process, and technology in its three tenets:
- Interconnected – Powered by a flat process
- Innovative – Powered by digital fluent Guardians
- Digitally Dominant – Powered by the right technology
Instant communication is imperative for the armed forces. Having an interconnected force means that the service effectively and efficiently shares relevant information with all stakeholders in support of the mission. Space Force is accomplishing this through working with the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center to provide US Space Command and other combatant commands with key operational intelligence in a matter of seconds.
Another way Space Force is modernizing to improve readiness is to make use of private-public partnership. Industry and government working together helps organizations begin working on the needs of tomorrow, while continuing to take care of the needs of today-which is necessary when resources are low. By targeting industry partnerships while reducing some of the administrative burden of procurement, they can gain access to rapidly evolving technologies. They know that by increasing usage of commercial data for mission activities they can collectively achieve capabilities far surpassing what they could do alone.
Space Force is demonstrating that to be data centric, collaborative, and fosters the unrestrained exchange of information and ideas. This leads to innovation.
Innovation is mandatory to having a future-ready military force. For innovation to occur, it needs to be fostered at all levels. Space Force is fostering innovation by utilizing a bottom-up approach to encourage combat development teams to bring new ideas to the table. Space Force plans to position itself as an aggressive early adopter of cutting-edge, user-driven technologies, on par with the best of what private industry has to offer.
Government organizations can be successful if they have the right skills and support structures to make every member feel they can contribute bold and imaginative solutions to difficult problems. Open discourse and experimentation rather than having leadership responsibility for driving changes can help your organization to think of new and better ways of doing things. Partnering with industry for support in processes or technologies can also help government organizations to create user-driven solutions.
Space Force acknowledges that digital domination is a foundation for future success. They plan to be digitally dominant rather than native in that they want to be able to force-multiply to develop, field, and operate capabilities more quickly and effectively than any adversaries. They believe this can be possible if they synthesize their first two tenets into every aspect of how they do their job.
Similarly, other government organizations can work towards becoming digitally dominant by implementing a similar strategy to Space Force’s digital vision. While this approach may be more straightforward for Space Force based on its age, modernization is critical to every public sector agency and the Department of Defense.
In the 15+ years, Decision Lens has been modernizing public sector planning, the investment in modernization from the government has never been a higher priority. As such, we are continuing to evolve our solution to meet the needs of today while delivering the cutting-edge capabilities of tomorrow.
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