Marines must master data beyond "black boxes," Marine Corps general says at AOCNews
December 11, 2023
60th AOC INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM & CONVENTION, NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) must keep up with an evolving battlefield by focusing its energies on mastering data and getting away from closed “black boxes” that make systems in the field non-agile, a top Marine general said Monday at the Association of Old Crows (AOC) annual symposium.
Lt. Gen. Matthew G. Glavy, USMC deputy commandant for aviation, said the future of military superiority lies in harnessing and effectively utilizing data: "What's our advantage today? Right now? We’ve got to figure that out. I will tell you the advantage that we have is this crazy stuff called data," he said.
Glavy criticized the current focus on technological deliverables without a comprehensive understanding of their functionality and impact.
“I supervise the information portfolio, and it deals with capabilities that we're discussing, and every one of those reviews starts off with a picture [of a] black freaking box,” he said. “I’ve got no time for the black box. I got to know all the comings and goings and the innards of where that data comes from and what it's doing and the outcomes and how fast I can evolve based on the threat, and I will tell you that a lot of people are figuring this out.
“If we don't put our hearts and minds to truly understand the power of data, and ultimately information, we're going to be in an awkward place,” he continued. “We’re really good at delivering a black box, [but] we’ve got to understand all the inputs and outputs … everything required to make that black box.”
Solving the issue is not necessarily about adopting new technologies, but more about transforming the mindset within the Marine Corps into one that sees data as a key asset in modern warfare, Glavy said. This transformation, he added, requires an in-depth understanding of the data life cycle – from collection to application – and its strategic implications on the battlefield.