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How IT Could Be Our Most Important Weapon in Near-Peer Competition

The heightening peer and near-peer competition undoubtedly stands as the Department of Defense’s most critical priority today. Global powers like China and Russia have publicly demonstrated their advancements in weapons systems, next-generation technology and other crucial areas, and the United States is strategizing how to maintain its dominance in the worldwide race for technological superiority.

In recent years, the Air Force has positioned itself on the leading-edge of technology within the U.S. military, and now, the service branch is leading the charge for information technology developments across the entire defense ecosystem. Air Force CIO Lauren Knausenberger said IT innovation has garnered respect across the DOD enterprise as a pivotal tool that can be a game-changer for the U.S. as competition intensifies.

Don’t miss your chance to join the IT conversation with Lauren Knausenberger! Tune into the Air Force CIO’s keynote speech during GovCon Wire’s 3rd Annual Air Force IT Modernization and Digital Transformation Forum on March 21. Register here

“[With] funding cyber and IT too, I feel like I see the respect of this community just go up significantly—this has always been a [stellar] community—but I think that everybody knows it now. Everybody sees this as the foundation for our future competitive advantage,” the 2023 Wash100 Award winner shared at a recent symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Throughout her nearly three years as Air Force CIO, Knausenberger has championed major IT improvements, innovations and enhancements for the service. While her efforts have led the Air Force through a much-needed digital transformation, they have also laid the foundation for leveraging IT as an asset against adversaries.

In a recent video interview with Executive Mosaic, Knausenberger illustrated the criticality of elements like software, artificial intelligence, zero trust and data in the future fight. And though all of those technologies and capabilities are important on their own, Knausenberger said they’re even more effective when used together. 

The Air Force is specifically looking at how AI can be paired with software to transform C3 Battle Management.

“One of our most mature AI use cases is for targeting. If you just use the algorithm for that and kind of leave it alone, there’s a limited use case. But when you start to pull that into different pieces of software and tie it with other algorithms, it starts to have very outsized impact,” she told Executive Mosaic.

This view of IT — great alone, but better together — is also a perspective that can and should be applied to America’s allies and partners.

Ultimately, Knausenberger suggested that IT will play a major role in the coming iterations of global competition, but it’s perhaps most useful in uniting our allies against adversaries in a common environment.

“One of the top things that we have to accomplish in the near term is we have to be fighting in one warfighting environment seamlessly with our joint partners and our allies — that’s the whole underpinning concept of JADC2,” she said.

Hear more insights from Knausenberger at the 3rd Annual Air Force IT Modernization and Digital Transformation on March 21. Click here to register.

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