Software is Eating the Battlsepace

Software is Eating the Battlsepace

Strategies for Operating at Mission Speed in a Modern Digital Battlespace

LtCol John Schreiner, Jondavid Black, Col Corey Brunkow, Virginia Laurenzano, Rob Nolen, LCDR Andres Otero, Rick Jack


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Soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and guardians rely on complex firmware and software systems to carry out complex missions in their interconnected battlespace. Each “smart” asset in our arsenal sharpens the spear and must be adaptable to a changing operational landscape. Over a decade ago, the commercial industry recognized that “software is eating the world” and embraced the power of software to transform business value generation.

The US DoD must also transform to achieve mission objectives. This is often approached by the adoption of new technologies. However, to truly transform the modern “smart battlespace,” we must redefine expectations using a modern mindset, iterative processes, and a culture open to learning and sharing. We must unleash the “boots behind the keyboard” to empower a new breed of warfighter to execute operations in ways we have not yet harnessed within national defense.

We know how to load out marines and insert them onto a beach. But, how do we load them out and insert them into a digital battlespace? First, this paper provides strategies for this new digital battlespace, beginning with a series of considerations critical to preparing the battlespace. Next, we address the landscape of this new battlespace, the enclaves within it, and how we deploy operations (e.g., grant access) to that digital beach. Finally, we explore the journey we face within the DoD to reinvent, retool, and retrain our service members for their missions in this new digital battlespace.

In this paper, we present ideas and strategies that emphasize creating value for the warfighter and that add efficiency to the war-fighting enterprise. While the mission of service in the DoD is a noble cause, we must continue to foster cultures, technical platforms, and shifts in expectations that will motivate future members of our services to innovate ways to deter war and defend the United States.