History of Phoenix Challenge

The Phoenix Challenge Conference Series

A Professional Conference on Operations in the Information Environment

In Conjunction with US Central Command’s Worldwide IO Conference

Online & Unclassified – 13 April 2021 

The original Phoenix Challenge Conference series on Information Operations (IO) ran from approximately 2002-2012 and was sponsored by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (OUSD(I)) and the Air Force’s 688th Information Operations Wing.  It was specifically intended to guide and ensure the effective implementation of the DoD Information Operations Roadmap of 2000.  The conference brought together IO practitioners from across the military, OSD, allies, academia, and industry to network, exchange ideas, and share information on best practices and new projects.  Sessions included everything from presentation of research and program results to operational demonstrations to industry panels.  It was the one event where everyone could get an understanding of how their efforts connected to and impacted other activities in the information environment. More than just a conference, the event was known for the work that participants starting during the conference and carried on collaboratively throughout the year. Phoenix Challenge ceased after the 2012 event due to severe restrictions placed on US government travel and conference participation.

A Conference Series Reborn – through ARLIS and the Information Professionals Association (IPA) [with the Endorsement of OSD and the Joint Staff]

In 2021, DoD has recognized the criticality of Operations in the Information Environment (OIE) and the accelerating impacts from technological change in the information space.  The 2018 National Defense Strategy directed the Department to foster a competitive mindset to counter revisionist powers and to organize for innovation in modernizing our capabilities.  Current initiatives like the Information Advantage Task Force, Deliver Uncompromised, and Project Convergence aim to address specific aspects of this multidimensional information challenge.  However, the Department does not have a venue for linking and promoting coordination across these different initiatives as well as ensuring input from key partners in the rest of the US government, from Allies, and from industry and academia.  The new Phoenix Challenge proposes to fill that gap by facilitating connection and organized action.

The University of Maryland’s ARLIS is a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) sponsored by the OUSD(I&S) and has a mission to serve the broader needs of the US government community on matters related to intelligence and security.  Consistent with that mission, ARLIS, in partnership with the IPA, will serve as the hosts and organizers of the new Phoenix Challenge conference series.  [With input/oversight from OSD and the Joint Staff] ARLIS and IPA offer a neutral ground for all participants to come together on an equal footing to identify ways they can collaborate to accelerate success for OIE and the priorities in the NDS. The objective of the conference series is to promote awareness and exchange of information on core initiatives at an appropriately senior level and to ensure organizations continue to collaborate going forward on efforts ranging from research and acquisition to operational planning and execution. For this inaugural event, the team will organize an UNCLASSIFIED online conference on 13 April 2021 to serve as a scene-setting event for the US Central Command Worldwide IO Conference on 14-15 April 2021. Find more information about the day’s agenda here.

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