February 26, 2015

Robots at War and the Quality of Quantity

By Paul Scharre

The U.S. Department of Defense has launched the search for a “third offset strategy,” an approach to sustain U.S. military technological superiority against potential adversaries. But, for a number of reasons, this strategy is different than the previous two. Even the name “offset” may not be valid. The first two strategies were aimed at “offsetting” the Soviet numerical advantage in conventional weapons in Europe, first with U.S. nuclear weapons and later with information-enabled precision-strike weapons. But this time around, it may be the United States bringing numbers to the fight.

Uninhabited and autonomous systems have the potential to reverse the multi-decade trend in rising platform costs and shrinking quantities, allowing the U.S. military to field large numbers of assets at affordable cost. The result could be that instead of “offsetting” a quantitative advantage that an adversary is presumed to start with, the United States could be showing up with better technology and greater numbers.

Read the entire piece at War On The Rocks.

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