Hal Brands | Bloomberg Opinion
Trump's dangerous war on the National Security Council
Hal Brands | Bloomberg Opinion
The Obstacles on the Road to Better Analytical Wargaming by Jon Compton
United Technologies nets $325.2M contract for F-35 depot maintenance
(UPI) The Pratt & Whitney division of United Technologies Corp. was awarded a potential four-year, $325.2 million contract for aircraft maintenance equipment for the F-35 fighter aircraft.
The First Pilotless Black Hawk Will Soon Take Flight
By Oriana Pawlyk, Military.com: "Sikorsky has two goals in mind for its optionally manned S-70 helicopter: to make the autonomous technology easy to retrofit on existing aircraft for users like the U.S. Army, and to give pilots various modes of autonomy so they can commit more time toward their mission."
Dragonflies Studied for Hypersonic Maneuverability
By Connie Lee, National Defense Magazine: "Dragonflies — a common sight in spring and summer — may be key to developing more precise and maneuverable missiles."
Rethink Navy Ballistic Missile Defense
By L. Paul James, Proceedings: "“I want to get out of the long-term missile defense business and move to dynamic missile defense.” In this assessment, the CNO is on the mark. It is time the Navy gets out of the business of defending static land assets and reconsiders how ship-based BMD capabilities can best contribute to countering the missile threat."
A Guide To Military Unmanned Systems On Air, Land And Sea
By Sebastien Roblin, Forbes: "However, the blanket term ‘drones' applies to a bewildering variety of systems that differ radically in form, capability and cost. It also can be applied to unmanned ground vehicles and ships. Naturally, each type comes with its own opaque military acronyms."
Win the Race for Invisibility
By John D. Miller, Proceedings: "Infrared, radar, acoustic, and optical stealth are the new frontier in low-observability, and the winner of the metamaterial competition will have an enormous advantage in the next fight."
Rethinking Air Superiority Acquisition in the United States
By Robert Farley, The Diplomat: "The Century Series is in the news again. As reported at Defense News and AviationWeek, the Air Force is considering a new way of thinking about acquiring its next generation of air superiority aircraft. Instead of a single major project, the idea is now to produce a series of different aircraft, using an entirely new system of design and manufacture."
Drone Technology Proliferation in Small Wars
By Scott Crino & Andy Dreby, Small Wars Journal: "While the Houthis’ drone capability, when compared to other irregular military forces, is without peer in terms of its range and destructiveness; it has evolved to its advanced state, due in large part to the unique circumstances of the Yemen Civil War’s operational environment."
Measuring War: Cognitive Effects in the Age of AI
By Brad DeWees, War on the Rocks: "The only outcome of military action that ultimately matters occurs at a cognitive level — at the level where adversaries perceive and give meaning to actions taken against them. More specifically, the cognitive impact of a military action is the extent to which the action alters an adversary’s belief that he can maximize his own interests through military means."
Are Air Defense Systems Ready to Confront Drone Swarms? by Seth Frantzman
September 26, 2019
Diverse, Layered Missile Defense Is Key to Killing Drone Swarms
By Steven P. Bucci, Defense News: "Effective missile defense systems are not based on one weapon capable of stopping everything. Only diverse, layered and integrated air and missile defense systems in combination can combat all types of incoming attacks."
Beyond the Multi-Domain Model
By Chris Bulow, Grounded Curiosity: "Western militaries are struggling to comprehend how to effectively manage the rapidly changing character of contemporary warfare because the multi-domain model used to explain it is fundamentally flawed."
The Counterrevolution in Naval Affairs
By James Holmes, The National Interest: "The new U.S. Marine Corps commandant, or most senior uniformed official, wants to repeal the post–Cold War revolution that saw the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps turn away from open-ocean combat."
True Civil Affairs Integration: From Three Tribes to One
By Assad A. Raza, Small Wars Journal: "In August of 1998, former Chief of Staff GEN Dennis Reimer published his white paper, One Team, One Fight, One Future, describing the importance for achieving Total Army integration by merging the Army’s three components into one fully integrated service."
Brig. Gen. Gregory Gagnon and Lt. Col. Nishawn Smagh write: The traditional crew-to-aircraft model for exploitation must fast forward to today’s information environment. The Pentagon has shifted its guidance to this new reality. The Defense Department recently declared information a seventh core function, and the Air Force’s formal ISR flight plan maps a course for digital-age capabilities to turn information into intelligence. […]The Department’s focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning in this realm remains stable and necessary. The next step is to retool how we task, organize, and equip both intelligence collection and analytic crews. – C4ISRNET
THE IMPACT A.I. HAS ON NUCLEAR DETERRENCE; THE GROWTH OF THE CIVIL MILITARY DIVIDE & A LOOK AT 6TH GENERATION AIRCRAFT
What to Expect from Sixth-Gen Aircraft
By Jon Harper, National Defense Magazine: “The United States and several European nations are pursuing next-generation fighters. While many details are closely held or are still being fleshed out, a picture is starting to emerge of the capabilities they will possess."
Raytheon Unveils New Air-to-Air Missile Design
By Aaron Mehta, Defense News: “Raytheon has announced the development of a new air-to-air missile, one it claims will be half the size of current weapons but achieve greater speed and maneuverability.”
Electronic Warfare Is Becoming the Most Lethal Counter Drone Technology
By Dan Gouré, RealClearDefense: “There is a new urgency to the search for cost-effective counters to the growing threat posed by unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or drones. Large, high-flying UASs can be countered by anti-aircraft systems, although this is an expensive solution."
Will Artificial Intelligence Imperil Nuclear Deterrence? by Rafael Loss and Joseph Johnson
Rhinestone-Covered Icons at "Russia's Los Alamos" by Anya Loukianova Fink
TNSR: Book Review Roundtable: Russian Nuclear Orthodoxy by Anya Loukianova Fink, Brad Roberts, Irina du Quenoy, Olga Oliker, and Jon Askonas
AI Risks to Nuclear Deterrence Are Real
By Zachary Kallenborn, War on the Rocks: "Why does the United States have so many nukes?"
Multi Domain Operations: Insights From Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin’s Kim Ponders, who’s done much to help me understand the concepts and some of the technology behind Multi-Domain Command and Control (MDC2), explains what the company is doing and answers one crucial question: Is Multi Domain just another Pentagon buzzword.
What Are We Fighting For?
The Political Aim in War and the American Civil-Military Divide
By Donald Stoker, Modern War Institute: “In war there is nothing more important than understanding the political objective or objectives of the combatants involved. This is the why of the war; the reasons the warring states and insurrectionist groups such as Islamic State spill blood and spend treasure."
The U.S. Needs to Choose Its Battles Carefully
By Rod Lyon, The Strategist (ASPI): “Alongside a set of companion documents—the national security strategy, the nuclear posture review and the missile defence review—the NDS outlined the strategic core of the Trump administration’s thinking about defence policy."
Army Multi-Domain Wargame Reveals C2 Shortfalls
By Sydney Freedberg, Breaking Defense: "In a massive simulated conflict, the human players adapted rapidly to futuristic technologies and tactics. But their command-and-control software couldn't keep up."
WHY THE NEW 'RMA' IS JUST LIKE THE OLD ONE & WHAT OF MISSILES IN THE INDO-PACIFIC AND COUNTER DRONE TECHNOLOGY EMERGES
5 questions for Adrienne Mayor about Ancient Greece’s technological visions of the future
James Pethokoukis | AEIdeas
Nothing New: Why the ‘Revolution’ in Military Affairs Is the Same As the Old One
By Adam Wunische, The National Interest: "The technology-driven revolution in military affairs (RMA), first begun during America’s dominating performance in the First Gulf War, is upon us."
Where Will the U.S. Base Intermediate-Range Missiles in the Pacific?
By Evan Karlik, The Diplomat: "The demise of a landmark arms control accord earlier this month means that U.S. intermediate-range missiles could soon be fielded to the western Pacific, and Pentagon leaders will likely consider Japan's Ryukyu Islands and the Republic of Palau in Micronesia their most viable basing options."
DARPA’s Mosaic Warfare — Multi Domain Ops, But Faster
“Kill webs,” not kill chains. Instead of exquisite platforms like the F-35 fighter, exquisite functional technology nodes (such as an advanced infrared sensor) that can be mixed and matched via AI-enhanced networks.
Major War Game To Jolt 4 Services, Force Decisions
In conflicts of the future the Pentagon will need some radically new thinking.
6 new capabilities powering the unmanned revolution
(C4ISRNET) In July 2018, a remotely piloted aircraft – the MQ-9B SkyGuardian – flew from the United States to the United Kingdom, landing after a 24-hour trans-Atlantic flight using the same routes as manned aircraft.
Pentagon Aims to Sync Counter-Drone Efforts
By Connie Lee, National Defense Magazine: " “One thing that industry, academia, other government agencies inside the department [and] our combatant commanders are all screaming about is, ‘Who's in charge?’ Because nobody's in charge,” said Chris O'Donnell, deputy assistant secretary of defense for platform and weapon portfolio management."
Army Explores Robot Decoys & Cannon-Fired Jamming Pods
Sun Tzu said all warfare is based on deception. Today, that means electronic deception.
Army Tests Dispersed THAAD; Beginning Of Modular Missile Defense?
The potential threat from Chinese batteries will only grow as Beijing continues to militarize small islands outside of its territorial waters, claiming them as their own.
Can the US military combine its many war-fighting concepts? Defense of the Pacific may depend on it.
(Defense News) Defending the Pacific region requires seamless integration between the U.S. military services, but that requires a joint force concept aimed at deterring near-peer competitors across all domains, according to military leaders in charge of strategy and concept development, who spoke Sept. 4 at the Defense News Conference.
DoD Halts Work on Directed-Energy Missile Defense
By Oriana Pawlyk, Military.com: “The Pentagon is shelving a directed-energy program it was hoping to use in space to destroy enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles in their boost phase."
Bioengineering, lasers and more drones: Griffin outlines the Pentagon’s tech wish list
(Defense News) If the U.S. wants to maintain its military edge over competitors Russia and China, it has to be smart with how it invests its relatively limited research and development funds.
What If the U.S. Military Neglects AI? AI Futures and U.S. Incapacity by Zachary Kallenborn
The Great Duality and the Future of the Army: Does Technology Favor the Offensive or Defensive? by Robert Scales
The Rise of Cyber and the Changing Nature of War
By Christopher Wooding, Grounded Curiosity: "The rise of cyber warfare today challenges Clausewitz’s notion of the centrality of violence to the nature of war. It does so because the evolution of technology has enabled the potential for non-violent forms of conflict."
‘Soft Power’ Relies on U.S. Military
By Hal Brands, Bloomberg: "As the U.S. transitions into an era characterized by prolonged twilight struggles — competitions in the space between peace and war — against multiple rivals, entities such as State, the Agency for International Development, and the Commerce and Treasury Departments will increasingly be on the front lines of American policy, with U.S. military power playing its essential role in the background."
AI Will Change War, But Not in the Way You Think by Jonathan Clifford
HOW CHINA OUTPERFORMS INDOPAC COMMAND, NEW IDEAS FOR URBAN COMBAT & REPORT CARD ON ARMY'S FUTURES COMMAND
INDOPACOM Boss: China Close to Surpassing the Command’s Capacity
(Air Force Magazine) China’s military capacity will surpass that of US Indo-Pacific Command within the next few years unless American policy changes significantly, the top US official in the region said.
Army Futures Command’s Report Card After Its First Year
By Dan Gouré, RealClearDefense: “There are even greater challenges on AFC’s horizon. The Army needs to restructure itself into a force capable of conducting large-scale, high-intensity combat in two very different theaters."
Intuition, the City, and War
By Ian Klaus, Modern War Institute: " ... according to UN data, there are around one thousand urban agglomerations with populations of half a million or greater—and they remain difficult to know."
Talisman Sabre: Land-based missiles vs. China
(Breaking Defense) The Army’s experimental Multi-Domain Task Force tested new tactics for Pacific conflict, hand-in-glove with the Marines, Air Force, and Australians.
U.S. test fires new Arrow-3 ballistic interceptor
(Defense News) The U.S. Missile Defense Agency, working with Israeli counterparts, test fired the newest generation of the Arrow-3 missile, meant to intercept incoming rockets at high altitude. Missiles fired from the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska in Kodiak. Arrow-3 is part of Israel’s layered defense system that also includes Iron Dome and David’s Sling.
Lasers, microwaves, hypersonics & more: Army RCCTO
(Breaking Defense) The Army’s three-star rapid capabilities chief is rushing to sign a contract on hypersonic missiles in three weeks, announced a new high-energy laser last week and just revealed a plan to build drone-killing microwave weapons — and he’s about to host an industry day asking innovators for even more ideas.
Hypersonics by the dozens: US industry faces manufacturing challenge
(Defense News) The U.S. military is just a few years from launching offensive hypersonic weapons under development and building those initial missiles is one thing. Manufacturing the weapons in multitude is another issue entirely.
Whether it’s satellite communication, position, navigation or timing data or targeting data, Army leaders knows space capabilities can make their job easier. But while the Air Force, Navy and intelligence community operate satellites in space, what is the Army’s role in the fourth domain? – C4ISRNET
U.S. Navy’s Fire Scout Unmanned Helicopter Is Now Operational
By Rich Abott, Rotor&Wing International: "The Navy intends to deploy the MQ-8C with Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) for reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precision targeting support. Fire Scout will complement the Sikorsky MH-60 manned helicopter by extending the range and endurance of ship-based operations."
Russia’s Swarms of Lethal ‘Jihadi-Style’ Drones
By Zack Doffman, Forbes: "Russia's military has decided to get in on the act, taking a lesson from the militants it has also faced in the Middle East, arming its own miniature (read domestic-sized) drones as a new battlefield tactic."
COIN PLATES AND SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY: EXPEDITIONARY WAR MEETS COUNTERINSURGENCY & DRONE SURVEILLANCE ARRIVES
Nearly 40% Lighter Body Armor Coming to Marines in 2020
By Shawn Snow, Marine Corps Times: “The Corps is gearing up to field its new lightweight body armor plates, designed to be worn in the Corps' low intensity or counterinsurgency style conflicts."
Shapes, Part I: The Shape of Airpower by Mike Pietrucha
U.S. Army making synthetic biology a priority
(Breaking Defense) The U.S. Army’s new Futures Command is accelerating research into synthetic biotechnology to help the military develop next-generation living camouflage and other never-before-seen organisms and materials.
The World’s Top Combat Drones
From Army-Technology: "Four of the top ten drones are produced by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. From Predator C Avenger to TAI Anka, Army-technology.com lists the world’s top ten combat drones based on payload capacity and weapons onboard."
Pentagon Seeks Laser-Armed Space Drones to Attack Enemy ICBMs
By Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven: "Space-based lasers, potentially operating from drones, bring a range of possibilities to include destroying enemy ICBMs, sensing ICBMs or even countering anti-satellite weapons, developers explain."
The next key to the Army network: air-ground integration
(C4ISRNET) The Army wants greater network integration with its air and ground units and has started working with industry to make that process more seamless.
Army Buys 9,000 Mini-Drones, Rethinks Ground Robots
By Sydney Freedberg, Breaking Defense: "This summer, Army soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan with air support literally in the palm of their hands: the 1.16-ounce Black Hornet mini-drone. New ground robots are entering service too, next year — not to fight but to haul supplies, at least at first."
Have Strategists Drunk the “AI Race” Kool-Aid? by Zac Rogers
The Revenge of Geography in Cyberspace
By Katherine Mansted, Strategy Bridge: "The reality is, geography and borders never stopped mattering in the information age."
The Unfortunate Operational Level
By Jonathan L, Defence-In-Depth: "Is the operational level the hub where all operations are managed, or is it the level of command of a single operation, or is it a little of both?"
DARPA Challenge: Underground War Robots
By Greg Nichols, ZDNet: "The SubT Challenge is DARPA's latest foray into next gen robotics. Here's why the future of robotic warfare might be subterranean."
The Navy wants to develop and procure three new types of unmanned vehicles (UVs) in FY2020 and beyond—Large Unmanned Surface Vehicles (LUSVs), Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicles (MUSVs), and Extra-Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUVs). The Navy is requesting $628.8 million in FY2020 research and development funding for these three UV programs and their enabling technologies. – USNI News
What’s so sweet about sugar cube-sized robots?
(C4ISRNET) If there is anything the future is lacking, it’s robots the size of Chiclets. Draper Labs, working under a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is creating centimeter-sized robots, for future use in rescue work. The project is named “SHort-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms,” or “SHRIMP” for short.
SOCOM’s Iron Man Must Die, So Iron Man Spinoffs Might Live
By Paul McLeary
Special Operations leaders are breaking their “Iron Man” project into its component parts, creating what they see as a “Hyper Enabled Operator.”
The Air Force's Next Quadcopter
By Kelsey Reichmann, C4ISRNET: "The MK-3 GEN4-D1 is part of the InstantEye digital fleet."
Skyborg details revealed
(Defense News) Find out the details on how the Air Force wants to use wingman drones.
V-280 competes agility tests
(Defense News) The Bell V-280 Valor has completed agility tests, completing its primary flight test program.
Horns of a Dilemma: Past and Present – How the Idea of National Security Has Shifted Over Time by Andrew Preston
Three new ship-based weapons being developed by the Navy—solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), also known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP)—could substantially improve the ability of Navy surface ships to defend themselves against surface craft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and eventually anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). – USNI News
Under Skyborg program, F-35 and F-15EX jets could control drone sidekicks
(Defense News) The F-35 and F-15EX fighter jets could get drone wingmen in the coming years, the U.S. Air Force’s top acquisition official revealed to Defense News.
Pentagon Jumpstarts Hypersonic Targeting, Electronic Warfare, C2
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
Can a new kind of contract get key cutting-edge technologies across the bureaucratic “valley of death” before the Russians and Chinese lap the US?
A Century Of Ideas: Technology, Innovation, And The Future Of The US Economy
via The Hoover Centennial
This session will discuss the historical sources of prosperity in the United States and will look at the drivers of prosperity over the next century. Panelists will also address the ongoing debate about the impact of artificial intelligence and robotics on standards of living and the relevant facts and data to consider.
Decision Maneuver: Next Revolution in Military Affairs
By Bryan Clark, Dan Pratt & Harrison Schramm, Over the Horizon: "U.S. military leaders expressed alarm during Congressional hearings last month about the erosion of American military superiority against great power rivals China and Russia. To arrest the slide, they proposed an expensive “kitchen sink” of potential solutions, including growing the force, buying new weapons, improving training for operators, increasing maintenance, and fielding more autonomous systems."
Net Assessment: The Revolution in Military Affairs – Is Anything Different This Time? by Melanie Marlowe, Bryan McGrath, and Christopher Preble
The Pentagon Has a Defenseless Approach to 5G
By Harold Furchtgott-Roth, RealClearDefense: "America’s enemies will laugh with anticipated victory when they read of Pentagon recommendations for 5G: sharing and operating in a “post-Western” environment."
The Army’s “Multi-Domain Operations in 2028” Is an Important Doctrinal Development
By Dan Gouré, RealClearDefense: "The Army Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, framed the challenge that MDO 2028 is intended to address in the most straightforward and easy-to-understand way: “The military problem we face is defeating multiple layers of standoff in all domains in order to maintain the coherence of our operations.”"
Scaling the Levels of War:
The Strategic Major and the Future of Multi-Domain Operations
By Heather Venable & Jared R. Donnelly, War on the Rocks: "In many ways, multi-domain operations represent a more sophisticated conceptualization of joint operations, but it is also context agnostic in that it is not meant to be a response to a specific strategic challenge."
U.S. Army’s Missile Defense Radar Advances Into Prototype Competition
By Jen Judson, Defense News: "The request, posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website on May 14, comes as the Army for well over a decade has struggled to procure a new radar for its integrated air and missile defense system meant to replace the Patriot AMD system."
LTG Wesley: Future Fight Will Be Systems vs. Systems
By Todd South, Army Times: “The future fight, especially in the vast expanse of the Pacific region, will not focus on which units go where and which types of units attack enemy formations. Instead, the deputy commander of the Army’s newest command said, it will be about systems attacking systems."
DARPA's AI-Enabled ‘Breakthrough’ Cyberattack ‘Hunting’ Technology
By Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven: "DARPA and BAE Systems are prototyping a new AI-empowered cybersecurity technology to fight new waves of highly sophisticated cyberattacks specifically engineered to circumvent the best existing defenses."
The U.S. Navy’s Director of Surface Warfare is ready to bet the farm on using lasers to shoot down missiles. The outgoing head of the Chief of Naval Operations’ surface warfare directorate Rear Adm. Ron Boxall said the Navy is going to get its High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler with Surveillance system on the Hawaii-based destroyer Preble in 2021, a moment that he compared with Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez ordering his own ships scuttled to motivate his men. – Defense News
John Schaus writes: Since October, U.S. Army War College researchers have looked into Indo-Pacific theater design at and beyond 2028 on behalf of the Secretary of the Army. Though we have found that U.S. and partner forces have an impressive body of work under way, it is clear that the Army must change across five major elements of design: strategy and operational concepts; forces and capabilities; footprint and presence; authorities, permissions, and agreements; and mission command arrangements. – Defense One
If DARPA Has Its Way, AI Will Rule the Wireless Spectrum
By Paul Tilghman, IEEE Spectrum: “DARPA’s Spectrum Collaboration Challenge demonstrates that autonomous radios can manage spectrum better than humans can ."
Scaling the Levels of War: The Strategic Major and the Future of Multi-Domain Operations
by Heather Venable and Jared R. Donnelly
Horns of a Dilemma: Seeing Beyond the Horizon – Intelligence Challenges in a Rapidly Changing World by Susan Gordon and Stephen Slick
How AI Could Change The Art Of War
By Sydney Freedberg, Breaking Defense: "“I’m not talking about killer robots,” said Prof. Andrew Hill, the War College’s first-ever chair of strategic leadership and one of the conference’s lead organizers, at the opening session. The Pentagon wants AI to assist human combatants, not replace them. The issue is what happens once humans start taking military advice — or even orders — from machines."
Five Eyes Must Lead on 5G
By Mike Gallagher & Tom Tugendhat, War on the Rocks: "If the United States and United Kingdom do not lead their partners in the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance and NATO in an effort to secure 5G networks, no one will."
Tactical Risk in Multi-Domain Operations
By Kevin Benson, Modern War Institute: "I believe history does not repeat itself, but as Mark Twain pointed out at times it does rhyme. Once again in my life our Army is reassessing how it will fight large-scale ground combat operations against peer and near-peer adversaries, possibly while outnumbered."
Russia’s Sudden Change of Heart on AI
By Dov S. Zakheim, The Hill: "The Russians once again have found they cannot seriously compete with the US or China in an AI arms race."
How To Wage Global Cyber War: Nakasone, Norton, & Deasy
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
The military needs a globe-spanning network to counter threats that no single theater command can cope with. That takes more than just technology.
All This ‘Innovation’ Won’t Save the Pentagon
By Zachery Tyson Brown, Defense One: “The Defense Department, a hierarchy fixated on technology, is unequipped to confront a world of disruptive challenges."
DARPA, Army Teaming to Pursue New Swarming Capabilities
By Connie Lee, National Defense Magazine: “The concept involves outfitting about 200 to 300 soldiers with a large number of autonomous platforms that have sensors and kinetic and non-kinetic weapons>"
AFRL Needs Specialized Autonomy Team to Drive Progress
By Rachel S. Cohen, Air Force Magazine: “A new Air Force report suggests elevating a cross-cutting Air Force Research Laboratory team to “prioritize and coordinate” the lab’s entire autonomy portfolio at a crucial moment for development in that area."
The Army wants a way to map underground tunnels using ground robots and drones
(Army Times) The Army’s Rapid Equipping Force is looking to industry for a portable way for soldiers to map remote tunnels using either ground robots or drones, and they want it fast.
The defense community suffered a grave loss on the morning of Tuesday, March 26, with the passing of Andrew W. Marshall at age 97.The 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) and the Congressionally mandated 2018 NDS Commission refocused U.S. defense planning on the need to compete with, and potentially fight, China and Russia. Although the latter stressed the urgent need for additional resources for defense, it also acknowledged that bigger budgets would likely prove insufficient to support the national defense strategy. Needed are new ways of war that can bridge the gap between our ends and our means. To date, however, the Pentagon has been silent on the topic of innovative operational concepts: what they should be and who should develop them. The Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that Congress is currently considering offers an opportunity to spur needed action in this area.
The U.S. strategic community took a quarter-century respite from thinking seriously about great-power competition and conflict after the end of the Cold War. In the 1990s, it reveled in notions of the "unipolar moment" and the "end of history." Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it was consumed with the need to defeat irregular adversaries who lacked the ability to contest U.S. supremacy in any domain of warfare. The need to win the wars we were already fighting took precedence over the responsibility to prepare for the very different wars we might have to fight in the future. In such an environment, the Defense Department embraced, explicitly or implicitly, a series of optimistic strategic assumptions, to include:
U.S. force planning relied upon similarly rosy operational assumptions, to include:
Developing innovative operational concepts and fielding new organizations and capabilities to overcome these challenges should become the urgent focus of Defense Department investment. In an era of constrained resources, those concepts and capabilities that offer the greatest strategic and operational leverage should receive preferential funding over those that do not.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff should lead the development of joint operational concepts, including efforts both to use existing capabilities in new and innovative ways as well as to craft roles for truly new capabilities. Congress can spark the development of innovative operational concepts by requiring and funding experiments and demonstrations and demanding realistic assessments of them.
Potential innovative programs where the Defense Department can begin these experiments include:
Neutralizing Anti-Access/Area-Denial Threats through Long-Range, Multi-Dimensional Strike. Several subordinate efforts appear particularly promising.
First, the U.S. government purchased two X-47B stealthy unmanned aerial system (UAS) technology demonstrator aircraft before terminating the program. The Defense Department could use the aircraft to develop innovative concepts of operations for stealthy land- and sea-based unmanned systems, to include the value of autonomy in such systems as well as the use of innovative logistical concepts to extend their range.
Second, the Navy is procuring three DDG-1000 Zumwalt class surface vessels. The attributes of these ships, to include their stealth, large displacement, and electric propulsion, make them both unique as surface combatants as well as potentially valuable assets for experimentation. The Defense Department could use the ships to develop concepts of operations for operating within range of an adversary's anti-access/area-denial capabilities. Specifically, they could be used to determine the value of stealthy surface combatants for conducting anti-air, anti-surface, and strike warfare in denied environments.
Third, the Defense Department is currently procuring a new Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), which should provide a highly capable weapon against enemy ships. However, current plans call for the missile to be carried by three aircraft, the B-1B, F/A-18E/F, and F-35, which will be increasingly challenged to operate in the Western Pacific due to growing threats to aircraft, tankers, and bases in that region. Accordingly, the Defense Department should develop concepts to integrate LRASM onto the B-2 stealth bomber, which has the range and survivability that may be needed to reach Chinese or Russian shipping in defended waters. Should the concept prove successful, LRASM could subsequently be integrated onto the forthcoming B-21 bomber, which should be available in greater numbers than the B-2 for missions such as maritime strike.
Creating Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges for Competitors. Each of the Services is developing capabilities that could be used to create anti-access challenges for competitors. The Army and Marine Corps are both exploring deploying land-based anti-ship missiles such as LRASM, the Naval Strike Missile, and Maritime Strike Tomahawk; the Navy is modernizing its anti-ship and land-attack capabilities; and, as described above, the Air Force plans to equip some of its aircraft with anti-ship missiles. Deployed in the First and Second Island Chains and fed by ISR and targeting information from UASs such as the MQ-9, such capabilities could reassure allies and deter China from committing aggression. Further experiments and demonstrations could yield innovative operational concepts for linking U.S. and allied forward-based and expeditionary land-based precision strike systems with sea-based munitions and tactical aircraft. Such experiments could yield new concepts for projecting and sustaining forces in A2/AD environments as well as reinforcing and sustaining forward engaged forces.
Protecting Critical Bases of Operations Against Salvo Attacks. The United States should develop innovative operational concepts for defending those bases. Such defenses could include medium-range high-energy lasers (HEL), high-power microwave (HPM) systems, guided projectiles launched by rapid- ring guns, and low-cost surface-to-air missiles. Unmanned and manned aircraft carrying extended- range air-to-air missiles and equipped with wide-area surveillance sensors, HELs, and possibly HPM systems could further extend the range and increase the threat engagement capacity of a base salvo defense complex.[ii]
Establishing Survivable C4ISR Networks. The Defense Department should develop innovative operational concepts and business practices to allow it to develop rapidly new space capabilities and to launch them on relatively short notice. Such an approach could include not just the development of innovative practices, but also relationships with civilian space industry. It should also explore alternatives to space for services such as communications; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and precision navigation. For example, the Defense Department should experiment with the use of UASs such as the MQ-9 to provide such services in a space-denied environment. Indeed, UASs can provide these capabilities at a much lower cost than launching new satellites. Such initiatives would yield insight into the capabilities needed to enhance the capability and survivability of space systems and the services they provide, as well as new ways to leverage interoperable joint C4ISR in the face of adversary threats.
The development of new concepts and conclusion of experiments are not ends in and of themselves. Too often, military experiments have been side projects that create a façade of innovation without actually having any substantial impact. As a result, the forces and capabilities we have today-and are currently procuring-are out of alignment with the world of 2019 and beyond. The objective of concept development and experimentation must be to inform major shifts in investment and force structure toward the forces and capabilities that can bring the U.S. military back into alignment with the operational challenges it faces.
Thomas G. Mahnken is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and a Senior Research Professor at the Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS. From 2006 to 2009 he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy planning. He is editor of a forthcoming volume on the theory and practice of net assessment.
[i] Providing for the Common Defense: the Assessment and Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission (Washington, D.C.: National Defense Strategy Commission, 2018), p. 15.
[ii] Mark Gunzinger and Carl Rehberg, Air and Missile Defense at a Crossroads: New Concepts and Technologies to Defend America's Overseas Bases (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2018).
Image: U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Preston Cherry
Related publication: PIERCING THE FOG OF PEACE: Developing Innovative Operational Concepts for a New Era, April 2019
How AI Could Change The Art Of War
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
Time-honored principles of command get weird when you add the fundamentally alien thinking of an artificial intelligence.
DARPA’s director on how the Pentagon can transition innovation
(C4ISRNET) Pentagon leaders have become increasingly interested in the need for innovation, meaning the new technology that comes from Silicon Valley but also the game-changing advantages that can come from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The New Revolution in Military Affairs
By Christian Brose, Foreign Affairs: “In 1898, a Polish banker and self-taught military expert named Jan Bloch published The Future of War, the culmination of his long obsession with the impact of modern technology on warfare."
Adapting Command and Control for 21st Century Seapower
By Bryan McGrath, CIMSEC: “No element of modern seapower is more worthy of evolution than the operational relationship between the Navy and Marine Corps."
A New Kind of Nuclear War
By Mark Thompson, POGO: "The Pentagon pushes for fission for fighting."
A Different Use for Artificial Intelligence in Nuclear Weapons Command and Control by Jaganath Sankaran
INTUITION, THE CITY, AND WAR
(Modern War Institute ) Cities matter. They matter for fighting climate change, for fighting pandemics, and, as the Urban Warfare Project continues to demonstrate, they matter for the future of fighting itself. The heightened importance of urban spaces results from demographic developments, with the global population advancing toward 70 percent living in urban areas by 2050, and from recent trends in terrorism, counterinsurgency and stabilization efforts. Both people and the fight are converging on cities.
THE MULTI-DOMAIN BATTLE FIELD FOR US ARMY, WHY RAYTHEON MATTERS TODAY, HOW THE GREY ZONE OF POLITICAL CYBER WAR IS US WEAK SPOT & CHINESE A.I. ADVANCES
Army’s Multi-Domain Unit ‘A Game-Changer’ In Future War
But modernizing the Army will take decades and tough decisions about everything from online propaganda to the National Guard.
Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems Rewrites The Rules For Defense Technology
By Loren Thompson, Forbes: “Raytheon is that rarest of enterprises, a tech company that has managed to stay at the forefront of innovation for multiple generations."
How the Army will sustain its tactical network of the future
(C4ISRNET) The Army’s sustainment community is beginning to prepare for the challenges associated with the tactical network of the future.
The Army’s sustainment community is beginning to prepare for the challenges associated with the tactical network of the future. The Army is working to field its first capability set for what it is calling the integrated tactical network (ITN). The service’s new approach heavily relies on rapid and ongoing insertion of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems. – C4ISRNET
Multi-Domain Networks: The Army, The Allies & AI
Even with Australia, one of our closest allies, it can be hard to share data. And the Army’s future war plans require seamless network coordination with the other US services and foreign allies.
DARPA Picks Three Competitors For Launch Challenge Prize
By Theresa Hitchens, Wednesday, April 10, 2019 6:33 PM
Tucson-based Vector Launch, Virgin Orbit, and a “stealth” startup can compete for prizes up to $10 million in the DARPA Launch Challenge.
Assessing the U.S.-China Artificial Intelligence Competition
By Zachary Kallenborn, Modern War Institute: “Discussions of artificial intelligence are everywhere. Understandably so: AI has a seemingly limitless range applications, from schools to the battlefield. McKinsey & Company estimated that AI is likely to result in $13 trillion of additional global economic activity by 2030. AI also allows the development of autonomous weapons and novel platforms, such as advanced drone swarms. A revanchist Russia might be the scourge of the Western defense community, but Vladimir Putin has arguably issued the clearest articulation of AI’s massive potential: “Whoever becomes the leader in [AI] will become the ruler of the world.” But how do we assess who is leading?"
China's Acoustic Cannon
By Bill Gertz, The Washington Times: “U.S. intelligence and security agencies investigating the mysterious sonic attacks against American diplomatic personnel in China need to look no further than China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology."
The Pentagon is 'Absolutely Unapologetic' About Pursuing AI-Powered Weapons
// Jack Corrigan Much criticism of military AI projects is rooted in "grave misperceptions," say current and former defense officials.
The Newest AI-Enabled Weapon: 'Deep-Faking' Photos of the Earth
// Patrick Tucker Worries about deep fakes — machine-manipulated videos of celebrities and world leaders purportedly saying or doing things that they really didn’t — are quaint compared to a new threat: doctored images of the Earth itself.
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Solving One of the Hardest Problems of Military AI: Trust
// Luke Hartig and Kendall VanHoose The U.S. Department of Defense is making big bets on artificial intelligence – rolling out new strategies, partnerships, organizations, and budgets to develop the technology for military uses. But as DOD moves to harness this technology, its success may hinge in part on something that is not technical in nature: overcoming the massive gaps in trust around AI. That trust gap is actually many gaps – between humans and machines, the public and the government, the private sector and the government, and among governments – and undertaking the hard task of working through them will be key to integrating AI into national defense.
Without JEDI, Pentagon’s AI efforts may be hindered
(NextGov) DOD won’t be able to fully harness AI unless it manages to build — or buy — a national-defense cloud.
DARPA Wants AI to Learn Language as Human Babies Do
// Jack Corrigan The Pentagon's research wing is funding efforts to build AI language systems that learn more like people and less like machines.
China's Space Denial Weapons
By Vinayak Bhat, ThePrint: “China has developed technology like directed energy weapons and electromagnetic pulses that can dazzle, disable or destroy satellites."
The Race for Quantum Resistant Cryptography
By Stew Magnuson, National Defense Magazine: “A little known technological race is occurring in the realm of computer sciences and it could have an enormous impact for those who rely on encrypted communications."
Russia Racing to Complete National AI Strategy by June 15
// Samuel Bendett That's just one of several high-tech deadlines Putin set recently.
Defense Community Slow to Grasp Potential of Quantum-Based Tech
By Stew Magnuson, National Defense Magazine: “Four stories underground — encased in several feet of concrete — is the University of Chicago’s new nanofabrication facility, where researchers apply the principles of quantum physics to real-world problems and technologies."
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(Defense News) The U.S. Army released its new air and missile defense framework March 27 that aims to pursue multimission units and counter emerging threats like drones and hypersonic missiles, the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command chief told Defense News in an interview just ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium.
"ITS ALL BEEN DONE BEFORE", HOW PRESENTISM HURTS INNOVATION IN WAR STRATEGY & WAR GAMING EXERCISES DESTROY FORTRESS US
US ‘gets its ass handed to it’ in wargames: Here’s a $24 billion fix
(Breaking Defense) The US keeps losing, hard, in simulated wars with Russia and China. Bases burn. Warships sink. But we could fix the problem for about $24 billion a year, one well-connected expert said, less than four percent of the Pentagon budget.
Neophilia, Presentism, & Their Deleterious Consequences
for Western Military Strategy
By Paul Barnes, Modern War Institute: “It is often treated as an assumed truth in Western defense establishments that the world is experiencing a period of political instability unparalleled in over a century. This belief, combined with the observation that technology and its effect on society are advancing at an unprecedented rate, have become key drivers of military transformation."
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Did RAND get it right in its war game exercise?
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CHINA SEEKS TO WIN A.I. WARS, WHY THE LESSONS OF CAUDINE FORKS MATTERS & THE LIMITS TO ARTIFICIAL INTEL IN WAR WITH DARPA'S BREAKTHROUGH
Don’t call it an ‘arms race’: US-China AI competition is not winner-takes-all
(Defense One) The most common framing of the two countries’ artificial-intelligence development is dangerous.
Beware the Lesson of the Caudine Forks
By Brandon Quintin, Small Wars Journal: “There are certain events in military history that rise above the rest. They are not merely battles, campaigns, or wars. They teach more than the specifics of military science."
DARPA's New AI, Machine Learning 'Breakthrough'
By Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven: “A DARPA-led “Lifelong Learning Machines” (L2M) program, intended to massively improve real-time AI and machine learning, rests upon the fundamental premise that certain machine-learning-capable systems might struggle to identify, integrate and organize some kinds of new or complicated yet-to-be-seen information.”
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By C. Anthony Pfaff, Strategy Bridge: “ ... several organizations and researchers working in artificial intelligence have signed a “Lethal Autonomous Weapons Pledge” that expressly prohibits development of machines that can decide to take a human life."
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By Jack Corrigan, Defense One: “The defense research agency seeks artificial intelligence tools capable of human-like communication and logical reasoning that far surpass today’s tech."
Building Modern Screw-Sloops? Strategic Choices about Artificial Intelligence in Defense by Nina Kollars and Doyle Hodges
THE BEST WAYS TO GUIDE AGAINST CHINESE CYBER; STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DURING WAR & WHAT IS QUANTUM SCIENCE
Four principles to guide the US response to cyberattacks
(Fifth Domain) Cyber weapons have allowed Russia to reinvent deterrence on the cheap. Recent reports reveal a prolonged, systematic, and not particularly subtle Russian campaign to infiltrate the U.S. power grid.
Quantum Science: Distruptive National Security Technology
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By marshalling the collective power of its allies, the U.S. may have finally found a model for imposing costs on cyber adversaries.
Annie Fixler | CCTI Deputy Director
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Trump’s State of the Union was a personal best but with one Obamanian slip.
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TRAINING OVER CROSS DOMAINS: CENTER FOR BUDGETARY ASSESSMENTS REVEALS STUDY & A LOOK AT HOW CHINA USES A.I & THE ARMY USES ELECTRONIC WARFARE
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By Justin Lynch, Modern War Insitute: “Combat forces’ movement has evolved throughout history—from melee to mass to the maneuver concepts that are enshrined in contemporary modern military doctrine."
China's Rapid AI Development Has Its Limits: Report
// Paulina Glass Chinese artificial-intelligence researchers are aware of ways their work lags the United States' — and Beijing is working to fix those.
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By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., Wednesday, February 6, 2019 5:37 PM
“Autonomy may look like an Achilles’ heel, and in a lot of ways it is” – but for both sides, DTRA’s Nick Wager said. “I think that’s as much opportunity as that is vulnerability. We are good at this… and we can be better than the threat.”
China Developing Battlefield AI
By Bill Gertz, The Washington Times: “A Chinese military newspaper has outlined how the People’s Liberation Army plans to deploy artificial intelligence (AI) for its forces in future high-technology warfare."
How Will the Army Use Electronic Warfare?
By Mark Pomerleau, C4ISRNET: "According to the annual report from the director of operational test and evaluation, the Army's current publications don't clearly help units refine their “tactics, techniques, and procedures” or for organizing and using electronic warfare on the battlefield."
The Pentagon’s First AI Strategy Will Focus on Near-term Operations
By Patrick Tucker, Defense One: “The Defense Department will unveil a new artificial intelligence strategy perhaps as early as this week, senior defense officials told Defense One. The strategy — its first ever — will emphasize the creation and tailoring of tools for specific commands and service branches, allowing them to move into AI operations sooner rather than later."
Why the Army wanted a Combat Capabilities Development Command
(C4ISRNET) The Army wants to better understand the emerging technology scene and learn how to purchase the right equipment to stay ahead of nations such as Russia and China.
3 ways the Pentagon could improve cyber intelligence
(Fifth Domain) The United States needs to expand its cyber intelligence authorities and capabilities to meet the Trump administration’s new cybersecurity strategy, according to top current and former government officials and academics.
Training for Tomorrow's Battlefields
by Jennifer McArdle
Today's U.S. military is an information-dependent force, one that is wholly reliant on information communication technology (ICT) for current and future military operations. The adaptation and integration of ICTs into weapons platforms, military systems, and concepts of operation has put the battle for information control at the heart of military affairs. Although the use of ICT exponentially increases the lethality of the U.S. military, the dependence on these technologies is, in many ways, also a vulnerability. U.S. competitors plan to employ a range of cyber and informationized capabilities to undermine the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of U.S. and allied information.
It is impossible to deny an adversary's ability to shape aspects of the information environment, to include spoofing and sabotaging ICT-based warfighting systems. The U.S. military's goal should instead be to sustain military operations in spite of a denied, disrupted, or subverted information environment. This requires a paradigm shift away from information assurance to mission assurance. U.S. warfighters should be trained to fight in and through an increasingly contested and complex battlespace saturated by adversary cyber and information operations. This report engages in a detailed analysis of current and future cyber and informationized training for the non-cyber warfighter. It provides initial recommendations as to how training systems, scenarios, models, and simulations can evolve to better reflect the complexities of a rapidly changing information-rich combat environment.
Victory Over And Across Domains can be downloaded here
Navy Considering More Advanced Arleigh-Burke Destroyers
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Technological Identity and Autonomous Systems: Lessons from the Battleship by Steven Hallgren
Without a clearer ethics policy, the US could lose the military tech battle with China
(C4ISRNET) Nearly three decades after the Cold War ended, a new strategy of containment is underway at the Pentagon.
Maxar’s Exit From DARPA Satellite Servicing Program a Cautionary Tale
By Sandra Erwin, SpaceNews: " Former RSGS program manager Gordon Roesler: ”The RSGS capability is so revolutionary, the nation really needs to find a way to get it on orbit.""