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Open letter ‘on behalf of every DoD employee’ demands department ‘fix our computers’

Commercial computer networks. (Aleksandar Radovanovic/Dreamstime/TNS)
February 07, 2022

Late last month, an open letter reportedly reflecting service members’ frustration over faulty equipment demanded the Department of Defense “fix our computers.”

“Today, I am writing an open letter echoing some recent servicemember frustrations regarding computers in the Department of Defense. These are voices that have gone unheard for far too long. It’s titled: ‘Fix Our Computers,’” tweeted author Michael Kanaan, who claimed to be writing on behalf of “every DoD employee.”

The letter said the following:

Dear DoD,

You tell us to accelerate change or lose, then fix our computers.

Before buying another plane, tank or ship, fix our computers.

Yesterday, I spent an hour waiting just to log on. Fix our computers.

Before spending another dollar on a Request for Proposals from industry asking for the same thing you asked for last year, fix our computers.

Want innovation? You lost literally HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of employee hours last year because computers don’t work. Fix our computers.

Are you reading inputs from any of the various idea/innovation programs? Fix our computers.

I Googled how much the computer under my desk costs in the real-world. It was $108 dollars. Would you ever buy a $100 computer? Fix our computers.

Are you a senior leader visiting a unit? Ask if their computers work.

I opened an Excel file today … my computer froze and needed to be restarted. Fix our computers.

I turned on my computer and it sat at 100% CPU usage. Fix our computers.

Tanium battling McAfee for scans all day takes up 40% of the processes inside the machine. Fix our computers.

My computer updated and restarted 10 times today. Fix our computers.

We’ve been doing more with less for too long. Fix our computers.

What happened to the cloud? Fix our computers.

Why am I using Internet Explorer? Fix our computers.

Making computers so useless that nobody can hack them is not a strategy (yet they hack them anyway). Fix our computers.

We’re the richest and most well funded military in the world. I timed 1 hour and 20 minutes from logging in to Outlook opening today. Fix our computers.

Ultimately, we can’t solve problems with the same tools that made them … and yet somehow fundamental IT funding is still an afterthought … it’s not a money problem, it’s a priority problem.

Sincerely and on behalf of,

Every DoD employee

In September last year, the Air Force’s chief software officer, Nicolas Chaillan, announced he was moving back to the private sector. In a goodbye letter posted to LinkedIn, Chaillan slammed the Defense Department for not adequately “funding, staffing and prioritizing IT basic issues.”

“A lack of response and alignment is certainly a contributor to my accelerated exit,” Chaillan wrote on LinkedIn. “There have been continuous and exhausting fights to chase after funding ‘out-of-hide,’ because we are not enabled to fix enterprise IT teams within program offices. Worse, some are starting to use the size of the DoD as an excuse to claim that enterprise services cannot succeed in the department. That is false and we have demonstrated it with Platform One. The Department of Defense, overall, needs to stop staffing enterprise IT teams as if IT is not a highly technical skill and expertise.”