Over the past year, the use of Artificial Intelligence applications has highlighted its significant role in shaping the future of warfare. However, as Paul Scharre emphasizes in Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, it's not a question of whether militaries should adopt innovative technologies, but rather how to apply them effectively. Airmen must explore and experiment with emerging AI technologies to innovate new organizational efficiencies and gain a competitive advantage in warfighting. In fact, to underscore the importance of this point, Open AI's GPT-4 was used to assist in crafting this letter.
To further encourage innovation in our Air Force, it is important leaders consider the impact of organizational culture. No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer is a must-read to understand the philosophy of mission command. We will continue to enable Airmen and organizations with more freedom to exercise judgment, accept prudent risk, and pioneer novel solutions.
Understanding the impact of organizational culture is just one aspect of fostering innovative strategies for success. Another key component is embracing the utility of military wargaming. Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History: A Serious Game podcast discusses the history and evolution of military wargaming, and how it has been used by the military to prepare for real-life scenarios. In The Truth of the Matter: Wargaming a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan podcast, CSIS’s Mark Cancian explains some of the challenges the US military would face in a conflict with China, including advanced missile technology and the difficulty of defending Taiwan's coast. Wargaming lessons are foundational in guiding our future force design through initiatives such as the Air Force Future Operating Concept (AFFOC).
Innovation demands talent as diverse as the challenges the Nation might face. This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the integration of women into the Armed Services and the 30th Anniversary of the lifting of the ban on women’s service in combat aviation. Through the Glass Ceiling to the Stars: The Story of the First American Woman to Command a Space Mission is both an inspiring tale of the career of Colonel Eileen Collins and an acknowledgment of the proud contributions of female Airmen who have performed valiantly in service to America.
In order to continue promoting a diverse and inclusive culture within the Air Force, it's imperative to recognize and support the mental health needs of all Airmen. Our DAF Fortify the Force Initiative Team is leading by example in this regard, by breaking down the stigma associated with seeking help and encouraging Airmen to prioritize their mental health. The Anxious Achiever podcast, presented by LinkedIn amplifies the message that mental health is health and asking for help is a display of strength rather than weakness. National Geographic’s Limitless with Chris Hemsworth complements this mentality by showcasing the remarkable resilience of the human mind and body while emphasizing the importance of cultivating mental fortitude to overcome obstacles and achieve personal milestones.
By promoting mental health and destigmatizing seeking help, we ensure that all Airmen are supported and able to contribute innovative strategies for success. Innovation is the currency of national power, and the AI global competition is underway. The Air Force must be prepared to compete in this area. I encourage Airmen at all levels to gain deeper understanding of AI approaches in the context of future military capabilities that impact the Air Force and our national security.
Fly, Fight, & Win…Airpower Anytime, Anywhere!
CHARLES Q BROWN, JR.
General, U.S. Air Force
Chief of Staff
Editor’s note: The CSAF Leadership Library is a fluid set of media selected by Gen. Brown that evolves as novel ideas are published, recorded and debated. New entries will be added periodically throughout the year.