The Pentagon’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office is focused on maturing and sustaining its progress in delivering key capabilities to the warfighter, CDAO’s top official said today.

Radha Plumb, who assumed the role as the Defense Department’s top digital and AI officer last month, said CDAO has made big strides on efforts ranging from responsible and ethical AI adoption to laying out expectations for data stewardship across the department.

In the less than two years since being formed, CDAO has also notched several victories, including taking a lead role in the delivery of an initial iteration of the Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control, or CJADC2, capability announced in February.

“Building on those foundations, the question, of course, is ‘What’s next?'” Plumb said during an address at Defense Talks 2024. The event, a gathering of military and industry leaders, was hosted by Defense Scoop, a defense trade publication, in Washington. 

“At our almost two-year anniversary in CDAO, we need to mature, institutionalize and sustain our gains so we can reliably and effectively ensure these capabilities are available in an enduring and effective way,” she said.

Specifically, Plumb said CDAO is focused on ensuring data, analytics and AI capabilities are accessible across the DOD enterprise to support a variety of missions. 

She also outlined initiatives focused on leveraging mission analytics to drive decision-making behavior and ensuring data-driven capabilities are understandable and usable “from the boardroom to the battlefield.”

“But of course it’s not just analytics,” she said. “What we need to foster at scale is also AI adoption. Data is foundational to applications, but CDAO is also building the tools needed to support scaled adoption.” 

Doing so, she said, means building labeled data sets, machine-learning operations environments, and the assurance processes required to deploy AI models that meet DOD safety and assurance standards.  

Those efforts are being carried out with partners across the department and the private sector, Plumb said.  

And CDAO remains committed to driving interoperability with allies.

“We cannot accomplish successful data and AI transformation alone,” Plumb said. “The collective knowledge provided by engaging with our international partners is extraordinary.” 

Plumb also underscored CDAO’s alignment with the 2022 National Defense Strategy, which outlines the DOD’s roadmap for meeting the challenges posed by near peer competitors Russia, Iran, North Korea and China, DOD’s pacing challenge. 

She said CDAO’s core mission is to provide warfighters what they need to maintain the decision advantage that enables deterrence. 

“The CDAO has a big piece of work to deliver to make real that NDS mission,” she said. “It’s hard to imagine a more compelling mission, really a no-fail mission, and we’re up for the challenge.”

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