The CSS Blog Network

Have Strategists Drunk the “AI Race” Kool-Aid?

Image courtesy of Ecole polytechnique/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 4 June 2019.

Has global strategic competition become a race for dominance in artificial intelligence (AI) between the United States and China? Versions of this claim have become something of an axiom, offered by officialdom and the analytical community alike. That AI will be the primary axis of future strategic competition is contestable, however. Moreover, the notion of an AI race in and of itself will generate policy risk. Making policy based on those assumptions could lead to narrowing options, not only in the realm of competition between states but regarding human affairs in general.

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Washington’s Illusory Plan for Israel-Palestine

Image courtesy of U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 5 June 2019.

The United States is set to propose an economic plan for Israel-Palestine, spearheaded by Jared Kushner, on 25 and 26 June in Bahrain, where Gulf Arab states will discuss the troubled Palestinian economy.

It seems that Jared Kushner, one of the principal architects of the so-called “deal of the century” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has finally discovered the European Union. In his role as a senior adviser on the Middle East to US President Donald Trump, Kushner has recently faced a series of setbacks – among them the recalcitrance of Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israeli politics’ descent into almost unprecedented political chaos. In response to these problems, Kushner made what looked to be a hastily arranged trip to Brussels on 4 June, meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.

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Top 10 Countries Affected by Chinese Non-tariff Trade Measures


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This week’s featured graphic charts the ten countries most affected by Chinese non-tariff trade measures as of 2018, with the US topping the list. For an analysis of how this has influenced the trade policy of the Trump administration, read Jack Thompson’s chapter for Strategic Trends 2019 here.

Urban Legend: Is Combat in Cities Really Inevitable?

Image courtesy of Jason Hull/DVIDS

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 7 May 2019.

Future combat will take place in dense urban areas and likely in megacities, or so we are told. These are the new “truths” that are taking hold in the U.S. military. According to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who is likely the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “In the future, I can say with very high degrees of confidence, the American Army is probably going to be fighting in urban areas.” Gen. Stephen Townsend, commanding general of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, took it a step further: “[W]e’re going to see battle in megacities and there’s little way to avoid it.” For its part, the Marine Corpsis beginning a multi-year experiment on enhancing urban operations. A recent solicitation by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory notes: “The experiment provides warfighters the opportunity to assess the operational utility of emerging technologies and engineering innovations … for sensing, speed of decision/action and lethality in dense urban environments.” Finally, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein stresses that because Milley and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller are emphasizing urban warfare, “we’ve got to focus on urban warfare … Wherever they go, so goes the Air Force. … We go as a joint team.”

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Create an Unmanned Experimental Squadron and Learning System

Image courtesy of Moraima Johnston/DVIDS

This article was originally published by the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) on 6 May 2019.

Introduction

The U.S. Navy faces a future where large portions of its fleet will be composed of non-traditional assets. Specifically, unmanned systems comprise a significant portion of the Chief of Naval Operations’s (CNO) “key platforms and payloads” which the Navy seeks to acquire.1 That direction from the top is further born out in the Navy’s most recent shipbuilding plan which includes 10 large unmanned surface vessels and 191 unmanned undersea vehicles of various sizes. These numbers contrast with the total of 55 “battle force ships” planned to be built over the same period.2 Tonnage obviously also plays a role in this type of comparison, but by sheer numbers the Navy is moving toward unmanned vice manned platforms. The Navy must think past the engineering hurdles and determine how to effectively employ these new assets. To do so, we propose that the Navy revisit history and revitalize the complex learning system it used to exploit an earlier set of new capabilities prior to World War II. Specifically, we call for the Navy to accelerating standing up a dedicated experimental squadron with the purpose of exploring advanced tactics for employing unmanned systems in a series of tactically challenging, objective-based exercises.

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