Adapting the U.S. Approach to Strategic Deterrence In An Age Of Rapid Technology Change

Deterring strategic attack on the United States, and its allies and partners, has been a central goal of U.S. national security strategy since at least the advent of the nuclear age.

While the goal has remained consistent, the challenges in meeting the goal have not. There are many dynamics underway including geopolitical changes but perhaps the greatest challenges come in maintaining strategic deterrence against attack in an age of rapid technological change.

Few are better able to articulate the nature of these dynamics than Dr. James Miller, President and CEO of Adaptive Strategies LLC and a former USD for Policy in the U.S. DoD. He is a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab and at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs and a powerful thinker/writer/speaker who has a gift for explaining topics in clear ways any citizen can track.

You can see many of Dr. Miller’s thoughts in this video clip of a presentation he gave at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:

His talk considers the changing landscape of advanced technologies, including those of nuclear strike which have been underway in Russia, China and others. But he also covers the rapid changes in non-nuclear technologies which are also of critical importance. Non-nuclear technological change related to strategic deterrence includes the many we track here at CTOvision like Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Robotics, IoT and Cybersecurity. And they include changes those basic technologies make to our weapons systems.

Of particular importance are capabilities relating to cyberspace, outer space, missile defense, long-range strike, and a range of AI-related areas including autonomous systems and big data analytics. The United States is appropriately pursuing breakthrough military capabilities relating to each of these areas, partly in the recognition that others (China and Russia in particular) are also doing so.

After outlining the nature of this growing set of challenges (which include new threats to strategic stability like new slippery slopes towards crisis and fewer firebreaks to escalation) he then offers a number of specific recommendations for U.S. policy, military force posture, and engagement with Russia and China.

A key issue is a cyberspace beginning to a war. Cyberwar is here. And there are now clear indications that cyber attacks can lead to escalation in ways that get out of control. This is a serious topic we should all be more aware of so we can propose and support more savvy solutions to ensure our dominance and reduce the threat of escalation. For more nuanced context on this please review Dr. Miller’s presentation.

And for continued insights into how you can secure your part of cyberspace and how you can improve your organization’s ability to defend against attack, be sure to sign up for our Newsletter.  We will keep you in the loop.

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