WASHINGTON: A new artificial intelligence fund tucked away in the $1.5 trillion fiscal 2022 spending package signed by President Joe Biden this week could aid the Pentagon in its efforts to increase adoption of AI at the combatant command level.
The $200 million Artificial Intelligence and Development Fund is meant to improve tactical AI at combatant commands. However, according to budget documents, congressional defense committees want a briefing by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on an “execution plan” before the Pentagon can lay hands on any of the funding.
The new fund aligns with the Defense Department’s AI efforts, notably the AI and Data Acceleration initiative announced last year by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.
Under the effort, operational data and AI flyaway teams of technical experts are being sent to the military’s 11 COCOMs to help them better understand their data and create AI tools to streamline decision-making. DoD wants to use the information gathered from the teams and COCOMs to “update its network infrastructure, remove policy barriers and ensure the reliability and effectiveness of its global warfighting capabilities,” according to a June 2021DoD memo announcing the initiative.
The effort involves the services as well as key Pentagon agencies like the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, which is developing a joint operating system for COCOMs build and field AI algorithms rapidly. This “integration layer” will be the first of its kind for DoD, JAIC Director Lt. Gen. Michael Groen told Breaking Defense in February.
The Navy also revealed its own involvement in the effort at the WEST 2022 conference in San Diego in February. Duncan McCaskill, the Navy’s chief analytics officer, told the audience the service had sent one of its data engineers out to a shipyard to help personnel at EUCOM work through a use case for three months.
As of February, DoD had completed its first round of assessments at the COCOMs.
The $1.5 trillion funding package also contains $50 million to improve recruitment and development of AI talent, $70 million to increase DARPA’s AI, cyber and data analytics efforts, $23 million to improving training at US Cyber Command and $62 million to strengthen DoD networks from cyber threats.