Most Warriors when engaged in conflict may have either killed and broken things, but, as a soldier, that was never the end. There was a purpose, a reason, a goal. Always. My country, profession, and family demand this, as is the case for all in uniform.
The military’s purpose is not to kill people and break things. This idea is factually, historically, professionally, and philosophically wrong — and must itself be remorselessly killed and violently broken. This 11-word platitude has no place in modern society.
To suggest the military’s purpose is to break and kill confuses purpose and task, ends with means. Ironically, this miscalculation came from a minister. To apply the error in ecclesiastical terms would be to claim that Jesus’s purpose was merely to die a painful physical death, without any higher design. This might seem like silly semantics to some, but to professionals carrying either cross or carbine, words matter.
Beyond the logic, consider U.S. military doctrine’s first among equals — Joint Publication 1: Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States — which affirms that “military power is integrated with other instruments of national power to advance and defend US values, interests, and objectives.” This purpose applies even to the ground-pounding infantry, whose mission is “to close with and destroy the enemy.” Again, “destroy” is a task, which does not a purpose make. And recent reality reflects a much broader set of tasks for the grunts than myopic fixation on stabbing and smashing, all of which serve the same purpose Joint Publication 1 describes: training the Ukrainian army, assuring the Baltics, supporting African states, not to mention the development of security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past decade. Doctrine and recent experience combine to confirm that killing and breaking are not the military’s sole purpose or occupation.

Huckabee’s oft-repeated assertion is also wrong historically. Consider the Berlin Airlift, or the responses to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the earthquake in Haiti, and the massive disasters in Indonesia and Japan. Or the military’s role in creation and discovery: the Panama Canal, the Space Race, Lewis and Clark, the Great White Fleet, the Internet. We stand watch over the heroes in Arlington, as well as the environment: the U.S. Army protected Yellowstone, our first National Park, for over 30 years (which is where Smokey the Bear got that great campaign hat). Dr. Seuss drew political cartoons as a lieutenant, while director Frank Capra of It’s a Wonderful Life fame made movies as a major in the U.S. Army during World War II. The military does many diverse tasks. The common denominator is serving and protecting America, Americans, and American interests.
To sharpen this edge with a personal point, I write from a forward-stationed position in the Republic of Korea. Tensions are up after North Korea planted mines on our side of the Demilitarized Zone, maiming two South Korean soldiers, which resulted in an escalatory exchange of psychological operations loudspeaker broadcasts and indirect fire. If I were to receive a real-world alert call tonight, the entire range is possible: humanitarian aid and disaster relief, airstrikes and artillery, tanks and tunnels, not to leave out the fully present danger of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare. Or all of the above.
Critics will counter with Clausewitz, dismissing my argument as the naïve, “kind-hearted” words of someone that misguidedly believes there is “some ingenious way to disarm or defeat an enemy without too much bloodshed.” But Clausewitz was writing in an era of limited options, when a bloodsucking leech was often the medical profession’s first and only recourse. Today is different. New U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley just alluded to the same kind of red stuff. “As America, we have no luxury of a single opponent,” Milley said, warning that “we will pay the butcher’s bill in blood” if the military is not prepared to succeed at tasks across the full spectrum. Limiting the military to killing and breaking would inappropriately constrain us to black/white responses in a Technicolor world.
Not everything has changed. The Spartans had a saying, which roughly translates to “Come back with your shield or on it.” The shield was valued above all, because in the ranks, the shield protected not just its immediate bearer, but also the next soldier, and on, and so on. The shield mattered more than the sword. The message was clear: If you do not have your shield, if you lost that implement of integrated defense, then you had better not come back at all. And this rings true today: The military is both the country’s shield and sword, but, always the shield over the sword.

The final stake in this mistaken sentiment’s heart is that it misrepresents me as a military person. If my purpose is to kill people and break things, how do I explain this to my wife and two young daughters? Particularly as Gen. Milley considered this our primary audience, stating: “Most importantly, we serve for our children.” Should I get down on bended knee and tell my girls, “Daddy is a killer and a breaker?” Would this make them smile? Proud?
The idea that the military exists to kill and break rests on a Hollywood-informed view of the world, loaded with giant, muscular superheroes that never have to submit to the laws of physics or a weapon’s maximum ammunition capacity, perpetually ready to whack a terrorist at a moment’s notice. This Bruckheimerian theology might be captured at its uniformed best in Marvel’s Captain America (played by a CGI-enhanced Chris Evans). Ironically, friends at work have taken to calling me “Steve Rogers” — as in the scrawny, scrappy, hard charger who eventually transforms into Captain America after taking a mystery drug (steroids). As in all jokes, there’s some truth in the punchline: As a runner, I fill out every bit of my extra-small uniform.
But here’s why I’m proud, fiercely proud, to be nicknamed “Steve Rogers.” In the movies, you take some chemicals, get big and impervious to heavy-weapons fire, and start mauling bad guys. In reality, those of us in uniform are human, not Terminators. There’s a telling moment in Captain America when a senior officer tests a group of recruits by rolling a grenade into a large gathering of soldiers. Without hesitation, the smallest of them, Steve Rogers, hurls himself onto the explosive. The protective instinct on display represents the military far better than any written description ever could — sacrificing one’s all to safeguard the many.
The purpose of the military is not to kill people and break things. While sometimes it must break, it must always guard. While sometimes it must kill, it must always keep. In all things, in all tasks, beyond any debate, the military’s purpose is to serve and protect America.

Major Matt Cavanaugh, a U.S. Army Strategist, has served in assignments from Iraq to the Pentagon and New York to New Zealand. He writes regularly at and invites others to connect via Twitter @MLCavanaugh. This essay is an unofficial expression of opinion; the views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the US Military Academy, Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or any agency of the U.S. government.


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.


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

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

Understanding State Sponsored Cyberterrorism

As offensive cyber activity becomes more prevalent, policymakers will be challenged to develop proportionate responses to disruptive or destructive attacks. Already, there has been significant pressure to “do something” in light of the allegedly state-sponsored attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Sands Casino. But finding a timely, proportionate, legal, and discriminatory response is complicated by the difficulty in assessing the damage to national interests and the frequent use of proxies. Perpetrators have plausible deniability, frustrating efforts to assign responsibility. Past experience suggests that most policy responses have been ad hoc.
In determining the appropriate response to a state-sponsored cyber incident, policymakers will need to consider three variables: the intelligence community’s confidence in its attribution of responsibility, the impact of the incident, and the levers of national power at a state’s disposal.
While these variables will help guide responses to a disruptive or destructive cyberattack, policymakers will also need to take two steps before an incident occurs. First, policymakers will need to work with the private sector to determine the effect of an incident on their operations. Second, governments need to develop a menu of preplanned response options and assess the potential impact of any response on political, economic, intelligence, and military interests.
Background: Cyber Incidents and Uncertainty
Even as the number of highly disruptive and destructive cyberattacks grows, governments remain unprepared to respond adequately. In other national security areas, policy responses to state-sponsored activity are well established. For example, a country can expel diplomats in response to a spying scandal, issue a demarche if a country considers its sovereignty to have been violated, and use force in response to an armed attack. Clear and established policy responses such as these do not yet exist for cyberattacks for two reasons. First, assessing the damage caused by a cyber incident is difficult. It can take weeks, if not months, for computer forensic experts to accurately and conclusively ascertain the extent of the damage done to an organization’s computer networks. For example, it took roughly two weeks for Saudi authorities to understand the extent of the damage of the Shamoon incident, which erased data on thirty thousand of Saudi Aramco’s computers. Although this may be quick by computer forensics standards, a military can conduct a damage assessment from a non-cyber incident in as little as a few hours.
Second, attributing cyber incidents to their sponsor remains a significant challenge. Masking the true origins of a cyber incident is easy—states often use proxies or compromised computers in other jurisdictions to hide their tracks. For example, a group calling itself the Cyber Caliphate claimed responsibility for taking French television station TV5 Monde off the air with a cyberattack in April 2015, and used the television station’s social media accounts to post content in support of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Two months later French media reported that Russian state-sponsored actors, not pro–Islamic State groups, were likely behind the incident. Even when attribution is possible, it is not guaranteed that domestic or foreign audiences will believe the claim unless officials reveal potentially classified methods used to determine the identity of the perpetrator, damaging intelligence assets. Under pressure, responses are likely to be made quickly with incomplete evidence and attract a high degree of public skepticism. This creates clear risks for policymakers. Quick damage assessments could lead to an overestimation of the impact of an incident, causing a state to respond disproportionately. Misattributing an incident could cause a response to be directed at the wrong target, creating a diplomatic crisis.

Developing a Proportionate Response
Policymakers should consider three variables before developing a response. First, they should understand the level of confidence that their intelligence agencies have in attributing the incident. Although there have been great strides in intelligence agencies’ ability to attribute malicious activity, digital forensics is not perfect. The degree of attributional certainty will have a direct impact on the action taken. For example, if the level of attribution is low, policymakers will be limited in their choice of response even if the severity of the attack is high. They may choose a less valuable retaliatory target to limit the odds of escalation and international criticism. There may also be instances where there is so little evidence for the source of the attack that the victim may choose not to respond.
Second, policymakers should assess the cyber incident’s effects on physical infrastructure, society, the economy, and national interests. Questions include: What was the physical damage caused by the affected systems, and was there any impact to critical infrastructure? What type of essential services are affected? Has the incident caused a significant loss of confidence in the economy? What was the incident’s impact on national security and the country’s reputation?
Third, policymakers should consider the range of diplomatic, economic, and military responses at their disposal, from a quiet diplomatic rebuke to a military strike. Responses need not be limited to cyberspace—nothing bars a state from using other channels, though each carries its own risks.
Cyber responses can be taken in addition to diplomatic, economic, and military activity. However, they would most often be delivered covertly and could be difficult to develop quickly unless a government had prepared capability against a specific target, likely involving prior cyber espionage, an unparalleled understanding of a target’s vulnerabilities, and a custom exploit kit at its disposal. As an example, Stuxnet reportedly took years to develop and deploy. An overt cyber response can be unappealing as states may lose the ability to launch similar responses against other targets. Although states may outsource their responses to a proxy, doing so could limit their control over the response and lead to escalatory activity. Therefore, policymakers are likely to concentrate on other levers of power, alongside whatever they may do covertly.
Given the likely pressure governments will feel to respond to significant cyberattacks, policymakers need to develop a response framework before a disruptive or destructive cyber incident occurs. Although each response will be case specific, a framework will enable policymakers to quickly consider their options.
Figure 1 represents a possible framework that policymakers can build on. Combining incident impact, policy options, and proportionality, it outlines the different levers of state power that can be applied in response to escalating levels of cyber incident. It plots the effects of a cyber incident, with website defacement at one end of the scale and loss of life at the opposite end. This is plotted against the level of response, ranging from media statements to military responses. Across the response spectrum there will be inherent political and legal risks associated with each decision, and risks increase as the level of the response increases. The proposed responses are applicable to state-sponsored activity. For disruptive or destructive activity caused by individuals, criminal networks, or others without state backing, law enforcement responses are more appropriate.

Figure 1. Policy Responses to Escalating State-Sponsored Cyber Incidents
As with other areas of international relations, proportionality emerges through state practice—the expulsion of diplomats in response to a mild violation of sovereignty is perceived as proportionate only because states have been doing it for decades. When one country levies economic sanctions, the sanctioned country often responds in kind—Russia responded to U.S. sanctions over its annexation of Crimea with sanctions of its own. This same logic applies to cyberspace. While there may be pressure to respond disproportionally to deter future attacks, international law requires that states only take forcible measures that are necessary and proportionate to successfully repel or defeat a disruptive or destructive cyberattack, limiting the “scale, scope, duration and intensity” of any action a victim state may take. Furthermore, responding proportionally may make it easier to build the international coalitions necessary to isolate and punish the attacker as well as limit the likelihood of escalation.
If a country is the victim of a state-sponsored website defacement, a public denouncement is likely the most appropriate response. Moving up the scale, any activity that begins to manipulate or destroy data would potentially require diplomatic action, such as a demarche in low-impact cases or the expulsion of diplomats if the incident affects the victim’s economy. Once the economy is adversely affected, a range of economic responses can be used in coordination with diplomatic pressure, from freezing individuals’ financial transactions within the sponsoring state to levying international sanctions. Should an incident cause physical damage, a policymaker could consider a military option as an appropriate and proportional response, from military posturing to an attack, depending on the incident’s severity. All of these options can be complemented with cyber or covert action, which will also need to be proportionate to the damage caused by the incident.
Each state can begin developing its own policy response framework by first working with the private sector, particularly in critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure is a priority for attackers, making it important for infrastructure operators to be involved in the development of a response framework. They are in a good position to advise government on incidents that would affect their operations and how severe an incident would need to be before a response is required.
Second, policymakers should clearly understand the costs associated with each response in the framework. Each response will have an impact on a country’s diplomatic relations, reputation, and military and intelligence operations. These effects need to be understood before a response is chosen. Assessing options will require input from relevant government agencies, as well as critical infrastructure operators, whose operations could be affected by a response.
Cyber incidents provide governments with a highly complex set of decisions to make, from understanding the severity of the incident to assessing appropriate responses to take, while continually evaluating the risks involved in taking certain courses of action. The framework, while deliberately simplified, provides a rudimentary model for framing the potential responses to a state-sponsored incident before one occurs. This should give policymakers a starting point from which to make their own assessments on courses of action to take during a time of crisis.