Duckworth introduces bill to build out ‘imperative’ tech skills in military
“To ensure our national security and military readiness is as strong as it can be, we cannot risk overlooking the computer programming, artificial intelligence and other advanced technological talent of our servicemembers," Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said.
Source: Breaking Defense
WASHINGTON — A new bill introduced by a key lawmaker on the Senate Armed Services Committee aims to build out the Defense Department’s “human capital infrastructure” in tech and cyber operations by formalizing how the military organizes and takes advantage of service members’ technical skills, from coding to artificial intelligence.
“Absent strategy implementation and investment, the Department of Defense and each of the military departments currently lack the human capital infrastructure to quickly leverage critical capabilities relating to computer programming maintained by members of the Armed Forces in conflict,” according to the Managing Active and Reserve Tech Talent Effectively Act [PDF] introduced Thursday by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. “It is imperative to build out such an infrastructure to leverage such capabilities.”
The bill, introduced Thursday, comes after DoD released its cyber workforce strategy [PDF] earlier this month also taking aim at how to close its cyber workforce development gaps and retain its cyber personnel. As part of that push, the strategy outlined dozens of new work roles related to data, AI and machine learning.
Duckworth’s bill notes that while the new work roles were established in the strategy, “there is no requirement for the military departments to review, modify, and expand their occupational fields, military occupational specialties, and skills designators to align with these work roles.”
“Additionally, there is no unified mechanism to evaluate the utility of capabilities of members of the Armed Forces in computer programming occupational areas and to identify gaps or surpluses in such capabilities across the military departments,” according to the bill.
The bill defines computer programming occupational areas as any position that supports programming, coding and AI, including data scientists, engineers, analysts, software developers, machine learning engineers, program managers and acquisition professionals.
In the “human capital infrastructure” policy floated in the bill, military departments would be tasked with establishing a standard for combatant commands “with respect to computer programming skills, which include technical and nontechnical skills related to artificial intelligence and coding” and new career occupational codes aligned with those work roles under DoD’s cyber framework. The same human capital infrastructure policy would apply to the reserve components as well, the bill states.
The Pentagon’s chief digital and AI officer, the assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs and the secretaries of each military department would lead in establishing the policy, according to the bill. The secretaries of each military department are also tasked with submitting a plan detailing how the policy will be implemented to both the House and Senate armed service committees.
For the reserve component, the chief of the reserve command of the military department and the chief of the National Guard Bureau will consult with the military secretaries and assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs to develop the policy.
“To ensure our national security and military readiness is as strong as it can be, we cannot risk overlooking the computer programming, artificial intelligence and other advanced technological talent of our servicemembers—particularly those members of the Reserve Component who have tech and digital skills from their civilian careers,” Duckworth said in a statement.
By: Jaspreet Gill
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