Data or Die: Why Military Commanders Should Embrace Their Inner Data Geeks

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Alright, alright, we know military commanders are already pretty badass, but imagine if they added “Data Geek” to their title! While it may not sound as cool as “Commander,” having a good grasp of data and analytics is becoming increasingly important for military leaders. So let’s embrace the inner data geek and get down to business! After all, in modern warfare, it’s not just about guns and bombs – it’s also about data.

One doctrine that supports commanders becoming “Data Geeks” and being involved in understanding their architectures within their organization is the Joint Publication 3-0: Joint Operations. This publication provides guidance on how commanders should plan, execute, and assess joint operations, including the role of data and information in supporting these activities. In particular, the doctrine highlights the importance of commanders understanding the data architecture of their units and the broader data ecosystem within which they operate.

The Army has a doctrine that emphasizes the importance of data literacy for military leaders in Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 6-0: Mission Command. This publication defines mission command as “the exercise of authority and direction by the commander using mission orders to enable disciplined initiative within the commander’s intent to empower agile and adaptive leaders in the conduct of unified land operations.” The doctrine stresses the importance of commanders having a deep understanding of the information environment, including data and intelligence, to effectively exercise mission command.

The staff plays a critical role in supporting commanders to become more data literate and involved in understanding the architectures within their organization. The staff is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information to commanders to enable them to make informed decisions. They are also responsible for developing and maintaining the unit’s data architecture. Ensuring that it is aligned with the commander’s intent and objectives.

To support the commander’s decision-making, the staff must have a deep understanding of the unit’s data architecture and the broader data ecosystem within which they operate. They must also have the technical skills and expertise to use analytical tools and extract meaningful insights from the data. Finally, they must be able to communicate this information effectively to the commander, both orally and in writing, to support their decision-making.

While the doctrine provides guidance on the importance of commanders becoming more data literate and involved in understanding the architectures within their organization, the staff plays a critical role in supporting these efforts. By working together, commanders and their staff can ensure that they have the right tools, training, and information to make informed decisions in today’s complex and rapidly changing battlefield.

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