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The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative

Formal Authorities

The concept of advanced distributed learning simultaneously matured in several different Defense offices and Federal programs throughout the mid-1990s. To integrate these disparate, burgeoning efforts, the DoD established the ADL Initiative. Over time, the DoD as well as the White House and Congress, assigned additional formal responsibilities and authorities to the program.


ADL Initiative Authorities (Summary)

1966 Quadrennial Defense Review
  • Directs DoD to develop Department-wide strategy for modernizing technology-based education and training
DEPSECDEF Memo, November 23, 1998,
Subject: Developing and Implementing the
DoD Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative
  • Directs USD(P&R) to lead the ADL Initiative
  • Directs expansion of the ADL Initiative program
  • Directs development of the ADL Master Plan
  • Directs Comptroller to ensure sufficient resources exist to execute the ADL Master Plan
Executive Order 13111(President William J. Clinton, 12 January 1999
  • Directs DoD to lead DL standards for the Federal Government
  • Directs DoD to collaborate with industry and academia for DL
  • Directs DoD to guide Defense on development and implementation of DL
Secretary of Defense, DoD Training Technology Vision (January 6, 1999)
  • Reiterates ADL Initiative authorities
  • Directs DoD the ADL Initiative to collaborate broadly (public-sector, academia, and industry)
  • Directs the ADL Initiative to serve whole of government
Section 378 of Public Law 105-261,the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999
  • Directs DoD to expand DL, starting by considering the ADL Initiative as the center for this
  • Requests delivery of a strategic plan for this
Department of Defense Strategic Plan for Advanced Distributed Learning (April 30, 1999)
  • Response to the NDAA request for the Defense-wide ADL Strategic Plan
  • Submitted to the 106th Congress
  • Outlines ADL Initiative goals and authorities

Department of Defense Implementation Plan for Advanced Distributed Learning (May 19, 2000)
  • Adds detail to the ADL Strategic Plan
  • Describes specific program authorities, governance, oversight, and interaction with the Services
    • Defines the ADL Initiative as the "principal vehicle" for using learning technologies to modernize DoD training/education
    • Defines the ADL Initiative as a Science and Technology program and directs it to "coordinate and perform" R&D
    • Directs the ADL Initiative to ensure adoption of DL specifications and standards, including internationally and commercially
    • Describes and supports ADL Global Partnership Network, including establishment of "co-labs"
    • Directs the ADL Initiative to serve as a test-bed for new DL technologies and guidelines, Federal-wide
    • Directs the ADL Initiative to provide learning technology demonstration events, including ones open to industry and academia
    • Directs the ADL Initiative to provide a help-desk function, including web site, live demos, and on-site services
    • Defines authorities for the O6-level Defense ADL Advisory Committee (DADLAC) for ADL coordination
Defense Planning Guidance for Fiscal Years 2002-2007
  • Directs DoD to take full advantage of learning technologies to provide training anytime and anywhere
  • Directs the ADL Initiative to develop and support Coalition-based global education and training
Section 2249d of title 10, U.S. Code(October 14, 2008)
  • Authorizes DoD to share DL content with allies
  • Authorizes DoD to share associated IT and software to support distributed learning
  • Directly highlights applicability of this authority to advanced distributed learning
DoD Instruction 1322.26 (Distributed Learning)
  • Originally published in 2006 and revised in 2017 (pending USD signature)
  • Defines DL technology specifications and standards for DoD
  • Identifies DADLAC as the oversight body for evolving IT specifications
NATO STANAG 2591 (Advanced Distributed Learning)
  • Originally published in 2013
  • Defines DL specifications and standards for NATO
  • Follows the US DoDI 1322.26

Program Element

Originally, the ADL Initiative Program Element (PE) number was 0603769SE. This PE designates the ADL Initiative as an “Advanced Technology Development” program, reporting to the Defense Human Resources Agency. However, beginning in FY17, the ADL Initiative’s PE realigned to Washington Headquarters Services. Correspondingly, the PE number changed to 0603769D8Z.