The Department of the Air Force is leveraging predictive analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure timely and relevant data is delivered to warfighters that allows them to operate effectively in challenging and stressing operational environments, the service branch’s data and AI lead said.

Brigadier General John M. Olson, the chief data and AI officer for the Department of the Air Force, explained that the service branch is leveraging these capabilities through four primary pillars – people, partnerships, policy, and principles.

“In data, people are the most strategic assets that we have,” Olson said during an FCW virtual event on May 18. “We need to be ensuring that we’re bringing digitally savvy and AI competent people to the team.”

Then it’s about partnering with people to benefit from their insights into how the force can fully leverage these capabilities – and about ensuring that the department can retain their interest and keep them on the team, Olson said.

Regarding policy, Olson explained that responsible and ethical applications of AI are not only core principles for the Air Force, but for the entire United States government.

“Responsible AI implementation should guide everything that we do for both combat and non-combat functions. These include being reliable, governable, responsible, equitable, and traceable,” Olson said.

Additionally, Olson highlighted that AI and machine learning are necessary tools for the military’s kill chain as part of the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) framework. The use of AI algorithms can help users understand data coming from these connected networks and work within compressed decision-making timelines, he said.

The Pentagon’s JADC2 strategy aims to connect sensors across the military into one network. In June, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks announced a department-wide initiative to advance data-driven or AI-based warfighting concepts such as JADC2 through combatant command exercises.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.