Key points for the U.S. military in the ongoing competition for AI dominance include maintaining focus and making sure that units are integrating AI and other technologies strategically, Lt. Gen. Michael Groen, director of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Joint AI Center (JAIC), said March 30.

Groen also stressed long-term planning and a focus on data in his remarks at the third annual AI Summit, organized by the Potomac Officers Club.

“It’s not just about integrating the technology, it’s about integrating technology into functions so that we achieve capability,” Groen said at the event’s afternoon keynote. “Turning technology into capability is not something that we can take for granted, it’s something that we actually have to invest in.”

A recent report by the National Security Council on AI (NSCAI) said the United States needs to invest more than $200 billion to win the AI race, as China also is looking to be dominant in that space within the next 10 years. Groen said what the United States’ five-year plan looks like around 2027 will let him know if the nation is on track to win that race.

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The general said that while a good portion of the NSCAI recommendations don’t apply directly to the JAIC, the DoD organization is working with the NSCAI to implement recommendations that fall within his purview. Groen said alignment of the JAIC under the Secretary of Defense – accomplished via the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act – has been beneficial for the agency.

“The unit, the organization, the capability builder who doesn’t integrate this technology, you’re going to be the weak link in the joint force,” Groen warned. “You don’t want to be the weak link in the joint force. You don’t want to be in today, you don’t want to be tomorrow in the history books either.”

Groen also drew a distinction between modern and legacy systems. He said that if a process is not utilizing a degree of automation or data interaction at this point, then it cannot be defined as modern and has “no place on a battlefield.”

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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