March 31, 2015


By Paul Scharre

Swarming with a large number of low-cost autonomous systems can be useful for a wide range of applications in warfare, and the U.S. military should move to harness the advantages of this approach. But so will others. While swarming provides numerous opportunities to expand U.S. combat effectiveness by enabling greater range, persistence, daringmass, coordination, intelligence, and speed on the battlefield, it may be enemy swarms that are the real game-changer.

Many of the innovations that enable swarming – low-cost uninhabited systems, autonomy, and networking – are driven by the commercial sector, and thus will be widely available. Moreover, many states and non-state groups may be more eager to embrace them than the U.S. military, which is heavily invested in existing operational paradigms and the expensive and exquisite platforms they rely on. Swarms are more likely to be embraced by those who lack the institutional and cultural hurdles to their adoption that exist in the U.S. military.

Read the full op-ed at War on the Rocks.

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