PARIS — The French DRM military intelligence agency is actively pursuing “state of the art” technology, such as algorithms that use artificial intelligence to sift through vast amounts of raw data, to support armed forces in the field, according to the agency’s chief.

AI would help analysts assess threats, but “this does not replace analysts,” Air Force Gen. Jean-François Ferlet noted.

Startup firms call and pitch AI-based, off-the-shelf products with “not crazy” prices, he said.

The challenge is to assess, acquire and integrate those offerings into existing systems.

Beyond gathering imagery, electronic and other intelligence through equipment including satellites and drones, the agency seeks academic studies “to better understand” the sociological and cultural background to the fighters, he said. The aim is to better anticipate the threat.

DRM officers are “mentoring” counterparts on a bilateral basis in the G5 Sahel force in Africa, he said. Later, that cooperation could be on a joint footing with the G5 force comprising Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

An agreement on “permanent border control” among all the G5 nations would be helpful, he said.

The DRM seeks to deliver an intelligence product to support operations in the Barkhane sub-Saharan mission, the Central African Republic, Libya, Iraq and Syria, Cyril added.

As Islamic State militants flee Iraq and Syria, the challenge is to track their movements to other countries, he noted.

The DRM draws on the Pleiades and Helios spy satellites and Reaper drones for gathering military data.

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