Last week, the U.S. nearly launched retaliatory attacks against Iran for the shooting down of a U.S. military drone that was operating in the region.  While the Trump Administration has been casting some doubt in recent days as to whether the downing of the aircraft was authorized at the highest ...

Peter W. Singer is a Strategist and Senior Fellow at New America and an editor at Popular Science magazine. Singer is considered one of the world’s leading experts on changes in 21st century warfare and is a co-author of Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War. The Cipher ...

Bottom Line Up Front Last week, President Trump announced that the U.S. would be deploying an additional 1,000 troops to Poland. The deployment is reflective of the changing nature of U.S. alliances in Europe, with non-traditional allies growing much closer to the U.S. over the past two decades. The current ...

Bottom Line Up Front Last week, it was revealed that several individuals in Denmark were arrested trying to purchase drones they intended to send to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The use of drones and other emerging technologies by terrorists and violent non-state actors is not science fiction, ...

The introduction of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) permanently altered the modern battlefield. New technological advances in drone technology could do it again: from advanced materials that allow drones to fly, roll, run or swim in less forgiving environments, to thinking software than makes them more independent, to stealth technology ...

The United States has long been the dominant designer, user, and seller of military drone technology. But China has quickly grown into a developer and competitive proliferator of its own in drone technology, which could have strategic implications for U.S. foreign policy in the South China Sea, and even around ...

Since the time of the first kinetic attack by an unmanned aircraft in October of 2001, the United States has relied heavily on drone technology for its relatively inexpensive loitering capabilities and the geographical reach it enables. Persistent surveillance and targeted drone strikes have become a central tenet of the ...

From the time of the first kinetic strike by an unmanned aircraft in October of 2001, the United States has relied heavily on remote-controlled drone technology for its relatively inexpensive loitering capabilities and the geographic reach it enables in the global war on terror. Over the years the U.S. has ...

Since 9/11, eliminating terrorist leaders through a strategy known as leadership decapitation has emerged as key pillar of the United States’ counterterrorism strategy. Although the U.S. has successfully removed numerous terrorists from the battlefield, leadership decapitation does not necessarily equate to the destruction of a terrorist organization, especially groups with ...

Less than two months after taking office, U.S. President Donald Trump’s approach to drone strikes appears to be taking shape. Although the Trump Administration has yet to articulate a comprehensive drone policy, recent actions and reports demonstrate Trump’s intentions to roll back some of the procedures and restraints put in ...

Three former national security officials have raised concerns about President Donald Trump’s reported plans to loosen restrictions on drone strikes. The former officials were responding to recent reports that the Trump Administration was working to lessen Obama-era restrictions on drone strikes, including easing rules to avoid civilian casualties. It is ...

Since the first CIA Predator drone strike in October 2001, the United States, among others, has sought to expand the technology to facilitate remote warfare. UN peacekeeping forces use drones for intelligence gathering in such places as Mali, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The ...

Remotely controlled aircraft, or drones, have long become common in military settings—possibly most infamously pictured as a U.S. Predator launching Hellfire missiles at suspected terrorists in far corners of the globe. How can they be used for humanitarian purposes, though? The Cipher Brief spoke with former U.S. Ambassador Jack Chow, ...

While receiving significant publicity from global media, the rise of the humanitarian drone is so far more of a whimper than a bang. This article explores some critical perspectives behind the limited use of drones. In 2016, the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) undertook the first systematic survey on perceptions ...

While lethal U.S. drone strikes have successfully removed many key terrorists from the battlefield, the legal justifications for such actions remains a heavily debated topic in the United States and globally. “Current U.S. drone policy is devoid of public understanding of the processes through which targeting decisions are made and ...

In the years since 9/11, drone strikes have emerged as a pillar of the United States’ counterterrorism strategy. The Cipher Brief spoke with Bobby Chesney, Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the University of Texas Law School about the legal basis for U.S. drone strikes abroad. ...

Over the last eight years, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism policy has in large part been defined by drone strikes against a number of terrorist targets around the world. Indeed, the U.S. drone program is a global enterprise, with bases in at least 10 countries, lethal operations in at least seven ...

Should humans delegate the responsibility of decisions over life and death to computer algorithms? The answer is not as simple as it seems—and it is the fundamental question concerning the military application of artificial intelligence in the future. The world has seen incredible technological advances in recent decades; not least ...

Discussions on artificial intelligence (AI) too often revolve around concerns about the sensationalist threat of “killer robots,” usually featured in science-fiction films or computer games. Killing is depicted as easy and rapid, done by steel-clad monsters with super-human abilities. Let me put this fear to rest. We do not yet ...

New technologies are changing the face of future warfare and few will be as impactful as the fusion of artificial intelligence into weapons systems. The Cipher Brief spoke with Paul Scharre, Senior Fellow and Director of the Future of Warfare Initiative at the Center for a New American Security, about the rationale ...

Last month, Kurdish forces in northern Iraq shot down an Islamic State drone booby-trapped with explosives that later killed two Peshmerga soldiers as they inspected it. The drone was not like the Reaper or Predator drones the U.S. uses to rain Hellfire missiles down in its global war on terror ...

Drones have traditionally been used by Western militaries as a tool in counterterrorism efforts, but insurgent and terrorist groups are increasingly turning to small hobby drones to bolster their own efforts. The Cipher Brief spoke with Robert Bunker of the Strategic Studies Institute on how insurgents can incorporate this new ...

There is growing evidence that non-state actors are incorporating drone technology into their unconventional tactics, prompting concerns from militaries on how they can effectively counter this emerging threat. The Cipher Brief spoke with Michael Balazs and Jonathan Rotner, who conducted MITRE’s counter-UAS challenge with the goal of finding non-kinetic interdiction ...

The use of drone strikes to eliminate terrorists around the globe has become a defining pillar of the United States’ post-9/11 counterterrorism strategy. And although the subject of targeted killing remains controversial from both a legal and human rights standpoint, the deployment of drones in counterterrorism operations abroad has undoubtedly ...

In October 2016, New York magazine published an exit interview with President Barack Obama who “chose five moments that, he believes, will have outsized historical impact.”  One of those five “moments” was a drone strike carried out on September 30, 2011, which killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda terrorist who ...

“Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training, and deploying against us?” That was the question posed by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to his staff in 2003. If answering this question has proven difficult ...

As the military prepares for the transition to the next administration, the three service secretaries on Monday detailed their concerns about the challenges posed by weaponized drones, cyber threats, and working with the private sector. The civilian officials told a gathering hosted by the Center for a New American Security ...

The speed at which drones went from classified military platforms to ubiquitous consumer products is staggering, and the next chapter in that proliferation is starting to unfold. Its location? The sea. Unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) are essentially drone ships. They bring a lot of the capabilities that were developed for ...

Remote controlled and autonomous ships will revolutionize the landscape of ship design and operations. Smarter ships and the Internet of Things will allow the creation of new services, which will support existing players to make their businesses more efficient, and will enable new players, with new business models, to enter ...

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) have the potential to be just as revolutionary as the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that preceded them. The Cipher Brief spoke to Brad Pilsl, an Unmanned Systems Strategic Lead with Booz Allen Hamilton, about the development and possible uses for USVs. According to Pilsl, the market ...

Technologies meant to counter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are becoming more numerous as people become more concerned about bad actors using UAVs for illicit purposes. The Cipher Brief asked Dr. Robert Griffin, Deputy Undersecretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, about the risks and benefits of ...

Growing interest in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV or drone) has caused a surge in the creation of technologies and systems meant to disable or destroy them. The Cipher Brief spoke to Tyler Black and Sean McGowan of Thompson Coburn LLP about the legal and regulatory implications of these emerging anti-UAV ...