Sustaining the U.S. Lead in Unmanned Systems

Military and Homeland Considerations through 2025

Over the past decade, the United States has established a lead in the military use of unmanned systems technology. Yet, the U.S. lead is at risk in the decades ahead, as U.S. strategists and policymakers have not taken sufficient steps to shore up success in the military-technical revolution at hand. With the effective 2014 end of the Afghanistan War, commitment to explore the broader possibilities of unmanned systems is retreating within the Department of Defense (DoD). Meanwhile, the rest of the world is rapidly increasing its attention and investment in unmanned systems. Additionally, unmanned systems will have domestic prominence and importance for the United States as they are increasingly adopted for homeland and law enforcement missions, for private commercial use, and by individuals. This report offers analysis of the key risks and opportunities of the technology and provides specific recommendations for policymakers to sustain the U.S. lead out to 2025 and beyond.

Samuel J. Brannen

Ethan Griffin

Rhys McCormick