AWS Public Sector Blog

AWS supports development of U.S. Army’s first enduring tactical cloud environment

In 2020, the U.S. Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps embarked on a mission to become the Army’s data centric Corps. Headquartered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the XVIII Airborne Corps—also known as the “America’s Contingency Corps” — is the Army’s strategic response force and is at the ready to deploy anywhere in the world to defend the US and its Allies. To enable their data ambitions, the XVIII Airborne Corps sought to establish the first enduring tactical cloud presence for the conventional Army and leveraged the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud to support their journey.

Working with defense agencies, organizations, and commercial companies including AWS, the Army Enterprise Cloud Management Agency, and the Army Analytics Group, the Corps embarked on the “Dragon Cloud” effort and devised a plan to establish their tactical cloud environment. First, they developed a proof of concept (POC) to demonstrate the cloud’s viability and highlight the potential operational benefits it could deliver. Within their POC, they sought to incorporate efforts from fellow divisions to provide a total solution that could be refined and eventually fielded to the conventional Army. Using AWS GovCloud (US), the team developed the POC cloud environment at Impact Level 5 (IL 5) as unclassified dedicated space. Within the environment, the team was able to develop Soldier-designed applications and demonstrate that they functioned properly in a cloud environment. As these were not cloud-native applications, navigating their successful migration and demonstrating their interoperability provided further evidence to the cloud’s viability.

Following the success of the POC, XVIII Airborne Corps began pursuing the development of an operational classified cloud environment that will process data at Impact Level 6 (IL 6) with the support of AWS and the Enterprise Cloud Management Agency. The Dragon Cloud IL 6 environment will take advantage of commercial innovations and embedded managed features to improve the state of the network in terms of reliability, flexibility, and agility. AWS Cloud features also allow for reduced administrative workload for Army network administrators, enabling them to deploy server infrastructure in minutes instead of days. Additionally, the proven reliability of cloud resources provides increased availability and performance for the end user. Automatic scaling of resources allows for a new degree of flexibility in Army information systems. Further, Army mission command systems will be able to scale depending on workload to deliver unprecedented levels of application agility.

The Dragon Cloud IL 6 environment is also being designed to be available worldwide. By reducing the underlying heavy lifting of deploying large physical server stacks at the tactical edge, Commanders can utilize cloud computing to access mission command applications from anywhere. Commanders can expect to see a 60% reduction in hardware requirements when deploying forces away from the home station, which also improves agility and flexibility at the edge. The environment’s ability to host live strategic data in the cloud allows for users to operate in distributed environments at the tactical edge effectively over a persistent data fabric. These innovations allow for a more consistent, reliable, and available network at fractions of the cost.

The network of tomorrow that Commanders will use to win future fights must be extremely agile, flexible, reliable, and most importantly sustainable. Dragon Cloud will help deliver on this need while supporting the use of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI). The innovations of Dragon Cloud can help meet the mission command needs of tomorrow’s Army.

Learn more about cloud computing for defense and how AWS is helping the Department of Defense deliver on the mission. Learn more about AWS GovCloud (US).

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