The Strategy Of Nuclear Deterrence 

General Martin E. Dempsey, the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently introduced the latest version of the “National Military Strategy of the United States of America.” The unremarkable title and relatively quiet roll-out of this document mask some of the significant conclusions the President’s top military advisers have come to, namely, “global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode.” While malicious state and nonstate actors and technology competitions are nothing new on the international stage, one conclusion the Joint Chiefs of Staff came to is somewhat surprising: that there is a “growing” risk of “war with a major power.” Additionally, the Joint Chiefs of Staff expect that “future conflicts between states may prove to be unpredictable, costly, and difficult to control.” Likewise, the National Intelligence Council believes that “the employment of new forms of warfare such as cyber and space warfare” will allow states to “escalate and expand future conflicts beyond the traditional battlefield.” So not only is there a growing risk of the United States being involved in a war with a major power, but the number and type of potential crises that could spark a war is rising. That answers the question of “why” the threat environment is unpredictable. The subsequent question then is, “what should we do about it?”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff ranked their priorities in this unpredictable world and one mission stood out above the rest. The number one priority as defined by the President’s top military advisers is sustaining and modernizing the U.S. nuclear triad of bombers, submarines, and missiles.  The current administration, as well as previous ones, has determined rightly that ensuring the United States possesses a flexible and resilient nuclear force now is the best hope for deterring existential threats both now and in the uncertain future. Nuclear weapons can help deter the only existential-level threats facing the United States in ways that conventional, economic, or political power alone cannot.

According to Matthew R. Costlow, a Policy Analyst at the National Institute of public policy explains how nuclear deterrence and assurance, arms control, nonproliferation, Russian and Chinese defense strategy, and nuclear terrorism are all interconnected.  This recognition is not, as some critics have claimed, anachronistic thought coming from long-slumbering Cold Warriors. It is a clear-eyed admission of reality that is, while unpleasant, supremely necessary. A recently-released report titled “Project Atom,” which surveyed four of the leading think-tanks on this issue, shows there is remarkable agreement across most of the ideological spectrum. All four think tanks concluded that all three legs of the nuclear triad should not only be retained, but modernized. Critics at this point may concede that nuclear weapons are necessary for America’s defense, but claim current modernization plans are “unaffordable” and just as much deterrent effect could be squeezed out of a smaller nuclear force. Advocates of this position point to President Obama’s pledge in Berlin in 2013 to seek up to a one-third cut in deployed U.S. nuclear weapons. What proponents of further nuclear cuts fail to realize, however, is that President Obama’s pledge was not a call for unilateral U.S. disarmament, but rather a proposal for negotiated nuclear reductions with Russia. Little more than seven months after the speech, Russian troops occupied Crimea, and Russia now rejects further negotiations. Alas, the unpredictability of international relations remains a cruel constant. 

As for the affordability of U.S. nuclear modernization plans, new research shows that U.S. nuclear forces will indeed be affordable as the U.S. defense budget shifts to accommodate upcoming expenses. Again, it is a matter of ranking military priorities, and U.S. military leaders agree that the modernization of U.S. nuclear forces ranks right at the top. While the U.S. nuclear force is the top military priority, this does not mean it is silver bullet that can address every security threat facing America today, it was never meant to. Just as tanks are useless against cyber-attacks and artillery cannot defend satellites in space, U.S. nuclear weapons have defined roles for limited missions, namely: deterring massive attacks on the United States, defeating an enemy and limiting damage should deterrence fail, deterring attacks on our allies and assuring them of our capabilities, and limiting coercion by state and non-state actors. Deterrence, as a strategy, is not fool-proof and guarantees nothing. But every presidential administration, Republican and Democrat alike, since the dawn of the atomic age has recognized the immense value U.S. nuclear weapons have in deterring catastrophic attacks and affecting the behavior of international leaders. Choosing not to modernize U.S. nuclear forces or cutting their numbers drastically will result in a less adaptable force in an international system that enforces one rule ruthlessly: evolve or die. Like debates in Washington D.C. always seem to do, conversation will inevitably gravitate towards the question of affordability in a tight budget environment. Yet, this is at best a secondary issue. The real question is, what priority should we give U.S. nuclear modernization in an uncertain and unpredictable world? The answer: number one.

Curated by C.Pacheco & N. Jafry


As per Carole N. House and John M. House Nanotechnology, Drones, and 3D Printing are the cornerstone for the Future of Soldier Efficiencies. The Soldier has always been and will always remain the basic element of the U.S. Army. Soldiers define the Army and carry out every mission the Army conducts. Therefore, enhancing Soldier efficiency should be a cornerstone of capabilities development in the Army today and into the future. The importance of Soldier efficiency will only grow as a smaller segment of American society serves in uniform. Without capitalizing on technological advancements to improve efficiency, the Army runs the risk of having missions exceed capabilities because the number of Soldiers available will always be a finite number. Austere environments at a port of entry into a hostile environment will emphasize this need even more. The need for Soldier efficiencies to improve power, speed, and understanding is clear. Several developments in the near future should enhance the efficiency of the future Soldier over that of today’s men and women in uniform. Soldier cognition, logistics sustainability, performance enhancement, and nanotechnology provide opportunities for improved efficiency over today.

Soldier Cognition
Battlefield awareness or situational understanding has been improving since humanity developed a telescope. The ability of Soldiers to see farther and process information quickly will continue to improve thanks to unmanned aerial systems and information technology enhancements. Handheld or arm-mounted personal data systems will provide Soldiers greater access to information than ever before. While the original Land Warrior system never reached its potential, miniaturization of electronics and improvements in power will enhance the ability of a Soldier to remain connected to the mission command and intelligence networks that will overlay the battlefield. The Nett Warrior project, successor to Land Warrior, continues to integrate the promise of digital communications and tracking into increased operational effectiveness. Although Nett Warrior currently faces issues such as battery power and communications, increased battery performance and signal capabilities through the use of repeaters will only contribute to this system’s effectiveness and its future mass fielding by 2025. A recent media report indicated that DARPA plans to implant a computer hard drive in a person’s brain to enhance memory or to help injured Soldiers regain memory function. However, if successful, it does not take a great leap of mind to consider the possibility of improved network efficiency of Soldiers with the ability to connect with mission command or intelligence systems without the aid of an input device such as the eye. If instead of looking at a plan or map and having to derive its meaning a Soldier can simply have the information available on a hard drive, efficiency of operations order transmission and understanding should improve. Conceivably orders could instantly be in a Soldier’s memory without the risk of information loss or misunderstanding. The knowledge will simply be immediately available. A Soldier’s ability to assimilate directly into the Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P) through Nett Warrior holds major implications for operational communications when augmented by the ability to integrate a human brain into mission command devices. Digital colloids, effectively shapeshifting nanoparticle clusters that could store up to 1 terabyte of data within a tablespoon of liquid, will gradually pave the way toward “wet computing.” The Defense Advanced Research Project’s (DARPA) neurosignaling technological advancements are already facilitating mind control of technology in 2015. Manipulation permitted by neurosignals compounded by the massive information capacity of digital colloids portends an incredible future interoperability between human brains and digital systems. In effect, by 2025, Nett Warrior-geared Soldiers will be experimenting with the ability to control such digital systems as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and communications through thought. Continued investigation into neurosignaling and bio-hard drive integration technology will most likely be in a developmental stage in 2025, preparing for future fielding into the general force structure. UAVs are present today. Battlefield surveillance and precision strike missions are well known. Improved power capabilities will allow smaller unmanned systems to carry more sensors or weapons over greater distances and for longer periods than in the past. Solar and thermal energy harvesting and battery power enhancements (e.g. the use of carbon nanotubes and sulfur in lithium-ion batteries to increase energy storage and transfer speed) will lead to increased sustainability and redundancy of power sources, mitigating current time and range limitations of UAV sorties. Improved network capability will enable the individual Soldier to interact with unmanned aerial systems to a greater degree than today. When the individual Soldier can look around or over an obstacle such as a building or natural obstacle, then detect, and finally attack an enemy, efficiency will improve, as such Soldiers will be able to defeat an enemy while remaining in relative safety during reconnaissance and even exploitation by indirect fire. However, unmanned aerial systems will also play a major role in enhancing logistics support.

Logistics Support
Unmanned systems in the air or the ground should be able to transport supplies in the not too distant future. and several other commercial industries worldwide are researching the possibility of using small, unmanned systems to deliver orders. If can do this, the U.S. Army should also be able to package supplies for delivery on the battlefield without having to risk a Soldier in a truck exposed to enemy fire and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Delivery to exact locations with Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance will reduce the problems of large stockpiles of supplies and reduce the possibility of delivery to the wrong location. A robotics system using a GPS for navigation will negate the need for a Soldier trying to read a map while driving down a road at night and trying to avoid an IED or other type of ambush. Larger unmanned aerial systems should be able to carry larger quantities of supplies and even potentially conduct aerial medical evacuation (medevac) without risking a manned helicopter. Issues remain with medical care while in transit, of course. Nonetheless, it may be more efficient to use a robotic system for a short-range medevac to remove a Soldier from a dangerous environment to a location near him or her where quick transfer to a manned system is possible with a reduced risk for the evacuation crew. Another major logistics effect of UAVs will be the projection of voice, data, video, and digital communications in remote locations. Facebook’s Initiative is currently working to provide Internet access to isolated areas through Wi-Fi-beaming drones. Over the next 10 years, drones will increasingly provide telecommunications access by providing internet capability in austere environments. The Army will be able to use this capability for mounted aerial repeaters to facilitate long-distance radio communications for initial entry, highly mobile patrols, forward elements, and even for isolated personnel. An even greater impact on logistical support will come from 3D printing. 3D printing offers the advantages of speedy, customized production on demand in remote locations and with minimal waste products. As 3D printing technologies continue to improve so that a printer can produce a multitude of repair parts from a few generic materials, this will reduce the need to carry thousands of lines of small repair parts and even basic tools. As long as the materials on hand used for the printing have the required strength and characteristics for the required equipment task, an operator could produce a needed part or tool on demand without having to wait for resupply. Inherent in this logistical transformation is a great amount of research and development by the Army over the next 10 years to assess and prepare every piece of equipment in the Army supply inventory for assimilation into a 3D printing-based supply system. This includes building a catalog of the digital design files for every reproducible item as well as testing the durability of each piece in its 3D-printed form. Such a capability would dramatically reduce time of delivery and greatly increase unit readiness and self-sufficiency. This sufficiency will also diminish the vulnerability of units to enemy attacks on their lines of communication. Combining such replication capability with small, unmanned aerial systems for delivery and repair parts will improve maintenance and operational efficiency dramatically.

Human Performance Enhancement
Besides increasing the efficiency of his mission command and logistical tasks, emerging mechanical and nanotechnology will continue to heighten the individual Soldier’s physical capabilities. Exoskeleton system development by 2025 will likely be in its early stages of enhancing human performance. Two current Department of Defense initiatives will drive the creation of this technology: DARPA’s Warrior Web program and the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) for Special Operations Command. The Warrior Web program focuses on creating a flexible, low-powered suit that responds to physical stress and the user’s movements to mitigate chronic injuries and reduce the physical burden of the load upon the operator. The TALOS suit is more comparable to a human tank than the more subtle Warrior Web suit. TALOS is specifically engineered for a solution to protect the lead member of a squad who enters a room and is most vulnerable to small arms fire and explosives in close quarters. The ability to carry more weight provided by these exosuits will greatly increase performance efficiency in traveling long distances over rugged terrains with minimized physical hardship. Increased power to physical tasks combined with less need for recovery due to less physical stress and fewer injuries will help make each individual Soldier a kind of “superman.” Additionally, the suits will enable cognitive improvement by helping Soldiers to carry the electronic and power systems for mission command and situational awareness needed over longer distances than today and in terrain that is more difficult. Though situational awareness and battery power are major obstacles currently standing in the way to a working prototype, enhancements over the next 10 years in heads-up display graphical depiction, like that in Google Glass, and battery power will fix much of these challenges. Nanotechnology also offers some promising advancements in human performance in healing and combating disease.

The Army’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology (ISN) at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) provides the opportunity for the Army to be at the forefront of nanotechnology development. Current initiatives include enhanced fibers and materials, medical care, physical ballistic protection, chemical and biological detection and protection, and integration of nanotechnology systems. Capabilities in these areas will improve Soldier efficiency. Materials that provide enhanced physical comfort will help ensure Soldiers focus on their missions and not their personal needs. However, the most critical developments will be in survivability measures. Enhanced medical care will keep Soldiers on the battlefield when otherwise they could succumb to wounds or other injuries. Nanotechnology is providing scientists insight into functionality of human immune systems at an incredible level of detail to monitor the effects of chosen treatments. Additionally, the ISN is developing breakthrough Rapid Reconstitution Packages (RRPs) of lyophilized (i.e. freeze-drying) medicine and vaccinations that can then be stored for years in a compact, powder form. Nanotechnology has also led to incredible developments in wound treatment and healing. Carbon nanotube patches mimic organic tissue when placed on damaged human organs and encourage speedy and strong growth of new tissue.16 Nanofibers in gels used to fill wounds will help to maintain a good level of hemostasis and facilitate less traumatic healing processes, especially if the ISN is successful in using the nanofibers as sensors during healing to trigger release of helpful drugs directly into the body. Nanofibers will also be able to act as sensors as part of a Soldier’s uniform, providing basic vital signs and injury data into the established reporting infrastructure, perhaps the Nett Warrior system. RRPs and nanotechnology-facilitated treatment and monitoring of injuries will greatly increase first medical responder capabilities and greatly increase survivability against injury and disease during operations in remote locations. Improved protection from blast and ballistic projectiles will reduce injuries and enable a smaller force to remain in action longer. Nanotechnology will enable construction of personal protective equipment and vehicle armor that control ballistic energy dissipation to a much greater extent than seen today. Bio-inspired protective joints will also provide effective defense against daily wear on burdened joints and blunt trauma in harsh conditions. Chemical and biological protection through nano-enhanced hazard material detection will again reduce injuries and enable Soldiers to continue to operate when others would have to evacuate an area. The integration of nanotechnologies will support the capabilities noted here but also should enhance the capabilities associated with Soldier cognition and logistics support. These same enhancements affecting materials should reduce the weight of systems that support improved cognition. Improvements in materials and protection will enable logistics systems to operate in hostile environments over greater distances. Augmented by formations of healthy Soldiers, the Army of 2025 looks to be one of strong individuals able to work efficiently in all daily Warrior Tasks and largely self-sufficiently for extended periods of time.

Technological enhancements in the near future if combined with innovative operational concepts provide the opportunity to improve Soldier efficiency dramatically. Whether in Soldier cognition, logistics support, or nanotechnology, the opportunities are close at hand. Integrating digital systems functionality, unmanned aerial systems, 3D printing, exoskeletons, and nanotechnologies into the individual Soldier’s mission requirements and capabilities will provide the desired efficiencies.

End Notes
1. ADS Inc. (2014). Enhancing warfighter readiness with cutting edge, COTS C4ISR supply chain management. Retrieved from… Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E). (2015, January). FY14 army programs: Nett warrior. FY 2014 Annual Report, 131-132. Retrieved from

2. McGarry, B. (2015, March 19). After terminator arm, DARPA wants implantable hard drive for the brain. News. Retrieved from…

3. Solon, O. (2014, July 28). Liquid hard drive could store 1TB data in a tablespoon. Wired. Retrieved from

4. Phillips, C. L., Jankowski, E., Krishnatreya, B. J., Edmond, K. V., Sacanna, S., Grier, D. G., … Glotzer, S. C. (2014, October 14). Digital colloids: Reconfigurable clusters as high information density elements. Soft Matter, 10(38), p. 7468-7479. Retrieved from

5. Phillip, A. (2015, March 3). A paralyzed woman flew an F-35 fighter jet in a simulator – using only her mind. The Washington Post. Retrieved from…

6. Sandhana, L. (2013, November 25). New wave energy wants to put power plants in the sky. Gizmag. Retrieved from; Liu, C., Gillette, E.I., Xinyi, C., Pearse, A. J., Kozeri, A. C., Schroeder, M. A.,… Rubloff, G.W. (2014, November 10). An all-in-one nanopore battery array. Nature Nanotechnology, 9(2014), 1031-1038. Retrieved from; Zhang, S. (2013, January 20). Liquid electrolyte lithium/sulfur battery: Fundamental chemistry, problems, and solution. Journal of Power Sources, 231(2013), 153-162. Retrieved from

7. Barr, A. & Bensinger, G. (2014, August 29). Google is testing delivery drone system. The Washington Street Journal. Retrieved from…

8. Alexander, D. (2014, April 5). U.S. Navy testing more sophisticated pilotless helicopters. Reuters. Retrieved from…

9. Lavars, N. (2014, March 26). Facebook successfully tests its internet-beaming drones. Gizmag. Retrieved from

10. Pirjan, A. & Petrosanu, D. M. (2013). The impact of 3D printing technology on the society and economy. Journal of Information Systems & Operations Management, Winter 2013, 1-11. Retreived from

11. DARPA. (n.d.). Warrior web. DARPA Biological Technologies Office. Retrieved from; Magnuson, Stew. (2015, January 28). SOCOM’s “Iron Man” suit faces major technological hurdles. National Defense Magazine. Retrieved from

12. DARPA, n.d.; Schechter, E. (2014, December 4). DARPA is getting closer to an Iron Man suit. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved from…

13. Magnuson, 2015

14. Strange, A. (2013, August 14). Google Glass video shows off turn-by-turn directions. PC Magazine. Retrieved from,2817,2423068,00.asp

15. Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN). (n.d.). Strategic Research Areas. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. Retrieved from

Curated by Naved Jafry 

Expanding the Business of Defense To Emerging Markets

As the defense budgets face downward pressure in the US and Europe, emerging markets are poised to spend more than a trillion dollars on defense over the coming decade, creating business opportunities for Western defense firms. A recent Frost & Sullivan analysis of 10 emerging markets concluded that between 2015 and 2025, emerging markets in Southeast Asia, South America, the Middle East and elsewhere would spend more than $1.2 trillion on defense. Over that period, military expenditures in Colombia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco and Singapore are expected to see 3.6 percent compound annual growth rate, while Angola, Azerbaijan, Peru, Qatar and South Korea can anticipate a CAGR of 2.8 percent. Much of that spending will be on personnel, operations and maintenance, leaving relatively modest amounts for new equipment. While the first group will spend an average of $9.5 billion a year combined on new equipment, the second will spend an average of $18.95 billion a year combined, primarily driven by South Korea and Qatar’s acquisition spending. While some emerging markets are rapidly developing countries and some boast more established economies, the three main drivers for their increased defense spending are similar, said Alek Jovovic, an analyst with Avascent. 

First, governments want to develop what Jovovic terms “sovereign technical capabilities,” with spillover domestic benefits. “They look at the defense sector and they see certain things came out of defense spending that were just good for countries from a technological perspective. It drives broader industrial development,” he said.

Second, they want the ability to defend themselves as needed without relying on equipment from foreign suppliers. 

Third, boosting defense spending helps create high-quality jobs. “These are all trends that are remarkably similar, no matter what the threat context is, no matter where the country is,” Jovovic said.

Earlier this year, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies noted that global defense spending rose by 1.7 percent in 2014, the first year of growth since 2010. But the geographical distribution of defense spending is changing, with less coming from the US (which accounted for 38 percent of the global total in 2014, down from 47 percent in 2010) and Europe. “By contrast, defense outlays are rising in many emerging economies, particularly Asia, the Middle East and Russia,” IISS noted in its report Military Balance 2015. “In the Middle East and North Africa, nominal defense spending is estimated to have risen by almost two-thirds since 2010. Factoring in exchange rate and inflationary effects, this equates to a 40 percent increase in real defense outlays over the period.” The shift in defense spending creates opportunities for Western defense contractors as demand for sophisticated weapons will likely outpace emerging countries’ abilities to produce them domestically. As a white paper published by Avascent in March noted, the US has a leading position in these markets, but political friction between the US and its allies leaves an opening for competition from European, Israeli, Russian and Chinese defense companies. While mature markets in Western Europe and Northeast Asia continue to offer major competitive opportunities over the next 10 years, “many opportunities will be found in fast-growing emerging markets which have less well-developed industrial capacity to fulfill the requirements of rapidly expanding militaries,” the Avascent white paper states. “A growing share of revenues for most Western defense suppliers will come from these emerging markets.” For example, 95 percent of defense contracts in Gulf Corporation Council countries between 2010 and 2014 went to foreign companies, with the lion’s share going to the US (73 percent) and Western Europe (24 percent). In the coming decade, 64 percent of GCC contracts are up for grabs, according to Avascent projections. Similarly, the US (41 percent) and Western Europe (31 percent) were the largest defense suppliers for Southeast Asia between 2010 and 2014, but 63 percent of contracts for the coming decade are uncommitted. “On one side it is good news, because a number of new markets that aspire to world-class defense products and services to some smaller degree,” Jovovic said. “On the challenging side, these are sometimes hard markets to do business in. They require a bit of a paradigm shift, you have more partnering, more collaboration with folks on the ground.”

In a survey conducted in October by McKinsey & Company, defense industry executives largely predicted declining defense spending in North America and Europe versus growth in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. The Middle East (77 percent), India (50 percent), US (33 percent), South Korea (33 percent) and the UK (23 percent) were seen as the most attractive markets, with Japan (20 percent), Brazil (10 percent), Indonesia (10 percent), Canada (10 percent) and China (7 percent) rounding out the top 10. “Declining budgets in the Western world and growth in Asia and the Middle East give rise to an overwhelming trend in the defense industry: affordability,” the McKinsey report states. “About 85 percent of executives believe that their customers will shift their focus from procuring systems with the highest possible performance to ones that are more affordable.”

Curated by N. Jafry & C. Pacheco

Why Does The Military Spends So Much Money?

The fuel of our military’s greatness comes in large part from the economic prosperity of the US and the incredible funding that the Pentagon receives. To put it in perspective  here’s how the US military spends its billions. In 2015, the US have a projected military and defense budget of $601 billion, which is more than the next 7 highest spending countries combined. The vast majority of the $601 billion will be funneled towards the military’s base budget, which includes funding for the procurement of military equipment and the daily operations costs of US bases. Of the $496 billion base budget, the vast majority of funding goes towards the cost of operating and maintaining the military and the cost of paying and caring for military personnel. A further $90.4 billion is set aside for the procurement of new weapons systems during the 2015 fiscal year.  In terms of investments, the US has dedicated a substantial chunk of funding into aircraft and related systems. This is due to the procurement of the F-35 fifth-generation fighter, which is entering into service with the Marine Corps this year. The 2015 budget also has started to allocate funds for the next-generation long-range strike bomber for the Air Force. In terms of major acquisitions, the F-35 has been the dominant cost with the procurement of 34 aircraft. The new Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine, which is intended to help modernize the US submarine fleet, is the second main acquisition cost for 2015. The $6.3 billion price tag is for two subs. By department, the US Navy will receive the most funding in 2015. However, the Department of the Navy’s funding also includes the 2015 budget for the US Marine Corps.

Trimming the defense budget is one of the hardest tasks in Washington. Congress never met a weapons system it didn’t like. But with the nation’s debt problems, making sensible cuts has become essential. Senior Pentagon officials recognize that new technologies make it possible to reshape the budget without putting the country at greater risk. But this transition will require an honest evaluation of the “legacy systems” – the squadrons of manned bombers and fighters; the fleets of aircraft carriers, cruisers and submarines – that are wrapped in red, white and blue. The military loves these traditional instruments of American power, despite their immense cost. But as technologies change, they will gradually become as outmoded as a cannonball or a cavalry charge.

Defense analysts argue that the military needs to focus less on fancy platforms – its nuclear ships or supersonic jets. These systems will soon be vulnerable to attack from lasers and other directed-energy weapons. But more important, the platforms will matter less than what they carry. This is the age of “unmanned aerial vehicles” – and soon unmanned ships, subs and tanks, too. These simple, autonomous platforms will be cheaper and more robust but no less deadly to an adversary. If  our leadership seizes this opportunity and drives it through the inevitable congressional opposition, it can begin a real transformation of the defense budget. Technology should allow the United States to cut costs for traditional legacy systems as it prepares for the new threats that are ahead. The new technologies that will drive these changes are detailed in a study called “Technology Horizons” that was prepared last year by Werner Dahm, who was then chief scientist of the Air Force. He urged research on “cyber resilience” and “electromagnetic spectrum warfare,” including lasers and other beam weapons. And he stressed that unmanned systems, coordinated by advanced software, can give “operational advantages over adversaries who are limited to human planning and decision speeds.”

Lasers are only a few years away from being practical weapons, Pentagon officials say. Ground-based lasers could revolutionize air defense, and a new generation of solid-state lasers may be small enough for airborne platforms. “Directed-energy systems will be among the key ‘game-changing’ technology-enabled capabilities,” wrote Dahm.

Space will become, metaphorically, a vulnerable “low ground” in this new environment. Powerful ground-based lasers will be able to blind or disable satellites, so redundant forms of communication will be needed. So will alternatives to platforms that depend on space-based Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.

Though our “Buck Rogers” fantasies make us think of lasers primarily as offensive weapons, experts say they will be just as useful for surveillance – illuminating targets with pinpoint digital precision (when clouds aren’t in the way). Researchers are developing laser-driven air-defense systems that can instantly detect and then strike incoming missiles. This is a technology revolution that, among other things, could actually make Israel safe from missile and rocket attack.

The hard part of this defense transformation will be giving up the grand old systems that for generations have symbolized U.S. military power. But that process of shedding the past is absolutely essential. If we try to keep all the old systems and add the new ones, our already overstretched budget will rip apart like a gunnysack. The Pentagon knows it can’t have it all; hopefully, members of Congress (who love to bloviate about cutting the budget but hate cutting actual programs) will get the message, too. Gates has been an outspoken advocate of cutting programs we can’t afford, and he has strong backing from Adm. Mike Mullen and Gen. James Cartwright, the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The military brass knows the country won’t be secure if it’s broke. 
As the military is obligated to protect and defend our constitution, the US military has unquestionably become the dominant force on the planet. With the greatest of its advances seen in technological developments and maintaining a massive network of military alliances. This has resulted in helping the US military retain overwhelming lead over the militaries of every other country on the planet. Overall the protection of the citizenry’s life and property while ensuring a reasonable environment for the freedoms we so very much enjoy, this we believe is a reasonable price that is worth paying for. 

Curated By N. Jafry & C. Pacheco 

Cost Of Security

Just like with cheap car insurance, the United States might not see the consequences of under-spending on defense until something really bad happens. It is worth spending more today to be prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. The debate about defense spending will likely reignite in September as Congress returns from recess and the end of the fiscal year draws near. Unfortunately, much of that debate will not be very helpful or informative.
Instead of arguing the merits of a particular military spending level, much of the debate will revolve around Democratic opposition to increasing defense spending without proportional increases to non-defense spending. The usual arguments for cutting defense spending will likely pop up as well. But what’s really needed is a more thoughtful debate. Once you get beyond the talking points and the political agendas, what should the United States spend on defense? The Ideal Defense Budget Debate Determining what the United States (or any country) should spend on national defense is much easier in theory than in reality. But let’s start with the theory.

The first step is determining the vital interests of the United States. What must we, as a country, protect? Almost everyone would agree that we must protect America and our citizens from attacks by terrorists or nation-states. But beyond protecting the homeland and its people, it gets more complicated. Should the United States protect its allies? International commerce and the commons in and on which this commerce happens? The human rights of individuals in other countries? These are the types of questions that need to be answered in order to determine the vital interests of the United States.
The next step is figuring out what threatens these vital interests. Some of these threats are obvious, such as nuclear war and terrorist attacks. Some threats seem to be growing, such as Russia’s aggressive actions and China’s cyberattacks. The goal should be a clear-eyed analysis of what truly threatens our vital interests today and what may threaten those interests in the future.
The third step is figuring out how to protect America’s vital interests from both the threats of today and those of the future. This will likely include elements of hard power (i.e. the military) and soft power (i.e. diplomacy, alliances, trade) used in concert to deter or, if necessary, defeat the threats. This should produce a cohesive strategy for protecting America’s vital interests. While outlining a full strategy is too large a task for this article, the most recent National Defense Panel report is a good bipartisan example that assesses vital interests and threats and then outlines a strategy.

  Once you have a strategy, you need to develop the tools to implement that strategy. For the military, this means figuring out the capabilities and the capacity needed to execute the strategy. For example, protecting America from North Korean nuclear missiles may require an interceptor (a capability). But one interceptor is probably not enough — instead you need enough interceptors (capacity) to defeat all of North Korea’s nuclear missiles. While capabilities are usually pretty self-evident, questions of capacity are often more complex. Most Americans would agree that the U.S. Air Force should have the ability to defeat the best fighter aircraft of our potential adversaries. But should the Air Force be big enough to fight against more than one potential adversary simultaneously?
Answering questions of capability and capacity will lead directly to a defense budget. The U.S. Navy needs a certain number of destroyers at any given time and the average lifespan of a destroyer is known, so the number of destroyers that need to be built per year can be figured out. This process can be repeated for each military capability, which eventually produces a defense budget.
Of course, reality is not that simple. The defense budget is often constrained for economic or political reasons. The gap between what the United States actually spends and what it takes to fully resource and execute the strategy is risk. Unfortunately, risk is difficult to measure, but all too easy to ignore. A particular threat may be out of sight and out of mind, but it still exists and could still harm a vital interest of the United States. It’s similar to buying cheap car insurance. It may save a few bucks and turn out fine as long as you never have an accident. That is what it means to accept risk.
To be clear, a strategy-based defense budget should not be an excuse for a wasteful defense budget at any level. On the macro level, if the United States spends too much on defense, it is wasting the precious resource of taxpayer money and contributing to the burden of debt on future generations. The total defense budget should not be one dollar more than absolutely necessary. On the micro level, wasteful and inefficient programs prevent capabilities and capacity from being used to protect the nation’s interests. Additional reforms must be implemented so that every dollar is used efficiently and appropriately.

So in theory, that is how a defense budget should be built. But where do things really stand? Since the imposition of the Budget Control Act in 2011, the base defense budget (excluding war costs) has gone down by 15 percent in real terms, while the threats to U.S. vital interests have, if anything, increased. The Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Index of U.S. Military Strength assessed the current capacity, capability, and readiness of the U.S. military as “marginal.”
In this context, President Obama has proposed increasing the base defense budget to $561 billion in FY2016, which represents a 5.8 percent inflation-adjusted increase over FY2015 defense spending. Republicans in Congress also want to spend $561 billion on defense, but plan to use overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding, or war budget, which is exempt from the Budget Control Act spending caps. In other words, the defense spending debate will not really be about defense spending. The true driving forces of the debate are the use of a budget gimmick and Democratic opposition to increasing defense spending without proportional increases in non-defense domestic spending.
While the White House and Congress propose a defense spending level of $561 billion, many believe this is still well below a strategy-driven defense budget. A Heritage Foundation analysis suggested $584 billion as a starting point, a 10 percent increase over FY2015. The bipartisan National Defense Panel argued that the last budget proposal from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2012 should be the minimum defense budget. For FY2016 that would be $638 billion, which is 20 percent higher than FY2015 in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Let’s assume for a moment that the defense budget was increased to the Heritage Foundation or National Defense Panel’s preferred levels in FY2016. Where would this money come from and where would it go? Both the Heritage analysis and the National Defense Panel point out that entitlement programs are driving the national debt and must be reformed. For example, with two months of FY2015 remaining, the three major entitlement programs have already spent $108 billion more than last fiscal year. Until these programs are reformed, the budget situation will remain very challenging for discretionary spending. The Heritage Foundation analysis also proposes ways to save more than $50 billion in non-defense discretionary spending in FY2016 alone.
The reality is that imposing many of these reforms to pay for increased defense spending will be politically challenging. The tempting alternative is to either increase deficit spending or increase taxes. Neither is a wise route. Increased deficit spending (and therefore higher national debt) has been shown to hurt economic productivity. Similarly, increasing taxes also hurts economic productivity. Enacting reasonable entitlement reform and cutting non-defense discretionary programs is the best way forward. There is much debate to be had on how best to reform entitlement programs and where to cut non-defense programs, and it will not be easy, but it is the best path toward an economically strong and militarily secure country.
And where would this money go? The Heritage analysis proposes $31 billion in specific additions, primarily in preserving force structure and increasing readiness and modernization. This includes keeping the Army active duty end strength at 490,000 and the Marine Corps active duty end strength at 183,000. It also includes things like preserving the Navy cruiser fleet and accelerating F-35 purchases for the Air Force. Another obvious place to increase spending is in response to the military’s unfunded priorities lists. The FY2016 requests from each service total $21 billion and are largely focused on smaller items, such as an Army facility sustainment request for $912 million.
While these documents provide a good way to increase the defense budget by roughly $52 billion, defense spending advocates should be willing to recognize that increasing defense spending too rapidly can be wasteful. Immediate budget increases can preserve today’s force structure, increase readiness, and increase procurement quantities for current production lines. New technologies and systems, however, cannot be bought overnight and large cash infusions can actually wreak havoc. The ideal scenario is an immediate defense budget increase to preserve force structure while increasing readiness and modernization. This should be followed by a steady increase over time to allow for the development of future systems and technologies.
Whatever final defense budget number Washington settles on for FY2016, it will doubtless be well below the minimum level dictated by a rigorous, risk-informed, strategy-based analysis. Just like with cheap car insurance, the United States might not see the consequences of under-spending on defense this year. But when the accident happens, or when the threat grows so great not even Congress can turn a blind eye, the costs will be higher than if we had adequately invested in national defense today.
By N. Jafry & C J Pacheco


The officespaces of our times are quickly becoming a coffee shop again. History has a tendency of repeating itself. The state of the original officespace really started as recent as 400 years ago at Edward Lloyd’s coffee shop in London (now Lloyd’s of London) and it’s probably the way we should be designing our offices for the millennial and Z generations of today. Ten years from now, most of the baby boomers will be retired and millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, will make up 75 percent of the workforce. Even now they make up a third of it. A new study from Bentley University, The Millennial Mind Goes to Work, looks at “how millennial preferences will shape the future of the modern workplace.” They are also sometimes contradictory. Some of the points directly affect the physical form of the office: They love their phones, but face time is important too. Given the purported love for texting (and love for the Skype virtual water cooler) It was a surprise that recent survey’s concluded that 51 percent of millennials prefer to talk in person, 19 percent email, 21 percent chat or text and the phone is so dead at only 9 percent. But according to Ian Cross of Bentley, it depends: Particularly at the beginning of their career, millennials need more validation than previous generations. They like praise, and they want clear direction as to what a manager may be asking of them, which explains their desire to speak to a colleague in person. Even so, says Cross, don’t be surprised to find millennials communicating with friends by text, which is still their primary vehicle for social interacting. Which all seems to contradict the next big finding: 9 to 5? Home or office? the end of 9 to five.  About 77 percent of the millennials surveyed say that flexible hours would make them more productive, while 39 percent of them want more remote working. I was surprised at how low the remote working number was, but the study also notes that “31 percent of millennials do worry that their desire for workplace flexibility is often mistaken for a poor work ethic.” There’s probably some worry that if they’re out of sight, they’re out of mind, and they want to keep up that face time with the manager noted above and what about that work ethic?

There is a complaint in the study that millennials don’t have that good old work ethic, aren’t willing to put in the hours and devote their lives to the office. But is this a bad thing or an opportunity?  While older generations think of their job as a large part of who they are, millennials see work as a piece of their life but not everything. In other words, work doesn’t define them. Family, friends and making a difference in their community are much more central to them than previous generations.” As a result, millennials seek to have more work-life balance. Frankly this could be an example of a healthy adjustment to our world view of work.” So what we appear to have with the millennials are workers who:

want to be part of their community and have a better work/life balance,

want more flexibility in work hours and location,

And want to retain the ability to have real face time with their managers and co-workers.
You get together when you want or need to talk, hang out if you want to be seen, but otherwise generally work where and when you want. This sounds familiar.

A few years ago I noted that the major purpose of an office now is to interact, to get around a table and talk, to schmooze. Just what you do in a coffee shop. Hence there is no accident that office spaces of the world are emptying out and new trend trend of live work space is taking over. 

By Naved Jafry & J. Witwit


Is Currency Manipulation Real ?

Chinese “currency manipulation” is a reliable stump speech line. But it’s just not true any more. Republicans do it. Democrats do it. Donald Trump does it, Mitt Romney did it, and Barack Obama did it, too. We’ve been doing it … well, maybe if not since the horse and carriage then at least since the first horse and carriage rolled off the Shenzhen assembly line and got shipped to Wal-Mart. That was a long time ago, probably.
We’re talking about China-bashing, and specifically the claim that China is cheating to underprice all the stuff it sells to the United States, in an effort to drive U.S. companies out of business. It’s a hoary claim that’s come up in every U.S. presidential race in memory. And it just got harder to defend. The International Monetary Fund yesterday agreed to include China’s currency, the yuan renminbi, in the basket of currencies it uses to value its “special drawing rights.” If you feel like stopping right there, hold on a second. This is esoteric stuff, and you don’t really need to know exactly how a “special drawing right” works (it’s a special kind of money that the IMF can distribute to countries in very rare circumstances—three times in 50 years, to be exact). What matters is that it’s a statement by the world’s central bank that China’s currency is stable, accepted, and traded freely enough that countries can use it to store their national treasury. It joins the dollar, euro, pound, and yen as accepted units of international accounting—a currency that countries can keep on hand to pay their expenses and settle their debts. This is the kind of validation from international financial regulators that China has wanted for a long time. So you can cue up the outrage. Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump have all made hay with accusations of China’s “currency manipulation.” It’s an old reliable campaign line: It sounds sinister, it’s an easy way to blame trouble with the U.S. economy on folks an ocean away who don’t get to vote in our elections, and hardly anyone knows what it means.

In truth, while there are plenty of good reasons to be critical of China, currency manipulation isn’t one of them. The basic idea behind the charge is that China has bought up dollars and flooded the world with yuan to make the yuan less valuable, making Chinese exports cost less and blocking American imports. Years ago, this was probably true. In recent years, though, China’s buying up dollars has probably done the U.S. more good than harm (it has used them to buy U.S. Treasury bonds). And more recently, China has stopped doing it. In fact, if China has “manipulated” its currency at all, it has been to strengthen the renminbi and keep it from sliding too fast as China’s economy cools. So at this point, all the talk of Chinese “currency manipulation” should be over with. But it won’t be, because the notion that China has rigged the game feeds into a bigger story of how other countries are stealing U.S. jobs by pricing their goods so cheaply that U.S. companies can’t compete. According to this narrative, trade is a one way street: We used to make a lot of stuff cars, televisions, computers, etc. until other countries with low wages and rigged currencies started making those things more cheaply and selling them back to us.

But this story hasn’t reflected reality for a long time. There are certainly countries where it’s a lot cheaper to manufacture than China, like Bangladesh and Malaysia. Your iPhone isn’t made in China because it’s the cheapest place to make it. It’s made in China because nobody but Foxconn, Apple’s main contractor in China, can ramp up production with the speed and the quality control that Apple demands. Worth noting: China’s average wages have tripled in a decade; if U.S. wages had risen that fast, the average U.S. worker would now be earning roughly $107,000. Given that record of wage growth, you’d think presidential candidates and their advisers would focus more on how we can sell more stuff to China than on how we can make Chinese-made products more expensive here. China does have plenty of trade barriers, and its rising middle class spends surprisingly little of their income (a problem not just for U.S. companies, but Chinese ones too). But in the long run, China’s 1.4 billion citizens ought to represent a gigantic opportunity for U.S. companies.

The IMF’s move yesterday shows that the rest of the world has moved on from the tired idea that China is selling stuff too cheaply. It might take a little longer for the U.S. electorate. They’ve been told for a long time that trade is a rigged game in which other countries are cheating and the way to win is to buy less stuff from abroad. That’s a reliably popular stump speech. It’ll take a brave candidate to tell voters it’s not true.

By Naved Jafry 

Reference : M. Giemen