August’s AUSA Corner

1. Pay Raise Equity

The fiscal 2022 defense budget asks Congress to approve 2.7% pay increases for both uniformed service members and federal civilians, breaking a long practice in which civilians would receive a pay raise linked to inflation and service members would receive raises that keep pace with private sector wage increases. If approved by Congress, the across-the-board pay hikes could take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

2. Buffalo Honors

Efforts are underway in Buffalo, New York, to rename the Central Park Post Office for Indiana Hunt-Martin, an Army veteran who served in World War II as part of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the first all-Black unit of the Women’s Army Corps.

Hunt-Martin, who died Sept. 21 at the age of 98, used the Central Park Post Office, which was close to her home. A bill to rename the post office is pending in the House of Representatives and endorsed by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who said it would honor her and other Black women who have served and continue to serve in the U.S. military.

3. AI Partnership

A new partnership between the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the University of Maryland focuses on autonomous systems and artificial intelligence. It seeks devices and technology that can work alone or teamed with other devices or human operators in different environments.

The lead researcher, Derek Paley of the Maryland Robotics Center, said the goal is “to migrate the dangerous, dirty and dull work to the autonomous platform,” but there will always be a human operator involved at some level.

4. AI Threat

The bipartisan National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence warns the U.S. has a narrow window for success. “For the first time since World War II, America’s technological predominance—the backbone of its economic and military power—is under threat,” says its final report. “China possesses the might, talent, and ambition to surpass the United States as the world’s leader in AI in the next decade if current trends do not change.”

The commission recommends creating a dedicated Digital Corps, modeled after the Army Medical Corps, with special policies for recruiting, pay and promotion that could attract and keep experts. It might also have part-time workers.

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