By implementing data-driven management strategies made possible by AI, Special Operations Forces (SOF) can act as a trailblazing pathfinder and set the bar for the rest of the Defense Department, which is currently hampered by out-of-date management systems.
The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) tools by the Defense Department (DoD) is not just a technological or evangelism problem but a management problem. The DoD’s management system, rooted in the 1950s and 1960s, hinders AI adoption. The Special Operations Forces (SOF), as a pioneering organization within the DoD, can serve as a pathfinder for the necessary management philosophy enabled by data, analytics, and AI. Despite some progress in incorporating data, analytics, and AI into the DoD, a piecemeal approach is insufficient to meet the urgent need for AI integration. SOF, with its global operations and diverse workforce, is an ideal testbed for implementing data-driven management strategies. By leveraging successful digital transformation approaches and combining them with their expertise in counterterrorism operations, SOF can set a gold standard for the rest of the DoD to follow. Modernizing management in three key areas—planning, data, and governance—is essential for achieving a data-driven organization that can effectively use AI for business operations and campaigning. If successful, this transformation in SOF can provide a blueprint for the entire Defense Department.