The Need for Enterprise 2.0 in the Military

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Fighting networks with networks: how secure social software platforms could save lives in combat.

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Blake Hall

TroopSwap.com

Blake Hall is a former Army captain and an Airborne Ranger. He led a scout platoon in Iraq from July 2006 to September 2007. His military awards include two bronze stars with one “V” device for valor in combat. He recently graduated from Harvard Business School and co-founded TroopSwap.com, a platform for the military community.

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Blake Hall
09/15/2010 8:08pm EDT

Hey Chris,

Thanks for this note. I agree with you that we don’t need to go out and acquire a “unique” E20 system. In fact, platforms are great because they standardize the storage of information and allow for search and authorship across unit boundaries thereby making us more decentralized like the enemy that we fight. Your points on acquisition are right on, the system is broken and costly.

To drill down to your comments, I’ve used Intelipedia and Intelink at EUCOM and agree they solve most of the targeting requirements if they are integrated properly. But, unless things have drastically changed, SIPRNET stations are limited in INF battalions. It is used extensively at higher levels, but, where the rubber meets the road, my battalion (like every other I worked with and replaced) was using word docs and a share drive to write and store our reports. That meant it was not searchable or accessible.

Are you familiar with DARPA’s tigrnet? Now, as long as that doesn’t become a horizontal stovepipe and gets higher level support and love to help patrol leaders and it can integrate with Intelink and Intelipedia , there are some good synergies there.

That said, Apps for the Army is basically a way to harness the “cognitive surplus” within the military. We need to create an adaptive, open environment where service members are allowed to contribute beyond the billet to which the military has assigned them. I am not advocating acquiring more hardware at all, rather I am saying let’s let the guys with the best local knowledge create applications on an emergent platform.

Would love to hear what you think!

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Chris Rasmussen
09/15/2010 6:12pm EDT

Mr. Blake: great presentation! You mentioned the Intelligence Community uses Enterprise 2.0 tools. But what I want to stress is there is NO need to have every battalion or service go out and acquire a “unique” Enterprise 2.0 system or that these service can only be used by intelligence officers.

Intelink hosts wikis, blogs, social bookmarking services, document storage, video/picture tagging, and desktop projection software on all three classification networks. Military operators primarily work on Siprent and every tool mentioned above is ready right now. In addition to tool access, all of the content is indexed by Google Search Appliance.

Apps for the Army may provide some niche but every military operator has access to a hell of a good 80% Enterprise 2.0 solution right now. This “unique” IT requirements assumption in the federal government and DoD is over-stated and is costing billions in excessive duplication.

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