«ARL-SR-0327 ● JUNE 2015 US Army Research Laboratory Visualizing the Tactical Ground Battlefield in the Year 2050: Workshop Report by Alexander ...»
ARL-SR-0327 ● JUNE 2015
US Army Research Laboratory
Visualizing the Tactical Ground Battlefield in
the Year 2050: Workshop Report
by Alexander Kott, David Alberts, Amy Zalman,
Paulo Shakarian, Fernando Maymi, Cliff Wang, and Gang Qu
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ARL-SR-0327 ● JUNE 2015 US Army Research Laboratory Visualizing the Tactical Ground Battlefield in the Year 2050: Workshop Report by Alexander Kott, Computational and Information Sciences Directorate, ARL David Alberts, Institute for Defense Analyses Amy Zalman, World Future Society Paulo Shakarian, Arizona State University Fernando Maymi, Army Cyber Institute Cliff Wang, Army Research Office Gang Qu, University of Maryland Approved for public release; distribution unlimited.
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14. ABSTRACT This report describes the proceedings and outcomes of an Army-sponsored workshop that brought together a diverse group of intellectual leaders to envision the future of the tactical ground battlefield. The group identified and discussed the following 7 interrelated future capabilities that they felt would differentiate the battlefield of the future from current capabilities and engagements: augmented humans; automated decision making and autonomous processes; misinformation as a weapon;
micro-targeting; large-scale self-organization and collective decision making; cognitive modeling of the opponent; and the ability to understand and cope in a contested, imperfect information environment. The workshop concluded that a critical challenge of the mid-21st century will involve successfully managing and integrating the collections, teams, and swarms of robots that would act independently or collaboratively as they undertook a variety of missions including the management and protection of communications and information networks and the provision of decision quality information to humans. Success in this aspect of command and control (C2) would depend upon developing new C2 concepts and approaches.
This report describes the proceedings and outcomes of a workshop that brought together a diverse group of intellectual leaders to envision the future of the tactical ground battlefield. This workshop, organized by the University of Maryland (UMD) on behalf of the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL)/Army Research Office (ARO), took place on March 10–11, 2015, at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center located near the UMD campus in East Hyattsville, Maryland.
This workshop focused its attention on the impact that information technologies (broadly understood) would have on tactical ground warfighting circa 2050. In describing the nature of the workshop to participants, this workshop was alternatively described as “Future Cyber Warfighting,” and “Information Technologies and Ground Warfighting.” The dominant technologically driven changes, including those of warfighting, of the last few decades have had much to do with the technologies and concepts that are associated with the Information Age. Therefore, it could be assumed that the continuing evolution of information technologies (and possibly revolutionary changes) will continue to be one of the significant forcing functions that will shape related warfighting technologies and capabilities between now and 2050. For the purposes of this workshop, information technologies include robotics, smart munitions, ubiquitous sensing, and extreme networking, along with the potentially massive impact of cyber warfare. The workshop critically examined this “Information Age” assumption and its implications.
We recognize that information-related technologies will continue to advance between now and 2050, and that these advances and their commercialization will change the economics of communications and information and, thus, change warfare. As a result of these changes, the roles of information technologies will coevolve (i.e., will influence and be influenced by) with future concepts and technologies for key warfighting functions, including seeing (sensing), understanding, communicating, moving, and applying kinetic and non-kinetic effects. Further, that these developments will spawn a cascade of countermeasures and counter-countermeasures; the net result will be what the future Soldier will see and experience on the tactical battlefield. Therefore, it is apparent that one cannot correctly visualize the future battlefield by focusing on the evolution of information technologies alone. Thus, to avoid a vision that incorporates a mismatch between 2050 information technology and warfighting tools and techniques of 2015, workshop participants were asked to simultaneously explore future visions of both the informational and physical aspects of the battlefield.
For the purposes of this workshop, the term “information technologies” was interpreted in its broadest sense. Included in this term is the wide range of information-related and -enabled capabilities that are involved in obtaining, collecting, organizing, fusing, storing, and distributing relevant information as well as the capabilities associated with command and control (C2) functions and processes including reasoning, inference, planning, decision making, and collaborating (between humans and between humans and “smart” and/or autonomous systems). Finally, this term includes the capabilities that could be used to deny, deceive, disrupt, degrade, and compromise adversary information and information-related processes (e.g., cyber and electronic warfare).
A few disclaimers are in order here. First, not every author of the report or participant of the workshop agrees with every (or any) opinion presented in the workshop’s report. Second, all statements of fact or opinion presented in this report are those of the workshop participants and do not reflect positions or views of their employers or any organizations with which they are affiliated.
1.1 Workshop Scope and Assumptions
The scope of this workshop was limited to tactical ground warfighting circa 2050.
The battlefield was assumed to be on the order of 100 km by 100 km and include a population center with significant numbers of civilians present. The unnamed combatants were assumed to be technologically sophisticated. To avoid implicit and potentially constraining assumptions about how technology would be employed (constraining rules of engagement), participants were asked not to assume that one of the adversaries was the United States. Besides engaging in “conventional” warfare, the opponents could be assumed to be capable of employing irregular warfare.
In order to avoid potential diversions, keep workshop discussions unclassified, and make the conclusions accessible to the widest audience, the following topics were not included in the scope of this workshop: current programs, requirements, policy, budget, socio-cultural and geopolitical issues, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), inherently naval or airspace issues, and anything that was not publically releasable.
1.2 Workshop Orientation To assist workshop participants in their “visioneering” efforts, they were presented with the following “time travel” scenario to consider.
“Imagine that you were asleep from 2015 until 2050. Upon awaking you found yourself in the middle of an on-going battle. What do you see? How different is it from what you might have seen in 2015?” To help participants relate to a forward leap of 35 years, they were asked to think about fellow time traveler, one who fell asleep in 1881 to awaken into the middle of World War I in 1916 and another who fell asleep in 1907 to awaken in 1942 during World War II.
The first traveler would have awakened to a number of technological advances that reshaped the nature of ground warfare. These included the machine gun and longrange indirect fire artillery, the latter being the biggest killer of WW1. They would have also seen for the first time airplanes used for reconnaissance; field phones used for artillery spotting and control; trench formations for protection; and the dawning of the era of tanks, which would eventually transform ground warfare.
However, at least half of what the time traveler observed would have been familiar.
Not all that was new, though, involved new equipment. Advances in concepts and methods dramatically improve warfighting capability as well by using assets in different ways. For example, indirect fire used the same piece of equipment that was previously only used for direct fire.
Participants were encouraged not only to think about specific technological developments, but also of capabilities that might be developed without regard to its enabling technology. For example, in 1880, it would have been difficult to envision exactly what technological advances would enable a flying apparatus, but not so difficult to imagine such objects in action.
1.3 Participant Presentations After the orientation session, a set of presentations were provided by participants.
The following presentations were given to stimulate discussion (see the Appendix
for the slides for a number of these presentations):
Unleashing the Power of Networking: Critical Research (David Alberts) • Defining the Environment for Ground War in 2050 (JC Ledé) • Information Fusion in 2050 (Ajay Divakaran, Behjat Siddiquie) • Some “Random” Thoughts: Information Technologies and Ground • Warfighting (Jason Li)
Context for Battlefield of 2050 (Lin Wells) • Warfare at the Speed of Light (Michael Zatman) •
1.4 Workshop Sessions After these presentations and some discussion, workshop participants broke into 2 groups. The first breakout group was devoted to “seeing, communicating, understanding, and deciding” and the second to “moving, shooting, effecting, and sustaining.” With the exception of the session leaders, participants switched sessions half way through the afternoon so that everyone could contribute to both topics. The first day concluded with a plenary session consisting of debriefs from the breakout sessions reporting on their discussions regarding the nature of the 2050 battlefield and related topics.
On day 2 of the workshop, each breakout group selected 5–10 key elements of their respective visions. For each of these key elements, they were charged with
addressing the following 2 questions:
What makes this development somewhat likely to emerge on the battlefield • of 2050?
What counteractions could opponents develop and employ in response?
• The notes taken during these brainstorming breakout sessions and the plenary session presentations and discussions provided the basis for this report.
1.5 Workshop Participants This was an invitation-only workshop, with invitations sent to individuals who had demonstrated an ability to think about the implications of emerging technology, particularly information technology, for military operations. Participants included not only individuals with a long association with the Department of Defense (DOD), but also individuals engaged in basic research and commerce applications.
Table 1 provides the names and affiliations of the workshop participants.
2. Warfare in 2050: Seeing, Communicating, Understanding, and Deciding This section summarizes workshop discussions and presents related findings with respect to what we called “seeing, communicating, understanding, and deciding.” Included in these battlefield capabilities are the methods, approaches, tools, and processes necessary to perform the functions associated with information preparation of the battlefield (IPB), C2, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and battle damage assessment (BDA).
2.1 Point of Departure for Discussion The participants initiated the discussion of “seeing, communicating, understanding,
and deciding” by considering the following questions:
Should we anticipate the continuation of the current trend of rapid growth • in the number of sensors on the battlefield to include sensors that are perhaps more mobile ground, air, more autonomous, micro-autonomous, along with human and social sensing?
Would their density on the battlefield be orders of magnitude greater than • today?
Would they be extensively networked?
• Would the volume of resulting information be entirely beyond human • management?
How would these sensors be directed, controlled, organized, linked, and • processed?
How would one defeat such swarms of information collectors?
• Will we see widespread use of autonomous robots that seek and neutralize • adversary sensors?