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How Can a Data Scientist Help the Armed Forces?

There are several ways in which data scientists are currently vital and are becoming increasingly important to national defense. Some of the most important tools in modern geopolitical conflicts are information technology, artificial intelligence, information security and cyberwarfare. The havoc that can be wreaked by an undiscovered exploit or clever intrusions could be incalculable in some contexts.

There’s also the ever-increasing reliance on machine learning artificial intelligence, edge computing infrastructure and clever algorithms as force multipliers, or in some cases frontline replacements for roles traditionally performed by soldiers.

Creating, maintaining and controlling all that new infrastructure and technology requires a new generation of soldiers familiar with everything from data visualization and DevOps to application programming interface development and end-to-end analytics.

The Challenge for the Armed Forces

There are some significant challenges that may require adjustments in the way professionals think about careers in the military and the ways militaries approach recruitment. In some cases, contractors and private partnerships can help develop the tools needed to compete in the new digital global landscape, but enlisted personnel who know how to thrive in these environments will be vital in future conflicts.

The reality today is that many young people with those talents and skills will find lucrative job opportunities in the private sector. Attracting those skilled workers to the defense sector will likely be an ongoing effort.

Attracting Technical Experts With Lucrative Salaries, Benefits and Experience

There are some compelling incentives that are enticing some technical experts to work in or contract with the military. Training and education might be the most valuable to young people seeking both free experience and tuition assistance in the future.

Active-duty compensation is often comparable to civilian roles in the same field, and enlisted servicemembers usually get a full month of paid vacation plus sick days. They also receive additional perks like housing benefits, free healthcare, affordable life insurance and flexible retirement plans.

The Importance of Data Science in Traditional and Irregular Warfare

Irregular warfare encompasses an array of non-conventional and non-nuclear forms of state competition. These actions are aimed at both compromising the strength of adversaries and improving one’s own position of power. As the Department of Defense’s National Defense Strategy of 2020 suggested, successful irregular warfare strategies benefit from asymmetric or indirect approaches.1

A number of actions are included under the umbrella of irregular warfare, including:

  • Counterterrorism
  • Counterinsurgency
  • Foreign Internal Defense
  • Military information support operations
  • Cyberspace operations
  • Security operations

Every one of those actions can be enhanced with readily available data, so long as the information can be quickly and accurately analyzed.

Petabytes of data are being collected daily by IoT sensors, social media monitoring and digital listening techniques. Data scientists and analytics translators need to develop advanced AIs and algorithms to process that endless supply of data.

Much of the data will need to be processed in edge computing applications or transmitted over limited network space, making the role of data scientists in the military increasing important.

Developing better methods for separating valuable and actionable intelligence from the massive volume of chaff is becoming more crucial every day, especially in a world where traditional kinetic great power conflicts are being rapidly replaced by digital competitions.

Patterns Don’t Just Point to Enemy Actions

A less frequently lauded aspect of data science in defense applications is its use in identifying correctable internal weaknesses. The same type of machine learning applications that help minimize manufacturing downtime and enhance aviation sector efficiency can be leveraged to improve proficiency and reliability in the military.

The only way to take the right lessons from the limitless supply of internal and external data available is with AI and data scientists who can build the algorithmic net necessary to catch and properly analyze the relevant information.

Providing the Ruggedized COTS Computing Solutions Needed in Challenging Environments

Penguin Edge is proud to offer a number of network computing solutions for military applications, from one of the broadest lines of Power Architecture VME products to ultra-reliable high-performance ATCA platforms.

You can learn more about our military solutions on our website. Contact us for additional information.