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


Late in 2019, at the Pentagon Microsoft thing for a $ 10 billion contract called JEDI that was intended to use the the cloud to modernize the U.S. military computing infrastructure. On Tuesday, the agency snatched that deal. The Pentagon has said it will begin with a new contract that will seek technology from both Amazon and Microsoft, and which offers better support for data-intensive projects, such as improving military decision-making with artificial intelligence.

The new contract will be called Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability. He tried to avoid a legal and political disorder that had formed around JEDI. Competitors Microsoft Amazon and Oracle both said in lawsuits that the attribution process had been flawed. In April, the Federal Court of Appeals refused to dismiss Amazon’s case stating that prejudice against society by President Trump and other officials had prompted the Pentagon to favor Microsoft, creating the potential for years of litigation. .

The Pentagon announcement mandate Tuesday did not mention JEDI’s legal concerns but said the U.S. military’s technical needs have evolved since it first asked for offers for the original contract in 2018. JEDI has included support for AI projects, but John Sherman, the Pentagon’s official information officer in charge, said in a statement that the need for the algorithms’ heavy infrastructure department was growing even more.

“Our landscape has advanced, and a new way forward is warranted to achieve dominance in both traditional and traditional war domains,” Sherman said. He cited two recent AI-focused programs, suggesting they will receive better support from the new contract and its two vendors.

One is called Command and Control of All Domains, which aims to link together data flows from military systems across land, sea, air and space so that algorithms can help commanders. to identify objectives and to choose between possible answers. In an Air Force exercise related to the program last year, a pilot enlisted a VR headset and software from defense startup Anduril to order real air defenses to shoot down a cruise missile simulator over White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Sherman also suggested that JWCC help with a project announced last month to accelerate the adoption of AI across the Pentagon, including with the creation of special teams of data and AI experts for each of the agency’s top 11 military commands.


The Pentagon’s claim that it will better support advanced technology such as AI projects shows that President Biden’s Pentagon continues to emphasize the military potential of artificial intelligence that began during the Obama administration and has continued. under President Trump. Subsequent defense secretaries have said they will exploit that potential will they need better connections cun technology industry companies, including cloud providers and startups. However, some AI experts fear more military AI could have immoral or deadly consequences, and some tech workers, even on Google, have protested Pentagon affairs.

Andrew Hunter, director of the Defense Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the Pentagon appears to have decided that, because of its legal intricacies, a reshuffle was the most efficient way to obtain resources. cloud computing that the department has needed for some time.

Computer-dependent projects such as the one that seeks to link various military and hardware services are central to the Pentagon’s strategy for tackling China. “The potential of cloud computing is to be able to apply sophisticated analytical techniques like AI on your data so you can act with greater knowledge than your opponents,” says Sherman.

JEDI wasn’t the only Pentagon cloud computing contract, but the speed with which its successor can implement it could also have a significant effect on the Pentagon’s cloud and AI dreams. Everyone had gone to plan, the initial two-year phase of JEDI was to be completed in April. Hunter expects the department to try to finalize the contract quickly — but also to take care to avoid a repeat of the controversy surrounding JEDI.

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