Nicolas Chaillan, a digital eye on our Defense

The resignation last September of Nicolas Chaillan from his Chief Software Officer position by the US Air Force and Space Force was maybe not enough commented in Europe or France. First we could have shown some surprise to see that an American citizen with French origin could get such a strategic position. But more seriously we should have paid attention to what he had to say and why he left. And by the way please indeed listen to him. (you need to download the Epoch Times app first in order to listen to the full interview). Then what ? Nicolas Chaillan says that if the Dept of Defense does not react very quickly China will have in max. 10 years a clear lead in Artificial Intelligence and then the game will be over for America.

He says that China has already a competitive advantage only by the number of people that it has. AI is data driven, the more people the more data, the more data the bigger the AI development. A growth which feeds on itself.

A second competitive advantage lies in the compulsory cooperation existing between the Chinese big Tech and the Chinese state, the equivalent is far from being true in the US and creates a real problem. 

More frightening the hacking attack made against Colonial Pipeline in May of this year showed the terrible weakness of the US in the context of a relatively soft cyber attack. Let us now imagine a nightmare, China willing to paralyze the US before attacking Taiwan… Well Colonial Pipeline showed that this seems quite easy to be done without using any traditional military weapon system.

The DoD is a dinosaur wasting its resources says Nicolas Chaillan. Even if the US is spending alone more than the rest of the world on defense it does not help so much if the efficiency of the expenses is so poor. Chaillan say the return on investment would be approx 10 %. He compares with SpaceX which would re-use 84 % of any of its code, the DoD would only re-use 4 % of its own coding.

The project organization and methodology within the DoD would be also fully outdated, sucking big resource into projects whose results and impacts are far from being obvious or controlled, instead of following modern project management (such as the Agile methodology) which would allow to constantly challenge, correct and adjust any development made and at the end would allow to use far less means and achieve much more impressive results, as the best Tech do.

Chaillan regrets also the over classification of so called confidential information which most of the time is freely available on the net but that the DoD refuses to exchange with possible partners, creating frustration and inefficiency.

Last and not least he underlines the weaknesses of current supply chains where for instance some weapon systems depend from a chips industry which is not controlled by US actors.

And apparently nobody cares. 

As a French native Nicolas Chaillan may have read the book written by Marc Bloch in 1940 The strange Defeat and which explains why France lost so brutally in 1940. Marc Bloch showed that the world belongs to those loving the new and able to surf on innovation and who like to play with new ideas. France in the 20s and 30s definitely did not encompass innovation and had to pay a tough price for this failure. Nicolas Chaillan is loudly remembering us this terrible lesson. We should warmly thank him for that.

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