Automation within the Military: Today and Beyond

by | Apr 21, 2022 | Automation, Uncategorized

If you’ve been in the military for more than 24 hours, the term “hurry up and wait” is very familiar. While that term still resonates within the military ranks today, it should be refreshing to hear that those military branches of today are charging forward in utilizing intelligent automation.

Just like a civilian organization, military “procedures” are full of efficiency opportunities. Moreover, and with consideration to their sacrifice, there is a strong case to be made for improving the lives of our military service members, the less than 1% of the total population that volunteer to protect 100% of Americans. This article on automation within the military will highlight two late 2021 released strategy documents from opposing military branches; one from the Marines (Nov ’21) and another from the Army (Oct ’21).  

While it is painful for a US Army veteran to recognize another branch (not really, I have massive respect for all who serve), the insight and vision of the Marine Corps is quite impressive.  That said, the U.S.

Army has a digital transformation strategy of its own.  (GO ARMY, BEAT NAVY)

The United States Marine Corps Talent Management 2030

When many think of the various automation utilized throughout the military, tactical warfare applications immediately come to mind while talent acquisition doesn’t.  However, talent acquisition is precisely how the Marines are applying automation so uniquely.  “The U.S. Marine Corps needs a different kind of Marine to succeed in a future fight: older and more cognitively mature, cross-trained to juggle a variety of roles and missions, tech-savvy.”[1]  Utilizing Intelligent Automation (IA) for front-end recruitment is smart but nothing new. Enriching talent for the next generation of warfighters is something else entirely. “We need a system that can identify each Marine’s talents, help them develop those talents into skills and aptitudes, and assign them to duties where they can apply their strengths to best support their unit’s mission.”1

The Marines are planning to offload an “arbitrary” process — yes — but more interesting and certainly more valuable is the “about-face” turn they are taking in approaching recruitment. As with most branches, recruitment and job availability are governed by open MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) slots. Available slots drive recruitment in the “specialty,” whether that’s a line cook or a pilot. It’s that simple. “Moving forward, the Marines will utilize a data-driven model making investments in AI and machine learning tools that assign recruits to specialties where they can develop their talents, best contribute to the success of their units, find career satisfaction, and re-enlist.”1

Perhaps the most enlightening comment that encapsulates the passion behind the project, which should echo in the halls of corporate America, is the following: “We can’t afford not to do this.”1

Army’s Digital Transformation Strategy

The United States Army laid out three strategic objectives that encompass their digital transformation:

  1. Leverage data as a strategic asset to achieve interoperability and data for decision making,.
  2. Build and deploy an organic digital workforce with mission-critical skillsets by establishing partnerships with industry and academia.
  3. Identify and cultivate the skills needed by the Army of 2028 by fostering digital innovation and continuous learning.

Like that of the Marines, the Army calls out the integration of AI, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Machine Learning (ML) for the purpose of speed in decision making and, more specifically, the retention of talent. These activities are a prime example of the military using automation. It’s increasingly apparent that both branches are calling out a talent shortage as many civilian organizations face the same challenge. 

Automation is all about the Mindset

Dr. Raj Iyer, U.S. Army CIO, sets the vision well for automation,, stating the following: “Going digital is a mindset, it’s culture change… it’s about how we can fundamentally change how we operate as an Army through transformative digital technologies, empowering our workforce, and re-engineering our rigid institutional processes to be more agile…”. 

It came of little surprise to both branches to see themes around keeping pace with commercial trends and processes; that’s to be expected.  The unexpected theme was a consistent focus on people, not purely from a volume standpoint but from the variable of engagement and retention. “People drive success.”

Perhaps it’s finally that moment in history when military intelligence humor is finally laid to rest.  Perhaps not, but there is a robust and apparent digital transformation climbing the ranks of our US military. 

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