DOD Unveils Its Artificial Intelligence Strategy
by Terri Moon Cronk, U.S. Department of Defense
May 14, 2019
The Defense Department launched its
artificial intelligence strategy on February 12, 2019 in concert with
the White House executive order (February 11, 2019) that
created the American Artificial Intelligence Strategy.
Defense Department Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy and Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. Shanahan, the director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, hold a roundtable meeting on U.S. Department of Defense’s artificial intelligence strategy at the Pentagon on February 12, 2019.
(U.S. Department of Defense photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)
“The [executive order] is paramount for our country to remain a
leader in AI, and it will not only increase the prosperity of our
nation, but also enhance our national security,” Dana Deasy, DOD’s
chief information officer, said in a media roundtable today.
The CIO and Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, first director of
DOD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, discussed the strategy’s
launch with reporters.
The National Defense Strategy
recognizes that the U.S. global landscape has evolved rapidly, with
Russia and China making significant investments to modernize their
forces, Deasy said. “That includes substantial funding for AI
capabilities,” he added. “The DOD AI strategy directly supports
every aspect of the NDS.”
As stated in the AI strategy, he
said, the United States — together with its allied partners — must
adopt AI to maintain its strategic position to prevail on future
battlefields and safeguard a free and open international order.
Speed and Agility Are Key
Increasing speed and agility is a central focus on the AI
strategy, the CIO said, adding that those factors will be delivered
to all DOD AI capabilities across every DOD mission.
success of our AI initiatives will rely upon robust relationships
with internal and external partners. Interagency, industry, our
allies and the academic community will all play a vital role in
executing our AI strategy,” Deasy said.
“I cannot stress
enough the importance that the academic community will have for the
JAIC,” he noted. “Young, bright minds continue to bring fresh ideas
to the table, looking at the problem set through different lenses.
Our future success not only as a department, but as a country,
depends on tapping into these young minds and capturing their
imagination and interest in pursuing the job within the department.”
Reforming DOD Business
The last part of the NDS focuses on reform, the CIO said, and the
JAIC will spark many new opportunities to reform the department’s
business processes. “Smart automation is just one such area that
promises to improve both effectiveness and efficiency,” he added.
AI will use an enterprise cloud foundation, which will also
increase efficiencies across DOD, Deasy said. He noted that DOD will
emphasize responsibility and use of AI through its guidance and
vision principles for using AI in a safe, lawful and ethical way.
JAIC: A Focal Point of AI
“It’s hard to overstate the importance of operationalizing AI
across the department, and to do so with the appropriate sense of
urgency and alacrity,” JAIC director Shanahan told reporters.
The DOD AI strategy applies to the entire department, he said,
adding the JAIC is a focal point of the strategy. The JAIC was
established in response to the 2019 National Defense Authorization
Act, and stood up in June 2018 “to provide a common vision, mission
and focus to drive department-wide AI capability delivery.”
The JAIC has several critical mission themes...
First is the effort to accelerate
delivery and adoption of AI capabilities across DOD, Shanahan
noted. “This underscores the importance of transitioning from
research and development to operational-fielded capabilities,”
Shanahan said. “The JAIC will operate across the full AI
application lifecycle, with emphasis on near-term execution and
Second is to establish a common
foundation for scaling AI’s impact, Shanahan said. “One of the
JAIC’s most-important contributions over the long term will be
establishing a common foundation enabled by enterprise cloud
with particular focus on shared data repositories for useable
tools, frameworks and standards and cloud … services,” Shanahan
Third, to synchronize DOD AI
activities, related AI and machine-learning projects are ongoing
across the department, and it’s important to ensure alignment
with the National Defense Strategy, Shanahan stated.
Last is the effort to attract and
cultivate a world-class AI team.
Two pilot programs that are national mission initiatives – a
broad, joint cross-cutting AI challenge – comprise preventive
maintenance and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the
director said, adding that “initial capabilities [will be] delivered
over the next six months.”
And while in its early stages, the
JAIC is beginning to work with the U.S. Cyber Command on a
space-related national mission initiative, Shanahan said.
“Everything we do in the JAIC will center on enhancing relationships
with industry, academia, and with our allies and international
partners,” Shanahan said. “Within DOD, we will work closely with the
services, Joint Staff, combatant commands, agencies and components.”
The JAIC’s mission, the director said, “nests nicely under the
executive order that the president signed yesterday afternoon. We
have a lot of work ahead of us, but there’s no time to waste.”