• RobokillersLethal Autonomous Weapons May Soon Make Life-and-Death Decisions – on Their Own

    With drone technology, surveillance software, and threat-predicting algorithms, future conflicts could computerize life and death. “It’s a big question – what does it mean to hand over some of the decision making around violence to machines, and everybody on the planet will have a stake in what happens on this front,” says one expert.

  • AIMight Technology Tip the Global Scales?

    By Leda Zimmerman

    Benjamin Chang, a fourth-year MIT graduate student, is assessing the impacts of artificial intelligence on military power, with a focus on the U.S. and China. “Every issue critical to world order — whether climate change, terrorism, or trade — is clearly and closely intertwined with U.S.-China relations,” says Chang. “Competition between these nations will shape all outcomes anyone cares about in the next 50 years or more.”

  • The Russian connectionWhat Is Russia's Vagner Paramilitary Group and What Was It Doing in Belarus ahead of Vote?

    By Irina Romaliiskaya Robert Coalson

    The Vagner Group is one of the best-known of several Russian private paramilitary organizations which have come into being over the past decade. The organization is widely believed to be controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a longtime associate of Vladimir Putin who once served as the Russian president’s chef. Vagner’s operations have always been held in close secrecy, in part because mercenary activity is illegal under Russian law and in part because the group is widely believed to operate in close cooperation with Russian military intelligence.

  • China syndromeIs West Turning Away from Nixon's Approach to China?

    By Jamie Dettmer

    In 1972 US President Richard Nixon shocked the world, and many in his administration, by announcing his intention to normalize relations with Communist China. Forty-eight years on, America and China are embarking on another perilous voyage, filled possibly with even greater uncertainty than encountered in the 1970s. Western powers fear Beijing is out to re-shape the liberal world order, subscribing to a growing view that not only does the Chinese Communist Party want to ensure its continued rule at home but to make China the number one global power.  

  • China syndromeThe Long Haul: China's Grand Strategy

    China has delineated specific objectives regarding economic growth, regional and global leadership in evolving economic and security architectures, and control over claimed territory. In several cases, these objectives bring China into competition, crisis, and even potential conflict with the United States and its allies. The authors of a new report on U.S.-China competition make the case that the kind of country China becomes, and the way that its military evolves, is neither foreordained nor completely beyond the influence of the United States or U.S. military.

  • AmmoNew Nontoxic Ammunition

    Every time a gun fires, lead leaches into the air. A scientific advancement could provide a comparable replacement for lead-based explosive materials found in ammunition, protecting soldiers and the environment from potential toxic effects.

  • BioweaponsMaking Bioweapons Obsolete

    The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) and Sandia National Laboratories convened experts and thought leaders in government, academia, and the private sector to discuss the ways to make a future in which the threat of biological weapons is greatly reduced.

  • Climate & conflictRoadmap for Studying Link between Climate and Armed Conflict

    Climate change—from rising temperatures and more severe heavy rain, to drought—is increasing risks for economies, human security, and conflict globally. Scientists are offering ways better to assess the climate-conflict link to help societies manage the complex risks of increased violence from a changing climate.

  • DronesAccurately Pinpointing Malicious Drone Operators

    Researchers have determined how to pinpoint the location of a drone operator who may be operating maliciously or harmfully near airports or protected airspace by analyzing the flight path of the drone.

  • Argument: SeaplanesBring Back the Seaplane

    On 8 December 1941, Japan attacked the Philippines and destroyed nearly half of the U.S. Army Air Corps’ bombers along with a third of its fighters on the ground. Yet, 43 of 45 Navy patrol aircraft survived the day. David Alman writes that the reason for such a stark difference in survival is simple: In accordance with pre-war plans, the 45 aircraft of Patrol Wing 10 had dispersed to various lakes, beaches, rivers, and bays throughout the Philippines. Japan was left hunting for small groups of seaplanes over thousands of square miles of water and coastline, and eventually gave up. Alman argues that seaplanes should be seriously considered – or rather, reconsidered – as one measure to mitigate China’s growing capabilities in east Asia and the Pacific: Seaplanes do not rely on runways or fixed bases. They do not rely on basing rights. They can operate over long distances at relatively high speeds and, contrary to popular opinion, can do so in bad weather.

  • ViolenceSettling the Debate over Whether the Modern World Is Less Violent

    While the first half of the twentieth century marked a period of extraordinary violence, the world has become more peaceful in the past thirty years, a new statistical analysis of the global death toll from war suggests. The study, by mathematicians at the University of York, used new techniques to address the long-running debate over whether battle deaths have been declining globally since the end of the Second World War.

  • NukesNuclear Weapon Modernization Continues but Outlook for Arms Control Is Bleak: Report

    The just-released annual report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament, and international security. The report finds is that despite an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2019, all nuclear weapon-possessing states continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals.

  • ArgumentMilitary Prestige during a Political Crisis: Use It and You’ll Lose It

    Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walked himself into a civil-military problem when he walked across Pennsylvania Avenue – in his battle fatigues! – last week. Jim Golby and Peter Feaver write that Milley was literally following President Donald Trump, who was on his way for a photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in order to counter stories about the president holed up in his basement while riots raged outside. “Presidents who are struggling politically have a powerful incentive to wrap themselves in military garb precisely because the American public holds the military in high esteem. But, when the language of national security is stretched to provide cover for what is otherwise viewed as a nakedly partisan effort, it jeopardizes the very esteem for the military on which the administration relies,” they write.

  • LandminesDrones, Machine Learning to Detect Dangerous “Butterfly” Landmines

    It is estimated that there are at least 100 million military munitions and explosives of concern devices in the world, of various size, shape and composition. Millions of these are surface plastic landmines with low-pressure triggers, such as the mass-produced Soviet PFM-1 “butterfly” landmine. Nicknamed for their small size and butterfly-like shape, these mines are extremely difficult to locate and clear. Using advanced machine learning, drones could be used to detect these dangerous “butterfly” landmines in remote regions of post-conflict countries.

  • Hemispheric securityVenezuela Failed Raid: U.S. Has a History of Using Mercenaries to Undermine Other Regimes

    By Andrew Thomson

    In early May, the Venezuelan military intercepted a group of dissidents and American mercenaries. These events in Venezuela echo past U.S. secret sponsorship of private armies to overthrow governments elsewhere. The U.S. has an extended history of sponsoring insurgents and mercenaries to undermine unwanted foreign regimes.