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The US Army’s Project Linchpin AI program is focusing on security first

The US Army’s recently announced Project Linchpin is looking to kill two birds with one stone. On one hand, the Army is currently amassing a mind-boggling amount of data and is struggling to make the most of the bulk of it. At the same time, managing the growing number of battlefield sensor systems is creating a burden on soldiers in the field.

user icon David Hollingworth
Mon, 09 Jan 2023
The US Army’s Project Linchpin AI program is focusing on security first
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Project Linchpin is a joint project between the Army Research Lab, Army Futures Command, and the Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors — otherwise known by the impressive acronym PEO IEW&S. It’s being built as an operations environment to build and deploy AI and machine learning algorithms to address a range of electronic warfare, cyber warfare, and sensor-based challenges.

The project is in the early stages of development, with a request for information only recently shared with industry partners and stakeholders in an attempt to scope out some aspects of the challenge.

“PEO IEW&S will use Project Linchpin to create an environment that will allow successful deployment of AI & ML capabilities to intelligence, cyber, and electronic warfare sensor systems,” the document, published in December 2022, says. “The goal is to create a complete and efficient AI and ML development and delivery operational pipeline (AI/MLOPs) with supporting services for sensor programs within PEO IEW&S to provide needed capability while managing cost and risk.”

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Of particular interest to Army officials is how to keep the whole process secure. The very first topic of the ROI relates to keeping the development environment not only secure, but also trusted by those using it.

“What is your approach for providing a modular centralised/enterprise secure and trusted hosting environment and tools for machine learning operations?” asks the RFI. “The environment should allow the government maximum flexibility to add and remove tools in support of technology advancements and operational needs.

“Please provide a rough order of magnitude (ROM) for operations and maintenance of the environment.”

The document goes on to ask how prospective contractors would balance the need to maximise innovation within the project, while still keeping its operations secure.

The idea is to train AI/ML algorithms on the mass of Army data, and then deploy them into the cloud and via battlefield networks into the field — and then refine those algorithms further based on user feedback and observation.

“We’ve made really remarkable progress getting the data part of it right, and that infrastructure up and running with the Army Intel Data Platform,” Col Christopher Anderson, project manager for intelligence systems and analytics at IEW&S said, in an interview with DefenseScoop last year. “Over the next six to 12 months, what you’re going to see is Project Linchpin stand up as a formal product office that really provides that end-to-end sensor and AI pipeline that facilitates the rapid development and continuous deployment of the models — and then that continuous feedback loop.”

In addition to documenting their responses to the RFI, interested parties can also set up one-on-ones to discuss any topic related to Project Linchpin throughout January 2023.

“There will be Industry Days, RFIs, and additional opportunities for one-on-ones throughout FY23 and into FY24,” the RFI states.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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