Executive Certificate Course: Leading AI in National Security

A Practical Course for Government and Industry Leaders

Program dates: Fall 2023

Interested in this program? Contact Sisi Jou at execed@gmu.edu.

Certificate and Credits: Participants who successfully finish the course will receive a Schar School Executive Certificate of completion, earn 3 CEUs (Continuing Education Units), and receive a certificate of completion for The aiLeaders Course. Please email ExecEd@gmu.edu for the CEUs application. 

Photo of a person working on a computer with multiple monitors

Course Summary

The National Security Commission on AI (NSCAI), co-chaired by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, defines the imperative for AI development and deployment for U.S. and allied national security. In terms of the challenges facing national security leaders, the Commission notes: “The human talent deficit is the government’s most conspicuous AI deficit and the single greatest inhibitor to buying, building, and fielding AI-enabled technologies for national security purposes.” This course seeks to solve perhaps the most important part of the talent deficit – sufficient numbers of qualified leaders across the national security enterprise to lead AI strategy and programs.

Who will benefit from this course?

  • senior leaders and their staffs in departments and agencies who need to understand AI in context of major programs in order to make investment and other strategic decisions;.
  • AI leaders who must integrate AI into priority components of major programs and deliver results through AI projects;
  • mission operators and support staff who need more than awareness of AI in order to identify opportunities and participate in prioritizing and evaluating AI impact; and
  • industry counterparts to the above government roles – business leaders; AI solutions and services leaders; AI practitioners who need to broaden and strengthen their leadership competencies.

How will you benefit from this course?

Think & Communicate for Impact
You will learn an approach for thinking and communicating about AI that will increase mission relevance and impact in your organization.

Integrate AI into Programs
You will learn the axioms and leader practices for integrating AI into major programs, including prioritizing, funding, making the big tech decisions.

Deliver Results Through Projects
You will learn the axioms and leader practices for delivering results through AI projects, including being able to lead the core AI discipline: data science.

Develop Practitioners, Teams, and Leaders
You will learn how to organize and lead AI practitioners and teams, including the development and deployment of other leaders.

Ask Better Questions
You will learn the pinnacle of leadership - asking better questions - in a unique framework applied to AI work and practitioners.

Put Learning into Practice
The course will guide you in analyzing your organization's use of AI, then synthesizing and applying your own strategy for AI programs, projects, people, and technology.

Relevant to Your Mission / Business
You will learn the axioms and practices for leading AI in the context of national security missions and problems.

Flexible and Scalable
You can learn at times and places that work for your schedule. And the platform and cost enable all leaders in your organization to learn and grow together.

Certification of Learning
You will earn xx Continuing Education Units and receive a certificate enabling you to communicate your accomplishment and learning to professional networks.

How is the course content delivered?

The course is a hybrid of online learning, which you can complete at times and places that work best for your schedule, and three in-person events at Mason’s Arlington Campus at Mason Square, Van Metre Hall.

On-line course material that students complete individually at their own pace via the virtual learning platform

What content is delivered in the course?

Wednesday, May 3rd, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm  Program Kick-off - Arlington Campus

  • Practical introduction to the foundational elements of AI solutions and the role of AI in national security missions
  • Policy, fiscal, and operational drivers of the AI imperative in national security
  • Formation of participants into teams and preparation for the Touchstone Project

Thursday, May 4th – Tuesday, May 9th  Thinking and Communicating about AI -  Virtual

  • Identifying the derailers of purposeful conversations about AI
  • Four axioms and examples for mission-focused thinking and communicating about AI

Wednesday, May 10th, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm  AI Regulation and Risk - Arlington Campus

  • Understanding the regulatory statutes and policies affecting AI solutions
  • Isolating and mitigating risks in planning, developing, deploying, and operating national security AI solutions

Thursday, May 11th  – Tuesday, June 6th : AI Programs and Projects - Virtual  

  • Axioms and leader practices for integrating AI into major programs
  • Leading the programming and budgeting process necessary for multi-year solutions
  • Axioms and leader practices for delivering quality AI projects, including data science for leaders
  • Axioms and leader practices for leading data scientists and the AI solutions team

Wednesday, June 7th, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm: Leading AI Innovation and Technology; Touchstone Project Delivery – Arlington Campus

  • Axioms and leader practices for making AI technology decisions
  • Case studies in AI innovation
  • Team presentations of the Touchstone Projects

The course has 30 total contact hours: 16hr in person; 14hr via the virtual learning platform.

About the instructors

Chris Whitlock
Chris Whitlock

Chris Whitlock is the co-founder of aiLeaders LLC, a firm dedicated to equipping national security leaders to win the global AI competition. He spent the majority of his 40-year career providing advanced analytics, AI, and management consulting services primarily to national security clients in the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and Department of State. Chris helped pioneer the rapid prototyping and integration of advanced algorithms with software applications starting in the early 1990s. In the past 10 years, Chris’ work has emphasized machine learning and artificial intelligence applications. He led a large market offering in Deloitte Consulting focused on Mission Analytics and AI in addition to leading large programs for cabinet-level departments and agencies.

Chris co-founded an analytics company, Edge Consulting, personally leading the development of algorithmic approaches to quantify the value of intelligence. After an acquisition by IBM, he served as a partner in IBM. Chris also was a leader in Booz Allen Hamilton, emphasizing analytics and strategic change. Prior to consulting, Chris served as a military analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency and as an Army infantry officer.

Frank Strickland
Frank Strickland

Frank Strickland is the co-founder of aiLeaders LLC, a firm dedicated to equipping national security leaders to win the global AI competition. During 22 years of government service, Frank helped lead innovations including evaluating and transitioning to production the nation’s first long-endurance unmanned aerial system, delivering intelligence to the tactical edge using narrow- and wide-band technologies, and agile prototyping of big data analytics. The Director of Central Intelligence awarded Frank the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement in recognition of these accomplishments. Frank was also the National Reconnaissance Office’s (NRO) Legislative Director and a member of CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, where he received the NRO’s Medals of Distinguished and Superior Service.

In the private sector, Frank co-founded Edge Consulting and helped lead Edge’s growth resulting in an acquisition by IBM. As a partner in IBM and subsequently Deloitte, Frank led large practices providing AI and analytics solutions and services to national security clients, including innovations in massive-scale property graphs and agent-based simulation. Frank began his career as a US Marine.


Jean-Pierre Auffret
Jean-Pierre Auffret

Dr. J.P. Auffret is the director of the Center for Assurance Research and Engineering (CARE) in the College of Engineering and Computing and the director of the Research Partnerships in the School of Business at George Mason University.

He was previously director of the business school’s executive degree programs, including the MS in Technology Management; the MS in Management of Secure Information Systems, and the Executive MBA.  Dr. Auffret is also co-founder and vice president of the International Academy of CIO, an NGO headquartered in Tokyo, Japan with the objectives of fostering the development of CIO and IT executive leadership education and institutions.

Auffret’s work and research span a range of applied technology fields including CIO and ICT governance; cybersecurity leadership, and innovation and application of emerging technologies and with APEC, NSF, U.S. Department of State, World Bank, ITU and IBM. His experience includes executive positions with MCI and its joint venture with British Telecom, Concert and academic positions with George Mason, Duke University’s Center for International Development and as physicist-in-residence at American University.   Auffret earned a B.S. from Duke University where he was an A.B. Duke Scholar, M.B.A. from the University of Virginia and Ph.D. in Physics from American University.