Army’s ‘unconventional warfare’ division signs £8m deal to improve data sources

Unit claims commercially available data offers a better option than open-source intelligence

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The Army’s specialist force dedicated to “unconventional warfare” has signed an £8m-plus deal to provide new data sources to support its operations.

According to newly published procurement dcoument, the 6th (UK) Division’s mandate requires it to “monitor and assess the information environment” in which it operates; the unit “orchestrates intelligence, information and partner operations and conducts cyber and electronic warfare activities”.

Its assessment of information sources is “currently achieved through the monitoring of limited data sources provided through OSINT (open source intelligence) collection tools… and other parts of the intelligence community”.

“Through operational experience it has become clear that, in many cases, OSINT sources do not provide great enough fidelity, timeliness or accuracy that commercially procurable data sources could,” the division said. 

The contract, signed with Danish IT firm Netcompany, is intended to fulfil “an immediate requirement to rapidly procure operationally important data sets utilising a commercial partner with significant experience and exposure to the commercial data market for use on military data exploitation platforms”.

The deal comes into effect on 1 November and lasts for an initial period of 12 months, plus two potential one-year extensions.

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During the first year, a confirmed £688,969 will be spent via the deal; if the contract is extended to its full term, further sums of £112,074 and £100,574 will be spent.

The vast majority of the potential worth of the deal – some £7.5m – is not guaranteed upfront, but may be spent on an ad hoc basis.

According to the contract, which was awarded via the G-Cloud 12 framework, the services to be provided by Netcompany include: “data governance and strategy; data architecture; data fabric, data lake, and data warehouse management; business Intelligence, analytics and visualisation management; data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence management; data security management; data quality; big data management; data ops management”.

Requirements to be supported by the IT firm include an initial scoping and feasibility assessment, followed by development and testing of a data-hosting environment. Data sets will be procured “on a case-by-case basis” and should be provided to the Army division within one week. Netcompany will then be expected to provide “data science and academic support” to military personnel using the information.

Work will largely take place remotely, but installation services may be required on-site at Army facilities in Corsham, Hermitage, Andover, Farnborough, and Wyton.

According to the Army, the 6th (UK) Division “prepares and generates forces assured for Army Special Operations and unconventional warfare”.

It added: “[The division] brings together a number of specialists with the skills required to help develop and deliver operations at home and abroad. It provides the British Army’s asymmetric edge.”


Sam Trendall

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