Air Force Complements DoD AI Strategy with plans to Accelerate AI

  • By: JAIC Public Affairs in cooperation with the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
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Deployed KC-10 refueling mission

“There are a lot of analogies in our history to AI and the changes it will bring, but no corollaries. We’ve had language, learning, industrial, and technological revolutions before…but nothing that will so pervasively integrate all aspects of our lives and change everything about the way we interact with one another.”

- U.S. Air Force Cross Functional Team on Artificial Intelligence, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a fundamental game changer for the Department of Defense (DoD) and will change the character of war in the 21st century and beyond. In 2018, the DoD’s AI Strategy was characterized by “the ability of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence – for example, recognizing patterns, learning from experience, drawing conclusions, making predictions, or taking action – whether digitally or as the smart software behind autonomous physical systems.”

In 2019, the Air Force released an annex to the DoD Artificial Intelligence Strategy that stands as a catalyst for the Air Force to ensure AI is a priority, and serves as a framework that details the principles surrounding information technology, data, algorithms, people, and partnerships.

The Air Force has six distinct capabilities: Air and Space Superiority; Global Attack; Rapid Global Mobility; Precision Engagement; Information Superiority; and Agile Combat Support. Within this construct, Airmen are expected to ethically carry out their assigned missions that utilize this cutting-edge technology with an understanding that this is ultimately a human endeavor.

The development and fielding of AI is occurring rapidly across the Department. The Air Force is moving forward strategically by harnessing and wielding the most representative forms of AI across all missions, better enabling faster and more accurate technical capabilities for every Airman. Like the rest of society, the Air Force’s ability to operate around the globe may be hindered or bolstered by the adoption of artificial intelligence.

The Air Force developed five focus areas to serve as AI guiding principles:

  1. Drive down technological barriers to entry
  2. Recognize and treat data as a strategic asset
  3. Democratize access to artificial intelligence solutions
  4. Recruit, develop, upskill, and cultivate our workforce
  5. Increase transparency and cooperation with international, government, industry, and academic partners

“How well we understand the rudiments and potential of AI, anticipate its global implications, and coordinate the course ahead are imperative matters,” said Capt Michael Kanaan, co-chair for Artificial Intelligence for the U.S. Air Force. “But, for it to be meaningful, we must have a common understanding of AI, a common appreciation of its potential, and an eye for its applicability. The Air Force AI Annex is meant to provide a framework to foster a contemporary ecosystem of data, computing, software, budget, talent, and senior leader advocacy on a capability that will transform our business in profound ways.

It’s a principled approach intended to set conditions for making AI real for Airmen and empowering the edge, wherever that edge may be.”

For more information on the DoD AI strategy, click this link

For more information on the Air Force AI strategy annex, click this link