Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming a key tool in the arsenal of the U.S. military. In 2022, the Department of Defense (DoD) launched the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) to become the "go-to place for talent and technical expertise." It was formed by merging several DoD offices to create a single, coordinated effort to advance AI technology and policy. Specifically, the CDAO is charged to:
- Lead the Department's strategy and policy on data, analytics, and AI adoption, as well as govern and oversee efforts across the Department.
- Empower the development of digital and AI-enabled solutions across the Department, while also selectively scaling proven solutions for enterprise and joint use cases.
- Provide a sophisticated cadre of technical experts that serve as a de facto data and digital response force able to address urgent crises and emerging challenges with state-of-the-art digital solutions.
A key focus of the CDAO will be how to use AI to better coordinate forces in support of the DoD's Joint All-Domain Command Control (JADC2) efforts. Initial tactical goals include:
- Review the Department's policy, strategy, data governance, analytics, and AI to create an integrated Data, Analytics, and AI strategy.
- Provide the enterprise-level infrastructure and services that enable efforts to advance adoption of data, analytics, and AI.
- Solve and scale enterprise and joint use cases in support of the National Defense Strategy and the Advancing Data and AI (ADA) initiative.
Moving from Reactive to Proactive
The operational launch of this office is not the start of the military's use of AI. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting contracts for what it calls the "third wave" of AI research. DARPA's AI Exploration program (AIE) will focus on AI theory and application research that examines limitations with rule and statistical learning theories underlying AI technologies. This focus will help better define statistical modeling specific to national security needs.
This ability to use AI accurately predict certain needs like maintenance or movements of enemies can help make the military more proactive in terms of administration and operations. Today, the joint operations center of the International Donor Coordination Center (IDCC), where officials from the U.S., Britain, Ukraine, and a dozen other countries track the transfer of donated weapons and supplies, right down to individual bullets, is implementing AI. Machine Learning is being used to predict Ukraine's ammunition and repair needs so that the coalition can get in front of requests. This involves tracking the current process by which the Ukrainian Defense Ministry makes a request for, say, armored vehicles. That request is then matched with a donor country that has the needed item and the transfer process is started. The tracking of this process provides data that can be used to begin to predict needs and the fastest route for getting needed materials.
With the DoD using more and more autonomous vehicles and devices, it is critical to get those devices integrated and coordinated so that they can operate similarly to how forces on the ground do. This concept of "collaborative autonomy" depends on AI and Machine Learning to process all of the data that is passing among these IoT devices to trigger actions. Cloud technology is making data processing in the field possible, but questions still remain about how to integrate humans into the loop. The more autonomy given to machines the more critical the decision support algorithms become.
Beyond the Battlefield
AI can also be a critical tool in hybrid warfare, the combination of physical battle tactics and informational warfare. Gaining a military advantage is more than winning a field battle, it is about winning hearts and minds of the public impacted by the fight. With social media, informational warfare has quickly evolved and the DoD needs to keep pace using AI technologies to run sentiment analysis on what is being said online.
GovEvents and GovWhitePapers have a wide variety of resources on Artificial Intelligence including details on how the military is using AI.
- AFCEA DC Luncheon Series: Operationalizing AI/ML (October 19, 2022; Arlington, VA and virtual) - The Defense Department (DoD) is committed to becoming a digital and artificial intelligence-enabled enterprise, capable of operating at the speed and scale necessary to preserve to the United States' military advantage. Join AFCEA DC in-person or virtually to hear DoD leaders discuss AI/ML vision, progress, and best practices that will give the DoD military advantage, from campaigning to conflict.
- 5th GEOINT Innovation Summit (November 2-3, 2022; Alexandria, VA) - This year's event will explore opportunities to integrate emerging technologies such as AI and ML to automate and speed up the collection and exploitation of geospatial data to deliver immediate insights, understanding, decision, and action.
- MILCOM 2022 (November 28- December 2, 2022; Rockville, MD) - Themed around "Transforming Decisions Making through Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2)," the event will focus on building technology pillars in secure communications, resilient networks, multi-domain operations, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
- AI Risk Management Framework Concept Paper (white paper) - This concept paper describes the fundamental approach proposed for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Artificial Intelligence Risk Management Framework (AI RMF). The AI RMF is intended for voluntary use and to address risks in the design, development, use, and evaluation of AI products, services, and systems.
- Warfighter Health: Leveraging AI for Improved Healthcare Delivery (white paper) - ATARC recently held a roundtable to start to identify the barriers (technical, acquisition, training, cultural, etc.) to the adoption of AI solutions in support of Military Health initiatives. This paper includes the highlights of this roundtable discussion among the participating military health experts, stakeholders and program offices.