What are Military Uses of Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

military use of ai

Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been making headlines as this technology becomes increasingly powerful and integrates into our everyday lives. For example, mobile phone apps, home security systems, and social media sites all incorporate AI technology.

While AI seems brand-new to many of us in the civilian sector, AI has been used in the U.S. military for decades and will continue to play a key role in national defense well into the future.

Let’s look at some of the ways AI is being used in today’s military.

9 Ways AI is Used in Today’s Military 

1. Identification and interception of threats 

Predictive AI can be used on the battlefield to determine the trajectory and intended target of an incoming ballistic missile from hostile forces. U.S. ground forces can then use AI-enabled systems to either jam the missile’s tracking signal to throw it off course or launch a counterstrike to destroy the missile before it reaches its intended target.

2. Aircraft guidance

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) play an important role in modern warfare. UAVs are used to fly dangerous missions while servicemembers guide the craft safely from the ground. This aircraft is equipped with AI capabilities that enable it to avoid obstacles, respond to threats, and quickly maneuver itself out of harm’s way even if the servicemember on the ground can’t see the obstacle.

The military is also experimenting with AI-controlled swarms—dozens of unmanned aircraft vehicles that would fly with a human-piloted fighter jet. The pilot would focus on completing the mission while the swarm would provide protection and additional firepower when needed.

3. Translation

military use of ai

AI-based transcription and translation programs have improved dramatically over the past decade. The military has AI software that can identify audio communications in almost any language and immediately translate the words to English (or any other language) with an incredibly high degree of accuracy. This technology is a game-changer when it comes to gathering intelligence about hostile forces in foreign countries.

4. Training and battle preparation

AI-enabled training programs and simulators are quickly replacing textbooks and videos for training purposes. Today’s servicemembers can receive lessons on tablets or virtual reality devices which can be updated in real-time to better simulate real-life battle situations and conditions.

5. Logistics

Moving vehicles, ammunition, supplies, manpower, and more from one place to another as efficiently as possible is essential to military success. A delivery that arrives a day late or with the wrong supplies could mean the difference between victory and defeat, or even life and death.

That’s why the military has integrated AI into its logistics operations. AI can help logistics planners determine the most efficient delivery routes, optimize resource allocation, and even solve for unpredictable impediments such as storms or traffic delays in real time.

6. Supporting at-risk servicemembers

AI technology is being used to help save servicemembers’ lives off the battlefield as well as on.

The Army Human Resources Command is the owner of the Army’s largest repository of information about each of its members. Working with psychologists and scientists across the nation, the Army is using this information to develop an AI-powered model that can help identify those servicemembers who are most at risk of harming themselves or others. This would enable professionals to intervene before anyone is hurt.

Thus far, the model has proven to be effective in simulations. Army Human Resources Command is looking forward to getting the project into the field within the next 12 months.

7. Creation of an Integrated Defense System

military use of ai

The U.S. Department of Defense is developing a centralized system called Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) that relies heavily on AI technology. The goal of JADC2 is to link all branches of the U.S. armed forces into a unified network.

Ultimately, this will eliminate the many barriers that currently impede the efficient sharing of mission-critical data across the branches. If successful, JADC2 will generate an unprecedented level of interconnectivity among military personnel, vehicles, and equipment. It would truly be a game changer for the U.S. military.

8. Preventive vehicle maintenance

The military has started using AI programs to anticipate malfunctions in military vehicles, aircraft, and watercraft. This means mechanics can repair or replace parts before they break down, thereby reducing the cost, wasted time, and hassle associated with unplanned repairs.

So far, this technology has proven to be useful across the military branches.

The Army is using AI to anticipate vehicle component failure and improve combat readiness of a range of vehicles including Bradley tanks.

The Air Force is using predictive maintenance technology across three fleets of aircraft: The B-1B bomber, C-5M airlifter, and the KC-135 tanker fleets.

The Navy is currently using AI to monitor 100 ships in unison to provide accurate data about the ships’ combat readiness. Rather than simply make educated guesses about whether a ship is approaching the end of its useful life, this program has allowed Navy technicians to predict and fix problems before they occur.

9. Cooking

military use of ai

In 2022, The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) purchased 10 “Alfreds.” Alfred is a robotic arm that uses AI and complex computer vision software to “see” and interact with its surroundings. It has the dexterity to prepare meals using a variety of kitchen utensils. The DoD expects improved cleanliness, reduced food waste, and other benefits at the military bases where the robotic arms will be installed.

Should the Alfreds work as expected, the Department of Defense will make a bigger investment in the AI-powered kitchen technology.

Restrictions on the Use of AI in Warfare

The use of AI in the Military is certainly exciting, but the DoD recognizes that safeguards must be put in place to ensure humans have ultimate control—especially when it comes to weaponry.

In January of 2023, the DoD announced an update to Directive 3000.09 Autonomy in Weapon Systems that applies to weapon systems that incorporate AI technology.

The updated Directive states:

“Autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems will be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human
judgment over the use of force.”

This means that AI technology will be used to help leaders and commanders make more informed decisions when using force. However, a human, not a machine or algorithm will ultimately determine the final action when using force.

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military use of ai

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Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for both professionals and servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.   

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