By USASOC Public Affairs and USASOC G9December 11, 2018
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The U.S. Army Special Operations Command recently hosted a USASOC Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Futures Workshop at Fort Bragg.
The purpose of the workshop was to help USASOC determine how it can use artificial intelligence and machine learning to support future operations in the physical, virtual, and cognitive realms as envisioned by the Army Special Operations Forces Operating Concept (ARSOF OC).
The ARSOF OC is an innovation driven platform that supports the USASOC Force Modernization Campaign and USASOC's vision to invest in new ideas, concepts, technologies, and capabilities in order to maintain an enduring competitive advantage over our Nation's adversaries. It is intended to challenge the status quo to maintain a competitive edge over our Nation's adversaries.
Specifically, the ARSOF OC asserts that the force must acquire the means to rapidly identify innovative ideas from across the ARSOF Enterprise and effectively implement them to increase the lethality, mobility, survivability, protection, and influence of the ARSOF Operator in all operating environments.
USASOC Public Affairs (PA) spoke with Mr. Robert Warburg, USASOC's G9 directorate, (responsible for developing new ideas, concepts, technologies and capabilities) deputy chief of staff, who shared his expectations and thoughts before and after the workshop.
USASOC PA - Why is USASOC hosting an artificial intelligence / machine intelligence workshop?
Warburg - "The workshop will further our understanding of how USASOC might best employ artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver unmatched special operations capabilities for Joint Force Commanders."
"This concept is important because the December 2017, National Security Strategy, stipulates, "To maintain our competitive advantage, the United States will prioritize emerging technologies critical to economic growth and security, such as data science, encryption, autonomous technologies, gene editing, new materials, nanotechnology, advanced computing technologies, and artificial intelligence. From self-driving cars to autonomous weapons, the field of artificial intelligence, in particular, is progressing rapidly.""
USASOC PA - What is the overarching purpose of the AI/ML workshop?
Warburg - "The AI / ML workshop will deliver actionable outcomes that support the ARSOF vision as well as the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) Concept and USSOCOM initiatives related to the hyper-enabled SOF operator."
"The Army Special Operations Vision, as released in Aug 2018 states, "ARSOF will be globally postured and ready to compete, respond, fight, and win against adversaries across the range of military operations, anytime and anywhere, as part of a joint force. ARSOF will leverage adaptive and innovative institutions, empowered Soldiers, and integrated units capable of delivering unmatched special operations capabilities in order to provide joint force commanders operational options and advantage over our Nation's adversaries.""
"The MDO concept describes how the U.S. Army, as part of the Joint Force, counter and defeat a peer adversary capable of contesting the U.S. in both competition and armed conflict in all domains. The way MDO will counter near-peer challenges is by applying three tenets. The force will calibrate its force posture to maneuver across strategic distances. It will operate across multiple domains with multi-domain formations. Additionally, the force will converge its capabilities in all domains create synergy that overmatches the enemy."
Warburg - "We will include the perspectives from industry and from the government. The AI/ML capabilities will be considered through three frames of analysis: (1) Implementing the ARSOF Vision in terms of the empowered ARSOF Soldier, the integrated ARSOF unit, and institutional agility; (2) Helping the U.S. Army with advancing the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) Concept Version 1.5; and (3) Addressing USSOCOM's interests with the twelve USSOCOM investment areas to support the hyper-enabled SOF operator."
USASOC PA - Is there an organizing thought behind this exploration of artificial intelligence and machine learning?
Warburg - "We will explore opportunities in artificial intelligence and machine learning to operationalize the ARSOF Operating Concept in support of the ARSOF Vision to provide ARSOF with cutting edge capabilities."
"The ARSOF Operating Concept also states, "Artificial intelligence and automation increase capacity to harness the power of information into the hands of individuals, social groups, private organizations, and businesses. Consequently, the rapid pace and scale of these functions are difficult for public organizations to comprehend. A critical implication of this driver is that decision-making speeds will accelerate as actors apply the predictive and analytic power available through automation and AI. ARSOF must keep pace with these advances and procure innovative technology in order to maintain the edge over adversaries. We know that AI and autonomy will sharply bend the forward operating environment arc toward both unimagined efficiencies and surprising challenges.""
USASOC PA - Are there any specific outcomes that you seek to gain from this AI/ML workshop?
Warburg - "The Workshop is a step in framing how AI / ML will enable USASOC. We think the relationships we establish and the conversations we have in our two days together will provide very useful insights for USASOC."
"Specifically, the desired outcomes include: Setting the conditions for further institutional exploration to: (1) Identify game changing technologies and/or cutting edge material solutions, (2) Foster innovation, (3) Deliver actionable outcomes that align with the twelve USSOCOM investment areas, and (4) Continue to advance USASOC's upstream force modernization campaign to deliver increased innovation opportunities for the ARSOF warfighter."
USASOC PA - Does this AI/ML workshop fit into a larger picture or a vision for how to advance force modernization for the ARSOF community?
Warburg - "Artificial intelligence and machine learning are technologies with great potential. They've been called "game changing" and "disruptive." However, they are described; we do know that they can provide advantages. We know that this workshop will contribute to a larger picture for force modernization. The ARSOF Vision prioritizes a line of effort to "accelerate organizational capabilities, providing quick access to emerging technologies." This workshop is one way to operationalize that priority in the ARSOF Vision."
USASOC PA - Is there a way ahead for the AI/ML initiative at USASOC?
Warburg - "The AI / ML workshop will give us insights and identify potential opportunities to move forward. The AI / ML initiative supports our Capabilities Based Assessments (CBA), which culminate prior to Program Objective Memoranda 22-26 (POM) development. Additionally, we know that artificial intelligence and machine learning initiatives can help us rapidly advance the development of a wide variety of capability solutions in the near and mid-term."
USASOC PA - Workshop attendees included industry experts and leaders from across the defense enterprise, and from USASOC's own commands, units and staff. Participants such as Steven Debreceny, chief, Technology Office, U.S. Air Force; Dr. Greg Michaelson, vice president, Data Robot; Gary Bloomberg, CEO, SES2; Scott Chastain, SaS; Larry Brown, NVIDIA Corporation; Brandon Tseng, CO, Shield AI; and Dr. David Stepp, director, Army Research Office were in attendance.
Participants provided valuable insights and contributions.
"The ability to put focus on data and analytics, particularly Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, as an input to future battle space is a great opportunity. It's great to see a good number of people, both military and industry, to collaborate on those initiatives," Scott Chastain, global technology practice director, SAS, said.
USASOC PA - Now that the workshop is over, did you achieve your intent?
Warburg - "The desired outcomes were met. The workgroups discussed how ARSOF could adapt its operating practices as new technologies evolve. For example, the teams discussed: AI-enabled Sensitive Site Exploitation and Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination; Rapid Target Prioritization to enhance Android Tactical Application Kit (ATAK) to reduce Operator Cognitive Load; Multi-Dimensional Operational Environment Visualization for Interactive Multi-Purpose Range; Multi-modal Situational Analysis; AI-enabled Partner Force Selection; and Secure App Store for AI technologies. These capabilities could significantly improve overall force effectiveness. Over 50 potential AI-related capabilities were discussed."
In closing, Warburg imparted his thoughts on the future of AI/ML on the battlefield.
"Technologies that use artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies have the potential to change the way our units operate in the current security environment. These technologies are not for the distant future, but are prevalent today. DoD has the potential to seize opportunities against our would-be adversaries by capitalizing upon these capabilities in artificial intelligence and machine learning."
"ARSOF intends to remain nested with The National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy (NDS). The Summary of NDS, January 2018, explains that the military's effort needs to remain consistent with the direction established in the security environment and it is also affected by rapid technological advancements and the changing character of war. "The drive to develop new technologies is relentless, expanding to more actors with lower barriers of entry, and moving at accelerating speed. New technologies include advanced computing, "big data" analytics, artificial intelligence, autonomy, robotics, directed energy, hypersonics, and biotechnology - the very technologies that ensure we will be able to fight and win the wars of the future.""