The Defense Department wants the next generation of soldiers to be more than warfighters: DOD wants them to be software engineers who can manage warfighting technology applications on the battlefield to meet mission demands. This initiative is one prong of the department’s IT modernization push to deploy emerging technologies like Agile software development, RPA, and others to refine mission delivery. Here are some details.
Technology continues to reshape how DOD fights wars, shifting DOD’s mindset and forcing DOD to adapt. DOD now prioritizes “software factories” like Army Futures Command (AFC) and the United States Air Force’s (USAF) Kessel Run. These software factories “upskill” soldiers and airmen to handle technology needs and demands on the battlefield and in various warfighting scenarios.
The Air Force was a pioneer with Kessel Run. There were great successes that came from this model. The Air Force set the precedent for software and DevSecOps methodologies and getting it into a user environment.
AFC established a software factory in Austin, Texas in May 2020 to upskill soldiers for the “future battlefield,” which requires the ability to “produce modern software through organic means,” which include cloud technologies and Agile software development. Within six months, soldiers develop proficiency in product management, design, and software engineering. The factory brings in 30 soldiers and civilians every six months, where they stay for a three-year IT boot camp.
The AFC software factory in Austin is more than just an IT boot camp for soldiers – it’s also a pipeline for DOD. Complementing DOD’s software factory initiative is the department’s robotic process automation (RPA) initiative, which aims to reduce or eliminate rote tasks for DOD personnel and free them up for more important, creative work.