The first-ever chief software officer of the US Air Force has called it quits, claiming the military has lost interest in improving joint operations at a time when adversarial nations are finally catching on to the idea.
Nicolas Chaillan, who came to the USAF in 2018 from the Department of Homeland Security, wrote on LinkedIn that he was resigning due to the diminished support for investing in the technologies required to truly improve joint command and control operations.
Chaillan noted that a lack of understanding concerning new tech made it hard to sell the idea of having joint tech across all the branches.
“I’m actually very concerned with the Space Force starting to potentially drift away from the Air Force,” he said at a recent AFA Gabriel Chapter lunch. “It would really be a big mistake, compounding the existing silos between the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force, and fourth estate.”
Furthermore, the former department head stated that he was tired of the USAF putting inexperienced officers in charge of projects that demanded extensive tech experience.
“Please stop putting a major or [lieutenant colonel] (despite their devotion, exceptional attitude, and culture) in charge” of technical projects affecting millions of users “when they have no previous experience in that field,” he wrote. “We would not put a pilot in the cockpit without extensive flight training; why would we expect someone with no IT experience to be close to successful?”
Lastly, he cursed what he percieved to be a race of egos among branches, who seek power instead of solutions.
“DOD must do better,” he wrote. “There are 100,000 software developers in the DOD. We are the largest software organization on the planet, and we have almost no shared repositories and little to no collaboration across DoD Services. We need diversity of options if there are tangible benefits to duplicating work. Not because of silos created purposefully to allow senior officials to satisfy their thirst for power.”
His driving force for doing the work was the concerns he has as a parent, particularly in a world where China is gaining power at a frightening pace while the US loses influence.
“Twenty years from now, our children … will have no chance competing in a world where China has the drastic advantage of population over the US,” he wrote. “If the US can’t match the booming, hardworking population in China, then we have to win by being smarter, more efficient, and forward-leaning through agility, rapid prototyping and innovation. We have to be ahead and lead. We can’t afford to be behind.”
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