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Tip of the Spear: Can Special Forces Lead the Way for Military Applications of AI?


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As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to evolve with ever-increasing speed, especially in the commercial sector, the military community runs the risk of being left behind. This is especially problematic for Special Operations Forces (SOF) worldwide, as they are often the first to encounter new methods and technology employed by irregular adversaries. By studying contemporary research and interviewing experts within the field of AI, the authors employ a mixed-methods approach to explore what factors the SOF community must consider when acquiring and evaluating new AI capabilities. Furthermore, the authors attempt to clarify what qualifies as AI and what factors affect its adoption and user acceptance. The results of this study suggest that to avoid or minimize the traps associated with AI, the military must partner with other organizations, focusing on the right products and managing the education and expectations of the users within their organization. Rather than recommend specific products or solutions, this capstone report proposes a tentative model focused on risk mitigation and fast procurement chains to allow SOF to maintain its edge on the current battlefield.



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