The current debate about how the U.S. military can maintain its technological superiority is dominated by offset strategies — use of an asymmetric advantage to mitigate an adversary’s advantage. The elegance and efficacy of prior offset strategies makes them attractive as a reference point. But given the United States’ current and future strategic circumstances might a hedging strategy be more effective?
Leaders lie “in the routine performance of their duties,” and “ethical and moral transgressions [occur] across all levels” of the organization. Leaders have also become “ethically numb,” using “justifications and rationalizations” to overcome any ethical doubts. This “tacit acceptance of dishonesty… [facilitates] hypocrisy” among leaders.
These quotations sound like they are ripped from the headlines about some major corporate scandal. But they’re not describing Enron before its collapse in 2001, or firms like Lehman Brothers and Countrywide before the 2008 financial crisis. Instead, they describe one of the country’s most respected institutions: the U.S. Army.
Earlier this year, Dilma Rousseff replaced the chiefs of the armed forces for the first time as President of Brazil. The most anticipated was her pick for the influential position of Army Commandant. Rousseff’s choice raised a few eyebrows because she broke with the established practice of appointing the most senior officer for the job. It unexpectedly fell to candidate General Eduardo Dias da Costa Villas Bôas, just third in terms of seniority, to lead a fighting force of nearly 190,000 active personnel. With eight years ahead as the most senior commander of Brazil’s military, Villas Bôas will have to address several challenges if he expects to cement Brazil’s status as a major world power.
“Physics probably favors detection and the ultimate demise of stealthy systems.” So predicted the Hart-Rudman Commission in 1999. Sixteen years later, it’s time for the Department of Defense to ask tough questions about whether to continue investing scarce resources into stealth technology. Foremost among those questions is this: Are we sacrificing too much capacity in a quest for an exquisite capability, a capability that may not offer the edge it once did and whose efficacy is in decline?
Fiction and reality have meshed to incredible extents in the past decades, and it is no longer a surprise to see sci-fi-inspired inventions used in everyday life. The military field has been no exception and is now at the cusp of groundbreaking innovations that could change war-making to its core.
The next frontier in defense technology is so-called “stealth” technologies, in which the U.S. military has already invested huge funds. New research is opening up the prospect of achieving something close to invisibility on the battlefield, a breakthrough likened to Harry Potter`s famous invisibility cloak. While most stealth technologies are designated to elude enemy radars, new invisibility technologies could conceal objects in real time, not just from radar but from the naked eye.