The command is responsible for defending the continental United States and territories and provides military aid to non-military agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The command has deployed Army and Navy medical personnel to New York, sent Navy hospital ships to New York City and Los Angeles, and helped set up field hospitals in areas where local health care facilities were overwhelmed with patients.
Northern Command has said it has been working with several top U.S. technology companies — including Apple, Microsoft, mapping software maker Esri and Monkton, a company that helps developers build secure apps for classified purposes — to help FEMA and other agencies during the pandemic.
Although the Pentagon has faced skepticism from some tech companies in its pursuit of artificial intelligence technologies, and outright refusal by Google to continue collaborating on a Pentagon project to identify and label objects in drone videos, the pandemic appears to have changed the calculation, Shanahan said.
As soon as the Pentagon launched Project Salus to build predictive models of shortages during the pandemic, there has been “an outpouring of support from private companies,” as well as major universities, Shanahan said. The top tech companies in the country and their teams of artificial intelligence and machine learning specialists have shown a “strong desire” to work with the Defense Department, he said.