The term “offset strategies” usually conjures thoughts and ideas about the ways the US military wages war. But, that perception misses a significant aspect of offset strategies. The main goal of these strategies is to never go to war in the first place. This is equally true of the Third Offset Strategy, which focuses on using technology to prevent problems before they start.

Technology, intelligence, and surveillance are the cornerstones of the Third Offset Strategy. This is because the US isn’t just dealing with competition from other major world powers, but also smaller independent cells that present domestic threats. Using technology to gather intelligence and monitor individuals is a key part of deterring attacks in the Third Offset Strategy

Deterrence Theory’s Role in Offset Strategies

Deterrence theory is a theory coined by the military. It’s based not on action, but instead on the potential to take action. We develop new technologies not to cause conflict, but as a show of strength. As we develop powerful weapons, we can measure how likely other countries are to escalate conflicts into military action. The stronger the weapon, the less likely those countries are to become aggressive. It’s not necessary these weapons ever be used; they just need to exist.

A good example of this is the Manhattan Project, which researched and developed nuclear weapons during WWII. During that time, several nations were attempting to develop nuclear technology and it was expected that the country that developed it first would turn the war in their favor. This was because of the massive deterrent ability of these weapons. During the Second Offset Strategy, we didn’t develop weapons to use them, but instead to deter other countries from using weaker weapons against us. To this day, most major world powers continue to develop nuclear weapons even though only two have ever been used in world conflicts since they were created.

This is deterrence theory in action. When two countries, both with nuclear power, have a conflict, neither country is likely to use these weapons because of the risk of mutually assured destruction. By having the same powers as others, an impasse is created that prevents either side from taking aggressive action. A big portion of the Third Offset Strategy is based on that. It’s designed to ensure our technology is as strong or stronger than that of our potential enemies. This way, neither party is likely to use it.

Specific Deterrent Technology in the Third Offset Strategy

Offset strategies are nowadays almost always technology-focused but today’s offset strategies are different from those of the past because of computers. In prior offset strategies, the goal was to make weapons more powerful. The knowledge of how devastating a nuclear bomb blast could be acted as the deterrent that was key to the Second Offset Strategy. Now, instead of making weapons more powerful, we’re making them smarter. Machine learning gives us new deterrent advantages in the Third Offset Strategy:

  • Proactive intelligence – Part of the offset strategy is managing intelligence, to give us an idea of looming threats. It’s also counter surveillance, which gives us insight into what weapons other countries have. A lot of this intelligence is gathered online, not just on the regular internet, but also on the darknet, which is large and unwieldy to navigate. Technology that can intelligently parse information in the vast space of the darknet is possible, but useless if machines can’t put it into context. For example, a darknet site might raise a flag for using phrases like “jihad” or “bomb,” but that site could simply be a news repository, not an indication of terrorist communications. Intelligent software would be able to put those trigger words into context to parse out real threats from false flags.
  • Secure battle networks – Battle networks are, in their simplest forms, content management systems for war. They show where troops and threats are along with the obstacles and civilians between them. In any conflict, the main goal is to improve your own battle network while shutting down the enemies. As it’s well known that US battle networks are strong, competitors put a lot of money into counter-network measures designed to find and exploit flaws in the system. As such, machine learning will be necessary to make those battle networks unexploitable. This acts as a deterrent as it causes an enemy to waste time attempting to hack an unhackable system.
  • Wargame experimentation – One of the best tools you can have in a battle is knowing the outcome before it even starts. Complex computers systems can now take military strategy and turn it into an algorithm, testing it in various environments. This allows us to preview a conflict without taking part in it. It also allows us to review areas of weakness an enemy could choose to exploit.
  • Individualized threat detection – While our goal in the Third Offset Strategy is parity with our biggest competitors, Russia and China, threat detection must be a bit more segmented than that. Someone attempting to gather surveillance against the US may try to gain access to the agencies in the US through employment or contract work. Deep vetting tools like retinal scanning for identity verification as well as detection software like Remote Risk Assessment (RRA) can help locate these threats before they gain information illicitly.

Using deterrence to minimize war is nothing new. It’s been around in some form or another for 200 years now. The only thing that changes is the technology that manages it. Part of our deterrence strategy for the Third Offset involves leveraging today’s smarter technology to gain better information.

Clearspeed offers RRA as an option in risk detection, by measuring key biometric indicators for evidence of risk. This technology can be adapted for many uses, including within the Third Offset Strategy. For more information about our technology, contact us.