AUSA NEWS: Army Aims to Spend More Than $700 Million on Big Data, AI
The Army plans to invest more than $700 million over the next five years for big data, cloud computing technologies and artificial intelligence tools, the service's top official said Oct 14.
“We intend to invest over $700 million dollars across the '21-'25 [future years defense program],” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said during the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. “We invest now or face the delta between capability and threat in which our forces must close the distance at the cost of blood and treasure.”
The service is now placing a heavy emphasis on multi-domain operations, which calls for possessing capabilities that could be employed across the land, sea, air, space and cyber warfighting domains, McCarthy noted.
“Data moving rapidly, paired with AI algorithms, reduces the time-space of decisions from minutes down to seconds,” he said. “Seamless access to data in the cloud is the foundation for the entire Army modernization effort.”
As great power adversaries Russia and China beef up their military capabilities, big data and network security are becoming the next battlefield, McCarthy said.
“If we do not have a system in place, access to data becomes our no man’s land,” he added.
Army leadership also plans to realign $10 billion in the the next program objective memorandum to support its modernization objectives, he said. They include long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, the network, air-and-missile defense and soldier lethality.
“The 31 signature systems across all domains of combat and our Army priorities represent the future weapon systems of our future formations,” he said. “We are in various stages of prototype and experimentation that are yielding results along the development continuum, and we will scale them in our formations over the next five years.”
While the aforementioned $700 million-plus investment is meant for multiple programs dealing with AI-enabled tools, the cloud and big data, the success of a multibillion dollar initiative known as JEDI is imperative to achieve the desired results from the service’s investments, McCarthy said.
“That strikes to the heart of our concern about now getting a budget deal,” he said during a press conference.
The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, program is meant to create an expansive cloud computing system for the Defense Department. It is currently in the source selection process, which is pitting Amazon Web Services against Microsoft for the lucrative contract. Cloud technology allows users to store and access data from anywhere at any time over the internet rather than on stovepiped computer systems..
The Pentagon has said it will not award a contract until a series of reviews of the technology by the Defense Department has been completed. Meanwhile, the budget impasse on Capitol Hill is a major roadblock for the program.
"Those are new-start dollars to address this extremely important architecture that we have to lay in so that we can move our data from weapon systems to make faster decisions on the battlefield, as well as making much more informed decisions from a business standpoint in places like the Pentagon,” McCarthy said.
Continuing resolutions, such as the one in place now, inhibit new-start programs such as JEDI. “Without a budget ... we will sit and we will wait," McCarthy said.
— Additional reporting by Yasmin Tadjdeh