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The Pentagon Scrubs a Cloud Deal and Looks to Add More AI

End of 2019, the Pentagon chose Microsoft for a $ 10 billion contract called JEDI that aimed to use the cloud to modernize the US military IT infrastructure. On Tuesday, the agency tore up that deal. The Pentagon has said it will start over with a new contract that will tap technology from Amazon and Microsoft, and that will provide better support for data-intensive projects, such as improving military decision-making with the ‘artificial intelligence.

The new contract will be called Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability. He tries to dodge a legal and political mess that had formed around JEDI. Competitors from Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle, have both claimed in lawsuits that the award process was flawed. In April, the Federal Claims Court refused to dismiss Amazon’s lawsuit alleging that prejudice against President Trump’s company and other officials had caused the Pentagon to favor Microsoft, creating a potential for years of litigation.

Pentagon Chief Information Officer

The Pentagon announcement released Tuesday made no mention of JEDI’s legal issues, but indicated that the US military’s technical needs had evolved since it first requested bids on the original contract in 2018. JEDI included support for AI projects, but Interim Pentagon Chief Information Officer John Sherman said in a statement that the department’s need for algorithm-heavy infrastructure had increased further.

“Our landscape has progressed and a new path forward is warranted to achieve dominance in traditional and non-traditional areas of warfare,” Sherman said. He cited two recent AI-centric programs suggesting they would get better support from the new contract and its two vendors.

One is called Joint All Domain Command and Control, which aims to link the data streams of military land, sea, air and space systems so that algorithms can help commanders identify targets and choose from possible responses. . In an Air Force exercise linked to the program last year, an aviator used a VR headset and software from defense start-up Anduril to order real air defenses to bring down a fake cruise missile in over White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Sherman also suggested that JWCC would help a project announced last month to accelerate the adoption of AI across the Pentagon, including creating special teams of data and AI experts for each of the 11 major military commands in the United States. ‘agency.

The Pentagon’s claim that it will better support cutting-edge technologies such as AI projects shows President Biden’s Pentagon continues to focus on the military potential of artificial intelligence that began under the administration Obama and continued under President Trump. Successive defense secretaries have said that harnessing this potential requires better connections with companies in the tech industry, including cloud providers and startups. However, some AI experts fear that more military AI could have unethical or deadly consequences, and some techies, including at Google, have protested the Pentagon’s agreements.

Andrew Hunter, director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Pentagon appears to have decided that because of its legal issues, a restart was the most efficient way to get cloud resources. computing available to the department. needed for a while.

IT-dependent projects like the one that seeks to link various military services and hardware together are at the heart of the Pentagon’s strategy to deal with China. “The potential of cloud computing is that it can apply sophisticated analytical techniques such as AI to your data so that you can act with more knowledge than your adversaries,” says Sherman.

JEDI wasn’t the Pentagon’s only cloud computing contract, but the speed at which its successor can be up and running could still have a significant effect on the Pentagon’s cloud and AI dreams. If all went according to plan, the initial two-year phase of JEDI was due to be completed in April. Hunter expects the ministry to try to finalize the contract quickly, but also to be careful to avoid a repeat of the controversy surrounding JEDI.



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