Artificial intelligence (AI) will be key for the U.S. military to achieve Information Advantage (IA)–one of four pillars of the Pentagon’s emerging Joint Warfighting Concept (JWC), Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Air Force Gen. John Hyten said in an address to the DoD AI Symposium this week.

The Pentagon Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC), which Hyten chairs, has been planning to lay out requirements for the military services under the JWC’s four areas–Joint Global Fires, Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), Contested Logistics, and IA. While the publication of the four strategic directives that detail the service JWC requirements are about a month late, Hyten suggested that the JROC will release the directives in the next week.

Information Advantage unites the four JWC pillars, Hyten said. “In order to really achieve what we need in IA, we need AI,” he said. “You can’t do it without it because the speed of decision making and processing and the sheer mass of information across logistics, fires, command and control–that sheer mass and fundamental need for speed cannot be achieved without assistance from the machine.”

The four strategic directives are to require the military services to make data accessible. Embedded in the IA strategic directive, “the simple requirement will be, from this day forward, all data produced by the Department of Defense [and] all data produced by every weapons system in the Department of Defense will be accessible, period,” Hyten said. “It has to be that way. There can be no other alternative, and the reason it has to be that way is because without that data and without that data accessibility, we cannot achieve the speed that we need to deal with the future that we face.”

Established by the fiscal 1996 National Defense Authorization Act, the JROC has as one of its charges the identification of “new joint military capabilities based on advances in technology and concepts of operation,” but Hyten has said that the JROC has never met this objective, and he has vowed “to put speed back in the JROC” to permit focused experimentation by the U.S. military services and the fielding of leap ahead technologies to counter China and Russia (Defense Daily, May 13).

Last year, “we thought we had a pretty good draft” of the JWC, Hyten said this week. “But we kinda put it under a little bit of stress, and the draft did not do as well as we thought it was gonna do so we took a step back and we looked at it again, and we’ve adjusted our approach a little bit. The Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley] has approved Version 1.0. The Secretary of Defense [Lloyd Austin] and the Deputy Secretary of Defense [Kathleen Hicks], we’re all on board, and we’re all pressing hard.”

“As we built out that concept, the fundamental theme became expanded maneuver across time and space,” Hyten told the DoD AI Symposium. “Communications in any conflict with a near-peer adversary will be challenged so you have to figure out how to process information differently [and] use that information differently, and speed becomes critical.”

The JWC’s four strategic directives are to define requirements for interoperability among the military services and allies up front so that the military services do not have to return to the JROC when developing new systems.

There have been concerns that the JWC’s reliance on long-range, joint fires may be insufficient to prevail in a conflict with China or Russia and that the concept may need to bolster its airpower component, as retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, suggested last year that the concept had not fared well in wargaming (Defense Daily, Dec. 8, 2020).