The Future of the US Military: Drones, Computer Viruses, and Outer SpaceS

Now that we're both out of Iraq and money, the US government has to make some very important decision about how it'll kill its enemies in the future. Obama and his generals have weighed in: cheap war is getting techier.

It's not so much a matter of choice—if everyone at the Pentagon had their way, they'd spend trillions on submarines, aircraft carriers, and all the other standbys that made sense in the 20th century.

They don't anymore. And even if they did, we can't afford them. So! On to cheaper, lighter, and as the military so loves to say, "agile" forms of warfare.

So where will the focus (and dollars) go when America needs to destroy something? Off of the ground. From the DoD's "Priorities" document, released today:

Space Matters

Growth in the number of space-faring nations is also leading to an increasingly congested and contested
space environment, threatening safety and security.

[The US Military will continue] efforts to enhance the resiliency and effectiveness of critical space-based capabilities.

Modern armed forces cannot conduct high-tempo, effective operations without reliable information and communication networks and assured access to cyberspace and space. Today space systems and their supporting infrastructure face a range of threats that may degrade, disrupt, or destroy assets. Accordingly, DoD will continue to work with domestic and international allies and partners and invest in advanced capabilities to defend its networks, operational capability, and resiliency in cyberspace and space.

What this means is murky. Military satellites are a crucial part of American warfare, so keeping them in orbit and protected against other countries in paramount. As far as actually putting weapons in space, that's not something the US will talk openly about. Mostly because it'd be illegal.

Internet War

Both state and non-state actors possess the capability and intent to conduct cyber espionage and, potentially, cyber attacks on the United States, with possible severe effects on both our military operations and our homeland.

Our planning envisages forces that are able to fully deny a capable state's aggressive objectives in one region by conducting a combined arms campaign across all domains a land, air, maritime, space, and cyberspace. (Emphasis added)

Remember Stuxnet? Yeah. More of that.

Drones, Drones, Drones, Drones, Drones...

Drones are already the best thing going for American destructive power—and that's pre-budget slash-a-thon. They're blowing things and people up while the US' most advanced fighters stay on the ground, lying broken and/or fallow. Drones represent everything that next-gen aircraft are not: (relatively) cheap, effective, easy to manage, (relatively) risk-free, and boasting plenty of notches under their belts.

For the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to take an active approach to countering these threats by monitoring the activities of non-state threats worldwide, working with allies and partners to establish control over ungoverned territories, and directly striking the most dangerous groups and individuals when necessary.

Translation? The Pentagon will keep up the robotic death from above campaign, points out Danger Room's Spencer Ackerman.

You can read the report in its entirety below—we recommend it. It's all things you'll be paying for. [DoD]

Defense Strategic Guidance