explosives, by those engaged in work and measurement in radioactive environments, by various offshore industries for both creating and maintaining undersea facilities, by researchers in atmospheric and undersea activities, and by industry in automated and robotic manufacturing).

This report is primarily forward-looking, building on recent AV successes experienced during military operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. However, it is instructive to look briefly at the history of U.S. military Service use of AVs, some of which is summarized in Table 1.1; the table also contains lessons learned that are believed to have continuing value.


The primary threats to the security of the United States today are nonstate actors and rogue nations, with the potential rise of a serious military competitor in the future. The likelihood of conflict appears to be on the increase, and anticipating the next theater of war is more difficult now than in the recent past. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continues to be a fundamental concern. In addition, the importance of stability operations in which U.S. forces are employed as peacekeepers on foreign soil is increasing. Furthermore, while the American people appear to be very supportive of military initiatives, they are also increasingly concerned with limiting losses to U.S. military personnel and reducing collateral damage. As a result, “dull, dangerous, or dirty” tasks (e.g., mine clearance listed in Table 1.1) could continue to be performed by AVs.

The current U.S. defense strategy has as primary elements homeland defense, strategic deterrence, and the capability to conduct simultaneous conventional military operations as well as special operations in the war on terror. The role of the Department of Defense (DOD) in homeland defense is being defined as the Department of Homeland Security establishes itself. In this context, the U.S. Navy is being called upon to increase its collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard.

The nation’s conventional forces are expected to be able to deter aggression in any four critical regions and to win decisively in one. The often geographically distributed threats and their uncertain nature today stress the size and operational tempo of U.S. forces. It is widely expected that smaller but highly capable and determined adversaries will employ asymmetric means to oppose U.S. forces. In many cases these means could be directed at naval forces—for example, the use of mines or the threat of supersonic, sea-skimming cruise missiles to slow down operations, which can cause failure at the campaign level.

The Trend Toward Joint Operations and Acquisition

An important trend relevant to the subject of autonomous vehicles in support of naval operations is the move toward jointness in U.S. military operations and in acquisition. In recent years almost all U.S. military operations of any conse-

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