Story by SPC Samantha Hall on 12/10/2018War is changing, and Michigan is playing a role in painting a clear view of what future warfare will be like by defining the technology that will be used to win it.
The first ever Army Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence Symposium and Exposition was held November 28-29, 2018, at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan. Experts from both the military and the private sector came together to discuss the future of technology's role in warfare, from vehicles that can fire weapons to learning robots.
This symposium comes three months after the creation of Army Futures Command in Austin, Texas, designed to burgeon the modernization of the U.S. Army. During his keynote speech, U.S. Army Gen. John M. Murray, the commander of the U.S. Army Futures Command, painted a picture of a battlefield augmented by artificial intelligence and automated capabilities. The components of war will be predicted, maneuvered and "handled with the mastery and elegance of a symphony orchestra," Murray said.
The Army has recognized that this enormous task cannot be accomplished alone; the symposium's purpose was to bring the joint force and American defense industry together with entrepreneurs, businesses, and non-traditional industries including academia and think tanks to create unique solutions to issues presented by the modern and future battlefield.
"It will force us to think differently and seek opportunities in nontraditional space. It is, absolutely, a clash of cultures, and it is one the Army will benefit tremendously from," Murray said.
Hosted by the Association of the United States Army, this symposium is the beginning of what U.S. Army General Carter F. Ham, President and Chief Executive Officer of AUSA, called an effort to modernize the army on a scale that hasn't been seen since the 1980s. In the face of such need, Detroit was seen as the perfect place to set the stage; a hub of military, industrial, and research activity positioned in proximity to the largest reserve component training site in the country.
"It is indeed a tremendous innovative center, not just the arsenal of democracy that has saved the world," Ham said.
Michigan's unique culture provides the National Guard a large role in this transition.
"We control a significant amount of the force, and we want to be part of the process of solving these problems and finding the opportunity through artificial intelligence to chart the way ahead," said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, Adjutant General of Michigan and Director of Military and Veterans Affairs.
He continued that Michigan has been "incredible" in implementing this, including collaboration with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Michigan.
"We need to leverage the work between the defense and automotive sectors," Vadnais said.
This symposium is only the beginning of a cultural and technological shift in the U.S. Army to prepare for future wars defined by technology.
"There are so many things that I just don't know, but there's one thing that I am almost certain of: If we do not imagine large and reach deep, we will not be successful in future battlefields," Murray said.