DoD’s New Artificial Intelligence Policy will Drive Investment

Published: February 28, 2019

Federal Market AnalysisBig DataDEFENSEInnovationPolicy and LegislationResearch and Development

Efforts to accelerate the adoption of Artificial Intelligence capabilities will both energize and disrupt the defense technology landscape.

The Pentagon is looking to Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. military operations and national security. The Department of the Defense (DoD) recently released an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy that outlines the approach and methodology they are taking to accelerate the adoption and innovation of AI capabilities in the U.S. military and beyond.

The growing emphasis is grounded in the anticipation of the transformative impacts that AI is expected to make across the DoD as well as the recognition of growing investments in AI for military purposes by countries like China and Russia that could reduce U.S. technological and operational advantages and destabilize the world.

To realize the benefits of AI the DoD is taking the following strategic approach to guide AI adoption:

  • Delivering AI-enabled capabilities that address key missions
  • Scaling AI’s impact across DoD through a common foundation that enables decentralized development and experimentation
  • Cultivating a leading AI workforce
  • Engaging with commercial, academic, and international allies and partners
  • Leading in military ethics and AI safety.

Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC)

The DoD established the JAIC in June 2018 to quickly introduce new AI capabilities and experiment with new operational concepts to support urgent and joint challenges – from warfighting and cybersecurity to business functions. Under the new DoD AI policy, the JAIC will focus on rapidly delivering AI capabilities, enhancing research and development (R&D) efforts, establishing the means for scaling AI across the DoD, coordinating governance, planning, cybersecurity and ethics policy, and building AI workforce capacity.

Planned AI Investments

The latest policy builds upon existing DoD AI efforts and budget allotments, most clearly seen within the most recent Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) and Procurement program budgets for fiscal year (FY) 2019, which includes projections out to FY 2023.

The majority of planned investment resides within a handful of Defense Agencies – DARPA, OSD, DLA, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), SOCOM, and the Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) – followed by the Air Force. The Navy and Army trail by comparison. (See chart below.*)

Market Implications

Defense Department efforts will both infuse the AI-related market with funds and opportunities and disrupt other market segments impacted by AI advancements. Applications of AI will be a market disrupter as these capabilities evolve - impacting operational processes, tactics, techniques and procedures, and opening doors for AI tools and emerging services.

The DoD is pursuing partnering activities with private sector technology companies, academia and global allies to advance AI capabilities and deployment, and that should likely result in additional contract and grant awards, further spurring market growth. Assuming that the DoD’s appetite for AI capabilities and know-how will outpace their efforts to build internal workforce capacity, increased demand for contracted support services and innovative products will be sustained.


* For more insight on existing Artificial Intelligence and other priority technology initiatives at the DoD check out the GovWin Federal Market Analysis team’s Defense IT Priorities and Strategies report.