By Debbie Gregory.
The United States currently has the mightiest military in the world. U.S. Armed Forces are the best equipped and most thoroughly trained to defend against any known weaponry. But over the past few years, there has been a boom of technological innovations coming from countries like China and India, requiring U.S. military brass to take extra measures in order to stay on top of all the new technologies.
Technological advances in weapons or defenses can entirely change the way wars are fought. Any shift in warfare can change how a military prioritizes its spending, training and maneuvering. It can also lead to drastically different strategies on the battlefield.
New weapons don’t necessarily need to be advanced or expensive. For example, take the development of the improvised explosive device (IED) during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. IEDs wreaked havoc on the U.S. military’s armored vehicles. This took away a major advantage that U.S. forces held over their enemies. Due to the development of IEDs, our military shifted its thinking, its training, its tactics and its spending. The Pentagon spent $50 billion to develop the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle.
In 2012, China’s defense ministry claimed that the number of China’s military-related patents has been increasing by 35% each year, for the past decade.
To stay on top of the growing number of military-related technologies, the Pentagon has formed a new program called Technology Watch/Horizon Scanning, part of its Office of Technical Intelligence. The program is designed to identify and track developing technologies that could either benefit the U.S. military, or disrupt their current missions. The program will aim to keep ahead of technological developments by 10-20 years.
In order to accomplish this, the program will focus on two key components when tracking new technologies. The Technology Watch part of the program will track buzzwords to see where and how certain developing technologies are being used in order to determine if they could be developed in the U.S. to benefit our military efforts. The Horizon Scanning part of the program is meant to be on the lookout for new technologies, patents and concepts that could have disruptive potential for the U.S. military and its allies.