February 2, 2022 –
On February 2, 2022, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) program hosted a speaker session with Mr. Nicolas Chaillan (Chief Technology Officer, Prevent Breach & Former Air Force and Space Force Chief Software Officer) as part of its SMA NDU (INSS/PRISM) Speaker Series.
The U.S. is falling behind China—its main geopolitical rival—in the development of new and innovative software and artificial intelligence (AI). This is especially concerning for the US DoD, because AI will influence the future of warfare. Mr. Nicolas M. Chaillan commented that in the future missiles that use AI will likely only be countered with defense systems that also uses AI. He emphasized that if the US does not begin to change some of its institution practices and adopt new policies, it will not catch up to its rivals. Also, the way innovation occurs has changed. Innovation is shifting from hardware to software, which can be used to update older models of weapons and technology. This innovation is mostly occurring in the private sector. While the presentation focused on China, Mr. Chaillan also mentioned Russia and North Korea as US-adversaries who incorporate AI into their military operations.
By innovating its software and altering some of its practices, the DoD will be able to create faster and more cost-effective programs and missions. This in turn will help improve the morale of DoD employees. Mr. Chaillan commented that increasing the morale of its employees for the DoD is an important objective, because the loss of talent and qualified personnel is a persistent issue. He stated that for the US to catch up with China and its other adversaries in AI technologies it should follow five pillars. These pillars are: a) embrace failing and adapting, b) invest in talent, c) set up a joint enterprise IT office, d) enable cross sector information sharing between the private and public sectors, and e) increase transparency and accountability. By increasing the transparency and accountability of its actions, the DoD can encourage more private companies to work with it. Also, the DoD will ultimately need to focus more on the qualifications and backgrounds of those it puts in charge of incorporating AI rather than their current military rank.
Mr. Nicolas Chaillan was appointed as the first Air Force and Space Force Chief Software Officer, under Dr. William Roper, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Arlington, Virginia. He was also the co-lead for the Department of Defense Enterprise DevSecOps Initiative with the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer. As the Air Force’s senior software czar, Mr. Chaillan was responsible for enabling Air Force programs in the transition to Agile and DevSecOps to establish force-wide DevSecOps capabilities and best practices, including continuous Authority to Operate processes and faster streamlined technology adoption.
The Chief Software Officer worked with the Program Executive Officers and was responsible for analyzing current software and cloud migration plans to avoid vendor lock-ins while allowing for rapid prototyping and a streamlined process for deployment. To keep up with the pace of technology, Mr. Chaillan evaluated and authorized new commercially available off-the-shelf software and cloud-related technologies to help with their adoption across various Air Force programs based on their mission needs.
Prior to his current position, Mr. Chaillan was the Special Advisor for Cloud Security and DevSecOps at the Department of Defense, OSD, A&S and Special Advisor for Cybersecurity and Chief Architect for Cyber.gov at the Department of Homeland Security. He designed the new robust, innovative and holistic .Gov cybersecurity architecture (Cyber.gov), that mitigates cyber threats by leveraging best practices and implementable solutions with minimal impact to workforce efficiency.
In addition to his public service, Mr. Chaillan is a technology entrepreneur, software developer, cyber expert and inventor. He has over 22 years of domestic and international experience with strong technical and subject matter expertise in cybersecurity, software development, product innovation, governance, risk management and compliance. Specifically, these fields include DevSecOps, Kubernetes, Service Mesh, Cloud computing, Cybersecurity, Big Data, multi-touch, mobile, IoT, Mixed Reality, virtual reality and wearables.
Mr. Chaillan is recognized as one of France’s youngest entrepreneurs after founding, WORLDAKT at 15 years of age. He has founded 12 companies, including AFTER-MOUSE.COM, Cyber Revolution, Prevent Breach, anyGuest.com among others. Over the last eight years alone, he created and sold over 180 innovative software products to 45 Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, he is recognized as a pioneer of the computer language PHP.
Mr. Chaillan is a sought after adviser and speaker, including participation in multiple industry conferences and experience working in close collaboration with many Fortune 100 companies and the U.S. Government.