In an era in which the Department of Defense is criticized for delivering solutions too slow, one effort on the cutting edge of technology is proving the opposite.

Aside from just being a pathfinder project to solve a critical need of more quickly processing intelligence using machine learning, Project Maven is “proving out how we go fast and how we deliver to the field,” Kari Bingen, deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence, said Sept. 5 at the Intelligence and National Security Summit hosted by INSA and AFCEA.

“We’re not here talking about come see me in five years and we’re finally deliver something to the user downrange,” Bingen said when asked what excites her about the effort. “This is six months from authority to proceed to delivering a capability in theater.”

Touting the same glee in Maven’s rapidity, Bingen’s boss Joseph Kernan explained earlier this year how Maven was under contract within two months and it actually delivered capability within six months.

Bingen said this is the type of speed in acquisition DoD needs in today’s era of so-called great power competition, when the department is pitted against sophisticated nation-states with significant resources that are outpacing the United States in some areas on the battlefield.

“We have to be able to get things out to the field faster. Give me the 80 percent solution and we’ll build from there,” she said.

The larger Maven effort of applying algorithms to solve complex problems could be employed elsewhere in DoD beyond analyzing images and videos collected for intelligence purposes, Bingen added.

One area she mentioned was developing algorithms to determine risks in humans. There’s a lot of data sources available, she said, and leveraging automation tools and algorithms could enable DoD to identify insider threats.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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