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To ensure competitive advantage in a rapidly evolving security environment, allied militaries must adopt a system and portfolio-based framework. This framework should align strategic decision-making on future capabilities to the mission areas required for integrated deterrence. And, while kinetic effects remain important, technical superiority has emerged as a key lever in maintaining this advantage, especially when it comes to piloting new acquisition pathways, modernizing concepts of operations, and driving transformation goals.

As global defense and intelligence organizations embark on their digital transformation journeys, they are increasingly looking to technology to assist in the design, development, deployment, and sustainment of military assets, as well as increased agility and speed. This requires a shift for both defense forces and their industry partners from legacy methodologies to a digital engineering approach, with forces and industry collaborating across the entire mission capability lifecycle. At the heart of this transformation is moving from the unwieldy and resource-intensive legacy procurement and development methodologies to agile, adaptive approaches that deliver high-value, innovative capabilities directly to the individual in the military at the speed of relevance.

Increasing the velocity of the capability lifecycle through an integrated digital approach to system development will be a theme that is front of mind at the forthcoming Atlantic Future Forum. The Atlantic Future Forum exists to help strengthen the defense, security, technology, and trading relationships between democratic nations. The forum brings together senior politicians, policymakers, military leaders, and academia, together with business leaders and entrepreneurs from the United Kingdom, the United States, and other allied countries.

Microsoft at Atlantic Future Forum

The Microsoft Global Defense and Intelligence team will be at the Atlantic Future Forum 2022 to discuss how the allied defense community can leverage commercial technology and modern development paradigms to support militaries and defense industrial base partners alike, in their capability lifecycle transformation goals. Our commitment is based on seamless delivery of three tenets1 that underpin digital engineering strategies:

  • Model Based Engineering. Employing models and authoritative sources of data across the entire capability, system, or product lifecycle. These models may be digitized and supported through contemporary modeling, simulation, and virtualization that, amongst other things, support the generation of digital twins to digitally mirror and represent the capability through design into production and across the entire lifecycle.
  • Agile and DevSecOps development methodologies. Agile and DevSecOps (development, security, and operations) approaches introduce regular customer and user feedback and allow for rapid and iterative deployments of highest-value capabilities, thereby enabling the fielding of these capabilities in far more rapid timescales than seen in traditional methods (such as a waterfall).
  • Modular, Open Architectures. Incorporating open architectures and modular components expands the opportunities for technology insertion and enables sharing across coalition allies, while also creating opportunities for non-traditional industry partners to contribute to the defense tech stack—thereby increasing the opportunity for disruption and innovation. Furthermore, the provision of these capabilities in a secure cloud environment provides the resilience, flexibility, and portability desired by defense and intelligence organizations, allowing resources to be safely shared with trusted partners.
The connected capability lifecycle, with data at the core.
Figure 1: The connected capability lifecycle, with data at the core of an integrated digital engineering approach.

Embracing the adoption of a digital engineering approach is a key enabler for coalition partners to maintain their technological advantage over adversaries, building systems smarter, and faster, with more user feedback, and improved efficiency. This, in turn, is a foundational step in delivering mission superiority to the allied defense ecosystem. We are seeing a tremendous appetite across Five Eyes, NATO, NORAD, and other alliances to leverage commercial development paradigms, commoditized technologies, and collaborate more effectively on mission capability development in a common and secure environment.

Learn more at the event

We are keen to continue the discussion on both securing the cyber domain and this topic at the Atlantic Future Forum 2022 in New York City from September 28 to 29. In addition, our Defense and Intelligence team will be participating in three sessions: Conflict in the information age, AI and the Future of Human Decision Making, and Accelerated digital adoption – a critical defense enabler?

We look forward to connecting with existing partners—and making new ones—at this important event.


1There is No Spoon: The New Digital Acquisition Reality. October 2020.