Gen. Matt Easley, director of the U.S. Army Artificial Intelligence Task Force within the Army Futures Command, said Tuesday that the service is looking to geospatial intelligence and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that can “cast the fog of war” on adversaries.

Speaking at the GEOINT Symposium on June 4, Easley harkened back to the writings of 19th century Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz and his concept of the fog of war. “War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth,” Clausewitz wrote.

Discussing the Army’s needs to employ AI and geospatial intelligence in strategy to win conflicts, Easley said the fog of war described by the Prussian general “may prove to be thicker in the digital age than it was in his time.”

Overcoming the capabilities of adversaries on the battlefield requires the Army to employ speed, scale, and lethality in all of its domains and technologies. Data-driven conclusions need to reach field commanders “with the speed of relevance” because “the speed of decision will be only a few seconds,” Easley said.

Geospatial intelligence is “critical” to developing the AI that can help “find, track, fix, and ultimately destroy” enemy threats, he said. AI technologies, the general said, are required to “filter the massive amounts of data” required for modern weapons systems and to navigate the battlefield environment.

On the technical front, he said it was critical to standardize the formatting and distribution of geospatial intelligence so that it can be more efficiently used by the military. That intel, he said, must provide the computational tools that will improve critical thinking of battlefield leaders, who may require “millions of points of data” to correctly see the battlefield.

He told GEOINT attendees that the Army is looking to the private sector for better geo-intel solutions, and help revamping its technology solutions, doctrine, and training.

“We cannot succeed without your support, that’s impossible,” he said. “We want to build, fail, and build again … at the speed of relevance.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.