The Army notes that the division is using Palantir in Afghanistan. It also says its testing command is evaluating whether Palantir’s link-analysis software can be integrated into the Common Ground system, on which it has spent more than $2 billion in partnership with private industry.
The Times has reported on a confidential Army assessment in May that said the Common Ground system had “significant limitations” and was not reliable. Soldiers have complained that it is too slow and have said that Palantir can perform link analysis much faster.
The 3rd Infantry Division’s embrace of Palantir began in December. Members traveled to southern Afghanistan to be briefed by the 82nd Airborne Division on what to expect, and learned of Palantir’s reputation for effectiveness.
In January, the 82nd’s commanding officer reported that his soldiers had increased the find-and-clear rate for roadside bombs by 12 percent. Internal 82nd Airborne Division documents show that soldiers complained about the Common Ground system.
In the spring at Fort Stewart, the 3rd Infantry began a campaign to acquire Palantir through either the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force or the Pentagon's Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office. It also contacted Palantir.
The infantry division wanted company training to prepare for inheriting the Palantir servers used by the 82nd in Afghanistan. It also wanted “reach back” capability so that servers at Fort Stewart and in Afghanistan could process data.
In a May 2 memo to the Pentagon's Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, Col. Leopoldo Quintas, the 3rd Infantry Division’s chief of staff, heaped praise on Palantir.
Division documents assessing the Army’s Common Ground system said: “Solving very hard analytical problems took several days when using existing tools against these data sources. In our experience in using Palantir platform against the same problems, we are able to reduce this time to a few hours. The Palantir platform provides one interface that easily ingests all the disparate data sources needed and allows our analysts to collaborate on finished intelligence.”
“If accurate, these circumstances warrant immediate corrective action by the Army to ensure that we comply with fundamental rules relating to how the government obtains goods and services from industry,” Ms. Shyu wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Times. She said she had asked a three-star general to investigate.
A month later, the Army played hardball with Palantir Technologies. A senior official sent a memo to the Army’s contracting command telling it to ban Palantir representatives from approaching deploying units and “providing goods and services for free.”View Entire Story
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