For Immediate Release: Sep. 15, 2021
By Warren Duffie Jr., Office of Naval Research
ARLINGTON, Va.—The Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation have published the Naval Intelligent Autonomous Systems (IAS) Strategy, which sets a new course for how the Navy and Marine Corps will synchronize and carry out autonomy and artificial intelligence (AI) efforts across naval unmanned systems.
To view the new Strategy, visit https://www.onr.navy.mil/-/media/Files/Our-Research/Naval-IAS-Strategy.ashx.
The term IAS describes the intersection of autonomy and AI with unmanned systems, to produce warfighting capabilities beyond what individual technologies could achieve—thereby ensuring America’s military edge and dominance.
“National security requires technological dominance now and in the future battlespace,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin C. Selby. “IAS are the cornerstone of disruptive warfighting technology. The naval vision is to seamlessly integrate IAS as trusted members of the Naval Enterprise, and as quickly as possible. The Naval IAS Strategy unifies our approach as a Navy and Marine Corps, and is the foundation to the future.”
The new IAS Strategy is designed to complement the Unmanned Campaign Framework recently introduced by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, which serves as a blueprint for making unmanned systems a trusted and integral part of warfighting.
The Strategy addresses the issue of how autonomy and AI have changed the nature of warfare—an evolution that will continue at an accelerating pace for the foreseeable future. Recent conflicts show that smaller forces with strong IAS capabilities can defeat larger forces traditionally thought to be superior.
According to the Strategy, this underscores the fact that threats to our national security have changed as peer and near-peer competitors enjoy access to a greater variety of weapons technology.
“The pace at which threats are evolving and technologies are emerging is faster than we’ve seen since World War II,” said Dr. Jason Stack, ONR's director for Ocean, Atmosphere and Space Research, and chair of the Intelligent Autonomous Systems Strategy Development Team. "Additionally, innovation epicenters have shifted globally from defense to commercial.
“Our primary challenge lies not only with scientific discovery and technology invention,” Stack continued. “It equally involves accelerating the development, operationalization and adoption of emerging technologies into IAS-enabled warfighting capabilities.”
To achieve this, Stack encourages investment in disruptive new technologies, cultivating greater risk tolerance and reducing bureaucratic drag between the development and the fielding of new technologies.
The IAS Strategy provides the strategic investment framework—particularly important in budget-constrained times—to guide the acceleration, development and adoption of IAS into the fight.
Such a framework is especially important because, while industry investment in IAS now dwarfs that of government, there are areas in which the commercial sector will not invest without naval funding or leadership. The IAS Strategy lays out the unique naval needs to guide these investment thrusts, based on requirements that are truly militarily distinct; maximize leverage of the commercial sector; and inform investment areas for dual use.
The Strategy also represents a naval-wide effort. Its development team includes members of the Naval Research and Development Establishment, which engages with government, industry and academic stakeholders for a wide array of input. This guided the Strategy development, and will continue to support all aspects of technology development, operation and adoption.
Warren Duffie Jr. is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.
About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 55 countries, 634 institutions of higher learning and nonprofit institutions, and more than 960 industry partners. ONR, through its commands, including headquarters, ONR Global and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., employs more than 3,800 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel.