Vanguard Magazine

Vanguard August/September 2021

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Page 32 of 47

AI, as part of the technology solution, optimised with HQ processes, has the potential to streamline the force generation of a tactical HQ, enhance the situation awareness for commanders by integrating and deconflicting data, and enhancing the planning of future operations. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2021 33 managing video and photo data to quickly identify relevant information. These AI tools can be used throughout the infor- mation chain, starting with individual sensors to identify the desired informa- tion needs. Also, this has the advantage of reducing the demand on the communica- tions systems, speeding up the transmis- sion of relevant data to decision-makers. Throughout this process, there must be an ability to manually override the AI processes to ensure the requirement for a human in or on "the loop" remains for any application of lethal force. Similar AI tools can also be used to integrate data from multiple sources in a tactical HQ to produce a coherent recognised maritime picture, recognised air picture, and recog- nised land picture, depending on the need with increased speed and accuracy and reduced manpower. This ensures optimal situational awareness for the commander's decision-making process. The second area identified to benefit from AI within a tactical HQ is planning. Emerging advances in artificial intelli- gence, such as its use within predictive planning tools, has the potential to greatly shorten the decision-action cycle. An im- portant part of the planning process is the comparison of different courses of action and the refinement of the selected course of action. One tool used to support this is wargaming using computer/algorithm- driven models; the application of AI could greatly enhance and accelerate the wargaming process, allowing for a greater number of iterations to compare and select the best course of action (COA) and the refinement of the selected COA. Also, AI can enhance other aspects of planning that are computational, and rules-based such as logistic planning, movement planning, aspects of engineering planning, and fire planning to name a few. Although I have focused on the poten- tial for AI in a tactical HQ, the application of AI will be of great value to the wider CAF digital transformation, enhancing their ability to force generate forces, to include HQs to meet assigned missions, potentially reduce the number of systems required, reducing the burden of man- aging these systems in the tactical HQ. There are also programs that have used AI to aid training, reducing the time required for training. A final consideration for integrating AI, or any technology, into a tactical HQ is the risk of interference from enemy actions or technical failures and staff must maintain the ability to continue operations despite this interference. Alternate systems and manual processes must continue to exist. Conclusion Tactical HQs form the 'brain' of deployed forces, responsible for supporting a com- mander in the execution of command. The tactical HQ is responsible for monitoring ongoing operations and planning all as- pects of future operations. This requires the ability to collect, analyse and store sig- nificant amounts of data and the myriad of data available from modern sensor systems and coalition partners, arriving in multiple formats, risks overwhelming a commander and staff. Ensuring commanders remain able to make effective decisions in this en- vironment requires effective procedures, trained staff, and appropriate technology. AI, as part of the technology solution, optimised with HQ processes, has the po- tential to streamline the force generation of a tactical HQ, enhance the situation awareness for commanders by integrating and deconflicting data, and enhancing the planning of future operations. Despite its ability to enhance decision-making, the employment of AI in military systems will always be constrained by the requirement to ensure there is a human in "the loop" for any application of lethal force. Also, given the nature of warfare, the use of any technical system can always be interrupted by an adversaries' actions or a failure of the technical systems so tactical HQs must al- ways maintain the ability to operate with- out the support of technology. Richard Fawcett is a retired colonel who served 34 years in the Canadian Armed Forces and since retirement has worked in the defence C4ISR industry in a number of roles. During his military career, he served in a variety of command and staff appoint- ments, serving in Canada and international- ly with both NATO and the United Nations. Command experience included command- ing officer of the Canadian Forces Joint Sig- nal Regiment, Commander Canadian Forces Base Kingston, and Commander of the Ca- nadian Task Force in the DRC. In December 2004, he was awarded the NATO Meritori- ous Service Medal, in 2007 was appointed an Officer of the Order of Military Merit, in 2010 was awarded the RCMP Award of Distinction and in 2012 he was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal. Rick is currently the EVP Defence for ADGA Group Consultants Inc. AI

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