House demands AI update from Pentagon as threats from China, other adversaries pile up

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Members of the House Armed Services Committee are demanding several updates from the Pentagon on whether it is effectively using artificial intelligence to defend against growing threats from China and other adversaries.

The committee on Monday released its annual proposal for the defense policy bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, which will be considered by various subcommittees starting Tuesday. The section of the bill that deals with cyber and information technology was accompanied by several demands for updates on the Defense Department’s efforts to incorporate AI into its national security posture.

One of these demands relates directly to China, which the committee said has an increasing presence in disputed waters around the world that threatens U.S. national security.

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Lloyd Austin

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is under pressure from Congress to explain how AI is being incorporated into the Pentagon’s national defense strategy. (Vano Shlamov/AFP via Getty Images)

“The committee is increasingly concerned about the ability of the United States to counter this threat due to the vastness of the maritime environment,” the text said. “Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), driven by artificial intelligence (AI), would enhance the Navy’s ability to monitor the maritime environment, increase strategic planning activities, and expose emerging threats through lead generation.”

The committee asked the Defense Department to brief its members on this issue by next February on its current use of “AI-driven MDA systems” and how else AI might help the Navy quickly assess maritime traffic and determine possible threats.

Lawmakers on the committee said the Pentagon should also be using AI to help warfighters detect and analyze signals in the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) that can indicate cyber and electronic warfare tactics.

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Rep. Mike Rogers

The House Armed Services Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., released its new defense policy bill that calls for several updates on AI. (Oliver Contreras / AFP)

“The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has exposed the threat that adversarial electronic warfare systems pose,” the committee said. “Accordingly, the committee believes that the Department of Defense should pursue capabilities that give the warfighter the ability to maintain awareness of the EMS environment and rapidly develop insights at the tactical edge.”

The committee said special operations forces have already used AI-driven systems to detect EMS signals and that the Pentagon should “increase the adoption of such technologies.” It asked the Defense Department to brief members of the committee on this issue by Dec. 1.

Lawmakers noted a broad plan by DOD to create a Joint All-Domain Command and Control system that uses AI to assess data from a broad range of military sensors and make it easier for military commanders to make real-time decisions. They also said the Air Force could benefit from a similar system and asked the secretary of the Air Force to report to the committee by next January.

The committee pushed the Pentagon to report back on several other AI initiatives, including the creation of an “AI education strategy” aimed at educating service members on how to use AI. Members want DOD to brief them on that subject by next March.

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Biden and Xi shake hands in front of the Chinese and US flags

Worries about China’s growing maritime presence is one reason why House lawmakers want to ensure AI is used to boost U.S. national security. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

By December, the committee wants DOD to brief lawmakers on the infrastructure needed to build up AI capacity and what the Pentagon is doing to create more “red teams” that road-test AI systems before they are deployed.

Committee members also want officials to study how to develop autonomy software and to ensure the Army uses AI to support the next generation of military helicopters developed under the Future Vertical Lift program.

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In April, U.S. Central Command’s top AI adviser told Fox News Digital that the military is hoping it can use AI to quickly absorb data and help military leaders make faster decisions, but the adviser, Dr. Andrew Moore, said the goal is to keep people in charge of these decisions, not AI systems.



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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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