With New Hires, Pentagon’s AI Office Reaches Full Operating Capability

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The Defense Department announced several new appointments this week.

Stood up earlier this year, the Defense Department’s Office of the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer, or CDAO, reached full operating capability Wednesday with the appointment of two new personnel.

Joe Larson will serve as deputy Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office, Algorithmic Warfare and will serve as the chief of CDAO’s Responsible Artificial Intelligence division. Larson previously led algorithmic warfare efforts under the Pentagon’s Project Maven. In addition, Diane Staheli, who worked on AI ethics and data analytics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, has been tapped to lead CDAO’s Responsible Artificial Intelligence division. 

The appointments, coupled with several other recent hires, round out a major restructure of the Pentagon’s AI and data-focused offices. CDOA has new responsibility for leading the Defense Department’s strategy development and policies regarding data, analytics and AI, breaking down barriers to AI adoption across the department and enabling a next-generation digital infrastructure. The office will scale select AI-enabled solutions and provide digital capabilities for rapid response to crises.

“Following a multi-step process from (initial operating capability) to (full operating capability), the CDAO has fully merged and integrated the former component organizations of Advana, Chief Data Officer, Defense Digital Service and Joint Artificial Intelligence Center,” a Defense Department spokesperson said in an email. “Legacy component names will no longer be recognized or used unless attributed to a product or capability specific to the Department.”

CDAO is targeting Oct. 1 for “full administrative alignment of personnel and resources,” the spokesperson added. The office leadership, as it stands, includes:

  • CDAO – Dr. Craig Martell
  • Deputy CDAO – Margaret Palmieri
  • DCDAO for Acquisition – Sharothi Pikar
  • DCDAO for Policy, Strategy & Governance – Dr. Clark Cully
  • DCDAO for Enterprise Platforms and Business Optimization – Greg Little
  • DCDAO for Algorithmic Warfare – Joe Larson
  • DCDAO for Digital Services – Katie (Olson) Savage
  • Chief Operating Officer – Dan Folliard
  • Chief Technology Officer – Dr. Bill Streilein
  • Chief of AI Assurance – Dr. Jane Pinelis

“I am so proud of what the CDAO team has accomplished in less than 6 months since (initial operating capability),” Deputy CDAO Margaret Palmieri said in a statement.