WASHINGTON — For the joint force to win battles in a rapidly changing landscape, they need to leverage technology and do it fast, said XVIII Airborne Corps’ commanding general.
“Every time I’ve ever deployed, any rank, every 60 to 90 days, [conflict is] going to change,” Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue said during a defense symposium last week. “If you cannot adapt, understand and integrate something very quickly, your adversary will do it faster than you.”
The XVIII Airborne Corps is America’s strategic response force, capable of deploying on short notice anywhere in the world by air, land, or sea to conduct unified land operations.
The need to quickly adapt has spurred the command, also known as America’s Contingency Corps, to use artificial intelligence and data-driven predictive models to help solve combatant command problems.
They’ve been doing this as part of exercise Scarlet Dragon, an ongoing series of training operations started by U.S. Central Command to increase the joint force’s warfighting skills. Here, they rapidly use data to inform the command and execute operations.
During the sixth iteration earlier this year, called Scarlet Dragon Oasis, service members from across the Department of Defense participated in a live-fire target identification and execution exercise. The event showcased each service’s ability to apply this thinking in a multi-domain environment.
“We are using artificial intelligence to pull all actionable data from a scan, instead of having an extra delay from having a team measure it out,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Joseph Hamilton, a tactical air control party officer. “We’re significantly cutting the time it takes from detection until the point of the strike.”
Scarlet Dragon Oasis was held across multiple states, including North Carolina, Georgia, Utah and Florida. The teams used numerous platforms across all services to effectively hit specific targets.
The information gathered from the exercise, combined with information from current operations and new technologies, will be used to advance the next iteration in the coming months.
The corps not only uses data for warfighting but for improving its people. They collect data and track progress for everyone at the command.
Then they apply that data to a variety of situations, including the Army Combat Fitness Test. Variations in performance help show how Soldiers adapt and change.
They also use data to further quality-of-life projects. During the command’s annual innovation series, a Soldier suggested placing mold sensors in Army barracks. The corps brought that idea to scale and now will be able to use the data from the sensors to help predict future problems.
In warfighting, the amount of data available continues to grow as artificial intelligence advances. This technology revolution has created a complex landscape the corps must maneuver to stay ahead of competition.
“The range, the speed and the ability to see everything has completely changed,” Donahue said. “What’s good for 30 days might not be for 35. Your ability to adapt and integrate is really important.”
The corps stays flexible, leveraging their data-driven models to provide the joint force with the information needed to make a difference.