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The Imperative for the U.S. Military to Develop a Counter-UAS Strategy

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Journal Article - Open Access

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Air Force Academy Air Force Academy United States

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Military power often emerges at the nexus of technology, organizational processes of force employment, and training. However, rapid technological change, the constantly evolving character of warfare, and the lingering effects of sustained combat on military readiness constrain the U.S. militarys ability to respond to emerging global security challenges. The proliferation of unmanned aerial systems UAS, more commonly referred to as drones, represents one of the largest emerging challenges to the joint community since the rise of improvised explosive devices during the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Recent conflicts involving state and nonstate actors and the acquisition priorities of U.S. rivals like Russia and China demonstrate that Soldiers on future battlefields will see the widespread use of drones. For example, Russia and Russian-backed separatists have used various types of drones to achieve devastating effects during their ongoing conflict with Ukraine. U.S. forces in Syria could not retain operational control of the airspace below 3,500 feet for an extended period of time where the so-called Islamic State IS conducted lethal and nonlethal drone operations. Looking ahead, the Department of Defense DOD anticipates that China will soon outspend the United States in drone investment, with more than 10 billion dedicated solely to research and development, and may become the world leader in this area by 2023.

Subject Categories:

  • Defense Systems
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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