“We must remember that until our forces have consistently ready software, we have not met our responsibility to achieve the Army’s critical priority of materiel readiness.”
~ Jennifer Zbozny, Director, CECOM Software Engineering Center
What is it?
Software readiness ensures U.S. Army units are ready to fight and win in a cyber-contested environment. It includes several lines of effort to transform Army software culture and create accountability at all levels.
What are the current and past efforts of the Army?
This initiative falls under the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Software Engineering Center (SEC). On Oct. 1, 2020, the SEC launched the CECOM Software Repository, a single location housing software updates for more than 70 command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems. The repository, designed to be intuitive and easy to navigate:
- Enables rapid and secure electronic patching of C5ISR systems, rather than physical delivery of updates on CDs.
- Consolidates more than 10 various locations that previously housed C5ISR updates, making the update process faster and more efficient.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned?
SEC is building preventative maintenance capabilities for the software systems they sustain. This includes integrating software processes into the list of preventative maintenance checks and services for hardware systems on which the software runs.
- These checks will feed into Unit Status Reports and subsequently push software metrics into Army readiness assessment tools.
- This will improve unit commanders and senior Army leaders’ software situational awareness and decision-making.
- SEC plans to make the preventative maintenance capability available in fiscal year 2021.
SEC is also creating automated tools that make it easier for Soldiers to keep software up to date.
- SEC is building an internal tool known as the profiler to standardize how cyber releases are created and make patch structures more efficient.
- SEC is creating an external user-facing tool known as the conductor, designed to combine complex updates for multiple systems into one straightforward process.
- SEC plans to make these tools available in fiscal year 2021.
Why is this important to the Army?
Software is the “nervous system” that enables overall functionality for battlefield hardware systems. Accordingly, software readiness is a core combat enabler. With nearly every Army weapon and communications system now running on software, Army units face increased operational risk fighting with outdated and vulnerable software. To enable a cyber-hardened Army, it is critical to have tools and processes in place to maintain software with the same rigor and consistency as the hardware it controls.