Foreword to Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Joel D. Anderson, Colonel USMC (Ret);
Development Director Office of Research
Development/Office of the Vice President for Research Kansas State University
I am pleased and honored to recommend Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems Technologies and Operations for your use as both an educational text and practical reference for the student and practitioner alike.
Within the text you will find a logical and data rich foundation for current, emerging and yet unforeseen applications, considerations/approaches and practices relevant to the ever-unfolding world of unmanned autonomous systems. The evolution of work found in both the First and Second Editions of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the Cyber Domain: Protecting USA’s Advanced Air Assets (Nichols & et.al, 2019) and now this sister textbook covering Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems Technologies and Operations (C-UAS) underscores one profound yet enduring theme:
Technology is changing the landscape at a rapid if not exponential rate. The ability to respond and mitigate known and unknown challenges remains an integral factor in our education, understanding and collective ability to remain relevant.
In that context, the authors have striven to provide a valuable understanding of the “as-is” environment while endeavoring to maintain an enduring framework of practices and insight necessary to respond to the unfolding “to-be” environment of the future. I think you will find this sister edition, as with the previous two, of immense value and insight. In it, you will find its organization into sections on:
- CUAS operations as a Concept,
- Technologies and Processes,
- Counter C-UAS, and
- Legal and Administrative Issues to be logically and informatively laid out.
Within the respective sections and nested chapters, the authors lay the foundation for logical and enduring insights. Insights beneficial to our collective ability to learn, assess, understand and respond with relevance–now and into the future. The chapters of the text provide a framework of intuitive understanding of both related technology/material solutions and important/enduring approaches necessary for conceptual planning, response and legal considerations. I am confident that the nature of this text will remain a directional beacon over time providing a holistic, realistic and tangible framework in understanding and addressing current and long-term needs.
My involvement with “drones” began in the mid-1980s when the Pioneer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was delivered to Camp Pendleton, California. Shortly afterwards, my unit was asked to support an operationally relevant environment test of a system called the Pointer UAV, then a small Styrofoam system thrown by hand and carrying a small video sensor. The intent was to assess the utility of a system that could be used for close in reconnaissance; to see what was on the “other side of the hill.” As a technical solution, these “systems” were not necessarily new but the maturity of drone technology then, created an environment where operationally, they would become an integral part of military framework across what is now referred to as multi-domain operations. The emergence of unmanned systems technology created a number of dilemmas for planning, employment, airspace coordination and de-confliction. The widespread use of unmanned systems today are just an expanded manifestation of those considerations only a much wider scale. Then, as now, their introduction was not without controversy, nor challenges with integrating them into a complex technical framework that is non-trivial at the local, regional, national and international levels.
A challenge, then as now, is that technology development just may be the easy thing. It is the nature and impact of emergent often times disruptive technology that presents challenges in response. The response factor coupled with time latency in understanding intended and unintended consequences arguably presents a lagging approach and relatively long lead time in putting context to necessary considerations and approaches. I believe that the authors of this text get in front of the “boom” of technology by supporting a comprehensive and integrated approach to factors and considerations far too often ignored.
As we look forward, Pillar II of the current National Security Strategy (NSS) discusses the importance of leadership in “Research, Technology, Invention and Innovation.” Undoubtedly, UAS will remain part of that innovation ecosystem well into the future. Globally, we are witnessing rapid technical change and use of these systems in a myriad of context that also influence an increasingly complex top to bottom security environment. Nested within the NSS our National Defense Strategy (NDS) calls for agility in responding to both the technical and security challenges in our future by integrating and adapting at “The Speed of Relevance.”
This context is important on three levels.
- First. Platform development and use has become pervasive as a major economic technology powerhouse globally. Unmanned aerial systems are in fact becoming ubiquitous.
- Secondly. Because technology has matured to a point where unmanned systems have become a fully integrated reality of commercial use and applications within the National Air Space, they must be addressed holistically.
- Finally. We are experiencing introduction of newer technologies daily. Their usage will continue to challenge our understanding of the materials and manufacturing space and our collective ability to respond to change. Counter UAS will be a critical enabler as we move forward.
On the latter point, this sister edition provides exceptional insight and practical understanding into a technology domain that is experiencing development at break-neck speed, disruptive use across an expansive application domain, and yes, even unanticipated implications in their development, usage, employment and ramifications therein.
Today, the challenges, gaps and opportunities of assessing platforms, sensors, communications, information technology, cyber and use cases for surveillance and reconnaissance require a foundation for legal and ethical insight, knowledge and best practices.
The value of this sister edition is that it provides a long term and enduring foundation and fundamental framework of insights, best practices and considerations for “Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems Technologies and Operations” that can and will serve the reader well.
Joel D. Anderson
Colonel USMC (Ret)
Office of Research Development (ORD)
Office of the Vice President for Research
Kansas State University
Nichols, R., & et.al. (2019). Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the Cyber Domain: Protecting USA’s Advanced Air Assets . Manhattan, KS: New Prairie Press #27.