Very small satellites, very big deal

Very small satellites, very big deal

A flock of Doves takes detailed pictures of the whole Earth every day. You’ve probably seen their photos, or read a headline informed by the data they gather. What can the Army learn from these birds and the former NASA engineers who set them aloft? by Mr. Michael Bold As wildfires raged through half a dozen Northern California counties in October, a San Francisco company offered free access to its satellite photos of the devastation to the public, first responders, aid providers and media. What made the company’s photos of the burning wine country worth studying was that they were taken daily from 230 to 310 miles above Earth. The […]

Identify. Quantify. Eliminate.

Identify. Quantify. Eliminate.

For the World Health Organization’s assistant director-general, readiness to attack disease outbreaks is a life-and-death imperative with multiple dimensions that have much in common with the U.S. military. by Ms. Margaret C. Roth As the World Health Organization’s (WHO) go-to expert for organizing major efforts against outbreaks of deadly disease, epidemiologist Dr. Bruce Aylward’s No. 1 job was ensuring the organization’s readiness to decisively defeat unpredictable enemies that can brutally decimate populations anywhere in the world. That means planning and executing a meticulous disease elimination or eradication strategy with the necessary personnel, logistics, research and development (R&D) and support systems and in partnership with multiple other international entities. When the […]

First, Manage Yourself

First, Manage Yourself

In 30 years of studying and teaching leadership, Harvard Business School Professor Linda A. Hill has seen the numerous ways that understanding oneself and the organization well makes for better managers and leaders who can build thriving teams by Ms. Margaret C. Roth If it seems to you that managing or leading in government and managing or leading in business have nothing in common, Dr. Linda A. Hill has a story or five to tell you. Hill has made it her life’s work to study, from a global perspective, what makes a good manager a good leader, and vice versa. What she has learned and teaches as the Harvard Business […]

Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: How to Manage a Swarm

Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: How to Manage a Swarm

Our interview for the April – June Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre—he’s a Ranger vet who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan who is now a robotics expert at the Center for a New American Security—covered so much good material, but we didn’t want to leave it on the cutting room floor. Here’s Scharre on how to manage a swarm. Scharre: [You could see] area coverage in this way where there are super rules—like don’t get too close or too far away from other agents. And that uses a swarm of agents to cover an area. Those sort of work for all sorts of military problems, whether it’s reconnaissance or […]

Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: Humans Out of the Loop

Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: Humans Out of the Loop

Our interview for the April – June Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre—he’s a Ranger vet who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan who is now a robotics expert at the Center for a New American Security—covered so much good material, but we didn’t want to leave it on the cutting room floor. Here’s Scharre on humans out-of-the-loop. Army AL&T: What work is being done on armed unmanned systems (without a human in the loop)? Scharre: There’s a very robust discussion going on internationally and within certain sectors of the U.S. defense community, particularly among lawyers, about this idea of autonomous weapons that would do targeting on their own and are […]

Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: Predicting the Future

Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: Predicting the Future

Our interview for the April – June Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre—he’s a Ranger vet who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan who is now a robotics expert at the Center for a New American Security—covered so much good material, but we didn’t want to leave it on the cutting room floor. Here’s Scharre on how DOD should pick which advances in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to pursue. Army AL&T: It’s a high-stakes game of predicting the future, better testing and lower barriers to entry and innovation for the work of research labs and outside industry. Scharre: It’s just so hard to predict what technologies are going to matter. […]

Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: Army Challenges

Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: Army Challenges

Our interview for the April – June Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre—he’s a Ranger vet who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan who is now a robotics expert at the Center for a New American Security—covered so much good material, but we didn’t want to leave it on the cutting room floor. Here’s Scharre on challenges to automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Army AL&T: If the Army’s main challenge is finding the right places to use robots, automation and AI … what are those places? Scharre: The fundamental problem with automation is that it’s brittle. You can design really specific machine intelligence tools to solve very specific problems, like playing […]

Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: What Lessons?

Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre: What Lessons?

Our interview for the April – June Critical Thinking with Paul Scharre—he’s a Ranger vet who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan who is now a robotics expert at the Center for a New American Security—covered so much good material, but we didn’t want to leave it on the cutting room floor. Here’s Scharre on DOD’s history of adapting. Army AL&T: What lessons can we draw from DOD’s history of adapting—or not—to new technologies and new ways of fighting? Scharre: It’s a problem for any kind of technology that’s rapidly moving. When we think about the context of acquisition reform, it’s like multiple different pieces. One [piece] is cost issues. […]

Robotics Revolutionary

Robotics Revolutionary

Ex-Army Ranger Paul Scharre, formerly in OSD and now with the Center for a New American Security, fears DOD bureaucratic resistance could the pump brakes on progress in machine intelligence. by Ms. Margaret C. Roth It couldn’t be a much bigger leap from Southwest Asia to downtown Washington yet, for Paul Scharre, the two hardly could be more closely connected. What Scharre experienced as an Army Ranger deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan—his first look at how robots could mitigate the huge toll that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were taking on Soldiers—led him directly to what he’s doing now as a civilian: senior fellow and director of the Future of Warfare […]

The New ‘Gansler Report’

The New ‘Gansler Report’

The New ‘Gansler Report’ Seven years after the commission he chaired released its landmark report, Jacques Gansler assesses the current state of defense acquisition Army AL&T magazine usually looks outside the world of defense acquisition for our Critical Thinking feature, but for this issue, with its theme of revamping acquisition, we could think of no better person to address the topic than a former undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics who has spent much of his professional life working in and studying defense acquisition—the Hon. Jacques S. Gansler. He’s currently director of the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise at the University of Maryland School of Public […]