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Talking JEDI and Why U.S. Warfighters Need It NOW!

By John B. Wood •  September 3, 2019

In light of the continued handwringing and misinformation around the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing initiative, and DoD’s latest fact-checking, I wanted to take this opportunity to address the contract.

From my perspective as the long-time CEO for a company that has decades of experience in cybersecurity, and is very familiar with the issues surrounding cloud and enterprise security, I absolutely support the single award approach that DoD took for JEDI, as this cloud solution needs to be stood up as quickly as possible.

Why? That’s easy.

Our warfighters currently have critical unmet needs… and new, innovative technologies hold the key to meeting these needs.

Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis referenced this in a recent Wall Street Journal article, saying that while reading intelligence briefings to prep for his Senate confirmation hearings, he was “struck by the degree to which our competitive military edge was eroding, including our technology advantage.” Stating that while he was on active duty, “haphazard funding had… [done] more damage to our current and future military readiness than any enemy in the field.”

Sharpening our technological edge and allowing warfighters to react to threats in real time are key to success, and the Pentagon’s proposed enterprise cloud solution can help, if DoD can just be allowed to move forward on JEDI.

The director of DoD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), Lieutenant General Jack Shanahan, made this very clear recently, when he stated in a media roundtable that warfighters “needed enterprise cloud yesterday,” explaining that digital modernization and the threats we face from our adversaries require a sense of urgency. He emphasized that JEDI is about “joint all-domain war fighting, taking advantage of emerging technologies to develop new operating concepts for a kind of warfare that will look completely different than what we’ve experienced for the past 20 years.”

Ultimately, the issue is that warfighters overseas should be able to immediately and securely access necessary information in a combat situation, in the same way that a DoD employee working in Washington, DC can. This requirement for speed and security becomes more critical every day as technological warfare continues to evolve. That’s why JEDI is so important and why this contract is time-critical.

So why hasn’t DoD started standing up the cloud already?  What’s taking so long?

The biggest problem with the JEDI contract process is the guerilla warfare campaign being conducted against it via a series of protests and other legal, political, and public relations tactics. These obstructionist efforts have served to greatly extend the competition timeframe and, at points, grind it to a halt.  Meaning, the Pentagon hasn’t been able to award the contract, and our warfighters are deprived of technology that would better help them fulfill their mission and keep them safe.

Delay is the enemy of utilizing technology, and by repeatedly stringing out the competition, the JEDI opponents have prevented DoD from moving forward to deploy this solution in a vital area where our enemies do not face similar obstacles.

So in the midst of the misinformation and protests plaguing the JEDI contract, everyone – especially those responsible for these repeated delays – should take a moment to think about the U.S. warfighters that needed to start benefiting from this technology yesterday.

Stay tuned for a follow-up blog post that goes further into why I support JEDI, and how the current protest culture unnecessarily delays government acquisition and makes timely procurement of innovative technology impossible.

John B. Wood

John B. Wood

John B. Wood is the chairman and CEO of Telos Corporation. Follow him on Twitter: @john_b_wood See full bio...

Telos CEO John Wood blogs about business, education, and the values that guide us.

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