The Office of the Secretary of Defense Chief Digital and AI Office (CDAO), Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Army Pacific Command and the U.S. Air Force will host a multi-classification hackathon – BRAVO 11 – open to all U.S. citizens, Feb. 5 – 9, 2024. Registration is open, details here.
The BRAVO 11 Bits2Effects hackathon will occur at one of the DOD AI Battle Labs on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Any American citizen is eligible to apply, regardless of whether they currently work for the federal government or possess a security clearance. Applications – available online here – will be accepted on a rolling first-come-first-serve basis with the first group of acceptances taking place in mid-December. Due to past events exceeding 400 participants, BRAVO has secured an over-flow room, although organizers still expect demand to exceed supply.
Starting in 2021, the U.S. Air Force began organizing multi-service prototyping events, known as BRAVO hackathons, to expedite learning and capability development from classified and protected operational data. This year’s BRAVO 11 Bits2Effects, the fourth BRAVO hackathon and first-held inside a combatant command, is seeking to produce solutions to combatant command challenges utilizing Indo-Pacific operational theater data. BRAVO utilizes a permissive software development environment that permits the co-mingling of classified and protected data with untrusted open-source and commercial software otherwise not approved for production systems within minutes.
Prior hackathons have produced prototypes influencing major Defense Department programs in areas including large language models, space launch, flight telemetry and biometrics, unmanned systems, personnel recovery, security classification, sensing and targeting, and battle damage assessment among others.
Applicants looking to participate may do so in one of three roles:
- The “Hacker” role is open to all applicants and expects project builders with varying skill sets and experience, including operational and warfighter expertise, software development, data science, machine learning, design and user interface/user design, data visualization, and product management. Hackers may optionally supply a use case during the application process.
- The “Hacker Subject Matter Expert” (HackerSME) role is open to government and government contractors who lead one or more teams with specific expertise about a use case or dataset, or supplies and administers infrastructure utilized at the hackathon. HackerSMEs will be required to supply a use case during the application process.
- The “Supporter” role, open to government and government contractors, provides administrative support to the event by running security, facilitating supplies delivery, organizing social events, and facilitating the delivery of science fair materials and attendee check-in.
Any federal government organization (contractor or government) is eligible to submit a use case, dataset, infrastructure, or potential collaboration with the hackathon by submitting a Hacker/HackerSME application to the event. Further clarification can be obtained via email@example.com. U.S. citizens and industry not leveraging an existing DoD contract for their proposed collaboration are encouraged to contact the Defense Innovation Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Event Dates: February 5-9, 2024
Location: Oahu, HI
Go to the Secure BRAVO 11 registration site, where you can apply to participate, through this link.
BRAVO Mission Statement
The BRAVO Mission Statement consists of four elements:
Prototype: effects chain integration initiatives with existent recorded and live data on military systems at the classification of the problem and its associated solution.
Build collaboration capability: through a Whole-of-Nation approach. BRAVO hackathons employ pipelines for American and coalition partner federal employees, the defense industrial base, commercial companies and citizens to collaborate at various classifications and levels of clearance to accomplish core missions of the Department of Defense.
Spark innovation by granting psychological safety to all hackers to propose and work on any project so long as it does not violate BRAVO rules or US federal or state laws.
Enable: promising disruptive military concepts and disagreeable givers, regardless of rank or physical appearance. Hackers achieve their mission when they demonstrate current DoD processes, policies, and approaches are flawed or broken by prototyping better approaches.
“These multi-classification labs will collect operational theater data — including logistics, cyber and telemetry — and share it with the DoD enterprise, providing central hubs for digital integration among federal entities, industry, coalition partners and American citizenry.”
In September of this year, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced “two BRAVO AI Battle Labs will be established at U.S. European Command and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, in collaboration with the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office’s Algorithmic Warfare Directorate and the Defense Innovation Unit, to expedite learning from Department of Defense (DOD) operational theater data. Over the next year, the labs will organize multiple U.S. federal government-wide BRAVO Hackathons, including some with coalition partners. The BRAVO Hackathon series will continue organizing one-week events to integrate data at any classification within a software development environment that permits untrusted licensed open-source and commercial software and data otherwise not approved for production systems.
The labs will continue the series’ bottom-up approach to problem solving, where military members, civilians and federal contractors propose projects and form self-organizing teams that develop prototypes inside combatant commands. The labs seek to interconnect Combatant Command, enterprise DOD, and coalition partner capabilities from data ingestion and system integration to approved employment. The Air Force’s system-of-systems technology integration toolchain for heterogeneous electronic systems (STITCHES) will integrate various Combatant Command and service level systems directly to the labs.
Named from Billy Mitchell’s controversial 1920s Project B battleship bombing trials that creatively disproved the top funding priority of the Secretary of War by demonstrating bombers sink battleships, BRAVO seeks to empower government, academia, industry, citizens and foreign partners to rapidly develop capabilities from existing operational data while encouraging psychological safety and rank-agnostic innovation.
Additional OODA Loop Resources
Networked Extremism: The digital era enables extremists worldwide to collaborate, share strategies, and self-radicalize. Meanwhile, advanced technologies empower criminals, making corruption and crime interwoven challenges for global societies. See: Converging Insurgency, Crime and Corruption
AI Discipline Interdependence: There are concerns about uncontrolled AI growth, with many experts calling for robust AI governance. Both positive and negative impacts of AI need assessment. See: Using AI for Competitive Advantage in Business.
Benefits of Automation and New Technology: Automation, AI, robotics, and Robotic Process Automation are improving business efficiency. New sensors, especially quantum ones, are revolutionizing sectors like healthcare and national security. Advanced WiFi, cellular, and space-based communication technologies are enhancing distributed work capabilities. See: Advanced Automation and New Technologies
Emerging NLP Approaches: While Big Data remains vital, there’s a growing need for efficient small data analysis, especially with potential chip shortages. Cost reductions in training AI models offer promising prospects for business disruptions. Breakthroughs in unsupervised learning could be especially transformative. See: What Leaders Should Know About NLP
Computer Chip Supply Chain Vulnerabilities: Chip shortages have already disrupted various industries. The geopolitical aspect of the chip supply chain necessitates comprehensive strategic planning and risk mitigation. See: Chip Stratigame
Geopolitical-Cyber Risk Nexus: The interconnectivity brought by the Internet has made regional issues affect global cyberspace. Now, every significant event has cyber implications, making it imperative for leaders to recognize and act upon the symbiosis between geopolitical and cyber risks. See The Cyber Threat
Challenges in Cyber “Net Assessment”: While leaders have long tried to gauge both cyber risk and security, actionable metrics remain elusive. Current metrics mainly determine if a system can be compromised, without guaranteeing its invulnerability. It’s imperative not just to develop action plans against risks but to contextualize the state of cybersecurity concerning cyber threats. Despite its importance, achieving a reliable net assessment is increasingly challenging due to the pervasive nature of modern technology. See: Cyber Threat
Proactive Mitigation of Cyber Threats: The relentless nature of cyber adversaries, whether they are criminals or nation-states, necessitates proactive measures. It’s crucial to remember that cybersecurity isn’t solely the responsibility of the IT department or the CISO – it’s a collective effort that involves the entire leadership. Relying solely on governmental actions isn’t advised given its inconsistent approach towards aiding industries in risk reduction. See: Cyber Defenses
The Necessity of Continuous Vigilance in Cybersecurity: The consistent warnings from the FBI and CISA concerning cybersecurity signal potential large-scale threats. Cybersecurity demands 24/7 attention, even on holidays. Ensuring team endurance and preventing burnout by allocating rest periods are imperative. See: Continuous Vigilance