March 10, 2022

Show, don’t tell: Navy changes strategy to sell unmanned systems to skeptical Congress

Source: Breaking Defense

Journalist: Justin Katz

Public discussions between the Navy and Congress over unmanned technology in recent years have been circular: The service asks for funding to develop new technology, hesitant lawmakers balk at pouring millions into unproven tech, then the Navy re-ups its requests the next year, insistent the investment remains necessary.

The routine has left Congress wary of the Navy’s ideas and the service struggling to refine its pitch.


Paul Scharre, a technology expert at the Center for a New American Security, suggested the military’s historical transition into aviation as a point of reference. In that case the military was initially wary of integrating airplanes into its forces, and the adoption of warplanes into modern operations was a long, turbulent flight, rather than an overnight epiphany.

“There’s an element of, early on in new technology adoption, where the technology is treated as kind of special and protected in a way that it needs to be at first to be allowed to grow,” he said, “and then ideally [it] becomes sort of integrated into normal operations over time.”

This is where both Navy and Congress are at right now: unmanned technology is viewed as separate and distinct from traditional warships and planes, for better or worse.

Further, Scharre said, the roads for initial adoption for new technology such as aviation and heavy armor were “so bumpy,” he added, and the modern Pentagon’s struggle with unmanned systems is still in its early days along the same road.

Read the full story and more from Breaking Defense.


  • Paul Scharre

    Executive Vice President and Director of Studies

    Paul Scharre is the Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at CNAS. He is the award-winning author of Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence...