Generative AI for Top Secret Missions? Microsoft Deploys GPT-4 for Classified Operations


Welcome to this week’s Intelligence Brief… on Tuesday, it was announced that Microsoft is deploying its GPT-4 large language model for use with its cloud services for classified work. In our analysis, we’ll be examining 1) the tech giant’s recent announcement, 2) a quick look at the history of Microsoft’s Azure Government Top Secret, and 3) the steps forward in the U.S. government’s implementation of GPT-4 for work in classified operations.

Quote of the Week

“We are going to have GPT-4 in an isolated environment for the first time.”

– William Chappell, Microsoft CTO for Strategic Missions and Technologies

Latest News: Recently at The Debrief, an international team of scientists say they’ve solved the centuries-old mystery of why ultra-thin sheets of gold glow. Meanwhile, scientists keep finding giant sinkholes in China where ancient forests and “lost” DNA are being discovered. You can find all of our recent stories at the end of this week’s newsletter. 

Podcasts: In podcasts this week, on The Debrief Weekly Report Kenna and Stephanie look at a Neanderthal puzzle of the extraordinary kind, mysterious Roman artifacts, and more. Meanwhile, on The Micah Hanks Program, we examine recent UAP-related developments, as well as UFO folklore involving claims of “UFO silencers” from over the decades. You can subscribe to all The Debrief’s podcasts on our Podcasts Page.

Video News: On the latest episode of Rebelliously Curious, Chrissy Newton is joined by Chip Fletcher, PhD, and Phoebe Barnard, PhD, to discuss why we need to act now on global cultural change to save the planet. You can check out this interview and other great content from The Debrief on our official YouTube Channel.

With all that behind us, it’s now time to shift our attention over to the recent revelations by Microsoft this week, which represent the first time that an AI language model like GPT-4 has been instituted in an isolated environment… and the customer happens to be the U.S. Department of Defense.

Microsoft Generative AI to Aid with Classified Workloads

This week, Microsoft announced that it has officially instituted the GPT-4 large language model within an isolated Azure Government Top Secret cloud.

The announcement, made on Tuesday at the AI Expo for National Competitiveness, hosted by the Special Competitive Studies Project, revealed that an “air-gapped”, isolated instance of GPT-4 would be available for use by the Department of Defense in its cloud system.

Appearing at the event, William Chappell, Microsoft’s Chief Technology Officer for Strategic Missions and Technologies, said that having GPT-4 in an isolated and air-gapped environment will provide the existing capabilities available in unclassified environments in top-secret environments for the first time.

Background on Azure Government Top Secret

In collaboration with the U.S. Government, Microsoft developed Azure Government Top Secret and expanded services in Azure Government Secret to support a range of national security initiatives. Launched in 2021 for general use in U.S. national security missions, the software giant’s offerings aimed to empower the Intelligence Community (IC), Department of Defense (DoD), and Federal Civilian agencies to securely innovate, whether on-premises, in the cloud, or at the tactical edge.

Microsoft Azure GPT-4
Credit: Microsoft/Azure

Driving Azure Government Top Secret had been the multitude of challenges faced by mission leaders across various U.S. government environments, ranging from the necessity of working with increasingly large amounts of data to efforts toward modernizing legacy infrastructure. Additionally, Microsoft’s services were developed with a focus on safeguarding assets and people against the rapidly evolving global threat landscape, one that is increasingly becoming susceptible to advanced cyberattacks.

To address this range of demands, Microsoft offers a range of data classification options with its services, including Azure, Azure Government, Azure Government Secret, and Azure Government Top Secret, in order to provide flexibility and scalability for secure data processing. When it launched in 2021, Azure Government Top Secret featured over 60 services and Authorization to Operate (ATO) under Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 503, along with accreditation in accordance with ICD 705 standards, ensuring top-level security for classified workloads.

GPT-4 in the Classified World 

While Microsoft aims to empower government partners with agile, secure solutions that ensure the seamless transition from on-premises to the cloud that ensure ideal performance for mission-critical workloads, leveraging the abilities of generative AI like OpenAI’s GPT-4 while ensuring the protection of classified information is a primary objective for the Pentagon’s future operations.


According to Chappell, Microsoft’s deployment of GPT-4 capabilities with the Azure OpenAI Service within Azure Government Top Secret is a step toward making that a reality. Currently, Microsoft says it plans to work with the U.S. government in advance of full deployment as part of the work required for it to be accredited for tasks in the classified world.

Ultimately, the new technologies Microsoft provides will allow the DoD to optimize the use of GPT-4 for specific tasks and missions, in addition to adding data and constructing workflows specific to those operations’ demands, improving its capabilities overall through the use of AI, while also ensuring the security of classified missions.

That concludes this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief. You can read past editions of The Intelligence Brief at our website, or if you found this installment online, don’t forget to subscribe and get future email editions from us here. Also, if you have a tip or other information you’d like to send along directly to me, you can email me at micah [@] thedebrief [dot] org, or Tweet at me @MicahHanks.

Here are the top stories we’re covering right now…