The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), in conjunction with the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, is actively researching artificial intelligence (AI) to discover its potential to redefine command and control (C2) operations and dynamics within the military sphere. C2 refers to processes that military commanders, supported by their staff, use to plan, direct, coordinate, and control their own forces and operations.

The field of artificial intelligence has shown great promise in a variety of sectors, and its potential applications in military operations are vast and varied. DSTL’s study aims to uncover how advancements in AI can support the anticipation of actions, automate routine tasks in C2 processes and enhance decision-making capabilities in dynamic and complex operational environments.

AI holds the potential to augment C2 capabilities through the provision of more extensive and detailed insights drawn from a broader array of data sources than is currently feasible. It may also automate and streamline C2 processes, freeing commanders and their staff from routine tasks and lower-level decisions, so that they can concentrate on higher-level strategic thinking.

Moreover, the speed of AI-enabled decision-making, based on real-time analysis of large volumes of data, could provide significant operational advantages. In an increasingly complex battle space, the ability to quickly assess and assimilate evolving information and make informed decisions rapidly is critical.

AI could also support military planning through the development of predictive models based on historic data and trends. For example, AI algorithms could be developed to analyse past occurrences of conflict and predict the likelihood of similar events occurring.

However, the utility of AI in military C2 operations is not without its challenges. Key amongst these are questions surrounding the reliability and security of AI systems. Similarly, ethical concerns arise when considering automated decision-making, particularly in relation to the use of force. DSTL research will need to address these multifaceted issues alongside the technological advancements.

In its implementation, AI should not be seen as replacing commanders but supplementing their abilities, providing timely and pertinent information to enhance informed decision-making. It is also imperative that human oversight remains at the core of C2 operations, despite advanced AI integration.

The move by DSTL to explore the impacts of AI on military C2 operations and dynamics signals a recognition of the transformative potential of this technology. The research also highlights the need for continual adaptation and advancement within the defence sector to ensure they are prepared and equipped to effectively respond to future threats and challenges.

While the outcomes of DSTL’s research into AI and its impact on military C2 operations remain to be seen, one thing is clear: AI is poised to revolutionise warfare as we know it. Through this endeavour, DSTL reaffirms its commitment to pioneering technological advancements that not only support national defence but also promote global peace and stability