National Security

5 Ways AI Is Enhancing National Security Efforts Worldwide

Published on
June 4, 2024

As global tensions rise and the nature of warfare evolves, military forces worldwide are turning to AI to maintain their strategic edge. Recent headlines have been dominated by the deployment of autonomous drones and advanced surveillance systems, with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) set to invest nearly £7 billion in these and other emerging technologies by 2025.

Yet, the true transformative potential of AI extends far beyond these applications, impacting national security from barracks to battlefield, ballot box to borders, and geopolitics to groceries.

(1) AI & Human Capital

Until such a time as we have the ability to take and hold ground without having to deploy men and women in the field, the ability to project military power will be reliant upon the quality and quantity of human capital that is deployable. Even extremely advanced automated systems will also require, at some level, a human in the loop, which ensures that efficient recruitment, training, and retention of suitable personnel should always remain a priority.  

Headlines most often feature AI in the context of new autonomous systems (Loyal Wingmen), algorithmic warfare (Project Maven), and ethical questions over its potential use in both target acquisition and autonomous weapons.

AI’s potential use by militaries looking to maintain their manpower and combat readiness in the face of demographic challenges, such as smaller youth cohorts and a worsening obesity epidemic, is comparatively underreported. While there are various initiatives to open up the military to a more diverse range of potential recruits, and the importance of newer skills such as gaming are being recognised, military service remains necessarily highly selective.  

A group of soldiers playing video gamesDescription automatically generated
Credit: Robert M. England, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

Despite various attempts to increase the recruiting pool of potential soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines – most controversially McNamara’s Project 100,000, which lowered physical and mental requirements during the Vietnam War – military service can only be competently performed by a subset of the population.

AI has the potential to revolutionize military recruitment and retention. Algorithms can be used to identify the best candidates based on cognitive, physical, and emotional traits allowing for a more targeted and efficient recruitment process. In addition to the attributes and traits traditionally checked and tested, AI can be used to quickly screen and comprehend public records and social media to detect traits and behaviors aligning with military values and requirements.

AI can aid retention by monitoring the morale of personnel – detecting potential issues like stress or burnout by analyzing biometric data and other indicators. This allows for proactive interventions to improve conditions, identify problems, and creation of more agile support systems which all combine to reduce attrition rates.  

AI driven career development tools can improve, and even personalize, training and career progression thereby increasing job satisfaction, retention, and unit strength.

In theatre, AI tracking of biometric monitoring can record vital signs and stress levels in real-time via use of wearable devices. These have utility from soldiers on the ground to pilots in the air.

This adoption of AI can potentially improve operating efficiency at all career stages and military environments “from barracks to battlespace”.  

(2) Immersive Tech & Training

The use of AI to create better training programmes - and individually tailored ones - at all career levels can be used to maintain and expand the skillsets of personnel and encourage greater agility within the armed forces.

A group of people in military uniforms holding gunsDescription automatically generated
Credit: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Christa Anderson

AI/ML, along with immersive technologies such as VR/AR/MR, has the potential to transform military training. These technologies allow the creation of more realistic and personalized training, where military personnel can practice and be tested on complex skills in a controlled and secure environment. For example, advanced VR simulations can replicate diverse weather and combat situations for pilots undergoing training.  

To take an example from my own time as an Army medic, immersive technology will allow for a level of realistic medical training that until recently required considerable investment of time and resources - casualties, makeup, exercise environments etc - to achieve any semblance of an operational environment.  

Augmented and mixed reality allows for on site training, real-time exchange, of relevant information such as maps, data on enemy forces and objectives, all transmitted directly to the visor of military personnel. This not only improves the efficiency of training, but also improves tactical awareness and decision making in combat.  

In operational conditions, these technologies are already being used. AI/ML systems are used to process and analyze enormous quantities of data in real-time, improving battlefield ISR and consequently both defensive and offensive postures of units in action.  

AR can be used to guide troops in unknown terrain, providing directions and alerting them to threats. These technologies have the potential to reduce uncertainty and improve operational efficiency, creating a more adaptable and capable military ready for the modern battlefield.

(3) ISR

AI/ML is revolutionizing military ISR capabilities. These technologies permit the rapid analysis of huge quantities of data recorded by ever more advanced sensors and ISR platforms, improving threat identification and strategic decision making. For example, the use of AI in satellite image processing can detect enemy troop movements with far greater rapidity than human analysts.  

Nevertheless, competitors have also developed strategies to counter these capabilities. A common tactic is to use more advanced camouflage techniques and decoys to confuse AI algorithms and reduce their effectiveness.  

In this respect, while AI is capable of processing data at greater speed and quantity than human analysts, it can be fooled by techniques successfully adopted at scale 80 years ago in preparation for D-Day.  

Enemies can use signals, move under cover, or create false information to saturate and fool ISR systems built on AI.

Furthermore, they can corrupt data and attack the communication systems which support this technology, interrupting the flow of critical information and creating surveillance gaps.  

These challenges highlight the necessity to develop improved and robust countermeasures and to continuously advance the capabilities of AI/ML to maintain an advantage in the ISR environment. This includes the improvement of algorithms to recognise deception patterns and the implementation of more secure and resilient systems against cyber attacks.

(4) Contested Logistics

Contested logistics have long been - except at the local operational level - of little concern to US and NATO forces. With the return of Great Power competition, there is again the prospect of creating and sustaining supply chains in contested environments, and the increasing importance of space and subsea domains, and the increasing prominence of AI/ML technologies, will be a significant factor in any future conflicts as their advanced data analysis can automate processes and improve efficiency and response times.  

The use of GNS/GPS has been crucial for military logistics, allowing for precise synchronization of units at specific locations for the movement of troops and supplies. However, the jamming of these systems by adversaries can significantly disrupt supply chains. AI/ML can be used to develop countermeasures that use algorithms to detect and mitigate interference with existing networks, and provide alternative navigation systems.  

In the subsea environment, AI/ML can improve the awareness through the use of drones and autonomous vehicles to collect data and monitor competitor activity. Russia and China have increased their presence in the Arctic, which is likely to be of increasing importance for global trade and resources, while investing in advanced AI technologies to improve their logistics. Increasing awareness of fragile supply chains and the scarcity within Europe of essential resources for high tech equipment has led to calls for urban mining as a partial solution.  

The strengthening of the defense industrial base is critical.Once the unchallenged global powerhouse, where the Allied victory in WW2 was forged, the US is facing the challenge of attempting to halt the further decline of its industrial base while facing a competitor in China which has overtaken it and is actively strengthening further with the application of AI in manufacturing and maintenance.  

AI/ML is essential for the creation of resilient and adaptable logistic strategies, and the improved capacity to respond to contested scenarios.

(5) Information Warfare

Information Warfare is being significantly impacted by AI. AI-based technologies improve predictive intelligence, allowing for the anticipation of enemy movements and the identification of threats before they materialize. Additionally, AI can be employed in psyops, using algorithms to create and disseminate efficient messaging - including deepfakes - across social media, influencing the public mood and weakening enemy morale.  

While “fog of war” has in some respects been lessened by the use of AI, capable of analyzing enormous quantities of data in real-time to provide greater clarity for entire operational environments, some claim that it has been replaced by a “fog of systems”. Increasingly, opposing forces are developing and seek to deploy “adversarial AI” to confuse and disorient AI systems, creating false positives and manipulating data to deceive predictive systems.  

For example, Russia and China use AI to manipulate public opinion via disinformation campaigns, while also developing techniques to counter the AI capabilities of their opponents, implementing deception techniques and sophisticated cyber attacks to compromise the integrity of Western AI systems.  

While AI/ML provides significant advantages in information warfare, it also gives rise to new challenges, and already geopolitical opponents are actively looking to counter these advanced technologies by use of deceptive tactics and sophisticated cyber attacks.


The rapid integration of AI into military structures and operations marks the beginning of a new revolution in military affairs, and its continued development is essential for all aspects of national security.  

The return of great power politics and the Red Queen problem ensures the continuation of the “AI arms race”, and increased engagement and investment by Western governments and militaries in AI is essential to all aspects of national security.  

AI will be utilized in the selection and training of troops, their deployment and situational awareness in the field, and their sustainment in theater and welfare support throughout service and afterwards. AI will become an essential tool for the planning and maintenance of national supply chains and industrial bases.


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Written by
Calum Bartlett
Calum Bartlett has extensive experience across the defence, healthcare and media industries. A former BBC Researcher, Calum joined the British Army as a combat medic and deployed to Germany and Afghanistan. He returned to research work with the BBC and other international media companies before joining RAIN Defense+AI as RAINCLOUD Team Leader concentrating on defense technology and the applications of AI, and building RAINCLOUD - an exclusive global business and knowledge hub designed specifically for the Defense + AI ecosystem. It brings together a diverse and worldwide community of stakeholders, ranging from venture capital funds to startups, defense primes and manufacturers, military and intelligence personnel, research groups, scientists, and academics.
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