The U.S. Army knows that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are critical to maintaining an edge over current and future threats in data-driven operations. AI-enabled systems will be needed to support a broad range of tasks rapidly and accurately, and on the modern battlefields in Ukraine and in any future conflict, success comes from making decisions faster than the adversary — in some cases, autonomously. AI and machine learning can also assist with everything from predictive maintenance to target identification. But despite these critical capabilities, only recently did the Army begin to ask an important question: “How do you deliver secure, trusted AI to the systems that need it?”
The Army’s answer is Project Linchpin. Named for the role that the Army hopes to serve in future conflicts — a “linchpin” in the Indo-Pacific theatre, for example — this project takes the standard AI and machine learning operations pipeline from the technology industry and modifies it to perform in a secure government environment while protecting operational data. Project Linchpin offers a secure structure that could be replicated across the Army to deliver AI at scale. It also acts as a literal linchpin, a vital central component, setting technical and ethical operating standards and interfaces for these emerging capabilities. Project Linchpin puts the Army and the Department of Defense on a path toward the first program of record that will deliver AI and machine learning capabilities and propel AI beyond labs and experiments and into operations.
A Pipeline 60 Years in the Making
The conversation about AI is not new because AI is not new. The phrase “artificial intelligence” was coined in 1956 and the Department of Defense has been funding research in the field since 1963. However, the modern conversation around AI is a result of both