The digital Air Force Initiative is an effort to leverage data and applications at the edge, along with artificial intelligence and machine learning, to “field a 21st century infrastructure responsive to the demands of modern combat.”
As the service branch continues to innovate to current with the shifting environment, the Air Force has leveraged new tactics to increase cybersecurity, modernize IT framework and launch new platforms that support emerging technologies.
GovConWire’s Air Force: IT Plans and Priorities Forum will feature Lauren Knausenberger, deputy chief information officer of the U.S. Air Force, as the keynote speaker. During her address, she will discuss how the industry can progress the latest initiative across the Air Force. “IT is the foundation on which we do everything else,” Knausenberger stated.
Jeff Bohling, senior vice president and general manager of Perspecta’s Civilian & Defense Group, will moderate Knausenberger’s address. Knausenberger leads two directorates and supports 20,000 cyber operations and support personnel across the globe with a portfolio valued at $17 billion.
She provides oversight of the Air Force’s Information Technology portfolio including the Information Technology investment strategy from networks to cloud computing, Enterprise policies, information resources management, IT innovation initiatives, information assurance, and related matters for the Department of the Air Force.
Following her appointment in August 2020, Knausenberger said that as deputy CIO, she will extend the work she conducted in her previous role as chief transformation officer with the service branch. Knausenberger added that she will focus on modernizing cybersecurity practices and advancing new technology into the department.
In addition to modernizing enterprise IT platforms, Knausenberger stated that she will focus on advancing artificial intelligence (AI) enabled systems, expand usable and actionable data sets, and create a “sensor net,” developed from an interoperable layer of data, that can be read from multiple sensors.
Knausenberger will continue to support greater educational opportunities for airmen, championing the launch of the Digital University. The U.S. Air Force has projected to launch its Digital University by the end of 2020, which will enhance training for front-line IT and cybersecurity workers.
The online university has been made available to airmen in a beta version, and will develop its catalog of courses to upskill the workforce. The Digital University was developed as a part of the “Digital Air Force” strategy.
The strategy was developed to consolidate IT networks and increase the technical acumen across the entire department. Business and Enterprise Systems Product Innovation (BESPIN) will host the beta version.
She will also work to expand robotic process automation (RPA) to reduce the menial tasks that need to be done by humans, as well as expand access to the technology that has allowed for mass telework throughout COVID-19.
Knausenberger recently announced that the Air Force will launch a new program to offer all of its IT tools in one place. The “21st Century IT Store” will simplify technology acquisition within the service branch.
“If you’re onboarding in a new base, your laptop won’t be there when you get there. You’ll have a really long wait.,” said Knausenberger. “It should be more like an Apple Store experience. If I want a laptop, I can go to a storefront, digital or physical, all set up with the gear that I need.”
The 21st Century IT Store will avoid redundancy in acquisitions by consolidating the various programs and applications into one coherent catalog of services. The modernized acquisition process follows other IT modernization efforts within the Air Force, which have all built around adapting the Air Force to a fighting force that can handle data quickly and effectively, especially in battle.
“We are making thousands of kill-chains faster and automating that as much as possible,” said Knausenberger. “We want humans making the important decisions but all of the data working to our advantage behind the scenes.”
During GovConWire’s Air Force: IT Plans and Priorities Forum, notable federal and industry leaders will discuss digital Air Force Strategies, IT spending, new modernization initiatives and advanced cybersecurity practices that will enable the Air Force to stay up to speed across the defense landscape.
The event will also feature an expert panel, hosting Alka Bhave of Perspecta, as well as Marc Packler, Nicolas Chaillan and Chad Raduege of the U.S. Air Force. To register for the Air Force: IT Plans and Priorities Forum, as well as view upcoming opportunities, visit GovConWire’s Event Page.