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12/21/2015 – HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. — The Chief Information Officer for the Department of Defense and the Chief Information Officers for the Joint Staff, Air Force, Army, Navy, and Coast Guard, along with more than twenty senior representatives from DoD, Cyber Command and the intelligence community visited the local area Dec. 10 and 11 to see how Massachusetts and its local tech companies and military bases pursue technology innovation.
This visit was a part of a regular series of engagements to ensure DoD senior leadership is informed by and connected to the cutting edge of cyber and information technology activities.
Senior DoD officials who visited Massachusetts included Dave DeVries, DoD principal deputy CIO; Army Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, Joint Staff CIO; Army Lt. Gen. Bob Ferrell, Army CIO; Air Force Lt. Gen. Bill Bender, Air Force CIO; Rob Foster, Department of the Navy CIO; and Vice Adm. Ted Branch, Navy deputy CIO.
“Partnerships across government and industry are vital to DoD’s success,” said DeVries. “Visits like this help DoD CIO and other Department senior leaders engage on important issues, like innovation, technology transfer and collaborative acquisition strategies.”
Numerous high-level Air Force officials from Hanscom participated in many aspects of the visit, including Maj. Gen. Craig Olson, Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks program executive officer; Steve Wert, Battle Management PEO; Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, Mass. adjutant general; and Dr. Tim Rudolph, Life Cycle Management Center chief technology officer.
Topics ranged from information technology of the future and cybersecurity to public-private partnerships and best practices, as well as innovation opportunities and challenges. The visitors expressed specific interest about the state’s Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, which Hanscom has partnered with on workforce development, infrastructure and energy efficiency projects. Highlighted throughout the presentations were the benefits of the area – from world-class educational institutions and high-tech corporations to the critical work done for warfighters at Hanscom AFB and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center.
During the two-day event, the visitors heard from myriad organizations about how they address innovation. A meeting at the State House in Boston with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Rice, state economic development officials and staff from U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas’ office focused on economic development and strengths. The Massachusetts National Guard provided a briefing on their cyber initiatives. The delegation also learned about Hanscom’s Collaboration and Innovation Center, described as a “hub” that integrates efforts between various parties.
During the event, Rudolph offered his take on partnerships and encouraged the DoD CIO delegation to continue making these types of visits.
“Massachusetts and the leading companies in emerging sectors housed near Hanscom Air Force Base bring expertise and a history of innovation to our efforts,” he said.
And according to Hanscom personnel, collaboration is crucial.
“Collaboration among the DoD, the services, academia, labs and industry represents a force multiplier for transformational change that individual institutions cannot achieve on their own,” said Adam Freudberg, support contractor and senior advisor to the CTO for innovation and collaboration. “Much of what we are trying to achieve at Hanscom is being made easier and more effective by the partnerships we have established.”
Also during the visit, the representatives participated on a panel discussion with industry, academic and government personnel about leveraging existing partnerships. Panel participants were from the University of Massachusetts, Northeastern University, Massachusetts Open Cloud, and the Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC).
Companies in the local area known for innovation were also on the agenda. Personnel from IBM, State Street, Allied Minds, 406 Ventures and EMC all shared their experience and expertise with the visitors.
The executive director of the ACSC said he believes the opportunity to highlight the state’s support for military missions along with government-industry-university partnerships will provide benefits.
“Meeting in the Commonwealth was a valuable opportunity for the DoD CIO delegation and our state thought leaders to share best practices on critical cybersecurity issues,” said Charlie Benway. “The Pentagon was able to learn first-hand how our global companies and world-class universities transform IT, institutionalize innovation, reduce costs and develop talent. We hope that this engagement will lead to expanded partnerships with the Pentagon to more broadly leverage the unique intellectual capital that defines this region.”
Rudolph said the visit went well, but he wished it could have been longer.
“My only disappointment is that the DoD CIO delegation’s visit was too short. We look forward to the opportunities this trip created to give us the chance to continue to connect DOD to the breadth and depth of the New England region’s innovation economy and the mechanisms we at Hanscom Air Force Base are working on, like Cyber PlugTest, in our pursuit to get rapid capabilities and agile tools to the warfighter.”