A microphone. Verbatim. Air Force Magazine. Cornelia Schneider-Frank/Pixabay
Photo Caption & Credits


Jan. 26, 2024

Overcoming Obstacles

F-35 assembly line at the Lockheed Martin Factory in Ft. Worth, Texas. Fred Clingerman/Lockheed Martin

The current and future strategic environment requires immediate, comprehensive, and decisive action in strengthening and modernizing our defense industrial base ecosystem to ensure the security of the United States and our allies and partners. As this strategy makes clear, we must act now.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks in the first-ever 55-page National Defense Industrial Strategy [Breaking Defense, Jan. 11].

Prosecuting AI

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, center, speaks at a panel regarding Artificial Intelligence at the Reagan National Defense Forum at Simi Valley, Calif., Dec. 2, 2023. Courtesy photo

I care a lot about civil society and the law of armed conflict. … Our policies are written around those laws. You don’t enforce laws against machines, you enforce them against people. Our challenge is not to limit what we can do with AI but to find how to hold people accountable for what the AI does. … Who do we hold responsible for the performance of that AI and what do we require institutions to do before we field these kinds of capabilities and use them operationally.

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum on how to incorporate and legally defend against Artificial Intelligence on the battlefield [Dec. 2, 2023].

Waiting Game

You’re trying to build tunnels into your enemies’ infrastructure that you can later use to attack. Until then you lie in wait, carry out reconnaissance, figure out if you can move into industrial control systems or more critical companies or targets upstream. And one day, if you get the order from on high, you switch from reconnaissance to attack.

Joe McReynolds, China security studies fellow, Jamestown Foundation, on China’s ongoing cyber attempts to penetrate critical U.S. infrastructure systems [The Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2023].

Trench Warfare

Ukrainian solders fire their weapons at an undisclosed location. General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine/Facebook

It is something like a game of Ping-Pong. … There is a portion of 100 to 200 meters of ground always being taken and retaken.

Ukrainian National Guard Platoon Commander describing the stalemate in current operations against Russian forces, which have used recorded sound to try to scare Ukrainian soldiers into revealing their positions [The New York Times, Jan. 8].

Smart Money

An artist illustration depicts an unmanned aerial system flying over $100 bills. Mike Tsukamoto/staff; General Atomics; Quince Media/Pixabay

Oh and by the way, everything has to be affordable. If it costs a million dollars a round to kill … a UAS …costing $100,000 or less … they’ve won. … That’s the problem of our time. … I encourage everybody to take a look at this problem.

William LaPlante, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, discussing the unique and mounting problems of uncrewed aerial systems for the U.S., allies and partners [Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 1, 2023].

Go Faster

Three unmanned aerial systems at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Staff Sgt. Rachel Simones

We have learned an enormous amount as a department about how to mobilize the industrial base in new ways in order to support the needs that we’re seeing, for example, in Ukraine.

Doug Beck, director, Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit, on DOD’s Replicator project to build an army of thousands of cheap U.S.-made drones to counter China’s dominance in this market [The Washington Post, Dec. 2, 2023].