The Pentagon’s new office leading data and artificial intelligence (AI) efforts has reached full operational capability, the department said Wednesday.

Along with the milestone, the Office of the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer (CDAO) has now fully integrated the missions of the chief data officer (CDO), Defense Digital Service (DDS) and Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), with those offices no longer operating as independent entities.

Aerial of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington DC, with I-395 freeway on the left, and the Air Force Memorial up middle.

“I am so proud of what the CDAO team has accomplished in less than six months since [reaching Initial Operational Capability]. In CDAO, we have brought together data strategy and policy, with hands on implementation, and the barrier removal power of a [Principal Staff Assistant] to apply lessons DoD has learned over the last several years, and build upon them with greater scale and momentum,” Margaret Palmieri, the deputy CDAO, said in a statement. 

The Pentagon first detailed the new CDAO effort in December, noting the new official leading the organization will report directly to the deputy secretary of defense and serve as a central official to coordinate artificial intelligence and digital solutions initiatives at the senior levels of the department (Defense Daily, Dec. 9, 2021). 

The three offices under the CDAO’s purview–the JAIC, DDS and CDO–have until this point operated independently but have now been fully merged within the new office as the Pentagon pushes to proliferate its integration of AI and advanced digital solutions.

In April, the Pentagon announced Craig Martell, who most recently served as head of machine learning for Lyft [LYFT], will be the department’s first CDAO (Defense Daily, April 29). 

The Pentagon on Wednesday also announced Joe Larson, who most recently led the Project Maven effort to work on algorithms for advanced image and video processing, as deputy CDAO for algorithmic warfare tasked with “identifying, delivering, and scaling digital and algorithmic technology solutions to warfighting challenges.”

“Joe is a big get for the newly formed CDAO. He is no stranger to the digital, analytics and AI world. As the current chief of Project Maven, he is one of a handful of senior executives in DoD who has applied AI to current military operational problems. We are excited about Joe’s expertise and commitment to the warfighter, which is essential as we build off the successes of the JAIC and take DoD adoption of AI to the next level,” Palmieri said in a statement. 

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is set to take over as the lead for Project Maven, after being involved in the program since its inception.

Diane Staheli, a top researcher on AI and its ethical uses at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has also been named as chief of CDAO’s responsible artificial intelligence (RAI) division.

“I am honored to lead the RAI Division as the Department begins its RAI implementation journey, guided by the anticipated adoption of the RAI Strategy & Implementation Pathway,” Staheli said in a statement.