U.S. Department Of Defense Is Bullish On The Blockchain
As blockchain technology continues to go mainstream, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the largest employer in the U.S., is getting in on the action.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Broitman who serves in the Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy recommends the “DoD should join other logistics-heavy organizations in experimenting with the cryptography-messaging-accounting technology that powers Bitcoin.” Deputy Secretary Broitman further points out that the DoD would not be the only major government organization using blockchain technology stating, “even the United Nations is using blockchain to process assistance, support digital identity, and manage contracts when traditional methods are unavailable or fall prey to vulnerabilities.”
Blockchain Project Launched
In a post published on the official U.S. Secretary of the Navy website, Naval officer Lieutenant Commander McCarter wrote “if someone told you that the technology underpinning the cryptocurrency Bitcoin will likely revolutionize much of the way we do business in the next ten years, you might shrug it off. I would like to tell you it’s just the beginning…” Lieutenant Commander McCarter continues, “…it might also revolutionize Naval Additive Manufacturing, finance, and logistics writ large, and that’s only scratching the surface.”
McCarter is describing a fully approved and well underway U.S. military project utilizing blockchain technology. Specifically, a group of U.S. Navy officers assigned to the Department of the Navy (DoN)’s Naval Innovation Advisory Council (NIAC) have begun working with blockchain technology to help solve business problems faced by the DoD, one of the world’s largest and most complex organizations. “It’s no surprise that the Defense Department faces challenges in managing its inventory, whose value is ballparked at nearly $100 billion,” Deputy Secretary Broitman explained.
The DoD does a lot more than just fight wars, and that work requires data transfers and file management. More than financial records where all that is at stake is wealth and identity, if DoD files get hacked, it could mean people get killed. So having a system to transfer and manage files, securely, is a natural fit for the DoD. According to Deputy Secretary Broitman, “blockchain solves a number of challenges. Control or verification is executed by consensus, rather than a central body, limiting the security problems of a single point of failure or vulnerability.”
All Hands on Deck
The first place, at least being discussed in public, is use of the blockchain in the DoD for file transfer and storage in Navy manufacturing.
According to an article in The Maritime Executive “the U.S. Navy has revealed plans to trial blockchain technology to bring added security to its manufacturing systems.” This work is being spearheaded by the DoN’s Naval Innovation Advisory Council (NIAC) but this project is not just using the blockchain. In fact, this creative endeavor is combining multiple breakthrough technologies in a single application in a new setting. This as described in a post on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog by Lieutenant Commander Wicks, the Deputy Department Head for Intelligence at the headquarters of Task Force 70, “…a recent class of NIAC innovators has investigated uses of AI, autonomous systems, 3-D printing, design thinking, Blockchain, and a chief data officer to transform how the DoN conducts its business.” This work by the NIAC appears to be highly supported as noted by Lieutenant Commander Wicks recently in reference to the NAIC’s blockchain project, “I look forward to seeing their research and, in particular, how the DoN chooses to endorse their recommendations.” In further endorsement, Wicks boldly states, “to shape our future and stay ahead of our adversaries, programs like the NIAC should be expanded as our military environment demands that the DoN position itself as an innovative and technology-enabled force.”
The military invented GPS, jet engines, the precursor to the Internet, and many other tools we have come to depend on, and while it did not invent the blockchain, it is certainly getting on-board faster than many other organizations and should serve as a wake up call to business and government leaders around the world: blockchain technology works!