In the wake of two extended wars, Western militaries find themselves looking to the future while confronting amorphous nonstate threats and shrinking defense budgets. The 2015 Kingston Conference on International Security (KCIS) examined how robotics and autonomous systems that enhance soldier effectiveness may offer attractive investment opportunities for developing a more efficient force capable of operating effectively in the future environment. This monograph offers 3 chapters derived from the KCIS and explores the drivers influencing strategic choices associated with these technologies and offers preliminary policy recommendations geared to advance a comprehensive technology investment strategy. In addition, the publication offers insight into the ethical challenges and potential positive moral implications of using robots on the modern battlefield.
Urbanization is one of the most important mega-trends of the 21st century. Consequently, the possibility of U.S. military involvement in a megacity or sub-megacity is an eventuality that cannot be ignored. After elucidating the nature of urbanization and developing a typology in terms of smart, fragile, and feral cities, we give consideration to the kinds of contingencies that the U.S. military, especially the Army, needs to think about and prepare for. Understanding the city as a complex system or organism is critical and provides the basis for changes in intelligence, recruitment, training, equipment, operations, and tactics.
One of the key takeaways is the need to understand the urban environment and the need to work with (instead of against) the flows and rhythms of a city. Without such an approach, the results of military involvement in such a formidable environment would likely be disastrous; with it, the prospects for success would at least be enhanced.
Beginning in 2013, the U.S. Army began an effort to “engage regionally and respond globally.” A central tenant of this strategy, building upon National strategic guidance, is the necessity to build partner capacity. Army units, through the regionally aligned forces concept, may find themselves conducting security force assistance (SFA) missions across the globe as a means to achieve these ways. However, after examining the Army’s SFA mission in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from 2003-10, it becomes apparent that institutional and organizational shortcomings plagued the Army’s initial efforts in this critical aspect of the campaign. Many of these shortcomings remain in the Army today, particularly within the Army’s core formation—the brigade combat team (BCT). This monograph examines the Army’s role in conducting SFA in Iraq, drawing key lessons for the Army’s experience there, and then provides recommendations as to how the Army can better optimize the BCT to conduct SFA, while still retaining its core mission to fight and win America’s wars.
The Army has been involved with space-based military operations for well over a half-century. During this time, space operations have changed from a realm exclusive to scientists and engineers, to highly classified activities largely unknown to the general population, to the unveiling of space-based communication, imagery, surveillance, and environment capabilities that have become a foundation for all modern warfare. Today, such support is so ingrained into daily operations that most soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines assume it has been, and always will be, available for their use. But with such reliance comes vulnerability that potential adversaries may try to exploit. The evolution of Army space operations is well documented in many sources, thus this monograph serves not as a comprehensive history or detailed critique of the myriad accomplishments. Rather, it serves as a primer for current and future space-based operations to provide senior policymakers, decisionmakers, military leaders, and their respective staffs an overall appreciation for existing Army space capabilities and the challenges, opportunities, and risks associated with their use in joint operations.