After years of flying through the clouds, Brig.-Gen. Aviad Dagan is now leading the IDF’s Digital Transformation, bringing the military to the digital age and the cloud, one of the top priorities of the military.
A former pilot whose previous role was the commander of Hatezrim Air Force Base, Dagan has been in his current role for the past year as the Head of Digital Transformation Division.
The IDF’s Digital Transformation Division was formed three years ago to take all the potential of the digital era and integrate it into the military. As part of the C4i and Cyber Defense Directorate under Maj.-Gen. Eran Niv, the division leads the military’s digital innovation programs that connects all divisions in the IDF and provides them with modern and fast infrastructure.
“To lead and accelerate the digital change in the IDF,those are explosive words,” Dagan said, explaining that it’s because of the change to such a large organization which is built with various different corps that develop and grow independently.
The IDF, he said, is “totally different” from data and digital information “that wants to move freely between places,” unlike solidary planes or tanks.
The digital transformation of the IDF has been a top priority for IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi who has led the military in investing great amounts of time and funds toward advanced new technology in order to increase its lethality on the battlefield.
Kohavi’s Momentum plan aims to make the IDF identify and destroy enemy targets and fighters in a more lethal and effective manner with more unmanned devices, robots, precision weapons and much more digital connectivity.
“We believe that the potential of any digital aspect for helping the IDF to win any future battle is unbelievable and this understanding exists in the military from the top to the bottom in all branches,” Dagan said. “We need to continue to invest and get better in order for us to be much stronger in the future.”
“We believe that the potential of any digital aspect for helping the IDF to win any future battle is unbelievable and this understanding exists in the military from the top to the bottom in all branches.”Brig.-Gen. Aviad Dagan
The division's history
Over the past three years, he said, the division has been able to write architecture and standards with the military and defense industries for all future systems that will be incorporated into the IDF. They are now looking at legacy platforms in order to update them will current standards.
Another challenge of the past three years was the cultural challenge of getting the green light from senior officers who did not want to change their ways and move toward the digital era.
But, Dagan said, the army has understood “that the potential that digital can give us to carry out operational processes, is huge. This understanding exists all over the military, it's a great thing and not only a phrase. When you have the understanding, you can convince others in the organization.”
Digital transformation conference
This past week Dagan took part in a conference discussing the military’s digital transformation along with 100-120 other generals in the military. During the day-long conference, the officers spent several hours discussing and learning from the past three years of staff work and examined what they succeeded in carrying out and where they could improve. They then tried to chart what the division would do in the coming decade.
According to Dagan, the division has recognized several future paths for the digitization of the IDF, including its move to the cloud as well as the infrastructure that’s needed such as wireless and networks.
“We’ve understood where we need to focus and execute in the coming decade,” he said. “The potential of digital has already brought and will continue to bring incredible power to the IDF’s offensive and defensive operations.”