Unmanned Military Systems: Formulating Policy


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How should the State of Israel ready itself ahead of the advent of unmanned systems and the expanding uses and applications thereof?


Though Israel constitutes a major hub of unmanned systems development and know-how, the nation nevertheless lacks a national policy or some planned program on the part of the government, or even Israel’s defense establishment. On the other hand, we are in for a rapid and comprehensive rise in the influx of unmanned systems, which will transform combat as we know it.

Here are a few major study-based recommendations:

1. A national policy should be formulated concerning the field of unmanned systems, in order to maximize the advantage the sector holds as well as minimized the risks. This, contrary to the current situation, whereby the entire process seems to be running on its own, without any maximization of Israel’s inherent advantages.
2. Consideration should be given to the establishment of a defense establishment body tasked with overseeing the unmanned systems sector. This body or agency should be placed in charge of formulating R&D (research and development) roadmaps and their subsequent implementation.
3. Strive to integrate unmanned systems in all security aspects, with an emphasis on intelligence gathering missions as well as other non-lethal tasks, which eliminate any dilemma concerning their use and application for now.
4. Expediting procedures. Means and processes ought to be adopted in order to enable development, introduction and rapid deployment into ’operationalization’ of new unmanned systems platforms. This should also pertain to introducing an overall defense and continuity strategy for unmanned systems.
5. Formulate policy, combat strategy and capabilities for handling enemy unmanned systems.

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6. Make sure proper, well trained unmanned systems’ personnel be cultivated even prior to their recruitment to the IDF, as well as evaluate analysis, location, recruitment and training of current enlisted personnel in this field.

7. Quality personnel must be retained, inter alia through lucrative programs designed to compete with civilian career opportunities.
8. Reserve core operational aspects in the hands of humans in the age of unmanned systems – in order to keep human consideration in the loop in the framework of various operational stages.
9. Forge join-cooperation initiatives with other countries in order to develop unmanned systems and operate them. This will also serve the goal of impacting global standards and regulation, which may affect Israel and its ability to operate in this sector.
10. Reduce the high accessibility of terrorist entities to unmanned systems, inter alia by cooperating with other countries.
11. Limits of autonomous discretion: when it comes to legalities and ethical issues, machines’ ’room for consideration’ best be limited when it comes to lethal means. The same should also apply to the human personnel operating them.
12. Israel’s advantages in the field of military unmanned systems must be leveraged in order to develop infrastructure and corner the rapidly expanding global defense and civil markets. The economic potential is huge.
13. Formulate training and educational programs in support of various unmanned systems’ aspects, and encourage participation in order to have readily available personnel for the entire industry in the years to come.

Edited by: Yoav Zachs, Liran Antebi