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TECHNET CYBER 2024 — The J-6 is thinking of potentially creating its own Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer to help implement Chairman of the Joint Staff C.Q. Brown’s digital modernization campaign, according to Lt. Gen David Isaacson, director of C4 and Chief Information Officer of the J-6.

The department as a whole has a CDAO, but the J-6 office only has a Chief Digital Officer.

“Currently we have a CDO and I serve as the CIO, but we’re looking at ways to reorganize the Joint Staff to get after what I think is some open field running and a real opportunity for us to continue to evolve,” Isaacson said during a keynote address Thursday at TechNet Cyber in Baltimore. “This was inward looking at the Joint Staff. As you might imagine, the outcomes were very, very promising.”

The campaign will be carried out through a digitally enabled workforce, stronger infrastructure, artificial intelligence tools and capabilities, and the “rapid adoption” of these capabilities. 

The first part of the process in implementing the digital modernization campaign is to develop and maintain a digitally enabled workforce that can help modernize the technical stature of the Defense Department. Isaacson said he doesn’t foresee this as much of a challenge because of the several digitally-savvy servicemembers who have already volunteered to build up this digital modernization strategy, who he calls “digital natives.” 

“Say 10 or 15 years ago, we would deliver a capability and oftentimes, there was a learning curve that went along with it. These days, the extraordinary innovation and digital awareness that our service members have, we’re able to deliver capability to them very quickly. So having digital natives in our services gives us a competitive advantage,” Isaacson said. 

The second part of the campaign’s implementation is ensuring a stronger infrastructure, Isaacson said. He said this is possible through working with DISA, the Joint Force Headquarters and DoD Information Network partners “very, very closely” to bring investments into industry technology into the DoD. 

Lastly, the integral part of the campaign is actually rolling it out and adopting the capabilities. Isaacson said he was hopeful about this, but is well aware of the DoD’s reputation in being slow to adopt technology. 

“One of the things the department doesn’t do well is rapidly adopt, but we’re doing it better than we used to, and we are continuing to endeavor to make it better as we partner with our industry partners,” he said. 

Brown’s digital modernization campaign is at the forefront of the chairman’s plans after it temporarily took a back seat when the war in Gaza broke out, Isaacson said.

“You could imagine the world that I think General Brown thought he was going to enter in and the distractions and the attentions, and then having the seventh of October occur.

“But unfailing, he is focused on the future in spite of the demands. He has several focuses here and one of them which is the digital modernization of the Joint Staff. Because he is supremely focused on it, he has asked the J-6 to be the office of principal responsibility to bring that to bear,” he said.