Written by Jon Harper
The Army is about to launch a pilot project to implement a “bring your own device” (BYOD) concept that will allow soldiers to connect their personal communications and computing devices to Army networks.
The effort will begin in September or early October, according to Lt. Gen. John Morrison Jr., Deputy Chief of Staff, G-6, who is the Army leadership’s primary military advisor for planning, strategy and implementation of command, control, communications, computers, cyber and information technology for global operations.
“You’ll see us increasingly using commercial capabilities,” he told reporters Wednesday during a panel discussion at the AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference.
“Over the next month to 45 days, we will be launching a pilot project to bring your own device… and what that means is that you can now, much like you do in the commercial sector, use your personal device as you have in your hand man. But we will add a secure capability to it that will allow you to reconnect to the Army network and conduct official business,” he said.
The initial focus will be on National Guard and Reserve components, but the pilot will also expand to include active duty troops as well as soldiers stationed outside of the continental United States.
“It’s going to be a pretty wide driver that we’re looking to do, you know. We will work on the physics of how many users there will be. We have the capacity to go up to several thousand. But we’re very excited because we’ve been talking about it for a long time,” Morrison said.
The Army will onboard an initial group of “champions” for the initiative, which will include “technical users” and “ordinary seniors” who will use the capability. Having technical users talking with other users early on should produce “incredible TTPs,” Morrison said, referring to tactics, techniques and procedures.
“As we start to do the broader integration, it’s really just – it makes things so much easier,” he said.
Army leaders hope the BYOD concept will improve operational efficiency and save money.
Cybersecurity has been a major concern in the past when it came to allowing troops to plug their personal devices into the Army network.
“We have implemented security based on zero-trust principles,” Morrison said.
“What’s very, very important is that we’ve done cybersecurity assessments throughout this journey. Because if you don’t cook cybersecurity at the very beginning and you do it continuously, then we’re obviously opening up holes in our swing,” he said. “That’s been a big concern for anyone using their personal device to do business. But since it’s done in a virtualized environment hosted in the cloud through the DOD, it’s very, very, very secure. We’ve had it outfitted to nausea by elements outside of – outside of the Department of the Army, and the assessment that came back… said the path we’re on is one of the most mature that is.
“We’re very excited about this,” Morrison added. “It took us a while to get to this point, both from a political point of view and from a strengthening environment. [perspective]. But we are about to implement.