We have been negligent, as we have seen the Communist Party of China not only catch up with the United States in acquiring many combat capabilities, but, worse still, have advanced over them in areas, the most important of which are artificial intelligence and cyber security.
Pentagon leaders go as far as calling China an “enemy of comparable capabilities,” which shows how poorly they value Beijing.
Whoever wins the AI race controls the planet.
When the United States conducted virtual exercises between AI-powered aircraft in front of top pilots, AI systems outperformed.
China's hypersonic missiles can only be countered using AI-powered defenses.
The solutions to this threat are clear.
The Pentagon should establish a joint office for information technology, centralizing all functions such as IT security, cloud services, data storage, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and training, in a specialized technology and information organization, which reports directly to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
The department also needs to strengthen public-private partnerships, prepare for accountability to taxpayers, and allocate at least 10 percent of its budget to developing simple and independent methods of combat.
However, as I have observed from my previous work, defense leaders often fail to understand the technology itself, and refuse to empower those who do.
If you are a leader and do not know the subject, educate yourself and be prepared to take advice or not get in the way.
At least one hour per day should be devoted to continuous learning of employees.
Another common mistake is creating more AI teams and siled data, or worse yet creating a “cyber force,” we don’t need special units stepping in to save the situation.
Software, Internet, and AI must be provided to every team within the Department of Defense.
We must also create respectable career paths in software, cybersecurity, data science, AI and machine learning, with higher wages and prestigious titles, so that it becomes an attractive field of work.
The Pentagon should cooperate with manufacturing.
US companies are making innovations in all sectors, from self-driving cars to space exploration and quantum computing.
Unfortunately, the Ministry of Defense continues to exaggerate the preservation and confidentiality of its information, and this prevents it from increasing its cooperation with the industrial field and informing it of China's attacks; These range from spying on US companies to intellectual property theft and cyber attacks.
As a result, many US companies still refuse to work with the Pentagon. If the Pentagon shares more information about the nature and severity of the Chinese threat, more companies will want to collaborate with the military to win this battle.
There must be processes in place to bring in expertise from outside the Department of Defense, and for employees to be able to exit and enter government positions to gain skills and experience.
We should allow DoD employees to spend time at innovation startups like Tesla and SpaceX, and go back to applying what they learned in these companies into the military. Without enough skills, the US Department of Defense cannot succeed.
Finally, you must stop preparing for false battles.
The next war will be determined by software, not the $107 trillion fifth-generation fighters or aircraft carriers worth $12 billion.
China can turn off our power grid without firing a single shot, due to the rudimentary cybersecurity of our infrastructure.
We are investing in the wrong defensive capabilities.
As we saw recently with the Colonial Pipeline Hack, a cyberattack that destroyed the largest US gasoline pipeline in March 2021, the danger is near.
We must act now to replace some of the F-35s with scalable autonomous systems such as drones, autonomous aircraft and ships, hypersonic capabilities, and military advances in space.
Reports that the United States will start taking effective steps in the field of artificial intelligence after ten years show the scale of the tragedy.
Analysts forget that AI is advancing rapidly and dramatically, depending on the speed of growth and the amount of data available to train its programs.
Since China has more experts in this field, and more data, the United States is in an unenviable position.
By next year, it will be too late to catch up.
*Nicholas Chelan, former software official in the US Navy