After Action Report – Second PfPC Working Group Workshop on Emerging Security Challenges

Earlier today, the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes released its After Action Report to experts who participated in the Emerging Security Challenges Working Group Workshop #2. The PfPC has given permission to the Federation of American Scientists to publicly release these findings.

OUTCOMES

Lessons Identified / Policy Recommendations

Societies need critical knowledge in advance of technological or scientific changes that may affect security and the state, and yet, few efforts exist to satisfy this need.

Technological change is faster than educational and legal change: Military, defense and policy makers at all levels broadly need education in technology literacy, risk recognition and mitigation.

Emerging Security Challenges (ESC) educational products for policy and military leaders should bring together a mix of practitioners of science and technology and experts from history and the social sciences.

Accomplishments

Unanimous acceptance of need for military and defense curriculum and training in the field of emerging security challenges.

Leadership from Bulgaria, Turkey, Ukraine and Poland promised to seek to establish centers of excellence or hire talent in the field of emerging security challenges.

Acceptance that definitional debates are important but must be by-passed in order to facilitate partnership educational mission in ESC; group trust has been generated sufficient to make that possible.

Three publication products planned, two for summer 2013 delivery.

Planning underway for next two workshops and support for Senior Executive Seminar at the Marshall Center.

STRATEGIC INSIGHTS

Government systematically underestimates the potential disruption made possible by technology and scientific advances. Policy makers not only need concrete information and recommendations from which to operate, they also need to decrease stove-piping of issues – a holistic approach to emerging technologies will help.

With emerging technologies and their associated capabilities, new and disruptive capabilities can readily fall into the hands of adversaries or ill-willed individuals. Ubiquitous advances and cost reductions in computing, navigation and hobbyist technologies are apt to reduce barriers to remote and other forms of warfare. Policy makers need to have an increased awareness of the dual-role of emerging technologies and their unintended consequences and possible threat to national and international security.

Alliance risks include force interoperability when a technological leader pursues radical change while domestic political tolerance and blowback for such new technologies encourage further stress and ambiguity in relations.

Projected US defense spending and cuts in Alliance defense budgets are likely to result in new challenges for NATO, particularly as increased high technology defense developments could alter the balance between partners’ capabilities, budgetary plans, and interoperability.

As warfare is outsourced to only those who are “near peers” in technology and societal views shift, decreasing political tolerance for alliance security efforts may stress alliance unity. Support for the traditional transatlantic compact (European political support in return for US military guarantees) may be seen to run counter to individual ‘social contracts’ within the alliance member states.

Policy makers need to be aware of the risks for societal disruption via technologies. Technologies regularly have two sides. For example, information technologies can easily create crowds and amplify social unrest (i.e. Arab Spring lessons via social media networks), yet they are not as useful for controlling the results – the demonstrations, violent protests, etc. Another example can be demonstrated with an everyday use device: Smart Phones. Low price navigation in smart phones is helpful to people and commercial interests, yet these phones have everything needed to acquire and navigate to potential targets.

Military and defense education products are sorely needed at present to extend understanding into risks and opportunities in ESC.

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