Defense

Army launches Digital Service branch

Eric Fanning, Secretary of the Army. Official Photo.  

Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning is getting into the digital services game.

The "SWAT team of nerds" that is the Defense Digital Service has been working for months on the next generation of GPS, modernizing the Department of Defense travel system and other digital and tech challenges. Now, the Army is building its own team of nerds.

At a Dec. 16 event in New York, Army Secretary Eric Fanning and DDS Director Chris Lynch announced that the Army Digital Service is open and looking for tech talent. The ADS plans to bring on about 20 tech experts to serve six- to 12-month tours solving complex problems for the Army.

"We have almost an unlimited target set, problem set, where we want some help," said Fanning. "There's so much potential with this model in an area where we have so much that we need to do."

According to background materials provided by the Army, the ADS mission is "to drive a giant leap forward in the way Army builds and deploys technology and digital services. We work with the DOD and alongside our public servants and service members, empowering them to incorporate private sector best practices and talent to build a better future now."

DDS already has been working on two projects for the Army. First is modernizing the service's recruiting software, which is in some cases pre-mouse level code. The second is administering the "Hack the Army" competition, which is currently underway and based on the Hack the Pentagon competition DDS ran earlier this year.

ADS eventually is expected to take over these projects, but its first pilot program will be to work on how to better recruit and bring on board the needed cyber workforce. Lynch said that the goal is to make sure "that how we bring in top talent also goes into Army Cyber Command as well."

Fanning and Lynch held the announcement event at New York at General Assembly, a tech "education and career transformation" entity. They said the audience there was their target with this initiative.

"What we can guarantee you as a part of Army Digital Service is working on projects built around this incredible mission of protecting the country, and you will have significant impact," said Fanning.

About the Author

Sean Carberry is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence. Prior to joining FCW, he was Kabul Correspondent for NPR, and also served as an international producer for NPR covering the war in Libya and the Arab Spring. He has reported from more than two-dozen countries including Iraq, Yemen, DRC, and South Sudan. In addition to numerous public radio programs, he has reported for Reuters, PBS NewsHour, The Diplomat, and The Atlantic.

Carberry earned a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, and has a B.A. in Urban Studies from Lehigh University.


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Reader comments

Mon, Dec 19, 2016 pscache

The Army already has the talent they just can't use them because the system, programs, policies and people are dated. No matter how many tools you build you've got to get around the humans. Meaning they won't let you hire or use the ones that are interested. You must train the ones that are stopping the movement. No one at the top knows how to get them out of the system because the tech changes so fast that the system would oust us all at some point.

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