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By Martin Klein
Vice President of Analytics and Artificial Intelligence

Leveraging AI on the frontlinesis transforming military strategy, optimizing decision making, and revolutionizing warfare.

On the modern battlefield, the decisive edge goes to the nation with decision dominance — the ability to leverage data and decision analytics to predict adversary actions, automate responses, and optimize operations. The result: leaders can visualize the battlespace at machine speed.

Algorithmic warfare, the integration of advanced algorithms into military operations to enhance decision making (across the warfighting functions of intelligence, maneuver, fires, logistics, and C2 systems), represents the cutting edge of this data-driven approach.

Algorithmic warfare will play a key role in employing our nation’s integrated deterrence strategy. Leveraging the power of cross-domain data, surfacing insights at machine speed, and allowing battlefield commanders to see first and act decisively will be key to both preventing war and winning decisively on the modern battlefield.

Algorithmic warfare is about leveraging the computational power of AI to secure lasting strategic and tactical advantages on the battlefield. Understanding the benefits, challenges, risks, and future developments of this frontier technology is critical to maintaining decision dominance for leaders operating from the boardroom to the battlefield.

Augmented DecisionMaking at Speed and Scale

Integrating AI-enabled decision support into operations yields several key benefits, including:


Augmented Decision Making. AI algorithms will never replace the skill and intuition of a battlefield commander. While AI can assist commanders in how they visualize the battlespace, there’s no substitute for decades of experience garnered in the study of political, military, economic, and informational dynamics. To suggest otherwise would question the foundation of responsible AI. What AI can do, however, is process and analyze data at speeds and scales unattainable by humans. This provides decision makers with actionable insights and allows personnel to focus on tasks such as the evaluation of risk, the ability to integrate outcomes, and future options on the battlefield.


Integrated Warfighting Systems. Algorithmic warfare enables greater integration of warfighting systems on the modern battlefield. Integrating what have, traditionally, been disparate battlefield systems (e.g., logistics, intelligence, maneuver, and fires) optimizes these functions across the board.


Automated Response Systems. AI can enable quicker responses to threats, potentially intercepting hostile actions before they escalate. Automating data processing and exploitation can also streamline workflows for analysts, allowing them to focus on producing high-quality intelligence products.


Resource Optimization. Algorithmic warfare can streamline supply chains and resource allocation, ensuring optimal use of assets.

Challenges to Implementation

It’s critical to note that AI is no panacea, and implementing AI-enabled decision support is not without its challenges. Any successful attempt at algorithmic warfare will have to contend with these, and other, problems:

1. Reliability and Security. AI systems must be incredibly reliable and secure to be trusted in high-stakes mission environments. The emerging intersection of cybersecurity and AI will be crucial going forward, as system vulnerabilities can have catastrophic consequences.

a. Relatedly, because the United States’ integrated deterrence strategy is founded on coalition-building and leveraging our global partners, another major challenge is integrating these capabilities across mission partners. Those partners can be as varied as the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), foreign nations, and, in some instances, commercial entities.

2. Data Quality and Model Bias. AI algorithms require high-quality data for training. Poor or biased data can lead to inaccurate or unethical outcomes.

3. Technological Integration. Integrating AI into existing infrastructures poses significant technical challenges and can require either a substantial investment or a partner with proven expertise.

4. Ethical and Legal Concerns. The use of AI in warfare raises significant ethical questions, particularly regarding autonomous weapons systems. Legal frameworks governing AI use are beginning to take shape but are still in nascent stages in many respects.

What Does the Future Hold?

Prophesying about AI often turns out to be a fool’s errand, as this technology continues to evolve at an exponential rate and in ways that are often surprising. Change is the only constant, and the Department of Defense (DoD) must acquire capabilities that avoid vendor lock-in and future-proof against continued technological advances.

Still, there are some developments on the horizon that we can feel reasonably confident about, and they will bear heavily on the future of algorithmic warfare.

Increasing System Autonomy

AI decision support systems will continue to evolve, and while human oversight will remain necessary, these systems will only get better at making rapid, context-aware decisions that carry significant mission impact.

Greater Human-AI and Machine Teaming

The fears that AI is poised to replace human decision making are fundamentally misplaced; however, AI will continue to augment human decision making with greater effectiveness. Interconnected defense ecosystems will also provide AI decision support systems an opportunity to seamlessly collaborate and share threat intelligence, improving security and reliability.

Improved Explainability

To address concerns over the opacity of AI algorithms, particularly in legally fraught settings such as conflict areas, future AI development will include a focus on enhancing explainability. This will be critical in building trust and understanding the decision-making processes of AI systems.

More Ethical AI

The focus on developing ethically-aligned AI systems will intensify, with robust legal and regulatory frameworks taking shape to govern their use.

“We are witnessing the ways wars will be fought, and won, for years to come.”
— Ret. Gen. Mark Milley, former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff

AI Insights at the Speed of the Mission

Algorithmic warfare represents a revolutionary approach in military strategy, one driven by data-fueled insights that can decode the battlefield in near real-time. Our warfighters are leveraging AI from the boardroom to the battlefield to optimize decision making and secure lasting strategic and tactical advantages. ECS’ data and AI experts stand ready to help derive actionable insights from vast amounts of data, develop and deploy AI, and manage the unmanageable.

Vice President, Analytics and Artificial Intelligence
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