April 21, 2020

The Defense Department Needs a Real Technology Strategy

By Paul Scharre and Ainikki Riikonen

Defense Department leaders agree the U.S. military must reinvigorate its technological edge. They just can’t agree on which technologies matter. Nor do they appear to be laying out arguments that would help the rest of the Pentagon, lawmakers, and industry understand which technologies will matter most in tomorrow’s wars, and therefore which should receive top priority in terms of effort and funding. In short, DOD needs a technology strategy.

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work made artificial intelligence and autonomy the centerpiece of his “Third Offset Strategy.” Current Defense Undersecretary for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin has called hypersonics his top priority, with directed energy a close second. That would seem to be at odds with his boss, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who has declared AI his “number one.” Yet the past two years have seen Griffin issue formal guidance about 10 to 13 “priority” technologies, with AI, hypersonics, and nuclear modernization occupying the top spot, depending on the list. But they can’t all be number one, and conflicting guidance from senior DoD leaders isn’t helpful for establishing real priorities in defense spending.

Read the full article in Defense One.

  • Commentary
    • Texas National Security Review
    • June 2, 2020
    The Militarization of Artificial Intelligence

    Militaries are racing to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) with the aim of gaining military advantage over competitors. And yet, there is little understanding of AI’s long-te...

    By Paul Scharre

  • Commentary
    • EUobserver
    • May 29, 2020
    China's post-Covid 19 'techno-nationalist' industrial policy

    While Covid-19 brings China one step closer to technology-perfected authoritarianism through improvised health apps and real-time surveillance, Europe is busy looking inward. ...

    By Rebecca Arcesati & Martijn Rasser

  • Commentary
    • National Endowment for Democracy
    • May 26, 2020
    Converging Chinese and Russian Disinformation Compounds Threat to Democracy

    In recent weeks the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) propaganda and disinformation blitz around COVID-19 has drawn increasing attention, and with good reason. In addition to pr...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor & David Shullman

  • Commentary
    • May 20, 2020
    Digital Threats to Democracy: A Double-Edged Sentence

    This ongoing series from Technology for Global Security (T4GS) and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) examines the elements and potential implications of digital th...

    By M. Nina Miller

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia