Nearly 2.5 million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last 12 years. And while their experiences have have been diverse, and some have returned bearing enormous scars, we also come back with incredible skills honed executing the most complex wars in American history.
No matter what you may think of the merits of the mission or the politics that drive it, the counter terrorism and counter insurgency missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have been enormously complex. And along the way, the U.S. military has also executed rapid response missions like the one in Libya, and humanitarian operations in places like Haiti and Pakistan.
Which brings me to the quote, my favorite quote about veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, said by Marine Commandant Gen. Jim Amos in his 2012 Planning Guidance:
“Standing at the front door of crisis and conflict, we possess the finesse, the training and the tools to knock at the door diplomatically, pick the lock skillfully, or kick it in violently.”
I love this because it reflects just how far we've come historically as a fighting force. It's no longer about storming machine gun nests or purely kinetic military operations, success in modern warfare is often based on how many people you can keep alive.
I also love it because it channels how we are in an important moment in American history. This nation faces great economic, social, and political challenges just as millions of patriotic and talented Americans are returning from war with the propensity and the ability to lead.
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A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment "Dark Horse," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are escorted by observer controllers from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command after completing field testing of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) Sept. 24, 2018. (U.S. Army/Maj. Carson Petry)
The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.