The Pentagon and the Technology Gap

According to a recent article by Tony DeMartino of Pallas Advisors, specializing in the intersection of technology and national security, while AI will benefit the military with real-time information, a report by the GAO dinged the DoD saying it lacks standardized guidance for organizations to field and acquire AI at speed. Although progress has been made, barriers to entry for companies are real.

With the threat of China looming, closing the gap is more important than ever. DeMartino explained that we must deploy the most cutting-edge, disruptive technology—faster and at scale to stay ahead of adversaries. AI capabilities must be integrated at every level. AI-based tools provide decision-makers near instantaneous situational awareness and become actionable inputs into the intelligence process when supplemented with classified data. And while these tools are growing in number, doing business with the DoD has pretty much stood still.

DeMartino recommends:

  • Congress and the Defense Department must supercharge an acquisition framework that allows the Pentagon to validate and implement trusted AI products at speed
  • Create agile ramps for software and AI capabilities into and out of the requirements, acquisition, and fielding processes
  • Coders and operators need to work together to ensure the AI solution is intuitive and enhance its operational impact
  • Agile processes that account for changes in the technology and operational environment must be baked into the entire capability cycle
  • Prioritize creating shared acquisition guidelines across the defense enterprise to capture accurate and universal AI standards

The Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer’s AI-specific innovative, rapid, and flexible contracting vehicles under its Tradewinds ecosystem would be a strong start. The U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency also have an important role to play in Pentagon-wide security standards for AI.

The onus is on the DoD, the squad leaders of the future, and the very best technology our nation can provide.

This isn’t an area that can wait. The competition, in several cases, is already ahead.

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