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1. REPORT DATE (DD-MM-YYYY] 31 -03-2017 

2. REPORT TYPE: Master’s 

To]: 08-09-2016 - 04-01-2017 



Ia Vision in Jeopardy: Royal Navy Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) 




6. AUTHOR: Commander Ashley Spencer, Royal Navy. 




Joint Forces Staff College, Joint Advanced Warfighting School, 7800 Flampton Blvd, 
Norfolk, VA23511-1702. 





12. DISTRIBUTION/AVAILABILITY STATEMENT: Approvedforpublicrelease.dlstributionls unlimited. 

13. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES: Notfor Commercial Use without the express written permission of the author. 

14. ABSTRACT : Successive UK governments have recognized the enduring importance of maritime power for Britain as an island 
nation and have directed the Royal Navy (RN) to retain and develop a powerful, adaptable maritime warfighting force. The future multi- 
domain maritime battlespace will be a competition between access and denial. Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) offer a means of 
ensuring the RN’s future remains credible and expeditionary. 

The RN has a decade-long interest in MAS. Despite establishing a maritime test and evaluation unit in 2004, and twelve years of 
continuous investment and assessment, the RN has failed to deliver any sustainable MAS operational capability. A vision for MAS finally 
materialized in 2014. Yet, the vision statement remains without substance and reason, providing no direction and purpose to an important 

The decade-long hiatus serves as a valuable case study for why and how innovation and change can fail within the military. The program is 
failing for two specific reasons. Primarily, it originated from an aversive, the desire to avoid loss of life, rather than responsive 
requirement, the ability to enhance combat power that arises to fill a capability gap, or meet a defined threat. Second, it is failing due to a 
lack of direction and commitment internally. The individuals responsible for RN MAS delivery are not incentivized to deliver meaningful 
objectives, nor deliver to a strict deadline. There is no consensus within the RN that MAS will enhance fighting power. Meanwhile, the 
commercial sector’s rate of technological progress and innovation in MAS is too rapid for the current military acquisition process. The 
result is decision making paralysis. 

Research will justify the relevance of MAS in the context of the UK’s National Security Strategy, and the character of future conflict. The 
RN’s current approach to MAS will be deconstmcted and compared with historical military transformations to analyze the importance of 
vision to the success of a program, the cultural and leadership frictions within the RN, and the influence of the commercial sector. The 
paper will consider the reality of financial constraint, and the intellectual capacity to implementing simultaneous change within the RN, 
before suggesting an alternate vision and approach to securing the future of MAS. 

15. SUBJECT TERMS: United Kingdom; Maritime Autonomous Systems; Change within th 

e Military; Royal Navy; Innovation 


a. REPORT Unclassified 

c. THIS 



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Ashley C. Spencer 
Commander, Royal Navy 

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Ashley C. Spencer 
Commander, Royal Navy 

A paper submitted to the Faculty of the Joint Advanced Warfighting School in partial 
satisfaction of the requirements of a Master of Science Degree in Joint Campaign 
Planning and Strategy. The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are 
not necessarily endorsed by the Joint Forces Staff College or the Department of Defense. 

This paper is entirely my own work except as documented in footnotes. 

Thesis Advisor: 

Approved by: 


Stephen C. Rogers, Col, U.S. Army, 
Director, Joint Advanced 
Warfighting School 

To my friend and love, 
uneonseiously a genius, 

gliding through life with eompassion and freedom. 
Thank you for holding me together. 

“This is water.” 


Successive UK governments have reeognized the enduring importance of 
maritime power for Britain as an island nation and have direeted the Royal Navy (RN) to 
retain and develop a powerful, adaptable maritime warfighting foree. The future multi- 
domain maritime battlespaee will be a eompetition between aeeess and denial. Maritime 
Autonomous Systems (MAS) offer a means of ensuring the RN’s future remains eredible 
and expeditionary. 

The RN has a decade-long interest in MAS. Despite establishing a maritime test 
and evaluation unit in 2004, and twelve years of continuous investment and assessment, 
the RN has failed to deliver any sustainable MAS operational eapability. A vision for 
MAS finally materialized in 2014. Yet, the vision statement remains without substance 
and reason, providing no direction and purpose to an important program. 

The deeade-long hiatus serves as a valuable case study for why and how 
innovation and ehange ean fail within the military. The program is failing for two specific 
reasons. Primarily, it originated from an aversive, the desire to avoid loss of life, rather 
than responsive requirement, the ability to enhance combat power that arises to fill a 
capability gap, or meet a defined threat. Seeond, it is failing due to a laek of direction and 
commitment internally. The individuals responsible for RN MAS delivery are not 
incentivized to deliver meaningful objectives, nor deliver to a strict deadline. There is no 
eonsensus within the RN that MAS will enhanee fighting power. Meanwhile, the 
commereial seetor’s rate of teehnologieal progress and innovation in MAS is too rapid 
for the eurrent military aequisition proeess. The result is deeision making paralysis. 


Research will justify the relevance of MAS in the context of the UK’s National 
Security Strategy, and the character of future conflict. The RN’s current approach to 
MAS will be deconstructed and compared with historical military transformations to 
analyze the importance of vision to the success of a program, the cultural and leadership 
frictions within the RN, and the influence of the commercial sector. The paper will 
consider the reality of financial constraint, and the intellectual capacity to implementing 
simultaneous change within the RN, before suggesting an alternate vision and approach 
to securing the future of MAS. 


During my time in the Royal Navy I have served in, and alongside U.S. 
Commands on operational tours. Despite the disparity in seale of the U.S. and UK navies, 
I remain struck by our shared values, traditions and enduring national interests. Both 
nations continue to validate the political utility of an expeditionary navy. However, 
access to the littoral battlespace in the 21st Century will be increasingly congested and 
geopolitically contested. Maritime Autonomous Systems will be employed by all 
belligerents on both sides of the sea control equation. This thesis is home from a drive to 
address the lack of consensus within the RN as to the utility of MAS, and in doing so, 
prepare for the future. MAS may provide the RN with a warfare competitive advantage 
that facilitates access and exploitation opportunities; a problem worth solving. 

I would like to tha nk Dr. Bryon Greenwald, Colonel Doug Golden, and Mr. 

Jeffrey Turner for their support in the production of the thesis. The library team at Joint 
Forces Staff College Ike Skelton Library have been patient, and professional, obliging my 
every whim with a smile. 


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Table of Contents 



Table of Contents.v 

List of Figures .vi 


Abbreviations & Aeronyms.xi 


Chapter 1: Resourcing the Unknown.7 

Predicting the Future: The Importance of the MAS Program.7 

Resourcing Threat vs Capability.10 

Royal Navy Maritime Autonomous Systems - A False Start.11 

The Numbers Do Not Add Up.13 


Chapter 2: A Flawed Vision.16 

What the Vision Should Do.17 

Moving Forward-Asking the Right Questions, Solving the Right Problem.18 

Consensus of the Problem, Not the Solution.18 


Chapter 3: Barriers to Change.23 

Confusing Activity with Change.23 

Abdicating Innovation.26 

A Cultural Wall.27 


Chapter 4: Failure hy Design.32 

Containing Change.32 

Hedging our Bets-What if we are Wrong?.34 

Affording Change-A Cost Saving Illusion?.35 


Chapter 5: What Now?.39 

A New MAS Vision.39 

Leading the Way and Evolution.39 

Creating a Legacy.40 

Building Consensus: Educate, Incentivize, Validate, Demonstrate.41 





List of Figures 

Figure 1. Boyd’s OODA Loop Sketch - with overlays.25 

Figure 2. Building Consensus.42 

Figure 3. Infographic - Key Statistics and Achievements of Unmanned Warrior.45 



Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD) - Anti-Access: Those aetions and eapabilities, usually 
long-range, designed to prevent an opposing foree from entering an operational area. 

Area Denial: Those aetions and eapabilities, usually of shorter range, designed not to 
keep an opposing foree out, but to limit its freedom of aetion within the operational area.' 
The term is beeoming inereasingly maligned in eoneeptual terms by senior U.S. Navy 
offieers for over-stating the advantage of the defense. 

Automated Systems - An automated or automatie system is one that, in response to 
inputs from one or more sensors, is programed to logieally follow a pre-defined set of 
rules in order to provide an outeome. Knowing the set of rules under whieh it is operating 
means that its output is predietable.^ 

Autonomous Systems - An autonomous system is eapable of understanding higher level 
intent and direetion. From this understanding and its pereeption of its environment, sueh 
a system is able to take appropriate aetion to bring about a desired state. It is eapable of 
deeiding a eourse of aetion, from a number of alternatives, without depending on human 
oversight and eontrol, although these may still be present. Although the overall aetivity of 
an autonomous unmanned aireraft will be predietable, individual aetions may not be. ^ 

Dirty, Dull, and Dangerous (3Ds) - Dull missions are ideal for unmanned systems 
beeause they involve long-duration undertakings with mundane tasks that are ill-suited 
for manned systems. Good examples are surveillanee missions that involve prolonged 
observation. Dirty missions have the potential to unneeessarily expose personnel to 
hazardous eonditions. A primary example is ehemieal, biologieal, and nuelear deteetion 
missions. Unmanned systems ean perform these dirty missions with less risk exposure to 
the operators. Dangerous missions involve high risk. With advanees in eapabilities in 
performanee and automation, unmanned systems will reduee the risk exposure to 
personnel by inereasingly fulfilling eapabilities that are inherently dangerous."^ 

Fighting Power - is the ability to fight and aehieve sueeess on operations. It is made up 
of an essential mix of three inter-related eomponents: 

a. Conceptual: the thought proeess providing the intelleetual basis and 
theoretieal justifieation for the provision and employment of armed forees. 

b. Moral: the ability to get people to fight, individually and eolleetively. 

' U.S. Department for Defense, Joint Operational Access Concept, (Washington, DC: Department of 
Defense, January 17 2012), 6. 

^ United Kingdom, Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, United Kingdom Supplement to NATO 
Terminology Database, 8* ed., (Joint Doctrine Publication 0-01.1, September 2001), A-1. 

^ Ibid. 

^ U.S. Department of Defense, Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2013-2038 (Washington, DC, 
2014), 20. 


c. Physical: the means to fight - a balaneed, agile, maritime force at readiness 
and with warfighting at its core.^ 

Global Commons - The high seas, the air above it, and space constitute the physical 
global commons. To varying degrees, they are largely accessible by all actors and not 
subject to national jurisdiction - although they are all managed and controlled to some 
degree through international treaties and agreements.^ 

Innovation - changes the manner in which military formations function on operations; it 
is significant in scope and impact and provides greater military effectiveness. ^ 

Intra-service Model - A school of military innovation that focuses on intra-service 
competition, specifically between branches of the same military service. It suggests that 
military services should not be considered unitary actors. Instead, innovation in modern 
military organizations tends to involve competition between established branches of a 
service and new branches that embrace new capabilities.^ 

Maritime Autonomous Systems Trials Team (MASTT) - Manned entirely by RN 
personnel, and consists of 20-22 persons, with dedicated facilities in Portsmouth, UK. 

The trials team have a specially adapted motor boat (Hazard) to launch and test 11 
various REMUS and IVER Autonomous Underwater Systems, and an Explosive 
Ordinance Disposal Remotely Operated (underwater) Vehicle. MASTT is also trialing 
ACER, an open architecture combat system. The unit has a deployable containerized 
capability and is due to receive a Towed Sweep Unmanned Surface Vessel in the near 

Mine Hydrographic Capability (MHC) - The RN has no future build program to 
replace its Mine Counter Measures (MCM) vessels on a like-for-ltke basis. MHC is the 
only alternative. MHC is strictly speaking not a vessel. However, it has already been 
conceptualized as a ‘down-threat,' lost-cost hull, with a multitude of off-board systems. 
MHC has been designed as a transformational and incremental program that will update 
and subsequently replace the full existing MCM and Hydrographic capabilities to provide 
assured maritime freedom of maneuver, delivering minehunting, minesweeping and 
hydrographic mission systems (including remote controlled OBS) to legacy and future 

Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) Loop - refers to the decision cycle developed by 
military strategist and U.S. Air Eorce Colonel John Boyd. This concept maintains that if 
someone can see what is happening in the battlespace, they can out think, out decide and 

^ United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, British Maritime Doctrine, 4* ed. (Joint Doctrine Publication, 
2011), 3-1. 

® United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, “Strategic Trends Programme: Future Operating Environment 
2035 ” Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre Strategic Trends Programme, (HMSO, December 14, 

’ Adam Grissom, “The Future of Military Innovation Studies,” Journal of Strategic Studies, 29:5, (24 Jan 
2007), 907. The seminal work in this school is Stephen Rosen’s book Winning the Next War. 



outperform the adversary. Boyd’s theory was grounded in the importanee of adaptation 
and explieitly based on organizational learning theory. ^ 

Sea Control - The eondition that exists when one has freedom of aetion within an area of 
the sea for one's own purposes, and if neeessary, deny its use to an opponent, for a period 
of time in the subsurfaee, surfaee and above water environments. 

Strategic Defence Security Review - The UK Government’s foremost doeument on 
defense strategy. Together with the National Seeurity Strategy, it reviews the threats the 
UK faees, what eapabilities the UK needs to respond to them, and how to eonfigure the 
Armed Forees aeeordingly. 

’ Frans P. B. Osinga, Science, Strate^ and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd fLondon: Routledge, 
2005), 80, 229-233, 237-239. 

NATO, NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions, AAP-06, (2013), 2-S-3. 


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Abbreviations & Acronyms 

and Acronyms 



Anti-Access and Area Denial 


Autonomous Control Exploitation and Realization 


Autonomous Underwater Vehicle 


Development, Concepts and Doetrine Centre (UK) 


Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (UK) 


Department of Defense (U.S.) 


Explosive Ordinanee Disposal 

FOE 35 

Future Operating Environment 2035 


Fleet Robotics Officer 


Fleet Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Unit 


Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance 


Maritime Capability 


Maritime Autonomous Systems 


Maritime Autonomous Systems Trials Team 


Mine Counter Measures 


Mine and Hydrographical Capability 


Ministry of Defence (UK) 


Manned Unmanned Teaming 


Off Board Systems 


Office of Naval Researeh (U.S.) 


Offshore Patrol Vessel 


Order of Battle (employable warfare assets) 


Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS (a type of MAS) 


Royal Navy 


Remotely Operated (underwater) Vehicle 


Strategic Defence and Security Review (UK) 


Seottish Fisheries Protection Agency 


Unmanned Air Vehicle 


Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle 


Urgent Operational Requirement 


United States Navy 


Umanned Underwater Vehiele 


Unmanned Vehicle of any type 


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'^Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare 
Successive UK governments have reeognized the enduring importanee of 
maritime power for Britain as an island nation and have direeted the Royal Navy (RN) to 
retain and develop a powerful, adaptable, maritime warfighting foree with global reaeh. ^ 
Aeross its storied history, the RN has eombined the skill of a seagoing people with the 
promise of emerging teehnologies to ereate one of the world’s most effeetive maritime 
forees. From sail to steam. Dreadnought to aireraft earner, and sonar to radar, the RN has 
always ridden the wave of new teehnology to inerease its mastery of the seas. Seeuring 
future battlespaee aceess while denying its use to an adversary is an enduring ehallenge to 
all navies. With the eurrent rise of roboties and advaneed intelligenee. Maritime 
Autonomous Systems (MAS) offer a means to ensure the RN retains an effeetive 
expeditionary fighting advantage over its eompetitors. 

MAS offers eonsiderable operational potential to UK Defenee. Yet, the RN’s 
MAS program is a ease study in failed military innovation-a failure to eonvert vision into 
action. Nevertheless, with a few ehanges, the program ean beeome a model for military 
innovation and provide the RN with eritieal aeeess eapabilities now and in the future. 

Chapter 1 reveals why autonomous systems are erueial to aehieving a maritime 
eompetitive advantage, thereby demonstrating why the MAS program is a problem worth 
solving. The RN must learn to innovate suecessfully in peaeetime. Resoureing toward a 
eapability viee threat is notoriously diffieult. This seetion provides the baekground and 

' Japanese proverb, non-attributable. 

^ United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, British Maritime Doctrine, 4* ed. (Joint Doctrine Publication, 
2011 ), 1 - 2 . 


context to the RN’s deeade-long interest in unmanned vehicles (UxVs) and MAS (2004- 
2014). The period is summarized as action without vision-a nightmare. The RN failed to 
deliver any sustained MAS operational eapability despite eontinuous investment and 

Finally, in 2014, the then First Sea Lord (ISL), Admiral Sir George Zambellas 
made the announcement, “You will all be clear on my intent as to what I want for the 
Navy.. .The Royal Navy will lead and win through the innovative and robust exploitation 
of Maritime Autonomous Systems.”^ Chapter 2 identifies the flaws in the RN’s MAS 
vision. An effeetive vision provides organization energy and purpose. The ISL’s vision 
lacks clarity of direction and fails to motivate and unify organizational aetion. Bereft of 
justifieation, the vision leaves a gap in the program’s approaeh. Consequently, despite the 
value of MAS, the program has struggled for legitimacy and remains under-resourced: 
Vision without action is a daydream. 

The MAS program eontinues to fail for two speeifie reasons. The first lies with 
the aforementioned absenee of strategie direetion through vision. The failure to identify 
and agree on the real purpose of UxVs, and latterly MAS, resulted originally in an 
aversive set of program requirements. Minimizing the risk to life and making eost savings 
overshadowed the valid responsive operational requirement to effieiently inerease 
competitive operational advantage over adversaries. Speeifieally, the MAS program may 
well mitigate the growing Anti-Access, Areal Denial threat and enable the RN to 
eontinue to operate in the global maritime eommons for the good of the nation. 

^ Admiral Sir George Zambellas, Royal Navy, First Sea Lord, Chief of Naval Staff Keynote address to the 
Maritime Autonomous Systems Conference. QinetiQ Maritime Autonomy Centre, Haslar, UK 6 October 



The second reason the program is failing is internal friction. Chapter 3 outlines 
how organizational capacity and cultural resistance, undermined by a lack of direction, 
have contributed to decision-making paralysis. The failure to identify and agree on the 
problem MAS is attempting to address led to a vision conceived ten years late. Further 
analysis of the RN’s approach to MAS highlights the need for a champion with a 
compelling vision to build consensus."^ Without leadership showing the way, internal 
apathy towards MAS prevails. 

The 2014 vision coincided with the creation of a new position within Fleet 
Headquarters, the Fleet Robotics Officer (FRO). The FRO is responsible for investigating 
how MAS might offer credible capability in the future. However, the office consists of 
one person and one person, no matter how gifted, does not constitute an organization with 
the capacity to implement the necessary change. The post is a solitary one, a single point 
of failure, without subordinates. The RN remains deprived of a transactional office 
responsible for turning the aspirational or conceptual aspects of MAS into hard, tangible 
realities for the future force. 

Beyond the lack of depth in the FRO, other limitations inhibit MAS progress. 

The RN’s MAS Trails Team lacks any incentive to deliver meaningful operational 
objectives on a strict timeline. Meanwhile, military decision-making concerning MAS 
has become immobilized by rapid commercial innovation. The RN is mired in the 
decision cycle of Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, (OODA) developed by John Boyd, 
failing to progress towards action. Leadership at the top of the organization has changed 

The RN established the Fleet Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Unit (FUUVU) in 2004. The fact that the 
1 SL’s vision for MAS came ten years after the establishment of the RN’s first iteration of a MAS trials unit 
is telling. 


without creating a legacy, prevalent throughout the organization, of a positive eonsensus 
towards MAS, whieh has inhibited progress even further. 

The RN’s ethos and eulture remain dominated by its most prized asset, its people. 
Seemingly replaeing people with robots naturally meets with inherent resistanee. The 
sheer seale of teehnieal, legal, and ethieal ehallenges faeing MAS supports a degree of 
skeptieism. Intelleetually, the RN’s offieer eadre remains divided as to the utility of MAS 
in war. Many remain eoneerned by the ease with whieh adversaries ean overeome or 
exploit eurrent systems. Theoretieally, poor vision easeades down within an organization, 
undermining the eommander’s intent. However, eritiquing the MAS program purely on 
this basis ignores the reality of finaneial eonstraint, and the intelleetual limits of an 
organization eonsumed by too much ehange. 

Chapter 4 explores the idea that the ambiguity of the MAS program may have 
been by design. The sheer quantity and volume of ehange aeross the RN sinee 2010 has 
overwhelmed the resourees of the organization and its eapaeity for ehange. The RN’s 
annual operating budget is approximately £12bn.^ Besides operating and maintaining the 
existing fleet, the ISL remains responsible for safeguarding the proeurement of future 
eonventional strategie, and nuelear strategie assets.^ Large eapability projeets, sueh as the 
reintroduetion of fixed-wing earrier aviation, dominated the intelleetual and finaneial 
resourees of the RN.’ Rather than a failure of vision per se, MAS may be a vietim of 

^ The RN receives approximately one third of the military component of the UK’s £35. Ibn Defence budget 

^ The First Sea Lord delegates responsibility to the Fleet Commander for the provision of ships, submarines 
and aircraft ready to meet the operational requirements of the UK Government. 

’ UK Ministry of Defence, “The Defence Equipment Plan 2015,” 

httt)s:// data/file/470058/20151022- 
Defence Equipment Plan 2015.pdf (accessed November 20, 2016). The entire Defence procurement 
budget averages £16Bn annually. In addition to the RN’s annual operating budget of £12Bn, the RN 


resource prioritization, and intentional change containment. The RN in this context can 
be regarded as an organization in survival mode.^ 

Notwithstanding the financial reality facing the RN, the vision remains in 
jeopardy, and apportioning blame provides no solution. Chapter 5 addresses the need to 
compromise the ideal roadmap for the introduction of MAS, balancing change and 
financial means to frame an achievable evolutionary process in conjunction with manned 
systems. The monetary constraints imposed by SDSR 2015 do not support the wholesale 
introduction of MAS. ^ A new MAS vision alone cannot overcome the significant 
shortfall in investment. However, even an organization in survival mode should still 
prepare for the future and offer practical solutions. Internally, the RN must agree 
organizationally on what problem or challenge it wants MAS to solve. A consensus on 
the problem set, across the officer cadre, needs to be achieved over and above the 
agreement on the precise technical means of delivery.All is not lost. A window of 
opportunity remains to rectify the organizational failings while technical challenges are 
ironed out. Bridging the projected time gap between the planned end of manned 
equipment service-life and future in-service MAS could provide the opportunity for 
unmanned systems to mature technically. 

A concession to utilize evolving MAS exclusively in a benign domestic 
operational environment could extend the operational life of current manned systems by 

receives approximately £6Bn annually to support upgrades to existing platforms as well as procure new 

* The RN is an example of an organization, which when not threatened with extinction, needs 
organizational slack in the form of money, people, and time to think beyond the immediate. 

^ The Strategic Defence Review 2015 can be found at: 

httt)s:// data/file/5556Q7/2015 Strategic Def 
ence and Security Review.pdf The full review fails to include automated and autonomous systems in the 
vision for Joint Force 2025. 

In fact, discord while defining the means should be positively encouraged. 


reducing their present commitment. Bringing MAS to market early may slow the 
adaptation process required within the MAS program to counter the likely responses of 
adversaries. However, a genuine mission set for MAS today would improve system 
credibility amongst detractors, and provide a funding line to facilitate further innovation. 
The missions associated with the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent, and the protection of 
the UK’s Economic Exclusion Zone post-BREXIT, are ripe opportunities for MAS. The 
RN still has time to rectify a bad start. 


Chapter 1 - Resourcing the Unknown 

Predicting the Future: The Importance of the MAS Program 

Predicting the future correctly and subsequently manning, training, and equipping 
an organization to be fully prepared for such eventualities has proven problematic 
historically. Michael Howard famously asserted that . .whatever doctrine the Armed 
Forces are working on now, they have got it wrong. I am also tempted to declare that it 
does not matter that they have got it wrong. What does matter is their capacity to get it 
right quickly when the moment arrives.”' The Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) 
program represents the means to operate more persistently and permissively at sea, 
particularly in the congested and contested environment of the littoral. The justification 
for a mature MAS program chimes with Howard’s warning. In the wake of uncertainty 
and unspecified future threats, MAS could provide the Royal Navy (RN) with global 
access to the battlespace. Competitive advantage in MAS should improve overall force 
adaptability allowing the RN to “get it right quickly when the moment arrives.”^ 

Theo Farrell agreed with Howard that, regardless of effort, it is virtually 
impossible for states and militaries to anticipate all of the problems they will face in war. 
Nevertheless, Farrell justly adds that it does not absolve the military of the responsibility 
to innovate and plan.^ Failing to conceive the future indicates short-sightedness and 
erroneously absolves organizations of the responsibility to plan in favor of chance. 

' Michael Howard, “Military Science in the Age of Peace,” Royal United Services Institute, no.3 (March, 
1974), 7. Howard points to uncertainty, but other than promoting adaptability and flexibility to absorb 
change offers no guidance as to how. 


^ Theo Farrell, “Introduction,” In Military Adaptation in Afghanistan, edited by Farrell, Osinga, and 
Russell, (Stanford University Press, 2013), 3. Theo Farrell is Professor of War in the Modem World at 
King's College London. 


Importantly, as American historian Williamson Murray has argued, military 
organizations that display imagination and a willingness to think through the changes in 
peacetime have in nearly every case been those that have shown a readiness and ability to 
adapt and alter their prewar assumptions and preparation to reality/ 

The Future Operating Environment 2035 (FOE 35) is the latest attempt by the 
UK to conceive the future global environment/ The document forms part of the UK’s 
Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre’s (DCDC) Strategic Trends Program. 

DCDC is the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) independent think tank and aims to describe 
the characteristics of the 2035 operating environment to provide insights that can inform 
future defense capability development. The FOE 35 does not seek to predict the future. 
Rather, it describes the characteristics of plausible operating environments, resulting from 
rigorous trend analysis. 

The projections within FOE 35 legitimize the MAS program as a requirement; 
future systems must be able to operate and survive, at range, against more sophisticated 
Anti-Access and Area Denial (A2AD) capabilities. Very long-term, inflexible 
procurement processes will no longer be sustainable for less conventional capabilities. 

The proliferation of military technology amongst potential adversaries means that UK 
key systems may be vulnerable to technical exploitation or capability overmatch. ^ 
Accordingly, maintaining UK access to the global commons will be essential for ensuring 

Williamson Murray, Military Adaptation in War, Fear of Change, (New York: Cambridge University 
Press, 2011), 313. Williamson Murray is an American historian and author. He served in the United States 
Air Force, taught at a variety of universities, worked as a consultant, and has authored numerous works on 
history and strategic studies. 

^ United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, “Strategic Trends Programme: Future Operating Environment 
2035”, Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre Strategic Trends Programme, HMSO, December 14 
2015, data/file/484861/20151203- 
DCDC FOE 35.pdf (accessed October 10, 2016). 



global reach, national prosperity and the delivery of strategic effect. ^ Military advantage 
will probably lie with the defense, with future A2AD capabilities overwhelming 
conventional forces. It, therefore, remains increasingly likely that the commander may 
need to exploit certain technologies and capabilities to fight merely to gain access to the 
global commons for deployment, let alone employment, of force. ^ 

The character and environment of future conflicts may well be shaped by global 
resource limits and the disparity of wealth.^ The relationship these future conflicts will 
have with the military instrument of national power is less certain. Faced with such 
uncertainty, the RN continues to prepare for the war it cannot afford to lose. However, 
the RN must also invest in technologies necessary to endure the more likely scenario, one 
which future enemies will not fight against the UK’s perceived traditional strengths. In 
either situation, the RN can be assured that freedom of maneuver in the domains of the 
maritime battlespace will remain an operational necessity for an expeditionary navy. 
While this projection of the future appears logical and convincing, it remains an arduous 
task to plan for the future by resourcing a capability to meet a potential threat. 

Therefore, besides countering historical enemies, monies must be spent to provide 
capabilities that increase the capacity to adapt to future enemies. 

’ Ministry of Defence, “Strategic Trends Programme,” 22. The high seas, the air above it, and space 
constitute the physical global commons. 


^ Albert Palazzo, “The Military Revolution of Limits and the Changing Character of War,” Small Wars 
Journal, (October, 2013), httt):// 
changing-character-of-war# edn3 (accessed 30 October, 2016). 

In a financial climate of constraint, it continues to be much easier to fund requirements based on an 
actual threat and a necessity to counter it. 


Resourcing Threat vs Capability 

The UK must innovate with less money and greater ambiguity about potential 
opponents.^' Williamson Murray warned, “We appear to be entering a time of politieal 
ehange, strategie and teehnologieal uneertainty; a period where the threats seem more 
indeterminate.”^^ Refleeting the difficulty in resourcing such an indeterminate threat, 
Bryon Greenwald states that modernization normally costs more than a peacetime society 
is willing to spend when not directly threatened or aroused by passion. Knowing what 
must be done is certainly more conducive to innovation. Perhaps, in part, this explains 
the RN’s reluctance to resource MAS adequately. 

In the absence of a conventional enemy, the RN must manufacture competitive 
conditions to legitimize spending and investment. However, the terms of the game are 
created in the shadow of current doctrine and capability, and thereby reflect previous 
successes and emphasize perceived core capabilities. With resources stretched, the RN 
has defaulted to a self-image circa 1975; the RN is determined to provide conventional 
deterrence and global power projection using a carrier task force and a continuous 
strategic nuclear deterrent delivered by submarines. Since 1975, however, the world has 
become increasingly multi-polar. Access to the maritime domain is no longer the 
privilege of the highly-industrialized few. Relatively low-entry costs and the proliferation 
of unmanned technologies make it possible for a $50,000 unmanned vehicle (UxV) or 

" Williamson Murray, “Innovation: Past and the Future,” In Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, 
edited by Williamson Murray and Alan Millett, 300-328, (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University 
Press, 1996), 300. 


Bryon Greenwald, “Understanding Change: Why Military Organizations Succeed or Fail to Reform, 
Modernize, and Improve,” Joint Forces Staff College, (September 2010), 5. 

Geoffrey Till, “Adopting the Aircraft Carrier: The British American, and Japanese Case Studies,” In 
Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, edited by Williamson Murray and Alan Millett, 191-226. 
(Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 226. 


MAS to neutralize a billion-dollar warship. A seemingly blinkered approaeh to 
resoureing for eonventional state-eentrie war demonstrates the organization is in 
diffieulty; the RN is taking a view of the global eommons as it would like it to be, rather 
than the way it is. Yet, the outlook was not always so gloomy. The RN utilized unmanned 
maritime systems, (the forerunner of MAS) fourteen years ago in a wartime environment 
under the Urgent Operational Requirement eonstruet. The operational experienees 
gleaned should have provided the spark to future investment. But, the RN onee again 
repeated the historieal failures of the inter-war years and failed to operationalize a good 
idea when ahead of its eompetitors. 

Royal Navy Maritime Autonomous Systems - A False Start 

The failure to operationalize teehnieal ehange into transformational use is 

highlighted by the UK Government’s response to unmanned system use during the 2003 
Iraq war. After sueeessfully operationalizing the Fleet Underwater Unmanned Vehiele 
Unit (FUUVU) during a period of war, the RN failed to reeognize the opportunity for 
transformational ehange in littoral eombat, and quiekly reverted the FUUVU to researeh 
and development status. As the RN’s history with the aireraft earrier and anti- 

The RN largely ignored ASW lessons identified during WWI, preferring to view the submarine problem 
as a temporary aberration in warfare. Consequently, the RN was ill-prepared for the next war and the nation 
suffered huge merchant shipping losses to German U-Boats. Having invented carrier, catapult-launched 
aviation, the RN failed to recognize the significance to future warfare. Unlike Japan and the U.S., which 
each increased the size and scale of their carrier programs, Britain clung to a Battleship Fleet of decreasing 

United Kingdom. Government response to the House of Commons Defence Committee's report "Lessons 
of Iraq", May 14 2004, (accessed 7 
October 2016). The Committee congratulated the RN for the success of the operation to clear mines from 
the waterway to Umm Qasr and urged the MOD to review, as a matter of urgency, the capability of the RN 
to undertake mine clearance operations in shallow and very shallow waters, given the likely need for 
increasing amphibious operations in the littoral. The Government responded: “We have already established 
the FUUVU with an interim capability. It completed training in January 2004 and deployed operationally to 
Iraq in support of the Iraq Survey Group.” 

FUUVU was formed in 2004 and was renamed the Maritime Autonomous Systems Trials Team 
(MASTT) in 2012. During the Iraq War FUUVU used a Shallow Water Influence Minesweeping 


submarine warfare suggest, the failure to follow up on sueeessful mid-war innovation is 
not new. The RN’s failure to eontinue the promising developments it made with 
autonomous systems in the 2003 Iraq war is only the latest in a series of errors. 

Between 2004 and 2014, the RN gave no specific direction at the highest level as 
to the purpose and direction of MAS. In the vacuum, the requirement for MAS was 
developed, not by the RN, but by the industrial and scientific research communities. 
Hoping to encourage the RN to invest in unmanned and MAS technologies, both 
communities adopted a sales message focused on reducing the threat to military life. In 
the Mine Warfare field, the phrase “taking the man out of the minefield” became the 
main sound bite used to create justification for automated and autonomous systems. A 
logic based on the primacy of saving military lives failed to inspire and stimulate the war¬ 
fighting community of the RN whose principal concern remained operational 
effectiveness. Nevertheless, without oversight and interest from higher leadership, the 
idea prevailed for ten years. Office of Naval Research articles dating back to 2007 show 
that the reasoning for UxVs and MAS was pervasive on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Indeed, as recent as 2014, the Officer in Command of the RN’s MASTT rationalized her 
philosophy: “[MAS] takes the sailor out of the minefield, but we are not taking them out 

System (SWIMS). SWIMS was a modified remote-controlled Combat Support Boat that towed acoustic 
and magnetic signature generators. Developed via an Urgent Operational Requirement, this system is no 
longer in use, but various similar systems are under trial. 

The RN failed to recognize the significance of enduring a technological change in the air and sub-surface 
domains during the inter-war period and its impact on future warfare. Anti-Submarine Warfare and carrier 
strike aviation were largely ignored until 1938, because of financial constraint and a cultural bias toward 
surface warfare. 

Office of Naval Research, “Unmanned Vehicles Take the Man Out of the Minefield,” Press Release, 
2007, (accessed 
October 10 2016). 


of the equation. The RN UxV/MAS trials team she commands has existed for a decade 
without a mandate to deliver operational capability. The reasoning for this lull and the 
barriers to successful change will be explored in Chapter 3. At this juncture, it is simply 
worth stressing the importance of addressing the MAS situation now. Even the most 
optimistic solution currently presented will leave the RN with a reduced MCM and 
Hydrographic Capability (MHC) for at least four years. 

The Numbers Do Not Add Up 

The RN currently has no future build program to replace its MCM or 
Hydrographic Survey vessels on a like-for-like basis. MHC is the only alternative. MHC 
is strictly speaking not a vessel, merely a capability. However, it is already 
conceptualized as a “down-threat,” lost-cost hull, with a multitude of Off-Board Systems 
(OBS). MHC is a transformational and incremental program that will update and 
subsequently replace the full existing MCM and Hydrographic capabilities to provide 
assured maritime freedom of maneuver, delivering minehunting, minesweeping and 
hydrographic mission systems, including remote controlled OBS to legacy and future 
platforms. MHC target date is for the first force elements to be in service by 2028 and the 
last by 2035. The current MCM vessels decommission between 2028-2031. Meanwhile, 
MHC faces survivability and resilience concerns while operating in hostile environments 
and is yet to be funded. Even if it is funded, and achieves the schedule, there will be a 


Royal Navy, “Royal Navy Begins Testing ‘Remote Controlled Minehunter’” 16 April 2014, 
http ://www.rovalnavv.mod.ukynews-and-latest-activitv/news/2Q14/apri1/16/140416-remote-minehunter 

(accessed September 7 2016). 



The future is inherently impossible to prediet. However, identifying likely trends 
ean at least prepare states and soeieties intelleetually. Trends will inform ehoiee to 
address the expeeted global frietions based on resouree limits, wealth disparity, and 
religious identity. It is equally important to reeognize what will not ehange. Politieal 
leaders will still desire militaries to express freedom to maneuver within domains at a 
time and plaee of ehoosing. Sueeess in eombat often depends on efforts to shape 
favorable aeeess eonditions in advanee. In this eontext, MAS may provide Dull, Dirty, 
and Dangerous mission sets beyond the eapability of eonventional forees. One trend the 
RN must be eognizant of is the rate of ehange between relative positions of advantage. 
The teehnieal superiority MAS may enjoy will beeome ever shorter, requiring eonstant 
evolution. MAS will not be the “golden bullet”. 

In 2003-4, the RN missed an opportunity to make a transformational ehange at the 
operational and teehnologieal levels in the wake of its initial teehnieal edge.^^ Post-Gulf 
War, the mine threat appeared less tangible, and a navy seemingly entrenehed in 
eontinuous deeline largely ignored the utility of automated systems and reverted to a 
traditional identity it was more eomfortable with. Laeking suffieient resourees to meet 
eurrent eommitments and future possibilities, the RN understandably ehose the former. 
The risk of not doing so is visible and easier to quantify. Nevertheless, resoureing the 
unknown is exactly what must be done. 

Murray, Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, explores the differences in innovating exploitation 
by six military powers. The essays within the book investigate how and why innovation did or did not 
occur and the relationship with strategic and operational performance in WWII. A simple schematic on 
page 268 lays out the relationship between the levels of change with strategy, operations, and tactics. 


The gamble of hoping there is suffieient time to adapt the foree when unexpeeted 
eonfliet arrives may prove foolhardy. The RN must learn the historieal lessons of the 
interwar period and reeognize fundamental ehanges in the means of warfare. Future war 
may not provide the time to adapt and overeome. 

Instead of sweeping the problem under the earpet for following generations of 
offieers to eontend with, Admiral Zambellas identified the stagnation of MAS 
operationalization. In 2014, a eharismatie and passionate First Sea Lord attempted to 
raise the profile of the MAS program by delivering a elear vision with direetion and 
purpose. Despite the First Sea Lord’s enthusiasm and noble intent, the vision proved to be 


Chapter 2 - A Flawed Vision 

The Royal Navy will lead and win through the innovative and robust 
exploitation of Maritime Autonomous Systems. 

—Admiral Sir George Zambellas 

The Royal Navy’s (RN) vision for Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) is 
without substanee and reason. The purpose of the vision is to “lead and win.” But, lead 
who, and win what? If by means of MAS, why, how, where? By robustly exploiting? 
Does it mean the RN will maximize the military applieation of MAS? By being at the 
forefront of development and utilization of MAS, it is implied the RN will have the 
ability to defeat everyone. The point is, the vision is without purpose and direetion, and is 
therefore largely meaningless.' 

The leadership and management expert John Baldoni reviews the nature and 
importanee of purpose within an organization. Promoting the value of its understanding, 
he argues purpose forms the baekbone of what an organization exists to do and upon 
whieh vision and mission are built. Baldoni argues that the eentral ehallenge for leaders is 
to bring people together for a eommon eause. “Purpose is the why behind everything 
within an organization.”^ The eurrent RN MAS vision is flawed beeause it is without 

' Admiral Sir George Zambellas, Royal Navy, First Sea Lord, Chief of Naval Staff Keynote address to the 
Maritime Autonomous Systems Conference. QinetiQ Maritime Autonomy Centre, Haslar, UK 6 October 
2014. Admiral Zambellas is a retired Royal Navy officer. He was the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval 
Staff from April 2013 until he handed over duties to Admiral Sir Philip Jones in April 2016. His addresses 
to the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Maritime Autonomous Systems conferences in 2014, provide 
the source to the thesis’s conjecture that the UK MAS vision is flawed in nature. 

^ John Baldoni, Lead with Purpose, (New York: AMACOM, 2012), 3. 


What the Vision Should Do 

Visions provide an idealized representation of what an organization should 
beeome. Visions are symbols of ehange for harnessing the eolleetive effort. Both findings 
from aeademie researeh and the praetieal experienee of business leaders suggest a elear 
vision is essential to survival and sueeess.^ The Panmore Institute provides eompany 
analysis that ineludes eritiques of the vision and mission statements of high-profile 
businesses. Tesla’s vision statement as an example"^: “to ereate the most eompelling oar 
eompany of the 2P‘ oentury by driving the world’s transition to eleotrio vehioles.”^ This 
vision emphasizes the eompany’s foous on renewable energy. The following oomponents 
are signifioant in Tesla’s vision statement: 

• Most eompelling 

• Car eompany 

• 2Century 

• The world’s transition to eleotrio vehioles 

Tesla’s vision statement effeotively desoribes its business aims and is supported by their 
mission statement, whioh provides the how: “to aooelerate the world’s transition to 
sustainable energy.”^ 

Purpose is integral to a vision; it defines where you want to go. The vision is a 
road-map to realization and a statement of what you want to look like when you get 
there. ^ The ourrent MAS vision is eertainly aspirational: “The Royal Navy will lead and 
win,” but it is also void without identifying why. 

^ Roger Gill, Theory and practice of leadership, (London: SAGE publications, 2006), 111. 

^ Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 by a group of engineers in Silicon Valley who wanted to prove that 
electric cars could be better than gasoline-powered cars. Tesla is not just an automaker, but also a 
technology and design company with a focus on energy innovation. 

^ Panmore Institute, “Vision and Mission Statements,” httt)://t) 
statements . (accessed December 22, 2016). 

^ Ibid. 

’ Baldoni, Lead with Purpose, 7. 


Moving Forward-Asking the Right Questions, Solving the Right Prohlem 

The MAS vision needs a re-think. Moving forward the RN should at least 

eonsider if there are more viable alternatives to MAS. If the answer is no, a new vision 

must address why the RN needs MAS. The renowned British historian Miehael Howard 

emphasized the need to foeus on the right questions when eonsidering a teehnieal ehange. 

The fundamental problem may not be, how we ean provide more of X; how 
we ean streteh our resourees to provide additional quantities or develop a 
bigger and better X with longer range and better proteetion or greater speed. 

The basie question is, why do we need X anyway? What is its funetion? Is 
that function essential? Can it be performed more cheaply and effectively 
by other means? ^ 

Dwayne Spradlin in Harvard Business Review agrees with Howard’s assertion that 
recognizing the importance of defining the problem an organization is trying to resolve is 
most fundamental. Spradlin provides a model to understand the problem-definition 
process Howard is referring to: establish the need for a solution, justify the need, 
contextualize the problem, and write the problem statement.^ Having a clear vision and 
direction comes up as the top critical success factor for good leaders across all industry. 
Chapter 6 will propose a new MAS vision for the RN. However, before doing so, a fresh 
look at the problem is required. 

Consensus of the Problem, Not the Solution 

Problem consensus breeds organizational acceptance to the direction of travel. 

The projected means may not meet the desired ends. MAS may not be the solution to 

* Michael Howard, “Military Science in the Age of Peace,” Royal United Services Institute, no.3 (March, 
1974), 7. 

^ Dwayne Spradlin, “Are you Solving the Right Problem?,” Harvard Business Review, (September 2012), 
85-86. Spardlin is the President and CEO of InnoCentive, an online marketplace that connects 
organizations with freelance problem solvers. 

According to Laura Firth, psychologist and managing director of Reed Consulting, in an interview with 
Hashi Syedain, “Reed’s Psychological MD,” World Business, (January-February, 2007), 73. 


congested maritime eompetition. Nevertheless, a eonsensus about the problem opens up 
avenues for the entire organization to explore and fulfill; ideas from unantieipated origins 
beeome possible. 

In eoneeptuabzing warfare utilizing MAS, the RN is eurrently prioritizing the 
wrong questions. Instead of foeusing on eompetitive advantage, the MAS program has 
sueeumbed to the distraetion of seeond-order eonsequenees, speeifieally, redueing risk to 
personnel, buying baek “mass” to appear more eredible, and redueing through-life eosts. 
At a Royal Aeronautieal Soeiety leeture in 2014, Admiral Zambellas promoted the 
primary advantages of MAS in terms of eost, and a means of inereasing naval platform 
numbers. In turn, the RN’s Fleet Roboties Offieer (FRO), who is responsible for 
delivering the First Sea Lord’s MAS vision, duly addressed the National Oeeanography 
Centre in 2015, where he onee again promoted MAS as a means to buy baek mass within 
the RN’s order Order of Battle (ORBAT), (i.e., grow the RN without more money). 
Citing Norman Augustine, a former U.S. aerospaee CEO, the FRO suggested the RN 
would eontinue relative and absolute deeline in naval foree struetures driven by the 
mathematieal inevitability eaused by uneontrolled defense inflation. The FRO eited a 
2010 artiele in The Economist, whieh observed that to break from the struetures of 
Augustine’s Law and unaffordable eost trends, defense needed a “game ehanging 
teehnology” as “. . .when the battleship gave way to the submarine and the aireraft 

" The Japanese and American navies innovating to extend reach and striking power across a vast ocean 
during the inter-war years is a useful example. Their respective visions played a major role in defining the 
problem. The solution became Carrier-Strike and Fleet defense. 

Admiral Sir George Zambellas, Royal Navy, First Sea Lord, Chief of Naval Staff 2014. Naval Aviation 
- The Future. Lecture, Royal Aeronautical Society, University of Southampton, UK March 12. 

Commander Steven Prest, Royal Navy, Fleet Robotics Officer. Maritime Autonomous Systems. Lecture, 
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, 24 February 2015. 


carrier.” However, it is apparent, neither First Sea Lord nor the FRO seemingly 
eonsidered that by developing drones able to fight “autonomously in high-threat 
environments, eosts would rise, making them mueh more expensive and less 
expendable.”The logieal eonelusion therefore is, Augustine’s law will one day strike 
the drone as surely as it has already done with eonventional systems. 

This leads the debate baek to the supposition that the future of MAS is best served 
by promoting their eontribution to operational effeetiveness. The Researeh and 
Development (RAND) political scientist Adam Grissom argues that innovation ehanges 
the manner in whieh military formations funetion on operations; it is signifieant in seope 
and impaet and provides greater military effeetiveness. The military historian Bryon 
Greenwald agrees that the assessment of whether the innovation improves effeetiveness 
is neeessary. “Assuming that a ehange does oeeur to alter the ways wars are fought-sueh 
as the airplane and [submarine]-the issue beeomes one of reeognition and aoeeptanee.”^^ 
That reeognition starts with a vision statement of direetion and purpose. The aeeeptanee 

The Economist, “The Cost of Weapons: Defence Spending in a Time of Austerity,” The Economist (28 
August 2010). (accessed 10 October 2016). Norm Augustine 
was the President and CEO of Lockheed Martin before his retirement. He codified the rules of defense 
contracting in his book, Augustine’s Laws. The 1980’s book is a satirical pseudo technical commentary. 
Among the 52 subjective truths, laws XV, and XVI have influenced the reasoning behind why the RN 
should adopt MAS. 

The Economist, “The Cost of Weapons: Defence Spending in a Time of Austerity.” 


U.S. Department of Defense, Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2013-2038 (Washington, DC, 
2014), 20. The U.S. DOD’s unmanned vision paper provides a different perspective to the same problem. 
The DOD’s opening assertion is important to highlight: “.. .there are no requirements for unmanned 
systems within the Joint force, but some capabilities are better fulfilled by unmanned systems.” The paper 
goes on to describe how unmanned systems are the preferred means for Dull, Dirty, Dangerous (D3) 
mission by providing persistence, versatility, survivability, and reduced risk to life. Although the U.S. 
vision for unmanned systems considers comparative through-life cost-benefit savings, and the risk to 
human life, the unmanned systems roadmap remains focused on acquiring military competitive advantage 
over conventional means. 

Adam Grissom, “The Future of Military Innovation Studies,” Journal of Strategic Studies, 29:5, (24 Jan 
2007), 907. 

Bryon E. Greenwald, “Understanding Change: Why Military Organizations Succeed or Fail to Reform, 
Modernize, and Improve,” Joint Forces Staff College, (September 2010), 6. 


is a matter of shaping internal and external audienees. Internally within the RN, it is 
attributable to the eorporate attitude towards sueh systems. Externally, it should shape 
industry’s response to provide teehnieal solutions. 


The previous ehapter highlighted the diffieulty in predieting the future. The 
vision, therefore, beeomes even more eentral to sueeess when the trending threat is ill 
defined. The MAS program is eompeting for funding amongst a myriad of seemingly 
worthy projeets. The program must win the narrative of why it is erueial to future warfare 
in order to flourish. The eurrent MAS vision is fuzzy and fails to eommunieate with 
elarity and sound logie.^'^ The vision should highlight the main purpose of MAS. 

The main purpose of MAS is not to keep military personnel safe. Nor is it the faet 
that manned systems and defense inflation are inereasingly unaffordable in meaningful 
numbers. The problem MAS is attempting to address essentially relates to sea eontrol: 
gaining and maintaining aeeess to non-permissive environments, doing it more 
effeetively than manned systems, and at a time and plaee of one’s ehoosing. U.S. Navy 
Chief of Naval Researeh, Admiral Winter, eaptured the rationale of MAS and UxVs in 
2016 during a UK naval exereise of entirely unmanned systems. With regard to future 
naval possibilities Winter said, “Autonomy will enable our naval forees to stay longer, 
see farther, understand more, deeide faster, do more, adapt more quiekly and when 
neeessary be more lethal.”^' 

John P. Koter, and Dan S. Cohen, The Heart of Change, (Harvard Business Review Press, 2002), 83. 
Rear Adm. Mat Winter USN, Chief of Naval Research, “Unmanned Warrior Exercise Combines 
Technology and Talenf’, blog posted - inside the Navy (October 8, 2016), 


Even in the absenee of a speeifie, obvious threat, the RN needs a vision that ean 

offer elearer direetion. Former U.S. Seeretary of Defense, Robert Gates, found that 
getting the right priorities established was a neeessary preeondition to suoeessfully 
leading ehange. Gates quoted Yogi Berra, summing up the importanee of direetion. “If 
you don’t know where you’re going, you will wind up somewhere else.”^^ Change, not 
inherently good in itself, must solve a problem, the right problem, to be valuable. 

Identifying the problem will help reetify the MAS vision statement, the first step 
in setting the RN MAS program moving in the right direetion. Getting the rest of the 
organization to agree is a different matter. The RN is stretehed to eapaeity finaneially and 

Robert Gates, A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public 
Service (New York: Knopf, 2016), 38. Gates is a U.S. statesman, scholar and university president who 
served as Secretary of Defense from 2006-11. Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence 
Agency and the National Security Council, and was Director of Central Intelligence under 
President George H. W. Bush. After leaving the CIA, Gates became president of Texas A&M 
University and was a member of several corporate boards. 


Chapter 3 - Barriers to Change 

The RN has confused activity in the field of Maritime Autonomous Systems 
(MAS) with progress. Until 2014, the Royal Navy’s (RN) hierarchy had adopted a wait- 
and-see approach, abdicating innovation in the field to the commercial sector. In doing 
so, it failed to recognize that something was going wrong. Consequently, the organization 
remains without a procurement process tolerant of technology that rapidly mutates; 
obsolescence is occurring before decisions materialize. Years of scant progress have 
passed with little objection from an organization predisposed to suppress unmanned 

Confusing Activity with Change 

Activity is a good thing; it means personnel engage with problems and are willing 
to work long hours. Sadly, there is no direct correlation to positive development. As 
defined by Baldoni, progress requires clear goals. In the absence of a requirement or an 
incentive to progress, the organization stagnates. Others would argue that the MAS Trials 
Team (MASTT) is not a Fleet asset and is therefore not required to support operations. 
Here lies the failure to recognize that low expectations will deliver low outputs. Without 
ends, there can be no deficiency. 

As a case in point, the RN’s Fleet Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Unit 
(FUUVU), the precursor to the MASTT, received the Hydroid REMUS 600 Autonomous 
Underwater Vehicles in 2007, well ahead of its U.S. counterparts.' However, in contrast 

' In September 2007, the MOD announced: The [Royal] Navy is to receive the Remus 600, an unmanned 
underwater vehicle which will enhance the mine countermeasures capability of the Fleet. . . . and is 
intended to enter [full] service in 2009. 
view/release/3/86170/roval-navv-orders-new-uuv-for-minehunting.html (accessed November 17, 2016). 


to the UK, the U.S. quiekly ehose to eonduet mueh of its operational evaluation of the 
vehiele in theatre between 2012-2014. Expediting assessment of the teehnology and 
making the positive deeision to employ it within an existing threat region, led to its in- 
serviee operational use by the U.S. Navy (USN) in 2015.^ Meanwhile, the RN’s REMUS 
600s remain under operational evaluation after ten years of use.^ 

The RN MAS program serves as an example of failed organizational learning. 
John Boyd’s Observe, Orient, Deeide, Aet (OODA) model is partieularly valuable 
beeause it is grounded in adaptation, and maintains that if someone ean see what is 
happening in the battlespaee, they ean out think, out deeide, and outperform the 
adversary. Boyd emphasized that the loop in Eigure 1 is aetually a set of interaeting 
loops that are to be kept in eontinuous operation. 

^ Megan Eckstein, “Navy Seeking Unmanned Underwater Advances to Field Today, to Inform Next 
Generation Sub Design in 2020s,” USNI News, posted October 31, 2016, 
2020s (accessed October 30, 2016). REMUS 600 is designated as Kingfish, Mkl8 Mod 2 by the USN. The 
2012-13 operational evaluation process was conducted by contractors, alongside USN personnel. The 
Kingfish was also successfully deployed from an operational USN submarine in 2015. Julia Bergman, 
“Navy deploys first underwater drone from USS North Dakota,” The Day, posted July 20, 2015, (accessed November 30, 2016). 

^ As in the inter-war years, technical change has not led to transformational use. 

Frans P. B. Osinga, Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd (London: Routledge, 
2005), 80, 229-233, 237-239. 


■ Feedback ■ 
» F—dbadt « 

Interonion wfth 

Figure 1. Boyd’s OODA Loop sketch - with overlays^ 

It would be most obvious to observe that the RN’s MAS program has failed to 
move beyond the deeide phase, seemingly trapped in a stasis of permanent orientation. 
The internal causes are: no credible vision; no measurement of success; and no 
organizational desire to choose. However, the issue is compounded by external speed', the 
commercial sector’s rate of technological progress and innovation in MAS is too rapid 
for the current military acquisition process. Before decisions are even conceptualized, 
obsolescence or superiority act upon the market, forcing the RN to abandon its 
procurement strategies. The result is decision-making paralysis. Alas, perhaps the 
situation is even worse. 

Such is the acceleration of the commercial MAS sector that the RN and its 
supporting Ministry of Defence elements are overwhelmed, even in the early stages of 
observe and orient Constant information, and insufficient means to process and 

^ John Boyd, “The Essence of Winning and Losing,” Summary Briefing, January 1996, slide 4., (accessed November 17, 2016). 


understand, results in industry reeeiving little direetion. Therefore, unsurprisingly, 
industry is still at the stage of just building “stuff.” Without a requirement, industry is 
building things the RN might want, or is simply adapting eurrent eommereial systems to 
military use to broaden potential markets. Organizationally and intelleetually out- 
matehed, the RN has largely eeded the eoneeptual use of MAS to the eommereial seetor. 
Abdicating Innovation 

The RN’s unbalaneed MAS eommereial relationship with industry is defining the 
military requirement inaeeurately, in some eases by over-speeifieity. In pursuit of the 
eheapest means of teohnieal innovation, the RN has effeetively yielded vehiele researeh 
and development to the eommereial seetor in two domains. The RN is eonvineed 
eommereial surfaee and sub-surfaee vehieles are generie means of transportation, suitable 
for military adaptation. This approaeh eonstrains ereative innovation within the military, 
and has undoubtedly shaped the solution and its employment. The eommereial seetor has 
already framed the teehnologieal future before the military purpose and requirement have 
been truly defined. Although inherently diffieult to prove, arguably ereative alternatives 
have been denied spaee to flourish by the insistenee of a eommereial means of delivery. 
Surfaee and sub-surfaee MAS vehieles will look and work entirely to the eommereial 
seetor’s desired purposes. Sueh external paee is eausing stagnation in the “Observe” and 
“Deeide” repositories of the MAS OODA loop. Moreover, it is internal eultural frietion 
in the “Orient” that is shaping the way the RN observes, the way it deeides, and the way it 


A Cultural Wall 

Williamson Murray describes military culture as the sum of intellectual, 
professional, and traditional values of an officer corps. ^ Internal culture is pivotal to how 
the RN views the external environment and how it analyzes responses to perceived 
threats. While noted security analyst Francis Hoffman contends “culture is not a driver or 
a prescriptive barrier,” in essence he too agrees; “military culture serves as a prism for 
how to view problems and frame acceptable solutions.”^ British maritime doctrine details 
the culture and beliefs of the RN. The document contains core legitimizing concepts and 
rationalizes the employment of maritime force. Ironically the same document hides in 
plain sight a credible reason for why the MAS program has suffered a decade of meager 

British maritime fighting power is derived from three inter-related components: 
the conceptual, the intellectual justification for the employment of armed forces; the 
moral, the ability to get people to fight; and the physical, the means to fight. ^ The 
conceptual challenges, the underlying principles, and legal use of autonomous systems 
are outside the scope of the thesis and continue to be addressed by others. Regarding the 
physical, MAS is a technical and financial challenge. However, by far the largest barrier 
to empowering MAS innovation and its implementation into the RN, is the emotional, 
human dimension. The moral component of fighting power is the most significant 

® Williamson Murray, “Innovation: Past and the Future,” In Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, 
edited by Williamson Murray and Allan Millett, 300-328, (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University 
Press, 1996), 313 

’ Francis. G. Hoffman, “Learning While Under Fire: Military Change in Wartime” unpublished Ph.D. 
dissertation. War Studies Department, School of Social Science and Public Policy, (King’s College, 
London, March 2015), 59. 

* United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, British Maritime Doctrine, 4* ed. (Joint Doctrine Publication, 
2011), 3-1. 


contributer to culture. The moral is eomposed of leadership, management, morale, and 
ethos. Here lies a point of frietion, humans plaee great value on sueh funetions within an 
organization, robots do not. Consequently, beyond the implementation phase, these 
eomponents are utterly irrelevant to the future utilization of MAS. 

The RN’s ethos is fundamental to its eore sense of identity, and developed over 
eenturies from both defeats and great vietories. The ethos eneompasses leadership, 
professionalism, eourage, determination, loyalty, respeet, diseipline, good humor, and 
teamwork-a ean-do attitude.^ Reputations are built upon ethos, and it is what institutional 
traditions are enshrined in. Fundamentally and eolleetively, few really want to implement 
MAS transformation with any sense of urgeney. The entrenehed and reasoned view of 
offieers is that the RN’s greatest asset is its people-above all else sueeess depends upon 
it. It is, therefore, unsurprising in the absenee of a signifieant speeifie threat that the RN 
has fallen baek on historieal, eomfortable assumptions and “ignored, misrepresented, or 
manipulated information and innovations that eontradiet its most eherished beliefs.” 

Assuming that a ehange does oeeur to alter the ways wars are fought-sueh as the 
airplane and submarine-the issue beeomes one of reeognition and aeoeptanee.'' Having 
stressed the importanee in Chapter 2 of agreeing on the problem, the RN must also aeeept 
and want to solve the problem. Like most organizations, the RN maintains a number of 
eore eompeteneies eentral to the sueeess its eurrent vision of the operating environment. 
Ships, submarines, aireraft, and Royal Marines provide warfighting eapabilities, but also 

^ Ministry of Defence, British Maritime Doctrine, 3-9-11. 

Andrew Hill and Stephen Gerras, “Systems of Denial,” Naval War College Review 69, no. 1 (Winter 
2016), 111. The framework explains why organizations persist in their comfortable assumptions, despite 
changes to the global operating environment. 

" Bryon E. Greenwald, “Understanding Change: Why Military Organizations Succeed or Fail to Reform, 
Modernize, and Improve,” Joint Forces Staff College, (September 2010), 6. 


a means to support conflict prevention, provide security on the high seas, partnership 
assurance, and humanitarian assistance. The danger, as Daniel Levinthal remarks, is that 
bureaucracies cling to such competencies and task sets, even in the face of obvious 
obsolescence or failure. The RN is stove-piped into warfighting streams for reasons of 
organizational efficiency and concertation of expertise. Each stove-pipe competes for 
relevancy and finance. Each particular area sets its best staff officers against one another. 
When a new means of warfare, such as MAS, offers improved potential across a number 
of fields, rare agreement breaks out, the outsider is a threat to all. The three methods of 
denial offered by Andrew Hill and Stephen Gerras are at play concerning MAS: killing 
the messenger, questioning the data, and resisting refutation through constant theoretical 
change. The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) provides public 

The latest SDSR sets out how the ElK Government will deliver a vision for “a 
secure and prosperous ElK, with global reach and influence.” The document includes 
specific resource allocation with prescribed military force composition out to 2025. The 
SDSR is perhaps an insight into the psyche of a government not wanting to upset its 
military organization’s sensibilities concerning manpower. Equally, the SDSR provides 
the observer with a synopsis of how each military arm views itself when forced to make 
tough financial choices. As evidence of the RN’s failure to drive MAS innovation, the 

Daniel Levinthal and James March, “A Model of Adaptive Organizational Search,” Journal of Economic 
Behavior and Organizations, Vol.2, Issue 4, 1981, 307-333. A model of organizational change through 
adaptive search for new technologies. It permits the exploration of simultaneous organizational adaptation 
in search strategies, competences, and aspirations under conditions of environmental instability and 
ambiguity. When the environment changes faster than the organization can adapt, superstitious learning can 

Hill, “Systems of Denial,” 130. 

United Kingdom, HM Government, National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence Review 2015: A 
Secure and Prosperous United Kingdom, (HMSO, 2015), 10. 


SDSR makes no reference to autonomous or unmanned maritime systems. Sidelining 
MAS as an anomaly in favor of the institutionally comfortable core manned systems 
could lead to shock in war. The lack of investment may deny capacity and time to adapt 
to the inevitable failure to predict the next war. 


The RN is likely to continue the model of commercial adaptation; it is the 
cheapest form of innovation. However, the RN lacks the intellectual capacity to fully 
understand those adaptation possibilities, and realize the potential before obsolescence. 
Meanwhile, industry continues to pass sub-systems and new sensor upgrades to the 
MASTT without a mandated operational goal nor end. 

The RN’s culturally prized asset is its people. UK maritime doctrine reinforces 
their importance, yet, people present the largest conceptual and organizational barrier to 
the transition of MAS use, particularly within the surface flotilla communities. The RN 
focuses its organizational energy on maintaining the status quo and improving what it 
already does. It knows what it does well and is determined to continue to do those 
things. There must be institutional views and interest in developing a new form of 
war. Rather than generating more internal friction, the proponents of MAS must seek to 
complement and enhance existing tasks and mission capabilities, and for now, not 

Hill, “Systems of Denial,” 109-132. The anomaly in this context is an idea, or concept, seemingly at odds 
with the status quo of an organization. 

There is fear within the RN’s surface community that MAS will result in fewer manned surface assets 
rather than be procured to complement and enhance existing capabilities. 

Hill, “Systems of Denial,” 111. 

** Murray, “Innovation: Past and the Future,” 312. 


threaten the stove-pipes. Nonetheless, the military must and does innovate.So 

perhaps there are other forees at work? Chapter 4 investigates the idea that the delay in 
operationalizing MAS is intentional. 

To the Frigate and Destroyer communities, MAS is the equivalent of the submarine in the inter-war 

Stephen Rosen states that peacetime innovations are possible, but the process is long. 


Chapter 4 - Failure by Design 

A poor vision from leadership easeades down through an organization and 
undermines the leader’s intent. While addressing the present vision, it would be remiss 
not to consider the vision’s ambiguity as being by design. 

Containing Change 

“An organization sustains success when its strategy and resources align.”' When 
resources do not match ideas, is actively containing change the best the Royal Navy (RN) 
can do? There is a certain resonance between the British examples of interwar carrier 
aviation and Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) innovation. Referring to carrier 
aviation in the inter-war period, historian Geoffrey Till suggests the British “deliberately 
adopted a policy of ‘waiting to see’ or leaving it to the Americans and Japanese.”^ Now, 
as then, the motivation was fiscal-a lack of alignment between available money and 
ideas. The transformational use of MAS within the RN would undoubtedly benefit from 
an empowering new vision, clear objectives and purpose, and internal consensus. 
However, idealism must also meet reality. The UK’s finances cannot support all of the 
ambitions of Ministry of Defence (MOD). Although 2% of UK Gross Domestic Product 
remains apportioned to defense, Augustine’s law continues to whittle away the ability of 
each Service to buy mass. Technological inflation far exceeds the Consumer Price 
Inflation rate.^ 

' Andrew Hill and Gerras Stephen, “Systems of Denial,” Naval War College Review 69, no. 1 (Winter 

2016), no. 

^ Geoffrey Till, “Adopting the Aircraft Carrier: The British American, and Japanese Case Studies,” In 
Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, edited by Williamson Murray and Allan Millett, 191-226. 
(Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 198. 

^ According the Office for National Statistics, the annual CPI was 0.6%, August 2015-16. Released in 
January 2016, the closest comparable UK Defence inflation figures are for 2014/15, Defence high value 
contract inflation was 2.4%. 


The sheer quantity and volume of ehange and transition aeross the RN has 
overwhelmed the resourees of the organization. With only 22,000 RN personnel at his 
disposal, Admiral Zambellas stood responsible for the roadmap to reaequire a 
eonventional strategie eapability while safeguarding the UK’s strategie nuelear 
deterrent."^ Large proeurement projeets, sueh as the Queen Elizabeth Class aireraft 
earriers, F-35 fighter jets, new replenishment ships and attaek submarines, and a 
replaeement frigate program have left the RN’s purse empty. Meanwhile, in the 
baekdrop, the RN eannot man its existing fleet, never mind its future liability. As a result, 
the RN is foreed to plaee 15% of its major surfaee warships into “extended readiness” to 
meet its eurrent eommitments.^ No wonder little else ean be aehieved other than 
supporting operations and maintenanee eosts of existing platforms. Finding the right 
strategy to support teohnieal ehange and transformational applieation of MAS 
suoeessfully has beeome superfluous. Outside of the aforementioned eore proeurement 
projeets, the RN is in survival mode, redueing eosts, preserving eapital, and trimming 
eommitments. It is a short-term strategy, intended to elear the path for the RN to live 
another day, but it does not support a long-term growth strategy. ^ data/file/495248/2Q16Q128 Defence 
Inflation Statistical Notice 1415-O.pdf 

United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, “Royal Navy and Royal Marines Monthly Personnel Situation 
Report for 1 November 2016,” (HMSO, December 9, 2016), data/file/575182/20161201 - 
FINAL - RN RM Monthly Situation Repoit.pdf (accessed December 28, 2016). The Naval service is 
currently running at 3% under its liability at 29,400 personnel. This equates to approximately 22,000 RN, 
and 7,000 Royal Marines. 

^ Save the Royal Navy, “Why the Royal Navy has just been cut by another 2 ships,”entry posted March 30, 
(accessed December 12, 2016). The 15% figure equates to: lof 6 destroyers, lof 13 Frigates, 1 of 2 
Landing Ship Docks. HMS Ocean, the third ‘amphibious’ designated ship is due to be decommissioned in 
2018. HMS Queen Elizabeth will not be operationally ready until at least 2020. 

® Martin Reeves, Claire Love, and Philipp Tillmanns, “Your Strategy Needs a Strategy,” HBR, (September 
2012): 78. 


Robert Gates highlights the need for the leader to understand the importanee of 
time, and the timing of ehange. Drawing on his own experienees, he also observes that 
too mueh ehange is paralyzing. It is reasonable to assume that Admiral Zambellas 
understood the limitations of his organization and the brevity of his own tenure as First 
Sea Lord. Time to eommit fully to a MAS transition proved implausible in both 
organizational and personal eapaeity terms. It is, therefore, plausible that Zambellas 
aetively ehose a vague vision for MAS. The vagueness represents the faet that the RN has 
no idea how to strueture itself to maximize the utility of MAS. Equally, it aeknowledges 
the proverbial need to stiek a toe in to test the bath water. If allies and eompetitors are 
pressing ahead in MAS, the RN must at least maintain interest. The RN eannot afford to 
be wrong about MAS. 

Hedging our Bets - What if we are Wrong? 

As Patriek Gray fittingly points out, many new teehnologies do not have well- 
established praetiees for sueeess. This requires organizations to either wait for someone 
else to write the rules and risk being left behind, or determine how to sueeeed through 
what is largely a proeess of intelligent trial and error, eategorized by fast-failure. 
Coneeptually, most leaders understand the need for failure. Without failure there ean be 
no innovation, learning, or transition within an organization, and the organization that 
never fails often stagnates.’ However, learning to aeeept failure is mueh more diffieult 
for the RN in the eurrent elimate. 

’ Patrick Gray, “Fast Failure: The Secret to Fostering More IT Innovation than your Competitors,” 
TechRepublic, article posted September 10, 2015, 
secret-to-fostering-more-it-innovation-than-vour-competitors/ (accessed December 28, 2016). Patrick Gray 
works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: 
Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology. 


In terms of MAS, innovation is managed in a near zero-eost environment. Long¬ 
term investment in one area for future eapability must be eut from existing eapital. For 
example, more MAS will likely mean fewer ships. The eonsequenees of asserting the 
future utility of MAS wrongly are mueh more signifieant than the potential failure of a 
start-up in Silieon Valley. The RN eannot simply start again. Onee the ship-building 
industrial base is eroded, a struetural reversal beeomes uneeonomieal and takes a 
generation to re-invigorate. 

Consequently, it seems reasonable to remain non-eommittal and out-souree the 
fast-failure to others in the eommereial seetor and spend what little resourees are 
available on unique military applieations of MAS. In the 1950s, the U.S. Nuelear strike 
program, when faeed with teehnieal uneertainty, ehose to spend more of its researeh 
monies on basie researeh and less on programs leading to speeifie weapons.^ Similarly, if 
the RN is eurrently unable to think about MAS operational requirements adequately, then 
perhaps it is wise to delay. Otherwise, “the best teehnology and the biggest budget in the 
world will only produee vast quantities of obsolete equipment.”^ 

Affording Change: A Cost-Saving Illusion 

A senior RN offieer at a 2014 MAS Conferenee said, “Unlike the introduetion of 
submarines and earners, defenee does not have a monopoly over the new MAS 
teehnology and indeed is behind industry in the exploitation of these systems ereating a 
high risk of proliferation, and asymmetrie exploitation by our adversaries.”Some 

* Stephen Rosen, Innovation and the Modem Military: Winning the Next War (Cornell University Press, 
1991), 246. 

^ Michael Howard, “Military Science in the Age of Peace,” Royal United Services Institute, no.3 (March, 
1974), 5. 

Comment made at the MAS Conference, Qinetiq, Haslar, UK, 6-8 October 2014. Non-attributable due to 
the NDU Non-attribution policy available at Documents/AA%205.QQ.pdf accessed December 27, 2016. 


conclude the investment may not be worth it if the adversary ean make sueh systems 
obsolete by modest low-teeh means. In any event, overeoming the enemy’s response is 
likely to lead to further expensive teehnieal eounter solutions and systems of systems 
dependeney. Considerations sueh as stealth, resilienee to a eontested eleetro-magnetie 
environment, navigational safety, and mission profile will all eontribute toward the 
optimum solution.' ^ 

As MAS beeome more eomplex, they may suffer the same eost/eomplexity law 
(Augustine’s 16*'^ law) they profess to break. The greater the level of autonomy, the 
greater the probability the unit eost will inerease. The fewer systems one ean purehase, 
the more survivability beeomes eritieal. The need for improved survivability will result in 
even higher eapability eosts without the option to revert to manned alternatives. 

Arthur C. Clark’s Superiority, written in 1951, is a fietional parody and serves as 
a warning to teohnologieally advaneed militaries. In the tale, the more advaneed soeiety 
fails to transition teohnieal aehievements into operational, and ultimately teehnologieal 
levels within its foree. Meanwhile, rising unit eosts prevent the superior foree from 
having suffieient eoneentrations to overeome the less advaneed nation. The seemingly 
lesser nation prevails by using proven and affordable teehnology in overwhelming 
numbers. As Stalin reputedly said, quantity has a quality all of its own. 

" U.S. Department of Defense, Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2013-2038 (Washington, DC, 

The problem of declining budget power in the presence of Augustine’s Law and stagnant spending, is not 
exclusive to the UK and Europe. In the 2014 U.S. Quadrennial Review, the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff stated “With our ‘ends’ fixed and our ‘means’ declining, it is imperative that we innovate within the 
‘ways’ we defend the Nation.” 

Arthur C. Clark, “Superiority,” The Magazine for Fantasy and Science (August 1951). 

It is worth noting the parody is not exclusive to the MAS program, it applies across defense. The F35 
program is a prominent example. 


Even if MAS are irrefutably proven to be a eheaper alternative to manned systems 
of the future, it does not neeessarily make them any more affordable within a limited and 
prioritized budget. The RN is not starting with a blank eanvas, without existing foree 
strueture. The RN must operate and maintain equipment designed over twenty years ago 
in order to defend the nation’s interests now. In eontrast, the budgeting eosts of MAS are 
heavily front loaded. Assuming eontinued rapid teehnieal ehange, MAS equipment will 
have a relatively short in-serviee life before teehnologieal advaneements make existing 
systems obsolete. Therefore, the MAS program will require a more persistent investment 
stream than eurrent eonventional assets. Assuming overall funding is fixed, the 
eonundrum of how to implement a systematie ehange to MAS usage without redueing 
funding to already stretehed eonventional assets remains. The struggle for resourees is a 
eentral part of any bureaueratie leader’s job. The next ehapter offers reeommendations. 

There is a fatalist logieal to RN’s approaeh to MAS; it is understandable but 
remains suboptimal. The RN ean do better. Periods of budget eonstraint are unparalleled 
opportunities for leaders to implement ehanges, to make struetural and eultural reforms, 
to inerease effieieney, and to realloeate resourees to new priorities. Salami-slieing 
budgets to maintain a full-speetrum navy means eaeh eomponent gets a thin eut. As 
former U.S. Seeretary of Defense Robert Gates maintains, “It is a formula for 
institutional medioerity and is the antithesis of reform and striving for exeellenee.” 

Which refers back to decision-making cycle difficulties expressed in Chapter 3 . 

Robert Gates, A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public 
Service (New York: Knopf, 2016), 187. 

'Nbid., 188. 

'Mbid., 196. 


“We have no money, so we have to think” - A phrase first used by Earnest 
Rutherford and later paraphrased by Winston Churehill is synonymous with the RN’s 
attitude to finaneial adversity. Unwittingly, the RN’s ‘ean do attitude’, so eentral to its 
ethos, is detrimental to aeknowledging the magnitude of the transition to MAS use. The 
reality faeing the RN is: you have no money, so you have to choose. 


Chapter 5 - What Now? 

As a former Director of the Central Intelligence, President of Texas A&M 
University, and U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates is an authoritative source on the 
practical implementation of change within bureaucracies. Gates draws on his own 
experiences to recommend what a successful leader should do to implement change. 
Highlighting the importance of building consensus. Gates warns against bold agenda 
speeches with no substance, no strategy, and no follow-up plan. Therefore, the first 
recommendation is a new Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) vision, a vision with 

A New MAS Vision 

The Royal Navy will efficiently exploit Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) to 
provide capabilities beyond manned systems. MAS will shape the multi-domain 
battlespace, providing sustainable fighting power and reach within hostile 
environments. _ j 

• Who: the Royal Navy (RN). 

• What: MAS. 

• When: intentionally absent - to imply from now on. 

• Where: hostile environments, climatic and/or competitive. 

• Why: to provide improved capabilities in hostile environments beyond the 
viability of manned systems at a reasonable cost - supporting a greater range of 
political choice. 

• How: by shaping to advantage the air, land, sea, subsurface, seabed, cyber, 
electromagnetic, and space domains in the battlespace which extends from the 

Leading the Way and Evolution 

MAS will not be implemented through revolution; it will be gradual. 
“Evolutionary innovation depends on organizational focus over a sustained period rather 


than on one particular individual’s capacity to guide the path of innovation.”' However, 
both Rosen and Gates argue that the visionary leader is the most fundamental agent of 
change. Without such leadership, Rosen, in particular, is cynical of peacetime innovation 
in the military. He argues that “in bureaucracies, the absence of innovation is the rule, the 
natural state.In the case of MAS both observations are relevant, ignition and longevity 
are required. 

Creating a Legacy 

Roger Gill’s Theory and Practice of Leadership provides a compressed critical 
review of the major theories and current practice that attempt to explain the importance of 
leadership.^ Rather than perceiving leadership as largely about influence. Gill advocates 
thinking of leadership in terms of showing the way. Henry Kissinger defined leadership 
as the art of taking people where they would not have gone by themselves. Regarding 
MAS, leadership is about developing a shared sense of destiny. Such a top-down 
approach is necessary given the inherent cultural resistance aforementioned in Chapter 3. 
Here, Admiral Zambellas deserves enormous credit for initiating and championing the 
first entirely unmanned multi-national exercise, especially since it occurred after his 
tenure. Zambellas threw down the gauntlet to industry in 2014, challenging them to bring 
their wares to Unmanned Warrior 2016."^ Yet, unlike Hugh Dow ding, who successfully 

* Williamson Murray, “Innovation: Past and the Future,” In Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, 
edited by Williamson Murray and Allan Millett, 300-328, (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University 
Press, 1996), 309. 

^ Stephen Rosen, Innovation and the Modem Military: Winning the Next War, (Cornell University Press, 
1991), 5. 

^ Roger Gill, Theory and Practice of Leadership, (London: SAGE publications, 2006), 57-61, 108-160. The 
book presents a review of the nature and importance of leadership and the major theories that attempt to 
explain it. Gill founded the first Research Centre for Leadership Studies in the UK. An independent 
consultant on leadership, he is a visiting Professor at Durham Business School, Durham University, UK. 

^ Unmanned Warrior, is a research and training exercise designed to test and demonstrate the latest in 
autonomous naval technologies while simultaneously strengthening international interoperability. The first 


operationalized radar before WWII, Zambellas laeked both the time and an imminent 
homeland threat to neeessitate rapid innovation.^ Due to short appointing eyeles, direet, 
long-term interaetion with the MAS projeet by any flag ranking offieer is unrealistie. 
Zambellas instead made a elear attempt to ereate a legaey through Unmanned Warrior. 
But, without Zambellas’s passion, will it endure? Exereise design frequently ehanges and 
is notoriously subjeet to personality. Information Warrior, another first, is penned for 
2017 with a further Unmanned Warrior provisionally set for 2019. Their realization is 
key to improving the eohesion of purpose between the Ministry of Defenee (MOD), 
industry, and the RN’s MAS vision. A vision provides direetion and purpose. Creating a 
legaey is neeessary for the sueeessful evolutionary transition to MAS integration within 
the RN. A legaey requires a vision and eonsensus to support it. 

Building Consensus 

The role of the leader is to map a realistie path and build popular support. 
Building eonsensus behind the vision is fundamental to its realization. Figure 2, offers a 
eolleetion of top-down initiatives to generate largely bottom-up eonsensus building 

Unmanned Warrior took place over six weeks during October 2016 as part of Joint Warrior, a semiannual 
UK-led training exercise designed to provide NATO and allied forces with a unique multi-warfare 
environment in which to prepare for global operations. 

^ Alan Beyerchen, “From Radio to Radar: Interwar Military Adaption to Technological Change in 
Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States,” in Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, ed. 
by Williamson Murray and Allan Millett (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 287. 
For example, the development of radar in Britain was “a definite solution to a pressing problem, radar in 
the U.S. began only as a vague answer to uncertain threats.” 







Prove Utility 
Direct Industiy 
Operationalize Early 

Secure Money 



Select Fast Failure 

Diversify Task Forces 

Recognize Quick procurement 

Reward fl T” 

Save Money 

Building Consensus 





Figure 2. Building consensus^ 

While the Fleet Robotics Officer (FRO) has relationships across the defense science and 
commercial communities, he is not an organization. As a single entity, he does not have 
sufficient capacity to overcome the decision paralysis discussed in Chapter 3. The reality 
of stretched finances requires a very British way; a comprehensive, indirect approach not 
just to operations, but also to change and transition. 


The most strikingly obvious consensus building methodology is to mandate 
through-life education in MAS. First, in the science and utility of MAS, thereafter, the 
exploitation of opportunities in both defense and attack. ’ The effectiveness of such a 
long-term education initiative will be difficult to quantify, and will not afford any 

® After reviewing the leading literature this author created Figure 2. To map the process for building 

^ Officer Cadets to receive science & technology instruction and engage in theoretical warfare exploitation 
discussions/forums at the naval college (Dartmouth). Thereafter, officer career courses to normalize 
Manned Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T), and to develop tactics to exploit the utility and weaknesses of 



meaningful support to a vision already in jeopardy for at least a deeade. However, at little 
eost, it is eertainly worth doing. 

Validate - How much? 

Preparing to meet the threats of the future is . .mueh like deeisions about 
insuranee: we know we need some, but not so mueh as to inhibit life today to eover some 
distant prospeet that may not oeeur.”^ A senior RN offieer speaking at the MAS 
Conferenee in 2014 said the RN may still need to “understand where it was going to 
divest to pay for MAS and also where MAS might best mitigate the risk of this 
disinvestment.”^ Therefore, the RN should eonsider authorizing a eost-benefit analysis 
assessment of MAS by an external authority. It will be diffieult, perhaps expensive; it 
must take no longer than six months, but it is neeessary. Hard eeonomie faets eoneerning 
the introduetion of MAS into the RN ought to be projeeted. The finaneial implieations of 
synergizing MAS with existing manned systems, or indeed replaeing them entirely with 
MAS, requires artieulation to build eonsensus toward the vision. Any exhibited savings 
eould nurture support internally and broaden eonsensus aeross the arms of the RN. 

As diseussed in Chapter 2, solving and agreeing on the right problem is eentral to 
the sueeessful transition to MAS assimilation. The arguments eoneerning the ability to 
buy baek mass and through-life eost saving needs to be settled beeause they prevent 
eonsensus. Bryon Greenwald emphasizes the importanee of building support within the 
military by “using the irrefutable logie of their ideas baeked by empirieal evidenee...^ ^ 

* Rupert Smith, The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modem World (New York: Knopf, 2008), 14. 

^ Non-attributable due to the NDU Non-attribution policy available at Documents/AA%205.00.pdf accessed December 27, 2016. 

This certainly needs to be achieved before whole swathes of manned capability are irretrievably removed 
as in the case of MCM. 

" Bryon Greenwald, “Understanding Change: Why Military Organizations Succeed or Fail to Reform, 
Modernize, and Improve,” Joint Forces Staff College, (September 2010), 19. 


Indeed, there is no eertainty that the eventual transformation to MAS will be signifieantly 
eheaper than the eurrent manned systems, and the idea that MAS will buy baek mass 
eould be flawed. If MAS does not prove to be eheaper than manned alternatives, the 
deeision simplifies: either MAS enhanees operational eapability suffieiently to justify the 
investment, or it does not. In either ease, it will at least elarify the debate. The eentral 
argument made in the summary of Chapter 2 is that the premise for MAS should have 
always been based on one of improved eapability. In light of finaneial eonstraints, a bold 
deeision to move funding to the future may yet be required. 

Substantiating the effeetiveness of MAS, even if monies remain diffieult to 
seeure, will at least justify a finaneial resouree ehoiee. Thereafter, it is not enough to 
simply ereate a new vision and provide new organizational struetures. An innovative field 
whieh threatens the ethos of a eenturies old organization must be seen, and must be 
demonstrated on operations 


The 2016 Unmanned Warrior exereise provided an operational demonstration of 
industrial teehnieal progress. The exereise ereated synergy between the military and the 
eommereial seetor and should lead to a better understanding of what the military 
requirement is and, in turn, what is feasible and affordable. (See Figure 3.) Observing a 
lesson from history, exereising is not the only way to demonstrate the importanee of new 
innovative teehnology. A bolder means is to demonstrate by aetually doing a mission, 
and in doing so learn operational lessons as well as teehnieal ones. The British were more 
sueeessful developing radar in WWII beeause they eoneeptualized more effeetive 


operational ways to employ their equipment. Creating and resoureing a MAS 
organization that meets a eurrent need will also identify new opportunities for use. 

To guarantee the flow of 
finaneial resources, the RN must 
find a valid current mission for 
MAS, an application that 
demonstrates, even on a small 
scale, the effectiveness of the 
innovation. An organizational 
structure to support cultural change 
is not enough. A senior RN officer, 
with significant development and 
project delivery experience, 
highlighted the importance of 
speed and cost in order to realize 
MAS integration. He stated, “there 
is a key need to turn the MAS 
vision into a reality, quickly and 
without a ten-year £100m 
equipment program.” In the 



Iftsu: etiCEACROS? 
WClEE than 




Unmanned Warrior 2016: Success in Numbers 

The largest demonstration of unmanned systems 
alongside a multinational naval exercise, ever. 

Figure 3. Infographic to show some of the key statistics and achievements 
of Unmanned Warrior. Flelen Jackson, “Unmanned Wanior 2016 - 
Success in Numbers,” Qinetiq blog, entry posted December 15, 2016, 


Alan Beyerchen, “From Radio to Radar: Interwar Military Adaption to Technological Change in 
Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States,” In Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, 
edited by Williamson Murray and Allan Millett, (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 
1996), 274-275. 

Hill, “Systems of Denial,” 129. 

Non-attributable due to the NDU Non-attribution policy available at 
httn:// Documents/AA%205.00.ndf accessed December 27, 2016. 


near-term, MAS needs to eompete for resourees internally within the RN. The 2012 
operationalization of the REMUS 600s system in the Arabian Gulf by the U.S. was not 
eritieal to operations in the region at the time. Coalition organie assets were suffieient, yet 
REMUS inereased resilienee through redundaney within the Order of Battle (ORBAT), 
and off-set the use of aging platforms. The system’s operational presenee influeneed the 
warfighting eulture amongst sailors and gave appropriate teehnieal feedbaek and learning 
for future system development. Arguably, the eredibility of REMUS operationally has led 
to the further alloeation of resourees to other future U.S. MAS. 

MAS needs a “Dull” aehievable mission now to seeure an operational funding 
line and gain organizational respeet. Surveying and maintaining free aeeess to key 
ballistie missile submarine routes eontributes to safeguarding the UK’s strategie nuelear 
deterrent. Vital UK trading harbors must also remain open to eommeree to ensure 
eeonomie prosperity. Both these key standing military tasks eould be fulfilled by 
autonomous or automated means, to a higher degree of aeeuraey, with redueed human 
resourees today With minor personnel and off-the-shelf equipment uplifts, a re- 
struetured Maritime Autonomous Systems Trails Team (MASTT) replaeement eould 
eonduet these tasks within a year of implementation while eontinuing to test equipment. 
Coordination with the RN diving eommunity, who also operate Autonomous Underwater 
Vehieles (AUVs), would make sense, providing an interim means of mine disposal until 

The U.S. MQ-25A Stingray (X-47) is another good example of operationalizing immature technology in 
order to buy time and attract financing. The Stingray was originally conceived as a carrier home unmanned 
long range bomber. It will now instead fulfill a tanking requirement while technology matures, and 
resources align with aspirations, 
first-carrier-uav (accessed December 26, 2016). 

There are 7 maritime Military Tasks (MT) which contribute to UK national security. The suggestion is 
MAS could contribute to safeguarding the UK’s continuous at sea nuclear deterrent through route survey 
operations, and by ensuring key military and commercial harbors remain unbarred contribute to the defense 
of the UK and its Overseas Territories. 


existing unmanned means are adapted for off-ship use. The major seeond-order effeet 
of sueh a proposal is the generation of ehoiee for the Navy Board. A national MAS 
mission now eould allow for a small reduetion in Mine Counter Measure (MCM) vessel 
numbers without detriment to the UK’s eommitment to maintaining the sea lanes of the 
Arabian Gulf. Alternatively, the provision would de-stress the taut operational program 
of the MCM vessels and inerease the likelihood the remaining foree ean remain eredible 
until maturity of the Mine and Hydrographieal Capability (MHC). 

Politieal upheaval brings unexpeeted opportunities. The UK is due to leave the 
EU at some point after May 2019. As a result, the UK’s Eeonomie Exelusion Zone will 
no longer be open to EU fishers and will require signifieant polieing.^® The RN, on behalf 
of the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Seottish 
Fisheries Proteetion Ageney (SFPA) are responsible for UK fishery proteetion.^^ The RN 
will have six Off-shore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) by 2020 to add to SFPA’s three. This will 
not be enough to poliee sueh a large, inhospitable area, espeeially sinee RN OPVs are no 

RN divers are the only operational unit with MAS. One of the diving force elements has the use of 8 
AUVs (REMUS 100). Ironically, the vehicles are surplus from the MHC trails program and are not fully 
funded Fleet assets. 

The Navy Board is the body responsible for running the Royal Navy. Members are responsible for 
assisting the First Sea Lord in discharging his responsibilities as Head of Service and RN Top Level Budget 
Holder. Principal among these is to ensure that the Navy is fit to fight and can deliver the military 
capability required to defend the UK and its interests, 

Chapter 1, The Numbers Do Not Add Up: The projection is for a reduced MCM capability for a 
minimum of a four years from 2031. This proposal may offer the opportunity for further life-extensions of 
current manned systems. 

The study by the University of the Highlands and Islands’ NAFC Marine Centre discovered that boats 
from other EU countries on average caught 58% of the fish and shellfish landed from UK waters between 
2012 and 2014. This equates to around 650,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish worth more than £400 million 
per year, most of which was caught around Scotland. In contrast, UK fishing boats fishing elsewhere in EU 
waters landed on average 90,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish, worth about £100 million. 

The RN’s Fishery Protection Squadron patrols the fishery limits of England, Wales and Northern Ireland 
- an area that covers over 80,000 square miles of sea and stretches up to 200 miles from the coastline.and 
extended up to 200 miles (320 km) from the coast, or to the meridian line with other states' waters, where 
the distance between the countries is less than 200 miles. 


longer exclusively used for fishery protection. The projected stretch provides the perfect 
opportunity for the concept of Manned and Unmanned Team (MUM-T).^^ A network of 
wide area surveillance UxVs and MAS could provide ISTAR for effective and efficient 
vessel interdiction.^^ The provision of such technology would be at the expense of 
DEFRA and the SFPA not the RN, providing a backdoor means of developing MAS 
technologies. A national MAS MCM mission, and a MAS Intelligence Surveillance 
Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) contribution to fishery protection could 
provide the Navy Board a means of addressing the problem of how to invest in the future 
while maintaining day-to-day operations. 


In the interim, the principal function of the naval hierarchy is to choose credible 
leaders at lower levels and generate alternative career paths to abet MAS innovation. 
Driven from the top down, the RN may wish to consider advocating, empowering, and 
incentivizing more subordinates, utilizing small task forces, and creating goals with 
specific deadlines. Afterall, '"People not systems implement an agenda for change. 

Stephen Rosen’s observations resonate with the RN’s MAS program. He proposes 
that innovation begins from the top down. “The senior officer develops a new theory of 
victory and explains the character of the next war and what officers must do to win it.”^^ 

U.S. AH-64E Apache helicopters have operationalized MUM-T with the MQ-IC Grey Eagle UAV 
(ISTAR) in order to maximize combat effectiveness. 

Among the UxVs utilized in the ISTAR role at Unmanned Warrior 2Q16 was the British Army’s 
Watchkeeper 45Q (UAV). 

Investment in MAS now to make through-life cost savings while simultaneously paying for the through- 
life costs of existing systems. 

Rosen, Innovation and the Modem Military, 1Q5. 

Robert M. Gates, A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public 
Service, /New York: Knopf, 2Q16), 98. 

Rosen, Innovation and the Modern Military, 2Q. 


Inevitably new ideas meet eultural frietion and speeifieally negative eompetition between 
branehes that are personified by existing teehnologies. In the ease of MAS, the Navy 
Command hierarehy must find internal allies. Mid-ranking offieers with exeellent 
eonventional eredentials, sueh as eommand tours, need to be eonverted to a mode of 
warfare that ineludes MAS. In return for adherenee, these offieers need to be ineentivized 
through promotion opportunities. Rosen reasons that “power is won through influenee 
over who is promoted to positions of senior eommand.”^* Similarly, Murray argues, 
“Innovation demands offieers in the mainstream of their professions, with some prospeet 
of reaehing the highest ranks, who have peer respeet, and who are willing to take risks. 

Besides attraeting and direeting talent, ereating eonditions for “aoeountability is 
essential to any sueeessful reform effort.”^'^ Aoeountability provides motivation and 
reduoes ambiguity. Under the direotion of the FRO, a series of small, diverse task foroes 
with oonstrained speoifio objeotives and limited time would provide a basis to measure 
suooess and reward individuals as neoessary within offioer appointing oyoles.^^ 

A desire to inoentivize need not be purely internal. As mentioned in Chapter 3, the 
RN largely oeded MAS innovation to the oommeroial seotor. The potential benefit is 
frugal innovation through adaptation but, at the oost of influenee and oontrol. Given the 
implioations of aooepting this path, and the existing protraoted proourement system, it 
makes sense to try to exereise a degree of oontrol and direotion over another souroe of 

Ibid., 20. Because the military is a disciplined, hierarchical bureaucracy. 

Murray, “Innovation: Past and the Future,” In Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, 326. 

Gates, A Passion for Leadership, 124. 

Alan Lafley, Roger Martin, Jan Rivkin, and Nicolaj Siggelkow, “Bringing Science to the Art of 
Strategy,” Harvard Business Review (HBR), (September 2012), 60. Without diversity it is difficult to create 
creative possibilities. 


innovation: academia. Partnership programs ean spread finaneial burden, and may relieve 
the RN of any monetary eontribution. 

The RN should eonsider harnessing Government-led initiatives sueh as 
“Advantage through Innovation” to attraet autonomous innovation. The initiative aims 
to maintain the military edge of the UK’s Armed Forees into the deeade ahead and 
beyond. It is a plan to harness the talents of aeademie and industry experts, espeeially 
small and medium-sized enterprises, to ereate new disruptive eapabilities. Beginning in 
2017, the Government has eommitted £80m per annum for ten years. Better still, 
autonomy is the theme of the first round. There is an opportunity here to draw on 
potential solutions from outside the defense supplier base. If the RN organizes speeifie 
MAS problem sets into small projeets and advertises them within the initiative, there is 
promise to reap the outeomes at little expense. Aeeording to Hill and Gerras, sueh 
widespread experimentation inereases the probability that the RN will find a subset that 
improves understanding-by ereating a spaee for planned and unplanned varianee.^"^ 

While there is still time, the RN should engineer at least one eompetitor to the established 
view of what MHC will look like. 

A model worthy of emulation is “HaekingdDefense,” a U.S. innovation program 
assoeiated with Stanford University. The program aims to apply lean start-up 
methodologies to overeome peaeetime, deeades-long, aequisition and proeurement 

United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, Advantage through Innovation: The Defence Innovation 
Initiative, (Ministry of Defence, September 16, 2016), 

httt)s:// data/file/553429/MOD SB Innovati 
on Initiative Brochure v21 web.pdf (accessed November 17, 2106). 

Ibid., 1. 

Andrew Hill and Stephen Gerras, “Systems of Denial,” Naval War College Review 69, no. 1 (Winter 
2016), 126. 

More information can be found at: http://hacking4defense.Stanford.edti/ 


cycles. In just ten weeks, student teams of four take aetual national seeurity problems and 
learn how to apply lean startup prineiples, to discover and validate eustomer needs, and to 
eontinually build iterative, minimal viable produets (prototypes) to test whether they 
understood the problem and solution. Teams take a hands-on approach requiring close 
engagement with aetual military. Department of Defense (DOD), and other government 
ageney end-users. 

The latest batch of Hacking4Defense team presentations is available at: . 
The presentations include proposals for: asymmetric drone defense, an underwater positioning system for 
U.S. Special Forces, and a more efficient satellite constellation for equatorial coverage. 



The ever evolving eharaeter of war demands eonstant attention. The future is 
impossible to prediet, but is likely to involve “simultaneous and eonneeted ehallenges - 
eontested norms and persistent disorder.” ^ Frail states will beeome inereasingly ineapable 
of retaining order. Projeeted seientifie and teehnieal advanees will probably lead to 
greater parity among a range of aetors, allowing potential adversaries to ehallenge UK 
interests more effeetively. While the distribution of power may eontinue to diversify 
away from the state, the eore nature of power will endure: to impose one’s will through 
freedom of maneuver and the projeetion of fear. In this respeet, the Royal Navy (RN) has 
understandably eontinued to fund eonventional expeditionary means. The earner 
program, in partieular, eontinues to absorb the majority of the RN’s intelleetual, fiseal, 
and workforee eapaeity. Taekling ehange on too many fronts can lead to paralysis. Yet, 
Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) and unmanned vehicles are likely to be central to 
gaining access and shaping the conditions of the maritime battlespace that manned 
systems will enter. Expeditions require access. 

In times of peace, the RN can afford to be wrong for a limited, but u nk nown 
period. The financial challenges facing the RN present an opportunity to make 
organizational and structural changes. Despite the unavoidable leadership churn at the top 
fo the RN, a new MAS vision ought to give purpose and direction. Top-down internal 
initiatives would incentivize the best to participate and promote, leading to bottom-up 
support. Successful innovation requires specific alignment of service leaders, mid- 

* U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Operating Environment 2035: The Joint Force in a Contested and 
Disordered World, (Washington DC: Joint Chiefs of Staff, July 14 2016), 52. 


ranking officers, and institutional arrangements to protect the longevity of innovation.^ 
Outsourcing fast-failure with direction and utilizing lean start-up methodologies in small 
task forees eould offer a way of overeoming the long proeurement cyele. Meanwhile, 
giving MAS a domestie mission now will justify finaneing and legitimaey through 
demonstration, and buy the Navy Board time to eonsider existing manned systems. 
However, while “Dull” maybe the answer now, the rationale must not be beeause MAS 
will never be fit for the “Dirty” and the “Dangerous” missions. Organizational self- 
awareness of any eompromise during the evolution phase is essential to prevent a 
lowering of the aspirational bar. Created eoneessions, however well intended, have a 
habit of beeoming aeeepted norms. The eombat eapability enhaneement and eeonomie 
effieieney arguments of the MAS vision (if true) must not be diluted. 

Combined, the aforementioned elements build a new norm, a eonsensus behind 
MAS utility. If ehange is situational, transition is psyehologieal; it is the proeess people 
go through as they eome to terms with a new reality. ^ MAS transition starts with an 
ending-the vision of how the future should look. 

^ Stephen P. Rosen, “New Ways of War: Understanding Military Innovation,” International Security, 
(Summer, 1998), 134-68. 

^ William Bridges, Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, (Cambridge, Mass: Da Capo, 
2003), 3-10. 



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A Politics and Economics undergraduate, Commander Ashley Speneer 
eommissioned into the Royal Navy as a Surfaee Warfare Offieer in 2000. His early 
eareer was spent almost entirely at sea. In the wake of 9-11, he deployed for extended 
periods to the Arabian Gulf (AG), Mediterranean, and the Blaek Sea. 

Ashore, he has had the good fortune to experienee both variety and exeitement. 
Prior to eommand, his sub-speeialization as a Mine Clearance Diver committed him to 
Joint land-based operations in Iraq and the UK. As a junior officer, he also served in the 
U.S.-led UN Military Armistiee Commission in the Republie of Korea. Witnessing 
politics in action, he spent mueh of his time in the Demilitarized Zone, and regularly 
partieipated in low-level staff offieer meetings with DPRK army representatives at 

Ashley beeame a Prineipal Warfare Officer in 2009 and saw serviee in the AG in 
defense of the Iraqi oil terminals. During the voyage home, he was directly involved in 
the evaeuation of civilians from Benghazi, Libya. Thereafter, he eompleted the Advaneed 
Mine Warfare course and joined Combined Task Foree 52 as the U.S. 5th Fleet’s lead 
MCM planner responsible for developing theater MCM eontingency plans. He then 
eommanded a Mine Counter Measures Vessel, deploying onee again to the AG. The ship 
was at the forefront of the UK’s eontribution to Coalition Forees in the region ensuring 
free and unfettered use of the sea lanes in one of the world’s eritieal stretehes of sea for 
international eommeree. 

Ashley’s last appointment was Deputy Commander Operational Sea Training. He 
worked with his team to train Royal Navy personnel to the exaeting benehmark expeeted 
of a world elass navy, as well as providing training to UK allies and other navies. 

Seleeted for further sea eommand, Ashley will return to the UK in summer 2017.