AFA read-out: Advancing defense technology through collaboration and proven AI

Below is a summary of the September 12 panel at the AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference titled “Artificial Intelligence: The Backbone of the DAF Battle Network”, as reported on by Air & Space Forces Magazine on September 13. Panelists, including Primer CEO Sean Moriarty, discussed the pitfalls of AI integration and advocated for urgency, access, and collaboration for a stronger, agile defense.

In the ever-evolving landscape of defense technology, the Department of Defense (DoD) is actively exploring the vast potential of artificial intelligence (AI) across its agencies and branches. This pursuit encompasses a wide range of applications, from enhancing unmanned systems to revolutionizing decision-making on the battlefield. Recently, the Department of the Air Force (DAF) made significant strides in this direction by releasing a comprehensive call to industry, emphasizing eight key areas where AI could bring transformative change to their processes.

Maj. Gen. John M. Olson, Space Force lead for Joint All Domain Command-and-Control (JADC2) and Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), underscored the importance of responsible, robust, and resilient AI integration. He also highlighted DAF’s ambitious goal to establish a competitive lead in AI by 2027, aiming to outpace global AI leaders like China. Primer CEO Sean Moriarty emphasized the urgency of familiarizing Airmen and Guardians with AI technology to keep pace with rapid advancements. He stressed that both training and education are essential to build trust and effective use of AI technology among military personnel.

Too many regard AI like it’s magic, and we don’t want magic. It’s about keeping it simple and using proven technologies that bridge current gaps. We want solid capabilities that can deliver immediate, near-term advantages now that can build trust and compound over time.
– Sean Moriarty, Primer CEO

In addition to JADC2 and ABMS, the Air Force is actively incorporating AI into autonomous drones, precision navigation, and manned-unmanned teaming, aligning with the principles of responsible, robust, and resilient AI integration. Collaboration between personnel and machines is pivotal in enhancing decision-making processes. Craig Martell, Pentagon AI Chief, has reiterated the importance of human oversight in AI technology used in the military, ensuring that machines never make decisions autonomously.

The DAF’s ongoing development efforts, particularly the DAF Battle Network, hold immense promise for the future of AI in the military. Dr. Lynne Graves, Chief of the AI Division and DAF Chief Digital and AI Office, spoke about leveraging this template to speedily deliver emerging technologies to the warfighter. Building trust in AI technology based on warfighters’ experiences and feedback is a crucial step in unlocking its revolutionary potential.

Ian Eishen, Director of Global Public Sector for Aalyria Technologies, emphasized the necessity of collaboration among the military, government, commercial sector, and allies to build a safe and effective collaborative network. As data for AI processing grows exponentially, this collaborative environment becomes paramount, allowing multiple proprietary solutions to come together in support of a unified DAF Battle Network that can adapt and evolve based on evolving needs.

“It’s essential to work collaboratively, and we think this is a team sport driving to deliver those outcomes at a very rapid pace, making sure that we are responsible, robust, and resilient all throughout the journey”
– Maj. Gen. John M. Olson, Space Force lead for JADC2 and ABMS

In conclusion, the defense sector is at a critical juncture, and the adoption of reliable AI technologies is essential to its success. By embracing practical applications and fostering continuous collaboration, we can build a strong foundation for the future of defense technology, ensuring our military remains agile, efficient, and effective in a rapidly changing world.

Thanks to the panel’s moderator Maj. Gen. (ret.) Kimberley Crider of the Cohen Group, and panelists Dr. Lynne Graves, Chief of the Artificial Intelligence Division, DAF Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office; Maj. Gen. John M. Olson, Space Force lead for JADC2 and ABMS; Ian Eishen, Director, Global Public Sector, Aalyria

Read the full Air & Space Forces Magazine article “Experts Talk Potential and Path Forward for Integrating AI Across the Air and Space Forces”.