The U.S. Department of Defense’s artificial intelligence czar will leave the high-profile post next month.

Chief Digital and AI Officer Craig Martell is exiting after two years in the job, a department spokesperson confirmed to C4ISRNET. DefenseScoop first reported the move March 14.

No reason was given for the unexpected departure.

Martell, who previously worked on machine learning at Lyft and served as an associate chairman of computer science at the Naval Postgraduate School, will be replaced by Radha Plumb, the current deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. The transition is expected to take place April 8.

Martell was the Defense Department’s first CDAO, hired months after Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks announced the establishment of the office. Initially seen as an overseer and expediter of all things data and software, the CDAO has since evolved into a key player in the realization of Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or CJADC2.

Hicks last month announced a basic version of CJADC2 had been reached, but declined to say how and where it was being used.

Martell in a statement said he was brought onboard to jumpstart the CDAO, including “developing a strategy for the organization and the DOD as a whole, developing the right roadmaps to deliver on that strategy, and creating the right organizational structure to support those roadmaps.”

That has since been achieved, according to Martell. He gave no indication of what his plans are.

“We brought together four distinct organizations into one, and we accomplished so much in such a short time,” he said.

The CDAO subsumed what were the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the Defense Digital Service, the Advana data-and-systems platform and the chief data officer position.

Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.

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