military AI

Pentagon outlines AI strategy

The Defense Department released its artificial intelligence strategy Feb. 12, outlining its plans to boost AI capabilities through rapid prototyping, increased research and development and targeted training and recruitment. It also calls for creating a "common foundation of shared data, reusable tools, frameworks and standards, and cloud and edge services" for the warfighter.

"The impact of artificial intelligence will extend across the entire department, spanning from operations and training to recruiting and healthcare,” DOD CIO Dana Deasy said.

As outlined in the 17-page summary, DOD aims to apply AI to key mission areas, including:

  • Improving situational awareness and decision-making with tools such as imagery analysis that can help commanders meet mission objectives while minimizing risks to deployed forces and civilians.
  • Increasing the safety of operating aircraft, ships, and vehicles in complex, rapidly changing situations by alerting operators to hidden dangers.
  • Implementing predictive maintenance capabilities that calculate the failure of critical parts, automate diagnostics and plan maintenance based on data and equipment condition.
  • Streamlining business processes by reducing the time spent on common, highly manual tasks and reallocating DOD resources to higher-value activities.

The strategy is also calls for investments in partnerships with academia and industry as well as "high-impact rotational programs, and expanded leadership opportunities" to ensure the service can recruit and retain a leading AI workforce.

The summary attempts to quell job security fears, saying AI won’t replace service members or DOD workers: “The women and men in the U.S. armed forces remain our enduring source of strength; we will use AI-enabled information, tools, and systems to empower, not replace, those who serve.”

The newly created Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has been designated as the focal point and integrator of AI capabilities and policy, responsible for identifying, delivering and scaling prototypes across DOD, coordinating lessons learned and supporting components and the military services.

 “The present moment is pivotal: we must act to protect our security and advance our competiveness,” the DOD document states. “But we must embrace change if we are to reap the benefits of continued security and prosperity for the future.”

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.

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