Other articles of interest in the OCT 16 JFQ

Fast Followers, Learning Machines, and the Third Offset Strategy

It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. . . . This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.

—Isaac Asimov

A perfect quote to sag way into a discussion on strategy for the remainder of the 21st Century.

In 1993, Andrew Marshall, Director of Net Assessment, stated, “I project a day when our adversaries will have guided munitions parity with us and it will change the game.”2 On December 14, 2015, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work announced that day’s arrival when arguing for a Third Offset during comments at the Center for a New American Security.
The article gives a good run down on what the 3rd Off Set Strategy is all about (whether one agrees or disagrees with it logic). Unlike other articles I have seen, it also presented a list of risks associated with this strategy. One that I found compelling, but not compelling enough to stop the forward march of technology is:

A New Fog of War. Lastly, the advent of learning machines will give rise to a new fog of war emerging from uncertainty in a learning machine’s AI programming. It is a little unsettling that a branch of AI popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s was called “fuzzy logic,” due to an ability to alter its programming that represents a potential loss of control and weakening of liability.
The article ends with:

However, pursuit of game-changing technologies is only sustainable by breaking out of the increasingly exponential pace of technological competition with Fast Followers. A Third Offset Strategy could do this and could provide the first to adopt outsized advantages. Realistically, to achieve this requires integrating increasing layers of autonomy into legacy force structure as budgets align to new requirements and personnel adapt to increasing degrees of learning machine teaming. The additive effect of increasing autonomy could fundamentally change warfare and provide significant advantage to whoever successfully teams learning machines with manned systems. This is not a race we are necessarily predestined to win, but it is a race that has already begun with strategic implications for the United States.
The next article starts to address the missing link in the 3rd Off Set Strategy, which is how will we employ all these capabilities? The author makes a strong argument for leveraging wargaming.

Wargaming the Third Offset Strategy

It is not only technology but also how new capabilities are employed that produces military power.13 A new capability is more than just a new technology. It requires new concepts for employing the systems and training on how to operate them as part of a larger joint fight. The strategy is unlikely to reach its full potential until the joint community develops new operating concepts.
In conclusion:

Officers should take an active role and imagine future battlefields as part of their JPME experience and field exercises, learning to analyze the art and science of military practice. The joint community can work with the individual Services and integrate Third Offset wargames with JPME curriculum. Officers and the civilian academics who work in JPME should be incentivized to research and critique alternative operating concepts that emerge from the wargames.

Pursued along these lines, the net benefit of wargaming the Third Offset could well be to empower a new generation of military leaders to take ownership of intellectual development in the profession of arms.