Working with the armed forces creates challenges that few software developers have experienced

2019-11-15

Working with the armed forces creates special challenges that few software developers have experienced

4C Strategies’ cooperation with the Swedish Armed Forces goes back 20 years. Over time this cooperation has grown and now includes NATO and 11 different armed forces. Andreas Olså, senior developer, and 4C Strategies founder Andreas Hedskog, who is responsible for research and development, share their experiences and talk about the demands that our armed forces cooperation projects place on our innovativeness and developer capacity.

Andreas Olså, what do you do at 4C Strategies, and in particular what is your role on the armed forces side?

I work with the web development of our Exonaut solutions, in the team responsible for the ‘back-end’ of the software.  I also have an increasing responsibility for everything we do on the development side.  For the Swedish Armed Forces and other armed forces, we build tools within our Exonaut software that are used for capability development through, for example, planning and execution of exercises and for the analysis and exploitation of results. Exonaut gives them an overall picture of the readiness for each military unit, allowing them to determine any extant training risk as well as identify lessons and examples of best practise.”

We are constantly looking to innovate with our software in order to remain at the cutting edge. But there is also a higher purpose to what we do, it is not simply a matter of being profitable; the tools we supply ultimately save lives.”

Andreas Hedskog, what role do you have at 4C Strategies today and can you tell us a bit more about our cooperation with the Swedish Armed Forces?

“I have a dual role at the company; I am responsible for research and development of every aspect of our Exonaut software and I’m also full-time chairman of the board. The Swedish Armed Forces is our oldest client, with whom we have cooperated since I started 4C Strategies almost 20 years ago. As a result of our cooperation, the level of exercises has constantly lifted the Swedish Armed Forces and their demands and requests have helped to shape Exonaut and its functions.”

Andreas Hedskog, can you mention any particularly interesting example of our cooperation with the Swedish Armed Forces?

Andreas Hedskog, can you mention any particularly interesting example of our cooperation with the Swedish Armed Forces?

“Several of the Swedish Armed Forces exercises have received international attention, Ex Viking, for example. We developed a function in Exonaut that allows the exercise scenario to be linked to simulators. In this way, the exercise is controlled directly from our software without the need for a large number of simulator operators – which in turn makes exercises easier to run, cheaper and more effective.”

“The systems we build must be able to speak to simulators, which is quite a special task. Even very experienced software engineers have not normally come into contact with this type of development. One challenge is that we develop advanced functions, which at the same time must be easy to manage. We were able to build on our experience of the Viking military exercise and adapt it internationally.”

Andreas Olså, what’s it like working for armed forces, with the amount of secrecy involved?

“The production settings of our clients often has a certain level of security requirements, which creates further dimensions to already complex issues. Our Exonaut software is certified for use at NATO Secret and NATO Unclassified, which means that we build a very secure and tested application and that creates a feeling of security. Our solutions are battle-proven. We are not allowed to discuss the specifications of our software security requirements, even here at the office. So there is secrecy and a security level here that makes the job of a developer here at 4C Strategies a bit special.

“We work in teams of three to discuss how to solve things, which creates a nice atmosphere to work in. The fact that our solutions are secure also creates a feeling of security for our private-sector clients, with whom we have been working more actively for on the topic of information security in recent years.”

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