Drones in Africa: A Leap Ahead for Maritime Security

CIMSEC – The leap-ahead capabilities that unmanned surveillance aircraft could provide to coastal security around Africa are clearly evident. African navies with adequate resources should make acquisition of unmanned air systems a priority. Likewise, western foreign military assistance programs should focus on providing contracted or organic unmanned aircraft capabilities.

The New York Naval Militia in Operation Sandy

CIMSEC – New York is unique in continuously maintaining its federally recognized Naval Militia. Title 10 USC does not include the Naval Militia as a reserve component but does authorize the Secretary of the Navy to set standards that the Naval Militia must meet, including the requirement that 95 percent of unit members be U.S. Navy (USN) or U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) reservists, to qualify for federal material support.

SECDEF Mattis’ Speech to Cadets at Virginia Military Institute

USNI – The following is the text and video of Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ Sept. 25, 2018 speech at Virginia Military Institute.

Avast, me hearties

Economist – How aquatic, autonomous robots could reduce lawlessness at sea.

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The Secret Sauce to Innovate in the Military: Make Doubt and Failure Fun

National Interest – Bottom line, let’s rediscover the wisdom of masters such as these—and make dreaming up offbeat ideas fun and rewarding again.

War Studies Primer

– Visit the War Studies Primer for an introductory course on the study of war.

Look at slides 2 and 3 in the War Studies Primer for its Table of Contents, and then choose a lecture to read and enjoy.

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Togetherness at Sea: Promoting 21st Century Naval Norms of Cooperation

CIMSEC – In spite of renewed great power competition, multilateral cooperation between the world’s navies must grow to deal with common threats and forge constructive bonds between nations.

Narcosubs: Technological Innovation in the War on Drugs

CIMSEC – Last year, the Colombian Navy detected and captured the first electric narco-submarine. Demonstrating the innovative capacities of Colombian drug traffickers, narco-submarines, drug subs, narco-semisubmersibles, self-propelled semisubmersibles, or simply narcosubs, are maritime custom-made vessels used principally by Colombian drug traffickers with the purpose of smuggling illicit drugs to consumers or transshipment countries.

Why A ‘Human In The Loop’ Can’t Control AI: Richard Danzig

Breaking Defense – How do you stop a Terminator scenario before it starts? Real US robots won’t take over like the fictional SkyNet, Pentagon officials promise, because a human being will always be “in the loop,” possessing the final say on whether or not to use lethal force. But by the time the decision comes before that human operator, it’s probably too late, warns Richard Danzig. In a new report, the respected ex-Navy Secretary argues that we need to design in safeguards from the start.

10 Naval Infantry Units from Around the World

USNI Blog – The United States Marine Corps is a well known and respected combat force, but the United States is not the only country to employ troops of this type.

The Commanders Respond

USNI Proceedings – This year, Proceedings asked the commanders of the world’s navies, “Maintaining freedom of the seas and access to the global maritime commons requires naval partnerships, cooperation, and interoperability. What do you consider your navy ‘s greatest capability or best practice and how could other navies learn from yours?” The answers reflect the nature of each nation’s challenges at sea and the ways they partner with others to face them.

Mutually assured detection

The Economist – Better anti-submarine warfare will mean fewer places for subs to hide

2018 World Navies in Review

USNI Proceedings – This review of the world’s navies presents a snapshot of activities and developments during the past year. It is arranged by region, with nations discussed alphabetically under each subheading.

The Quest to Map the Mysteries of the Ocean Floor

BBC – The oceans’ floors are not a flat, sandy expanse – they are every bit as varied as the landscapes above water, with plunging valleys and huge mountains. Making a map of them has been a challenging task.

Self-Driving Ships Will Soon Raise the Stakes at Sea

CIMSEC – While Amazon continues to pilot its fully autonomous drone delivery system, Amazon PrimeAir, an autonomous delivery system millions of times larger is occurring at sea. And whether you are the passenger on-board a cruise ship or you hire a shipping company to transport your belongings overseas, in a few years, you will increasingly be at the mercy of a self-driving ship.

From CES: The sea is alive with cheap, powerful robots — and that will be dangerous

Defense News – Amidst the audio-visual assault of the CES show floor, there was a trend in consumer robotics that I think is worth following: underwater robots are here, and plentiful, and will likely only get better and cheaper in the years to come.

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War Studies Primer 2018 Edition Released

The War Studies Primer 2018 edition has just been released.

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MantaDroid could be the wet, electric, flapping robotic sea scout of the future

Defense News – The manta is a fascinating creature, and so it should come as no surprise that the manta also makes a fascinating body for an underwater robot.

2017 World Naval Operational News Highlights

The ten most significant naval news stories / trends / themes this year included:

  • The lack of any meaningful progress towards creating a 355 ship fleet for the US Navy. How much longer will the US Navy continue to be over-tasked and under-resourced, and what will be the consequences?

  • The tragic collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain and the root causes of those collisions. How could the training of these ship’s crews been allowed to lapse to such a shocking degree, and how will the US Navy ensure that such a lapse will not happen again?

  • The loss of the Argentinian Navy submarine San Juan. Are modern submarines too complex for small navies to operate safely?

  • The opening of the Chinese Navy’s first overseas base in Dijbouti. Is this the first concrete naval step in China’s One Belt and One Road Initiative?

  • The Philippines folding to Chinese pressure over their claims to territory in the South China Sea, despite have the weight of a UN tribunal behind them. Who’s next?

  • The announcement by both France and the United Kingdom of mini naval pivots to Asia in order to counter the Chinese Navy’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea. Why has it taken them so long to realize they have interests in the Pacific as well?

  • The standing up of formal amphibious capabilities by the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Navy. Why is the United Kingdom, at the same time, considering standing down the Royal Navy’s formal amphibious capability?

  • The effect of BREXIT on the United Kingdom’s defense procurement and operations. How will it change the size and architecture of the Royal Navy’s fleet?

  • The newly identified Russian threat to undersea communication cables. Are these Internet fiber optic pipes a new maritime center of gravity that NATO needs to plan on defending?

  • The increasing Russian military strength in the Arctic which is backing up a clear strategy for the region. Can the West articulate a counter-strategy and resource it?

The OO Loop Problem

View From Olympus – William Lind notes that one of the more curious aspects of the current U.S. military is its institutionalization of failure. We have lost four Fourth Generation conflicts: Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq (which is still very far from being a real state), and Afghanistan, where we are fighting but not winning. In response, we keep doing more of the same, more perfecting of our ability to put firepower on targets. If war could be reduced to that, we would be the greatest, military on earth. But it can’t.

James Mattis, a Warrior in Washington

New Yorker – The former Marine Corps general spent four decades on the front lines. How will he lead the Department of Defense?