Innovative technologies face the dilemma of military leaders who are uncertain of their possible benefits versus their potential risks. Yet the pacing gap has kept military leadership from confronting this dilemma in a timely manner.
Experimentation resources are hard to find as they are widely and obscurely scattered throughout the Department of Defense. They are all but invisible, and discovery learning, while necessary, is not sufficient for the scale on which progress is needed. Implementing a digital Department of Defense exchange for experimentation funding creates a conduit that moves information, provides a price, and enables prompt brokerage of the requisite transaction in order to meet the innovation demands of a multidomain battlefield.
This analysis does not seek to prove that any specific organization is superior to the other, rather it provides an initial framework to begin organizing the myriad of technological organizations that support the United States Government. Without specific technology case studies, a determination cannot be made whether any individual factor or category determines the success of the organization. However, this framework provides an initial understanding of these factors to help a potential customer leverage these organizations for rapid development and implementation of new technologies.
What’s missing is a strategy that accounts for latent and emerging technology-enabled threats and matches them with prioritized military requirements. Such a strategy would include an optimized mix of new and old technologies designed to exploit adversary vulnerabilities and minimize American weaknesses. There is reason for optimism in America’s potential to leverage technology for its own security as long as leaders make the hard choices around national priorities that will allow planners and strategists to engage technology with focus and purpose.
The U.S. military has enjoyed a comfortable lead in the race for new battlefield technology since the end of World War II. In recent years, however, the rate of technology change has challenged the U.S. military’s ability to remain strategically superior to near peers while providing the warfighter with nimble and fiscally sustainable technology.
Even without a lifelong appreciation for all things Star Wars, anyone with a basic understanding of the movies and their stories and an interest in better understanding modern military conflict will benefit greatly from reading Strategy Strikes Back. I have not found another collection of essays where the authors use their superior imaginations to explain and simplify complex topics so well.
At a time when the U.S. maintains a significant military advantage over all other countries, it is seductive to think that simply applying those resources to any and all problems will cause success, but it will not. As a country, the U.S. can and must do better. One small step toward improving American strategic competence is to explicitly articulate our strategies as theories of success based on clear conceptualization of all variables and causal mechanisms.
It is vital that alongside expensive amphibious assault ships a navy invests in mine warfare equipment and training, otherwise, the procurement of an amphibious capability will have been in vain. Naval mines are not going anywhere soon...nor will amphibious operations if they lack the ability to deal with sea mines.
Since the United States’ near-peer adversaries possess nuclear weapons, the U.S. Army needs to prepare for small, politically constrained, ambiguous, limited conflict. Without a reorientation on the future, the U.S. Army doctrine and concepts are not useful and potentially limit policymakers’ options, or worse, risk accidental nuclear escalation.
To say there is something here for everyone would be something of an understatement. There is more than enough in the volume for naval strategists and historians in terms of scope, geographical region, and topic. But for a popular strategy audience this collection will be a hard slog, if not intimidating. This is a shame, because these essays have much to offer. So, if one can afford it, purchase the anthology, peruse the topics, and read. Otherwise, for the everyman strategist out there, go to your nearest college library and get it there. You will still be rewarded.
While Russia and China are known for their lumbering civilian and military bureaucracies, both nations are nonetheless demonstrating that they can be nimble enough to accelerate certain technological developments, along with testing and evaluation. So far, both competitors have proven that they can take specific American elements and apply them to their own unique ecosystems. Nonetheless, using American-style institutional and procedural concepts is still a novel idea for the top-heavy ministries tasked with such breakthrough technological developments in both countries.
Once exclusively the purview of unconventional warfare and special operations forces, by, with, and through has gone mainstream, but it is not yet found in joint doctrine for conventional warfare. The evolution of the phrase and its individual elements has increased the lack of clarity because of inconsistencies in messaging and understanding of the definitions, responsibilities, progression, and ultimate goal of the approach.
Political warfare and a geopolitical actor’s pursuit of political dominance is not new. The Soviet Union’s success during the Vietnam era showcases the importance of political warfare as the KGB was able to sow distrust and promote anti-war sentiment in the United States. In today’s digital age, social media is a powerful and potentially a dangerous weapon that can erode trust within society and its government. I do not suggest that political warfare acts as the backbone in projecting power or influence abroad.
This single volume is perfect for the student or military accession looking for a fantastic introduction on the history of war in the air. Serious scholars might consider going so far as to obtaining multiple copies of this work to hand out to colleagues in other fields. It is a book perfect for classes on the history of warfare. It will find itself on numerous college syllabi and a place as one of the great air power textbooks for the foreseeable future.
Absent a clear understanding of which military problems emergent technologies are required to solve, there is, perhaps, too much confidence in their ability to reshape the character of the next war by enabling decisive battlefield advantage. More troublingly, predictions about machine-dominated warfare risk obscuring the human cost implicit in the use of violence to achieve a political objective. This article examines the integration challenge that continues to limit the military potential of available technology. It will then look specifically at why militaries should be cautious about the role artificial intelligence and autonomous systems are expected to play in future warfare.
Interconnectedness has allowed society to take great leaps forward, social media and the internet remain an ungoverned space for nefarious actors. Violent extremist organizations, criminal groups, and state actors have all taken advantage of the anonymity and access afforded by modern technology to plan, execute, and support operations, gaining relative superiority over traditional security structures. As adversaries become more technologically savvy, the United States and its allies must become more adept at leveraging these trends. Open source intelligence, especially when coupled with rapidly improving big data analysis tools, which can comb through data sets that were previously too complex to derive meaningful results, has the potential to offset this growing problem, providing intelligence on enemy forces, partners, and key populations.
Directed-energy weapons could take armed aircraft to a new frontier in the capabilities they provide the joint force. Anti-personnel aerial lasers, specifically, have advantages making them superior to other accurate weapons because of their speed, greater accuracy, and maneuverability. If integrated into close air support and interdiction missions, directed-energy weapons would greatly enhance the operational effectiveness in each.
Engelstein’s book serves as a useful reminder that the hybrid warfare playbook is not new, especially not within the context of Eastern Europe. Almost every tactic Western analysts have attributed to Russia since the 2014 invasion of Crimea can be found in the book. Invading and calling a snap referendum to validate it is how the Poles took Vilnius from Lithuania. When an election in the Ukrainian Rada resulted in unfavorable political leadership, the Ukrainian Bolsheviks decamped to Eastern Ukraine (Kharkov) to create their own competing institutions, primarily to justify Soviet intervention. Propaganda using the latest technologies of the day, provocations, assassinations (at home and abroad), front-organizations, a nexus between organized crime and state power, and the political use of diasporas were all used extensively by the belligerents of the Russian Civil War. Many of the hot-spots are even the same: Crimea, Donetsk, Kharkov, Abkhazia, Adjara, Transnistria, and others.
The operational and doctrinal relevance of Kautilya’s Arthashastra and Clausewitz’s On War in today’s counterinsurgency operations remains firm and valid. In numerous instances, they provide us a template to analyze various aspects of a counter-insurgency operation including the use of local values and principles as a tool to understand the strategic culture of an adversary. It must be understood that the evolution of technology may improve one or other aspects of a counterinsurgency operation, but the core elements remain more or less the same and are diverse depending upon the region of conflict. The non-linearity and flexibility of an insurgency are such that it can exploit various means such as misinformation campaigns, religious and ideological differences, as well as enlisting foreign support to keep it alive during the conflict.