Three weeks after Donald Trump ordered a $10 billion contract expected to be awarded to Amazon by the Pentagon to be “reexamined,” according to The Washington Post, the United States Navy took a first step toward moving its sensitive military data onto the Amazon Web Services cloud computing system. This comes amid reports of an ongoing feud between Trump and Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos.
Officials announced Friday that the Navy moved 72,000 users in six different commands onto the Amazon Web Services system, as reported by the military news site Breaking Defense. The move, described as a “milestone” came 10 months ahead of schedule and represents the first step in what the Navy projects to be a three-year, $100 million program to completely shift its data to the Amazon cloud.
Earlier this month, Amazon was expected to win a $10 billion contract from the Pentagon to host all of the U.S. military’s data — which is now distributed over numerous and often unconnected networks and databases — in a single, cloud-based system. But according to the Washington Post report, Trump — who has referred to Bezos on Twitter as “Jeff Bozo” — stepped in at the “11th hour” to order a halt to the contracting process.
Bezos also owns The Washington Post, and Trump has repeatedly claimed that Bezos deliberately manipulates coverage of him to highlight negative reports, a charge The Washington Post has repeatedly denied.
The Pentagon now maintains more than 500 cloud computing contracts but plans to consolidate them all into a single Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud system, according to Breaking Defense. Amazon competitors Oracle and Microsoft have also reportedly submitted bids to host the JEDI system.
According to a Pro Publica report, Amazon Web Services hosts more cloud data than any other service in the U.S., and also drives Amazon’s profitability, accounting for nearly $6 out of every $10 taken in by Amazon in 2018 alone.
Even though Trump may have been motivated to put the JEDI contract on hold by his apparent disdain for Amazon’s founder, Pro Publica revealed that an unusually close relationship has existed between the internet giant and the Pentagon. In one instance, now-former Defense Secretary James Mattis was set to fly to Amazon headquarters in Seattle, where he would have personally sworn in Bezos to a highly influential Pentagon technology advisory board, despite the fact that Bezos lacked a proper security clearance.
But as word leaked about Mattis’ planned trip, he was forced to cancel the Bezos swearing-in. Officials raised concerns that the highly unusual trip by Mattis would give the appearance that Amazon was receiving favoritism from the Pentagon, according to the Pro Publica investigation.