Competing Revolutions in Military Affairs
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Information Age Conflict
CACI Senior Vice President and Strategic Advisor Lt. Gen. Mike Nagata, U.S. Army (Ret.) recently discussed the rising importance of artificial intelligence (AI) in national security at Asymmetric Threat Symposium XIV, and how to make sure this powerful tool enables practitioners to become more agile, faster, and effective. As AI is able to provide more and more information, he notes, we must ensure it can deliver data in ways that avoids putting an “additional cognitive burden” on leaders and practitioners alike.
The Honorable Don Bacon, U.S. Representative for Nebraska’s 2nd District, observes that AI is “embedded” in all elements of the national power of the United States – diplomacy, information, military, and economic power – and is not a separate element of national security on its own.
The Honorable Ryan D. McCarthy, former Secretary of the U.S. Army, says the Department of Defense and national security agencies have to think hard about how to cultivate practitioners who “speak the language” of AI – and can use that knowledge effectively in national security.
Computers and AI, unlike humans, do not get tired of pouring over the massive volumes of data that the U.S. military services and national security agencies must deal with in information age warfare. But national security leaders must still make decisions about effects that are created in the physical world informed by what AI observes and decides is important, said former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva, U.S. Air Force (Ret.).
Lt. Gen. Dennis A. Crall, U.S. Marine Corps, Director for Command, Control, Communications and Computers/Cyber and Chief Information Officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, notes that national security practitioners cannot lose sight about AI will work “at the speed of relevance at the tactical edge.” Fighting a near peer military will pose great challenges in the electromagnetic spectrum and in the use of data networks that run well in a garrison but may not function the same in combat.
Lt. Gen. John (Jack) N.T. Shanahan, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), former Director of the Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, sees parallels with electronic warfare (EW) in how the U.S. military approaches the use and protection of AI capability. Military and national security practitioners must think hard about protecting data and algorithms, and sharing best practices with allies, in order to preserve the vital technological edge long term.
The fourteenth symposium in the Asymmetric Threat Symposium Series addresses challenges America must meet, capabilities we must obtain, and vulnerabilities our nation must fix to assure its national security and the security of its allies.
At the heart of 21st century great power competition are rival efforts by the United States and its competitors to revolutionize military affairs in an era of dazzling technologies. Cutting across all these technologies is the need for artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). Without AI/ML, no nation will be able to successfully compete economically, politically, or militarily in an increasingly data-driven and data-defined world. Effective creation and adoption of AI/ML capabilities will ultimately prove decisive if the United States hopes to effectively use emerging technologies to protect and defend against the efforts of near peer adversaries.
America and its allies are in a race we cannot lose. If America is to adequately strengthen and integrate domains, systems, and capabilities, AI/ML will be the decisive capability in achieving this goal. Without effective AI/ML development, deployment, and advancement, the United States will be unable to sufficiently strengthen or protect the deployment, survivability, precision, speed, and lethality of its national security efforts. This includes effectively contesting efforts aimed at America’s citizenry and institutions, not just our military forces and government entities. Detecting and defeating these threats will require innovative new usage of “bits and bytes” to create and properly integrate systems and capabilities.
What changes – in policy, authority, process, technology, tactics, and strategy – are required to better safeguard America’s global interests and prevail in this new era of great power competition? What can America’s public-private partnerships, to include those with national security companies, do to develop critically needed AI and ML tools, technologies, and capabilities that effectively protect our country and its interests?
Time is not on America’s side – the race is already on.
The Asymmetric Threat Symposium series is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, pro-bono forum for furthering the national dialogue on asymmetric threats to national security. It was founded in 2008 by Dr. J.P. (Jack) London, CACI’s Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board from 2007 to 2021, and Dr. Warren R. Phillips, Lead Director on CACI's Board of Directors from 1974 to 2021.
This site is designed to advance the dialogue on national and global security and provide a wider understanding of the asymmetric threat and how we can help counter it. It is intended to serve as the go-to source for fact-based resources and original research and provide a forum for review and discussion of pertinent themes and events. At its most basic level, asymmetric threat or warfare refers to conflicts in which the relative military power of combatants differs considerably.
The symposia described on this site have attracted an array of participants from military, government, industry, and academia. They assembled with the common purpose of developing new thinking on achieving an overarching national strategy that will effectively counter the threats posed by our enemies. The experts attending the sessions have focused on concrete approaches to structural, procedural, and resource changes needed to realign the elements of national power against very savvy and adaptable adversaries.
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