British Army CIO Major General Jonathan Cole talked to Edward Qualtrough about digitising the battlespace, developing cyber capabilities, upskilling military personnel and the British Army’s digital transformation initiatives at the CIO Town Hall Live forum.

British Army CIO Major General Jonathan Cole said “data is our ammunition” at Computer Business Review (CBR) and sister title NS Tech’s CIO Town Hall Live forum.

In his session the ‘Information Advantage, the Information Manoeuvre and Digital Transformation at the British Army’ on 13 July, Maj Gen Cole discussed the army’s drive to gain competitive advantage in the data and information environment.

Speaking with NS Media Group Technology Editor Edward Qualtrough, the CIO and director of information touched on developing the institution’s electromagnetic and cyber capabilities, innovating at the edge, upskilling personnel, digitising the battlespace, and the disruptive emerging technologies he expects to have the biggest impact on the military as part of the British Army’s broader transformation.

View CIO Town Hall Sessions On-demand

“The Information Advantage is really an aim of where we are seeking to get to,” Maj Gen Cole said. “There is a recognition that in the Information Age there is also an adversarial situation where militaries seek to have advantage over their competitors – or if things escalate then ultimately their adversaries – and to be able to compete with them for control.

“It is about being able to dominate the information environment, but of course it’s impossible to dominate,” he said. “So therefore, we don’t use words such as ‘superiority’,” referring to the Air Force notion of air superiority. “I think ‘advantage’ is perhaps a more realistic ambition.

“We seek to have a state of advantage over others with information and data in particular, so you can build your intelligence picture and so forth.

See also: On Copehill Down, a Technology-Augmented Army Gathers

“Information Manoeuvre is building on the concept of ground manoeuvre, which is the combination of physical movement and the application of what we call firepower – guns and rifles.

British Army CIO
British Army CIO and director of information Major General Jonathan Cole.

“Again, it is a recognition in the Information Age that you also need to manoeuvre with data. So if you like, data is our ammunition and you need to move that data around. Really Information Manoeuvre is a term which is designed to make people realise that ground manoeuvre and information manoeuvre within an army are completely linked.

“You need to be able to dominate the ability to exploit data for your own purposes and to be able to do so faster than the adversary.”

You can watch British Army CIO Maj Gen Jonathan Cole’s full session from the CIO Town Hall Live on demand where he discusses the broad transformation agenda taking place in the military, and the challenges CIOs face regardless of the organisation or sector they are operating in.

Watch British Army CIO Jonathan Cole’s CIO Town Hall Live session