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America's Army is marching toward a new vision of digital modernization. To make itself more ready, more lethal, and more effective by 2028, the U.S. Army is embracing unprecedented change to modernize platforms, weapons systems, and business processes in order to dominate adversaries on and off the battlefield in the years to come. 

The Army Digital Transformation Strategy (ADTS), established by the Office of the CIO, provides the framework and lines of effort (LOE) to undergo this strategic revolution. As Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth wrote in unveiling the strategic vision: 

Secretary of the U.S. Army - Christine E. Wormuth

"The Army must and will make bold investments in transformative digital technologies, build the workforce into one with the training and experience to execute the full range of Army missions in increasingly complex technological environments, and put the right data in decision makers' hands quicker than ever before."

The first step in that process is to modernize the networks that enable all the critical digital elements of modern warfare. The Global Enterprise Modernization Software & Services (GEMSS) contract is the program through which this transformation begins. 

GEMSS is an enterprise-level software and support services contract that offers every Army unit the ability to modernize networks, implementing the latest in software-defined networking, while at the same time increasing security, improving communication and collaboration, and saving money, to boot. 

Managed by WWT and embracing Cisco networking technology, the GEMSS enterprise contract makes it easy for Army network managers to provide secure, flexible networks, support modern communication and collaboration, and empower technology leaders to innovate rapidly to meet evolving mission needs. Through GEMSS, the Army will accelerate technology deployment, drive digital transformation, and enable next-generation Multi-Domain Operations.

This next-generation contract takes the place of the Joint Enterprise Level Agreement II that only recently covered all Cisco hardware support across the Army. What makes it transformational is that it literally takes the lid off licensing limitations, unleashing network managers to enable unlimited software and licenses for Cisco routing, switching, and wireless technology. What's more, GEMSS expands soldiers' access to a vast assortment of Cisco support, training, and technical services. 

By disaggregating software from hardware, GEMSS paves the way for a more agile, secure, and intent-based network. Freed from hardware and licensing limitations, the Army will now be able to take a giant leap forward, leaving behind the old hardware refresh cycle and replacing it with a rapid, innovative refresh that can instantly take advantage of new and emerging solutions implemented in software. 

That's possible because GEMSS builds in the support and training necessary to make this transformation. The combination of advantages means network managers will save money and deliver better services to their users. That's mission support at a whole new level. 

"The Army must accomplish digital transformation in a fiscally constrained future," notes the services Digital Transformation Strategy. "To accomplish this, reform efforts are needed to continually assess the Army's digital portfolio, explore opportunities for divestment of legacy systems, re-engineer business processes, adopt greater automation, and find savings through consolidation and better buying power. The cost avoidance harvested from such reform efforts can be re-allocated to modernize enduring legacy systems, data, and networks to achieve even greater cost savings in the future." 

The Army's Digital Transformation Strategy (ADTS) pursues three objectives and GEMSS supports each one.

Objective 1

"A digitally enabled, data-driven Army that is propelled by digital transformation" 

GEMSS enables the convergence of network connectivity through software to deliver a standardized, open, and programmable platform. It elevates the Army's cybersecurity through micro-segmentation and a policy-based, least-privileged access approach. GEMSS also accelerates cloud adoption through AnyCloud (Hybrid, Edge, and Multicloud) and leverages the network as a sensor, employing artificial intelligence to provide expanded visibility, troubleshooting, and guided remediation across every network. 

Objective 2 

"Optimized and mission-aligned digital investments providing greater value to the Army"

GEMSS helps operators increase purchasing power and exploit the Army's global enterprise discounts. Through consolidation and refinement of enterprise networking, security, and voice/video investments, the Army gains expanded visibility into its software portfolio. GEMSS establishes governance processes and asset visibility that delivers value as it increases and eases IT investment accountability. Finally,  GEMSS' extended hardware security support ensures compliance, audit readiness, and remediation solutions closely aligned with ADTS. 

Objective 3

"A tech savvy, operationally effective digital workforce partnered with a robust network of allies, industry, and academia"

As the ADTS notes, "People drive success." People and relationships are the key to effective MDO, or Joint All-Domain Command and Control as it's called in the joint world. GEMSS supports that goal several ways: 

  • By providing annual digital training to mission-critical students chosen by the Army
  • By fostering digital innovation and continuous learning for more than 20,000 Army students through online training at no additional cost and available 24/7.
  • By connecting Army network managers with Cisco technical experts to provide personalized collaboration and technology adoption assessments.
  • And by facilitating security collaboration with international partners to advance the adoption of best practices for security architectures and incident response.

"Going digital is a mindset, it's culture change," said Army Chief Information Officer Dr. Raj Iyer. "It's about how we can fundamentally change how we operate as an Army through transformative digital technologies, empowering our workforce, and re-engineering our rigid institutional processes to be more agile." 

Dr. Iyer was talking about Digital Modernization. He might just as easily have been talking about GEMSS. 

To learn more and to sign up for training, licenses, or other access, go to: the Army Digital Modernization Community Page.

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