Author: Drexx Laggui [personal] Date: To: Philippine Linux Users' Group (PLUG) Catch-All Discussion List Subject: [plug-misc] [news] US Military Will ‘Be Left Behind’ If It Doesn’t Embrace Open-Source Software, Report Says
31Aug2016 (UTC +8
THE US MILITARY WILL ‘BE LEFT BEHIND’ IF IT DOESN’T EMBRACE
OPEN-SOURCE SOFTWARE, REPORT SAYS
Unless the Defense Department and its military components levy
increased importance on software development, they risk losing
military technical superiority, according to a new report from the
Center for a New American Security.
In the report, the Washington, D.C.-based bipartisan think tank argues
the Pentagon, which for years has relied heavily on proprietary
software systems, “must actively embrace open source software” and
buck the status quo.
Currently, DOD uses open source software “infrequently and on an ad
hoc basis,” unlike tech companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook
that wouldn’t exist without open source software.
“From game-changing weapons to routine back-office systems, the DOD is
entirely reliant on its ability to identify, acquire, certify, deploy
and manage software,” the report states. “But while the commercial
world has installed repeatable and scalable frameworks that improve
the software it uses, the DOD struggles to keep pace. Unless the
department is able to accelerate how it procures, builds, and delivers
software, it will be left behind.”
DOD defines open source software as “software for which the
human-readable source code is available for use, study, re-use,
modification, enhancement and re-distribution by the users of that
software.” That public availability of source code is why open source
gets shorted in national security discussions, usually because of
“technical security concerns,” as the report notes.
However, its authors attempt to debunk those and other misconceptions.
“Using open source licensing does not mean that changes to the source
code must be shared publicly; the ability to see source code is not
the same as the ability to modify deployed software in production;
using open source components is not equivalent to creating an entire
system that is itself open sourced,” the report states.
The report discusses barriers to open source adoption and strategies
for plowing through them, and concludes on a somber note. In light of
a growing list of sophisticated technical adversaries, including China
and Russia—both of whom are amid major transitions to open source
software—DOD’s slow pace on the software front could cost it
tactically for years to come.
“Software development is not currently a high-profile, high-priority
topic in the discussion about diminishing U.S. military technical
superiority,” the report states. “It should be.”
-- Frank Konkel is the editorial events editor for Government
Executive Media Group and a technology journalist for its
publications. He writes about emerging technologies, privacy,
cybersecurity, policy and other issues at the intersection of
government and technology.