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Potomac Officers Club Features Maj. Gen. Michael Schmidt, Brig. Gen. Jeth Rey, Byron Hargis on Expert Panel During Winning With the Network Forum

Potomac Officers Club hosted its Winning With the Network: Securing Data in Motion to the Tactical Edge, the latest event in POC’s JADC2 Series, to bring together the members of the federal sector and government contracting (GovCon) industry to learn more about how the Department of Defense and its commercial partners are leveraging advanced 5G, mesh networking, edge connectivity and AI technology to secure the essential agency’s networks.

Following opening remarks from Khalid Syed, a senior vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton, who acted as the event’s moderator, Air Force Maj Gen Michael Schmidt, Army BG Jeth Rey, and Byron Hargis of SpaceX were all introduced to the panel discussion and were given the opportunity to share their insights and experiences with the virtual audience.

If you missed the Winning With the Network: Securing Data in Motion to the Tactical Edge Forum on Wednesday, check out PotomacOfficersClub.com, to rewatch the full Forum and other recent events on-demand.

Moderator Khalid Syed introduced Maj Gen Michael Schmidt, program executive officer (PEO) of Command, Control, Communication, Intelligence and Networks for the U.S. Air Force, as the first panelist. As he led off the discussion, Maj Gen Schmidt talked about the fact that this is the first time he’s felt that his job was to deliver IT infrastructure and other systems and capabilities from an operational standpoint despite this being the fourth time that he’s served as a PEO.

Maj Gen Schmidt discussed how the Air Force is focused on establishing its foundation and delivering an EIT infrastructure at all security levels. He elaborated on the Air Force’s programs in development, cloud and data challenges we’re still facing as well as the initiative to develop a common DevSecOps platform.

“Why would we recreate the tech stack on which we do DevSecOps over and over again,” he asked. “We can do it once and then just keep it secure. We can put the right tools in there and keep it updated. We can deliver that capability to anyone who needs it with a common ATO so that they can get to work on their program, and not have to worry about that entire IT infrastructure.”

After Maj Gen Schmidt provided his background and the opening remarks, BG Jeth Rey, director of the Network Cross-Functional Team for the Army Futures Command (AFC), took the stage to provide his operational experience and perspective on the current and future network as well as offer a look into his greater challenges and priorities in support of AFC and the Army modernization strategy.

He emphasized the importance of network communications technology and how it underpins the Army’s overall modernization priorities. He described his focus to ensure that the service branch’s systems of the future must be transport agnostic, data centric, and secure.

BG Jeth Rey explained that data centricity is a core focus for him and the AFC moving forward so Soldiers can access data to make decisions at the speed of relevance.

“We have a good architecture and backbone for those challenges,” said BG Rey. “However, the third initiative that could be the most important is security architecture at the tactical edge. That’s something that needs to change.”

Byron Hargis, director of Government Sales with SpaceX, was the third panelist introduced to the expert panel and he brought up his five-year tenure with the company and how he’s been a part of its Starlink program since the early days. Hargis explained how he’s experienced some misconceptions about Starlink and how it’s believed to be consumer focused.

He followed that point up with SpaceX’s intent to keep pace with the scale of the global internet, which is already leading to a high number of satellites and other areas of interest. However, he was clear to emphasize that the reason why there’s such an intense focus on the consumer market is because in addition to being the largest market, it’s also the hardest to serve as well.

“Consumers are pretty demanding of what they want and what they want to pay. If you can serve the consumer market, you can pretty much serve any other market because the demands will be far less than what you’re used to dealing with and customers will be willing to pay more,” Hargis explained.

He also explained how SpaceX has been working with the Army and other service branches to demonstrate their capabilities for broadband networks and LEO capabilities to show what the company can do for data transformation and modernized applications that can be used at the tactical edge. That provided the context to move the panel discussion into its first major topic.

Visit PotomacOfficersClub.com to watch the Winning With the Network: Securing Data in Motion to the Tactical Edge Forum and other POC events on-demand. You can also learn more about becoming a Potomac Officers Club member.

Potomac Officers Club will host its next Data-Driven 2021 Series event, The Cost of AI on November 9th to examine how federal agencies and private sector companies must adapt their budgets to account for technology disruptions as they work to incorporate innovative AI technology into essential infrastructures.

Dr. Timothy Grayson, Strategic Technology Office director for DARPA, will deliver the event’s keynote address to outline the measures government agencies can take to plan, prepare and successfully implement AI ecosystems while minimizing technology disruptions in vital agency missions.

Visit PotomacOfficersClub.com to register for the platform’s The Cost of AI event on Nov. 9th.

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