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AAL's Vision for the Future of Defense Innovation


COL Jay Wisham
AAL, Director

COL Jay Wisham is director of the Army Applications Laboratory in Austin, TX – the only Army unit with the sole mission to conduct innovation activities for the service. Prior to joining AAL, he was a Senior Army Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin studying and developing for the Army an ecosystem around the development and employment of cutting-edge, emergent technology and better partnering with private industry. 

Jay previously served as the lead for Artificial Intelligence Applications in Army Futures Command’s (AFC) Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, and as program director for Project Convergence – the Army’s largest effort to bring AI & data-enabled systems to reality for the tactical edge. He has also led several AFC efforts in outreach to critical research universities and leading innovators in high-tech industry sectors including AI, human-machine interface, data-enabled technology, robotics and others. Jay’s career has included several opportunities to help design or bring emergent technology to Soldiers on behalf of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and private industry. 

COL Wisham has multiple combat deployments and has served in a variety of command and staff positions, with a specialty in reconnaissance and surveillance. Before assignment to AFC, Jay served as the commander of 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, a light reconnaissance squadron in 3rdInfantry Division where he deployed the first advise and assist mission to support Ukraine’s ability to defend itself during that country’s ongoing conflict with Russia. 

Jay is married to Heather Wisham. They have a 12-year-old son, Parker, and live in Austin, TX.

In 2018, the US Army launched the Army Applications Laboratory (AAL) as an innovation unit embedded within Army Futures Command. Its goal: Foster opportunities to work with untapped companies that could bring dual-use technology and novel ideas to Army modernization. Join this session to hear AAL's new director, COL Jay Wisham, discuss his observations of the defense innovation space, share what the team has achieved to date, and explain the organization's vision for the future as it works to make the Army a better business partner for small- and mid-sized companies.