New Army CIO inherits complicated responsibilities, competing priorities

Enterprise e-mail, Army Cyber Command moving forward despite hiccups

Defense Department officials have long been calling for culture change, efficiency and greater collaboration. Now newly appointed Army CIO Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence appears ready to make some of it happen.

“We talk a great talk, we really do,” Lawrence said today at an event hosted by AFCEA International's Northern Virginia chapter in Vienna, Va. "Our hearts are in the right place. But change is hard."

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Lawrence was straightforward about what she believes must be changed and frank about hiccups that are occurring as the Army takes on enterprisewide e-mail services, a new Cyber Command and a single, enterprisewide network.

Despite the bumps encountered so far in the enterprise e-mail migration, Lawrence said the work is under way and at least 1,000 accounts have already been migrated. She also said the project is on track to meet the goal of moving all designated e-mail accounts by December, which will require the eventual transition of as many as 100,000 accounts per month.

“We’ve had some false starts…but it’s working, and it’s working well,” Lawrence said. She added that her office is establishing operational logistics and working on getting Army Department permissions to begin moving headquarters accounts. “We’re putting the bosses on first,” she said.

Lawrence’s office is also busy collaborating with her former command — Network Enterprise Technology Command — and the Army Chief of Staff to continue building the Army Cyber Command. She said Netcom is working on policies while the Army Chief of Staff works on the operational piece and determines priorities.

The CIO’s role in the Cyber Command involves execution — building, operating, maintaining and exploiting the Army’s presence in cyberspace.

“We’re still looking at our [tactics, techniques and procedures], how we inform each other and communicate,” Lawrence said.
In her remarks today, she also outlined some of her biggest challenges as the CIO office continues to work toward an enterprisewide network for the Army, called LandWarNet.

“We’ve got to change culture, solutions and paradigm," she said. "We cannot deliver the network like we used to anymore. We can’t build unique networks every time we deploy something else. We cannot continue to do business as usual as we did in the past, and we cannot continue to buy IT as we did in the past.”

Acknowledging DOD’s difficulty in transitioning to new technology, Lawrence advocated for an incremental approach to modernization by using capability sets, buying less equipment and buying more often.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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