Washington, D.C. –  Today, Congressman Filemon Vela (TX-34), a member of the House Armed Services Committee announced the introduction of H.R. 4985, the Digital Defense Leadership Act. The legislation would enact recommendations made by the congressionally-authorized National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI). 

On March 1, 2021, NSCAI submitted its final report to Congress and the President. In their report, the Commissioners stressed the importance of rapidly increasing efforts to understand and prepare for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) enabled opportunities and threats. These powerful technologies can streamline decision making, reduce waste, and analyze vast amounts of data to provide actionable insights that manned systems cannot. AI and ML technologies will revolutionize national security across all domains, and Congress should take the necessary steps to maintain U.S. leadership in this area.

“I am proud to introduce this critical piece of legislation that will keep the United States at the cutting edge of advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning,” said Congressman Filemon Vela. “Foreign governments are rapidly adopting these powerful technologies and the United States must build on existing federal initiatives to remain competitive and the world leader in these innovative fields. This legislation speeds the adoption of emerging AI technologies by our military and national security agencies, and strengthens our national strategy for operating in the information domain.”

The Digital Defense Leadership Act:


  • Requires the President to submit a national strategy for the global information domain that addresses adversary uses of AI/ML in information operations; and identify priorities for the U.S. to compete in the global information domain
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to review defense applications of AI/ML, identify skill gaps within the Department of Defense (DoD) in related fields, and create recruiting goals to fill such gaps
  • Increases cooperation between DoD and the Intelligence Community on issues related to emerging technologies
  • Develops a plan to make technical and procedural upgrades to speed the adoption of AI-powered capabilities at DoD
  • Expands training requirements for DoD military and professional staff to include curriculum on AI and data informed decision making
  • Establishes dedicated career fields related to AI, software development, data science in the Armed forces to improve opportunities for, and retention of, qualified individuals
  • Establishes digital recruiting offices for DoD and the Intelligence Community to identify digital skill gaps and lead recruitment of individuals with related skills for their respective agencies
  • Establishes a streamlined acquisition process for software at DoD
  • Expands authorities for the Secretary of Defense to enter cooperative research agreements with businesses and academic institutions in allied nations
  • Establishes dedicated AI prototyping funds for DoD and the Intelligence Community
  • Calls on DoD and the Intelligence Community to develop a plan to apply AI capabilities to improve intelligence operations, and identify obstacles to implementing that plan


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