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Category: Policy Briefs

Oct. 1, 2003

Global Warming Could Have a Chilling Effect on the Military

Most debates and studies addressing potential climate change have focused on the buildup of industrial greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and a gradual increase in global temperatures. But this “slow ramp”1 climate change scenario ignores recent and rapidly advancing evidence that Earth’s climate repeatedly has become much colder, warmer, wetter, or drier—in time spans as short as three to 10 years.

Sept. 1, 2003

A New PPBS Process to Advance Transformation

The Office of the Secretary of Defense has released its first Transformational Planning Guidance to steer the Armed Forces through a joint process of transformation. This is a strong step in the direction of making transformation and innovation visible parts of the defense planning process, but more is needed. The planning, programming, and budgeting system (PPBS) through which the Department of Defense (DOD) prioritizes its programs and resources has to be restructured to facilitate transformation and innovation, not to obstruct them. DOD has begun a trial resource allocation process that will reduce the burden of repetitive report generation that has drained time and energy away from innovative, strategic change. This process gives senior leadership an opportunity to shift its attention from wrestling with budget detail to developing initiatives to transform U.S. forces. However, this change will not happen of its own accord. A set of proposals that would enable senior leadership to move its focus from the back end (budgeting) of the resource allocation process to the front end (planning and idea generation) is presented below. A review of how the PPBS has evolved is presented to highlight the need to target specific parts for restructuring.

Sept. 1, 2003

Technology, Transformation, and New Operational Concepts

Throughout history, technology has been central to warfare, often giving qualitative advantages to numerically inferior forces. Typically, the rate of technology development has been relatively slow and the introduction of new weapons systems even slower, which has allowed evolutionary development of operational concepts. Today’s accelerated pace of technology development no longer allows sequential development of operational concepts. In addition, the current global political environment has placed demands upon the military that range from engaging in major regional conflicts to stabilization, reconstruction and peacekeeping, all creating a continuous need for flexible, adaptive systems and new concepts of operation.

July 1, 2003

Moore’s Law: A Department of Defense Perspective

The past 50 years have seen enormous advances in electronics and the systems that depend upon or exploit them. The Department of Defense (DOD) has been an important driver in, and a profound beneficiary of, these advances, which have come so regularly that many observers expect them to continue indefinitely. However, as Jean de la Fontaine said, “In all matters one must consider the end.” A substantial literature debates the ultimate limits to progress in solid-state electronics as they apply to the current paradigm for silicon integrated circuit (IC) technology. The outcome of this debate will have a profound societal impact because of the key role that silicon ICs play in computing, information, and sensor technologies.

July 1, 2003

Beyond the Mainland: Chinese Telecommunications Expansion

In most countries, expansion of the telecommunications network beyond national borders has followed diplomatic and business expansion. On this basis, an informed practitioner might be expecting the Chinese telecommunications system to spread beyond its borders sometime in the later part of this decade. However, Chinese authorities have been quick to act upon a series of unexpected opportunities for acquiring international telecommunications assets. This article discusses the international security implications of Chinese telecommunications expansion.

June 1, 2003

Transforming NATO Command and Control for Future Missions

No military function is more critical to operational success than effective command and control (C2). There also is no more daunting military function to get right when it comes to the employment of complex multinational formations in the fast-paced arena of crisis response. Since the Cold War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—unique as an alliance with a permanent standing C2 structure—has ventured into a broader spectrum of missions and across a wider geographical area of operations, posing far greater C2 challenges than the single- mission, fixed-territory defense of the past. Threats to NATO interests have increased, demanding military structures and capabilities that can be employed on shorter notice and further outside NATO territory. At the same time, more sophisticated information-based battle systems and technologies are driving the need for increasingly interoperable forces. A key factor for success in this new environment will be a more agile, flexible, and responsive NATO C2 architecture for the 21st century.

May 1, 2003

The Air Force: Science, Technology, and Transformation

A unique connectivity exists in the Air Force between science, technology, and transformation. From the defining moment of powered flight in 1903 to the creation of the Air Force as a separate service in 1947 to the present, these three elements have been continuously linked and undoubtedly will remain so.

May 1, 2003

Transformation and the Defense Industrial Base: A New Model

American force transformation is about building a new expeditionary model with flexible, modular forces that can be managed on a global basis to protect U.S. interests. Breaking the tyranny of geography on military forces is a key aspect to change.

March 1, 2003

Biology and the Battlefield

The military and the life sciences have been intertwined throughout history. Biology has often been a source of offensive weapons, ranging from the hurling of plague victims over the walls of Kaffa (which probably started the 14th-century Black Death) to the anthrax attacks of fall 2001.

March 1, 2003

NATO Defense Science and Technology

The accord establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949 provided the framework for the greatest international mechanism ever in defense science and technology. From its earliest days, NATO involvement in science and technology has sought to build cooperation and promote security and stability. Today, the central element of the NATO defense science and technology program is the Research and Technology Organization (RTO), which provides the best basis for collaboration among the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Through this body, alliance nations plan and execute activities that cover the full spectrum of technologies vital to current and future security.