Hundreds of NATO military and civilian advisors are deployed to Afghanistan each year for the Train, Advise, Assist mission of Operation Resolute Support. This mission relies on a software system called the Advisor Network (ANET), to track and understand advisor engagements with their Afghan government counterparts. The system also facilitates strategic decision making for future mission development. However, the incumbent system suffered large gaps in connectivity, decreased usage, poor performance, and flawed software development practices. These issues had a harmful impact on leadership’s ability to understand the advising landscape and gauge mission effectiveness, and on the continuity of knowledge between advisors transitioning in and out of theater.
The Defense Digital Service (DDS) began development efforts in November 2016 to replace the legacy system with a new product built using modern software development standards. DDS spent 15 weeks building ANET 2.0 with small teams on rotation to Afghanistan. They worked directly with NATO advisors and leadership to build the system’s replacement in theatre and in conjunction with a team at the Pentagon. ANET 2.0 was fully deployed on a classified network to roughly 800 advisors across Afghanistan in March 2017 and the long-term maintenance/sustainment was handed over to NATO developers based in Europe. The unclassified ANET 2.0 source code was also released on Code.mil, the DoD’s first free and open source platform launched by DDS in February 2017.
DDS is currently working on the broader adoption of ANET to support security cooperation missions supported by the DoD across the globe.