General Session Highlights from GEOINT 2024 Day 3: Strength Through Modernization and Transformation

GEOINT 2024, Gaylord Palms, Kissimmee, FL

In the rapidly evolving landscape of national security and digital modernization, the DoD is adapting to emerging challenges and harnessing cutting-edge technologies, said the Honorable John Sherman, DoD CIO, during his keynote address on the last day of GEOINT 2024.

“The security environment has evolved over the years,” Sherman said, and as such: “We’re constantly evolving in DoD CIO.”

Sherman cited the emergence of commercial imagery as a driving force for progress, and he drew parallels between this evolution and the shift toward Zero Trust Architecture. He also discussed the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, which verifies that companies adhere to cybersecurity standards. While acknowledging the burden the certification may impose, he underscored the need for accountability in safeguarding national security interests.

Sherman outlined three additional areas of evolution within DoD:

  • Cloud Computing Migration: Streamlining processes and optimizing resources through initiatives like the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC).
  • Software Modernization: Embracing leading-edge technologies to enhance operational efficiency.
  • Harnessing 5G and Open RAN Technology: Recognizing the game-changing potential of 5G and Open RAN in bolstering military capabilities and maintaining strategic superiority.

Sherman emphasized the importance of collaboration with interagency and international partners, highlighting initiatives aimed at improving interoperability and data sharing while ensuring security. A key enabler for this is the Secret and Below Releasable Environment (SABRE).

“We’ve got to be able to share data at speed of mission,” he said “ … At the same time, as we look at things like cross-domain solutions, we have to ensure security.”

Sherman gave a preview of the forthcoming update to the DoD’s Digital Modernization Strategy, which he said will prioritize expanding joint and combined force dominance, modernizing information networks, enhancing IT governance, and building a digital workforce equipped for the challenges of tomorrow.

Revolutionizing operations testing with foundational models and digital twins

What do an Army brigadier general, an NVIDIA Vice President, and the Director of Engineering Technology and Analysis at Walt Disney World all have in common? All three are reimagining the future.

Their GEOINT 2024 panel explored a range of topics, including the transformative power of foundational geospatial models and digital twins to revolutionize operations modeling and testing.

Brig. Gen. William Glaser, Director of the Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team at Army Futures Command, began the conversation by examining how the military is transforming. Observing the current war in Ukraine informs much of the DoD’s current planning.

“The battlefield has become tremendously transparent because of a lot of the technology we will talk about today,” Glaser said.

NVIDIA is here to help “enable industries,” said Bob Pette, VP and General Manager of Enterprise Platforms at NVIDIA, which has transformed from solely a gaming company to working closely with the national security community, medical industry, and more.

Building detailed simulations and digital twins is integral to how Walt Disney World is “going to transform how we develop attractions, immersive experiences, and keep pushing the boundaries,” said Michael Tschanz, Director, Engineering Technology and Analysis at The Walt Disney Company.

To achieve Army training objectives, “you don’t necessarily need a digital twin; what you need to have is a believable system,” Glaser said.

Glaser added the U.S. must become the leader in AI and machine learning, though said the nation is restrained by ethical and moral considerations that adversaries are not concerned with.

Enhancing national security through collaborative GEOINT

GEOINT stands as the linchpin of our national security strategy, essential not only for defense but also for the civil sector and economic vitality, said Chirag Parikh, Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, during the final general session keynote of GEOINT 2024.

He described how the regulatory environment surrounding commercial imagery has evolved over administrations, fostering collaboration between government and

the private sector and advancing areas such as cloud computing and AI.

Amidst the progress, challenges loom, with near-peer competition in remote sensing satellites posing significant threats. Integration of initiatives like the Space Force into the broader GEOINT framework is essential to maintain our edge in this domain, Parikh said.

GEOINT’s importance extends beyond national security; it is integral to sectors like agriculture and the interior, shaping decision-making processes. International collaboration underscores the significance of space partnerships, highlighted in President Biden’s state visits, where space consistently holds a critical position.

The administration’s emphasis on public-private collaboration, articulated in the recent commercial space strategies released by the DoD and the Space Force, reflects an ongoing commitment to cultivate a vibrant commercial space sector.

NGA plays a pivotal role in setting standards and fostering coordination across the national security community.

“GEOINT capabilities are absolutely critical for national security, the civil sector, and our economy,” Parikh said.

President Biden’s prioritization of space in state visits further emphasizes the centrality of space initiatives in our national security agenda.

“Where I go, our industry goes,” Parikh said, adding that collaboration means listening to challenges and opportunities then collectively breaking down barriers.

He told the audience: “This is an absolutely critical community, and an absolutely critical time for us to make the right decisions.”

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