Group Urges U.S. to Prepare for ‘War in the Robotic Age’

Screenshot from the film Pacific Rim / AP

Screenshot from the film Pacific Rim / AP


The Center for a New American Security released a report on Wednesday calling on the United States to prepare for a new era of war in which “unmanned and autonomous systems will play central war-fighting roles.”

The report, “20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age,” states that there is both an opportunity for the United States to be prepared for the coming era of combat but also a great risk to not properly adapting to the new strategic environment.

The authors warn of a not-too-distant future where “guided munitions and battle networking technologies have proliferated widely and are employed by both state and non-state actors,” making all military operations more deadly and costly. At the same time, and notwithstanding changes in the strategic environment, the spiraling costs of personnel and crewed combat systems means the U.S. armed forces will likely be smaller in the future than in the immediate past. In response to both of these trends, the authors argue that U.S. planners will increasingly turn to unmanned and robotic systems for answers, and these systems will be increasingly capable and autonomous in action.