Jul 1, 2020
Published in: Dubai International Air Chiefs' Conference website (2021)
Posted on RAND.org on March 29, 2022
Before one can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for multi-domain operations (MDOs) as part of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), one must do the grunt work of laying an "information foundation." Laying this foundation—in which data are tagged, securely stored and transported, and easily accessible—requires the mundane and ongoing work of organizing and safeguarding all the information the military needs for C2 across domains, services, and echelons. This same body of information will be the input for AI and ML algorithms. Absent such an information foundation, little progress can be made.
Although recent successes in AI/ML have been encouraging in the field of gaming, employing similar techniques for some C2 functions will remain challenging given the real-world barriers of incomplete information, poor data quality, and adversary actions. Other AI/ML techniques, such as those for predicting the status of aircraft in theater, will be more readily applicable. Reaching JADC2 goals will depend on both identifying the C2 needs of core military mission sets and establishing software development plans that are achievable in the near and far terms.
The remainder of this paper describes the need for JADC2 with embedded AI/ML, offers a cautionary note about the lure of AI/ML, outlines the AI/ML barriers to overcome, and suggests a path forward. In general, investments in people and resources will be needed to move beyond today's man-power intensive C2paradigm. Improving upon current planning processes with automation and some AI/ML is a realistic goal that is worthy of working toward.