18 SEPT 2020 – Allied Command Transformation’s Innovation Hub delivered a critical new intelligence capability to NATO warfighters, quickly and ahead of schedule, confirming a proof of concept for its new Agile project development process. The Tasking, Exploitation, Assessment System (TEXAS), is a planning tool that assigns and manages allied intelligence gathering. Commanders can now task assets and get information quickly to make critical decisions on the battlefield.
In October 2019, Allied Command Transformation’s Innovation Branch visited NATO’s Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany, to find solutions for its operational pain points. Together, they identified a good candidate for a software-intensive project: the gap separating the Intelligence Requirement and Collection Management processes. At the time, no single system or application tracked analytical requirements from inception to delivery. A clumsy manual system was the only way to confirm whether the right information was delivered to the correct user. This gap made it difficult to determine whether an intelligence requirement had been met. TEXAS replaces a make-shift solution that used commercial spreadsheet software to organize intelligence requests.
TEXAS is a proof of concept for the Agile process, which is designed to innovate, develop, and deliver software solutions quickly. The Agile process slashes production timelines for new software and upgrades. This requires a different way of thinking about and collaborating on projects, including working off-site with the private sector, non-profits, and academic experts outside NATO. What once took 10 years or more, Allied Command Transformation’s Innovation Hub delivered TEXAS in just eight months – two months ahead of schedule.
“We bring academia, best practices from industry, students, experts in different areas that can come together in one location and really come up with the best solutions possible that we can provide the alliance,” said Lieutenant Junior Grade Tami Hrivnak, who works in the Innovation Branch. “It’s not just about how we build software, but it’s changing the culture, changing the processes, making people look at things differently in order to support the alliance in a much faster, agile way.”
Allied Command Transformation set up the Innovation Hub at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, which opened itself to anyone willing to work on practical solutions for NATO’s challenges.