EQUIPPED FOR THE FUTURE: In supporting the Army’s Digital Transformation Strategy, training current and future Army acquisition leaders will equip those leaders with the knowledge and tools that are essential to the 21st century Army. (Photo by Getty Images)
Critical transformation begins with the Army Digital Data Leader’s Course.
by Marko Nikituk and Stefanie Pidgeon
Professionals from across the Army Acquisition Workforce attended the first offering of a digital transformation training course at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from Sept. 19 to 23. Digital transformation is a critical focus area for the U.S. Army, Army acquisition senior leaders and the Army Acquisition Workforce.
The course, called the Army Digital Data Leader’s Course, is the first of a series of offerings planned over the next year specifically targeted to Army acquisition professionals. The Army Director of Acquisition Career Management (DACM) Office, in coordination with the Army Futures Command’s (AFC) Army Artificial Intelligence Center (AI2C) sponsored the training.
Young Bang, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology said that “2023 is the year of digital transformation for the Army,” during a forum at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Oct. 11. “We must simplify and accelerate getting the necessary data to commanders to enable their decision making.” Bang says simplifying and flattening the Army’s data architecture will result in more effective and efficient data driven decisions. This course will help workforce professionals meet that intent.
TO MEET AN URGENT NEED
As the Army moves out to implement its Army Modernization Strategy and supporting Army Digital Transformation Strategy, training current and future Army acquisition leaders will equip those leaders with the knowledge and tools that are essential to the 21st century Army. “Senior Army leadership is committed to this strategy,” said Melvin Johnson, Ph.D., chief of the Mission Equipment Division, Systems Readiness Directorate at the Combat Capabilities Development Command’s (DEVCOM) Aviation and Missile Center. He continued, “This course was designed to provide key leadership with a working knowledge of the current state of industry’s state-of-the-art data concepts and best practice examples, providing insight into the inherent value locked in data, and the power of unlocking that value.”
Also attending the training were acquisition professionals from the Office of Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, program executive offices, and DEVCOM.
Allen Waldran, associate director of the Prototype Integration Facility at the DEVCOM Aviation and Missile Center’s Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate, said the course helped him understand how that data is stored, accessed and used. “Data has become so ingrained in what we do each and every day that we often take it for granted. This training reinvigorates the subject and highlights how far the science has come and describes in great detail how far, and how quickly, it will advance in the future.”
Waldran is currently in a leadership role that involves a lot of data and data analytics-type activity but said that the course expanded his awareness of the vast environment around data. “The amount of data collected and stored in the most mundane activities is almost unimaginable; this course helped me understand that vastness,” he said. “Data science knowledge will affect how we design systems to allow our warfighters to remain safe in the field and enhance the effectiveness of their missions.”
MADE POSSIBLE BY
The new training originated in the recent National Defense Authorization Act. Congress mandated that the military services enhance the digital capacity of the workforce. The DACM Office leveraged Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Account (DAWDA) funds to cover the training. This training, coupled with other efforts involving data-tools acquisition and project improvement efforts that the acquisition community is pursuing, will lead to the ability to leverage artificial intelligence tools that enhance Army programs and formations.
Over the next year, the Army DACM Office will sponsor a series of week-long Army data leader’s courses intended for Army acquisition professionals to improve data-driven decision-making across all domains, from human resources and training to research development and engineering, to build awareness of enterprise data management efforts focused on increasing data quality and usability, and to provide executive level understanding of the enterprise data management components and best practices.
Concurrently, the Army DACM Office will sponsor a two-week digital data user’s skill development course for mid-grade acquisition professionals to better understand how to identify problems that might be solved with data methods, such as what data methods and tools are most appropriate for each problem and where the Army faces the most pressing data issues. This training, along with the acquisition of better tools directly support and will enable realization of the vision set by the Army and Army acquisition executive’s focus on digital transformation.
“The amount of data coming at our warfighters can be overwhelming,” said Waldran. “Having more people exposed to the science will help those designing and building complex systems to help the management and visualization of that data.”
For more information about the Army DACM Office and its initiatives for the Army Acquisition Workforce, go to https://asc.army.mil/web/dacm-office/.
STEFANIE PIDGEON is the communications branch chief in the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center’s DACM Office. She has worked in strategic communications and public affairs for the Department of Defense and U.S. Army for more than a decade. She has an MMC in integrated communications from the University of South Carolina, and a BME in music education from Winthrop University.
MARKO NIKITUK is the chief of Analysis and Planning in the Army DACM Office where he oversees the Career Acquisition Management Portal, DAWDA and an operations research cell focused on providing talent management analysis. He has an M.S. in information technology management from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and a B.S. in electrical engineering from the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. He is certified Advanced in program management and a Practitioner in engineering technical management. He possesses certificates in finance from Harvard Business School and digital data leadership from Carnegie Mellon University. He has more than 35 years of service in U.S. Army infantry, Army acquisition, in industry and as an Army civilian.