artificial intelligence, autonomy, information systems, Logistics, sustainment
Small, dismounted tactical units (Squads, Platoons) in the Army and Marine Corps are currently overburdened, reducing their overall effectiveness because of the amount of supplies they need to carry. Additionally, the ability to resupply these small units is limited due to their often hazardous locations, enemy threats, or the availability of assets (such as helicopters) for tactical sustainment operations. These issues are poised to be exacerbated in the future due to strategic doctrine within the Army and Marine Corps that says the forces of the future will be even more spread out and autonomous. These challenges filter upwards and create operational issues at upper echelons as well as a greater emphasis is put on logistics flexibility and responsiveness.
Numerous projects are currently in execution across the DoD focused on developing new capabilities to meet these challenges. These include Unmanned Ground Systems (UGS), Unmanned Air Systems (UAS), advanced guided parafoils, new helicopters, and autonomy integration into large sustainment vehicles as a few examples. All of these will facilitate the transport of relevant supplies from the strategic level all the way down to the point of need. However, to actually meet the needs of the Squads and Platoons of the future in a joint environment, the sustainment system itself must be far more responsive and intelligent than it is right now to facilitate the effective utilization of these emerging systems.
On a distributed, joint battlefield of the future, the delivery systems will only be as effective as the software system controlling and coordinating their missions. The most effective system would understand locations, capabilities, requirements for all units in an area and utilize AI to facilitate the “best” option for providing resupply to meet a particular need regardless of organizational hierarchy. This becomes even more challenging in a joint environment where the best option may require coordination, sourcing, payment and deconfliction of delivery systems and supplies across a variety allied partners.
The focus of this effort would be to look at tactical sustainment management systems among NATO nations to understand commonalities and differences to US current and emerging capabilities. The goal of this study would be to identify a path towards interoperability among partners to facilitate the use of AI technologies to effectively utilize the various current and emerging tactical and operational delivery technologies.
This effort will develop a baseline for utilizing AI for sustainment information management, tracking and tasking systems across NATO allies. All systems that facilitate order generating and order-fulfilment at the tactical level and distribution management at higher levels will be identified. This will then be utilized to develop a follow on project to develop systems, methodologies or new capabilities to utilize AI to harness and effectively employ the numerous emerging delivery technologies across a coalition battlespace.
At its core, this effort will be focused on information management and mission planning across numerous systems within different countries. While this initial study will not generate a solution, it will specifically investigate the employment of AI methodologies to:
- track and communicate needs across a coalition battlespace
- reason over the operational capabilities, proximity, resupply routes, and other factors of nearby NATO units (regardless of country)
- provide recommended courses of action to meet the needs of the warfighters.