A View from the CT Foxhole: Lieutenant General John N.T. "Jack" Shanahan, Director, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Department of Defense.

AuthorRassler, Don

Lieutenant General John N.T. "Jack" Shanahan is Director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Office of the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer. General Shanahan is responsible for accelerating the delivery of artificial intelligence-enabled capabilities, scaling the department-wide impact of AI and synchronizing AI activities to expand joint force advantages.

General Shanahan has served in a variety of assignments, most recently as Director of Defense Intelligence Warfighter Support, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence at the Pentagon. He was also Director of the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team (Project Maven), where he led the artificial intelligence pathfinder program charged with accelerating integration of big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

General Shanahan also served as the Commander, 25th Air Force, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, where he led 30,000 personnel in worldwide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations and also served as the Commander of the Service Cryptologic Component. In this capacity, he was responsible to the director of the National Security Agency, and the chief of Central Security Service, as the Air Force's sole authority for matters involving the conduct of cryptologic activities, including the spectrum of missions directly related to both tactical warfighting and national-level operations. Prior to these assignments, General Shanahan also served as Deputy Director for Global Operations on the Joint Staff.

CTC: The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) is still a fairly new organization. What have been JAIC's initial accomplishments?

Shanahan: The JAIC is now just over a year old. It's taken a while to grow, but the momentum is increasing as we bring more people into the organization. We are seeing initial momentum across the department in terms of fielding AI [artificial intelligence]-enabled capabilities. Yet, we still have a long way to go to help bring pilots, prototypes, and pitches across the technology valley of death to fielding and updating AI-enabled capabilities at speed and at scale. Adopting and fielding AI is difficult work, especially for a department that is making the transition from an industrial age, hardware-centric force to an information age, software-driven one. Yet, it is critically important work. It's a multi-generational problem requiring a multi-generational solution. It demands the right combination of tactical urgency and strategic patience. Our ongoing projects include predictive maintenance for the H-60 helicopter; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, or HA/DR, with an initial emphasis on wildfires and flooding; cyber sense-making, focusing on event detection, user activity monitoring, and network mapping; information operations; and intelligent business automation.

For the next year, in addition to expanding the scope and scale of the projects we started over the past year, we are beginning to focus on a mission initiative we are calling Joint Warfighting. This is a broad term of course, but as for all early stage AI projects, we are working with the military Services and combatant commands on bounded, high-priority operational mission requirements. We used the last several months to frame the problems the services and combatant commands want help solving. These include Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2); autonomous ground reconnaissance and surveillance; operations center workflows; accelerated ops-intel fusion and sensor-to-shooter solutions; and targeting. We are very much in the early stages in each of these lines of efforts, continuing with user-defined, data-driven workflow analyses to better understand how AI can--or equally important, cannot--help...

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