Principal Deputy Assistant Army Secretary Young Bang speaks in February 2024.

Principal Deputy Assistant Army Secretary Young Bang speaks in February 2024. U.S. Army / Spc. Taylor Gray

Army to seek industry help on AI

"We're not gonna develop our algorithms better than y’all,” a service acquisition leader told an industry conference.

The U.S. Army plans to ask contractors for help integrating industry-generated artificial-intelligence algorithms into its operations, part of the service's 100-day push to lay the groundwork for sweeping adoption of AI. 

“One of the things that we want to do is we want to adopt third-party-generated algorithms as fast as y'all are building,” Young Bang, the principal deputy assistant Army secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, said at the Amazon Web Services Washington D.C. Summit on Wednesday. “We realized, while we had tons of data…we're not gonna develop our algorithms better than y’all.”

Bang said that as one of the largest consumers of AI and algorithm technologies, the Army is anxious to generate partnerships with industry and incorporate newer proprietary technology.

“We want to have a partnership. We're going to break down obstacles for us to adopt third-party-generated algorithms,” he said. 

An Army spokesperson confirmed to Nextgov/FCW that there will be a series of requests for information to industry in the coming months focused on AI capabilities, security, and testing. The RFI about cultivating Army partnerships with industry will debut next month.

That RFI will be used to evaluate external algorithms for their trustworthiness. Bang said that the Army will ask industry to help gauge the risk levels of their software. Some of the risks he wants industry players to focus on include poisoned data sets, version control, and Trojan-horse malware. After this internal overview, Bang said, the Army will work with potential contractors on strengthening controls and other oversight protocols to support safe AI deployment.

“What we're going to do is push this out as an RFI to the industry,” he said. “We want you to come back and say ‘here's some processes and tools that we have that can help you.’ The intent is to automate all this so we can go faster, work with you all and adopt our third-party-generated algorithms.”

Young said private-sector tech providers have a competitive advantage in developing AI algorithms, and that, while the Army does “certain things really well,” industry players create superior tech systems. 

Bang’s comments follow his office’s March announcement of a 100-day plan to survey the Army’s technological landscape and prepare it for widespread AI acquisition and adoption. 

The initial 100-day plan to set conditions for the Army’s AI acquisition goals will be formally operationalized over the next 500 days.