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 Please read the attachment and choose one of the contemporary issues. Each question should be a paragraph. Thanks. 

  1. Which contemporary issue interested you the most, and why? (M424)
  2. What do you think is another contemporary issue the army will face that wasn’t mentioned in this lesson? (M424)

M424 Contemporary Issues

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Table of Contents














1. Title Page

2. Table of Contents

3. Events in Human History

4. Publish and Process

5. Scope

6. ELO

7. Contemporary Issues

8. Robots On The Battlefield

9. Losing Air Superiority

10. National Security

11. Cybersecurity

12. Autonomous Vehicles

13. Artificial Intelligence

Play Audio

Answer the questions in your journal.

What is the effectiveness of walls and barriers?1.
How does your white paper relate to current contemporary issues?2.

Often challenges arise for the nation and the Army that

are temporary or their duration is one that is limited to

an undetermined time period where society needs time

to adjust to the change or new norm. As these issues,

surface military members must be able to engage in

meaningful discourse to mete out the impacts on the

force. This lesson ensures we can provide Army leaders

who work well on collaborative teams to identify and

analyze problems, and then reach a shared

understanding to provide critical information that

enables effective and operationally sound solutions. As

a result of this learning event senior NCOs will be able

to observe issues in an analytical manner and then

orient their full attention onto causal factors then

decide the impacts and how to act upon them with well

thought out solutions or mitigating measures.


ELO 400-MLC-0430.16

Action: Verify contemporary issues and their possible effects on the Army.

Condition: In group environment, given references, and collaboration.

Standard: Answer contemporary issues questions:

1. Confirming cultural impacts;

2. Validating change requirements;

3. Verifying training requirements; and

4. Demonstrating possible causes and solutions.

Learning Domain: Cognitive

Level of Learning: Analysis

Contemporary Issues

Today’s Army is the most well-equipped and responsive in history. As for many things the Army is doing right in creating an elite

fighting force the military continues to face contemporary issues daily. Discuss the following topics in today’s current news: robots

on the battlefield, losing air superiority, national security, cybersecurity, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence.

Robots On The Battlefield

How soon will robots replace Soldiers on the


Answer all questions in your journal before selecting the

Further Analysis Button.

Further Analysis

Further Analysis

From the spears hurled by Romans to the missiles launched by fighter pilots, the weapons humans use to kill each other have always

been subject to improvement. Militaries seek to make each one ever-more lethal and, in doing so, better protect the soldier who

wields it. In the next evolution of combat, the U.S. Army is heading down a path that may lead humans off the battlefield entirely.

Over the next few years, the Pentagon is poised to spend almost $1 billion for a range of robots designed to complement combat

troops. Beyond scouting and explosives disposal, these new machines will sniff out hazardous chemicals or other agents, perform

complex reconnaissance and even carry a soldier’s gear.

“Within five years, I have no doubt there will be robots in every Army formation,” said Bryan McVeigh, the Army’s project manager for

force protection. He touted a record 800 robots fielded over the past 18 months. “We’re going from talking about robots to actually

building and fielding programs,” he said. “This is an exciting time to be working on robots with the Army.”

The Pentagon has split its robot platforms into light, medium and heavy categories. In April, the Army awarded a $429.1 million

contract to two Massachusetts companies, Endeavor Robotics of Chelmsford and Waltham-based QinetiQ North America, for small

bots weighing fewer than 25 pounds. This spring, Endeavor also landed two contracts worth $34 million from the Marine Corps for

small and midsized robots.

In October, the Army awarded Endeavor $158.5 million for a class of more than 1,200 medium robots, called the Man-Transportable

Robotic System, Increment II, weighing less than 165 pounds. The MTRS robot, designed to detect explosives as well as chemical,

biological, radioactive and nuclear threats, is scheduled to enter service by late summer 2019. The Army plans to determine its needs

for a larger, heavier class of robot later this year.

While proponents may argue that autonomous robot soldiers will shield soldiers from harm, they will also remove the bloody

consequences of armed conflict, a knowledge that “puts a valuable brake on the horrors of war,” said Scharre, a former Army Ranger.

Losing Air Superiority

How can the U.S. military maintain air


Answer all questions in your journal before selecting the

Further Analysis Button.

Further Analysis

Further Analysis

The asymmetric advantage that the U.S. military possesses and that has prevented enemy aircraft attacks on American ground

forces since April 15, 1953 is eroding. The U.S. faces a reemergence of great power competition, and although we have maintained air

superiority since the Korean War, it has to be fought for and won. Fifth-generation aircraft with stealth capability are required to

survive in today’s air defenses, and the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is the only active fifth-generation fighter production line

among friendly nations. It is time to procure what is needed to protect our troops.

Air superiority ensures quicker victories and, perhaps, prevents war in the first place. Parity diminishes detente leading to protracted

ground wars with massive casualties on both sides. Theater commanders have grown accustomed to operating with air superiority.

Army, Marine Corps and allied ground forces can concentrate on the battle at hand and do not have to look up when they hear

aircraft above.

During the Gulf War, allied fighters, tankers, surveillance aircraft and bombers enjoyed freedom of movement in the skies, and

coalition forces capitalized with unhindered ground movements while we were able to attack the enemy at will from the air.

We need to remove the presumption that the U.S. will maintain air superiority into the foreseeable future without drastic changes. We

are on track to lose this capability within the next 10-15 years.

America has rising near-peer competitors, and its outdated fourth-generation aircraft are outclassed and in some theaters,

outnumbered by its competitors. Given its grave implications, parity is not an acceptable goal in warfare. Russia and China are

catching up in fifth-generation fighters and cybersecurity, and they have already surpassed the U.S. in hypersonic missiles and

technology. The Air Force has the oldest, smallest and least-ready force in its 70-year history. It is weary after 27 continuous years of

combat operations, dating back to the beginning of the Gulf War. Since 1991’s Gulf War, the Air Force has drawn down from 134 to only

55 fighter squadrons. They need 70 to deter aggressors and, if needed, to win decisively. Including training, tests and backup aircraft,

they need approximately 2,100 fighter aircraft.

Losing air superiority is not an option. We can’t take air superiority for granted because, without control of the skies, all military

endeavors are at risk. Air superiority 10 years from now must deal simultaneously with air, space and cyberspace domains. Airmen

must exploit information, knowledge and decision capabilities, and the Air Force needs to rapidly develop the tools for all three

domains. Anything less is unfair to our airmen, our ground war fighters and our taxpayers.

National Security

What affect will the five greatest threats have

on U.S. National Security?

Answer all questions in your journal before selecting the

Further Analysis Button.

Further Analysis

Further Analysis

A Conflict with China over the South China Sea

Although President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China have a good personal relationship, tensions between our two nations are

significant and growing. Aside from any economic developments, there is real potential for a military conflict between the U.S. and

China in 2019. If conflict breaks out, it will almost certainly focus on the South China Sea.

Determined to construct an imperial empire based on control of sea lanes and to attain a veto over the political choices of his

neighbors, Xi is exerting an aggressive military posture. While the U.S. is challenging these efforts with increasing naval and air

patrols through the contested areas, a miscalculation or Chinese escalation could lead to a broader conflict. It is crucial to note here

that Xi is determined to see China lead a new post-American international order. He will not back down easily, nor shy from risks.

North Korea Brinkmanship

I believe that U.S.-North Korea tensions will escalate this year. While Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have held another

summit, the North Korean leadership is indicating that it is unlikely to offer meaningful concessions. The absence of those

concessions will mean that the U.S. can offer no sanctions relief to Pyongyang. The North Koreans need that relief.

What will North Korea do then? I suspect Kim will conduct another missile test. That test will be designed to win U.S. appeasement of

Pyongyang, but also to advance North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile program. If a new test does occur, the U.S. will have to

impose new sanctions. A U.S. military strike on North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile infrastructure will also become more likely.

That risks a new Korean War.

Further Analysis Continued

Russian Attacks on U.S. Interests

As a near peer adversary, Russia continues to develop its ability to contest NATO in war. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis helped

to fill in the alliance’s weaknesses, Vladimir Putin’s threat will remain very real this year. The Russian leader is determined to rebuild a

Soviet-style architecture of deference to Moscow among Russia’s neighbor states. As those states grow closer to the west, Putin will

have to choose between tolerating that movement or confronting it more directly. All signs suggest he will choose some kind of

confrontation. U.S. allies must do more to help deter and defeat this threat.

Major Terrorist Attacks

The Islamic State may have lost much of its territory, but experienced fighters and commanders remain operational and determined

to continue their war. The threat of a major attack on U.S. or allied interests remains significant. Other groups such as Al Qaeda also

prioritize attacking the West. In addition, Iranian terrorist operatives-proxies remain active in Europe and around the world. In the

worst-case scenario, it remains possible, albeit unlikely, that terrorists would access and use a weapon of mass destruction.

An Enveloping Conflict in The Middle East

As a rogue nation, Iran continues to grow in power and ambition in Syria, hardliner elements in Tehran will likely escalate their

campaigns against the Sunni-Arab monarchies and Israel. Those nations are likely to reciprocate the aggression in kind. If, for

example, an Iran-proxy missile attack causes casualties in northern Israel or Riyadh, major retaliation might follow. That risks a

broader war which reverberates through Lebanon, Iraq, and against direct U.S. interests. Escalated U.S. balance of power efforts are



How can you protect against cyber-attacks?

Answer all questions in your journal before selecting the

Further Analysis Button.

Further Analysis

Further Analysis

Nations at Cyberwar

Perhaps it will begin with a skirmish rather than a major battle, but I predict that low-level cyberwarfare among the world’s most

powerful players the United States, China and Russia will increasingly destabilize international relations and threaten to upset the

world order. This goes behind voting machines, registered voter databases and other election-related technology. Remember when a

Russian cyberattack days before Christmas in 2015? I believe similar scenarios will occur with increasing frequency.

With digital technology wherever we look and the explosion of the internet of things, the possibilities of cyber-mayhem are limitless.

Think of nuclear reactors, chemical plants and satellites in space all are potentially vulnerable targets. State-sponsored attacks can

come in all sizes, and many will likely be launched as warning shots. But in times of cyberwar, you don’t need to drop bombs to wipe

out a country’s infrastructure. All it takes is a few expert hackers.

Supply-Chain Attacks Rise

Cybercriminals are diabolically savvy, and they realize that the easiest route to high-profile targets is through that organization’s

network of suppliers and contractors. In 2019 supply-chain attacks will escalate as large corporations, which have enough trouble

safeguarding assets already, open themselves up to greater risk as they grow their reliance on partnerships. The results can be

catastrophic. The infamous 2013 Target breach was the result of an attack that had its origins through the retailer’s HVAC vendor.

Even more cautionary, perhaps, is the recent Bloomberg coverage on computer hardware manufacturer Super Micro. While the

company along with Apple, Amazon, the Department of Homeland Security and others denies Chinese spies implanted secret chips

on its motherboards as a means of cyber espionage to gather intelligence, Super Micro’s stock price plummeted temporarily as a

result. In any case, the potential impact from a similar situation is clear, and Bloomberg’s story woke up unsuspecting tech

manufacturers like a shot of adrenaline straight to the hear.

Because of these abundant dangers, many companies that rely on partners and third parties have created vendor risk management

processes within their organizations. These can include policies around constant monitoring and log access and retention, which

may sound difficult to meet but are already part of many regulatory compliance frameworks. Vendor risk management teams within

organizations will become more commonplace as supply-chain attacks increase.

Further Analysis Continued

Cybersecurity Raises its Profile in the Boardroom

In 2019, cybersecurity concerns will be a major topic in the boardroom and executive offices of every significant enterprise. Major

data breaches suffered by leading firms across industries has struck fear into CEOs and other officers and board members that their

company could be next. What’s more, partners, shareholders and customers now seek to hold corporate leaders ultimately

responsible, and that sentiment is only heightened internally within organizations.

As the damages from breaches continue to become more evident a lower bottom line, a plunging stock price, a tainted brand

responsibility for cybersecurity failures will go beyond the CIO’s and CISO’s oversight of the IT department and directly to the CEO’s

office door. Many board discussions will revolve around mitigating cyber risks and how they can improve their organization’s security


All Take an Enterprise Approach to Cybersecurity

Cybercriminals are equal-opportunity attackers. While breaches within huge corporations like Target and Equifax consume the

headlines, businesses of every size are under attack, especially in industries like healthcare, law and finance which, by trade, store

and manage vast amounts of sensitive data. In 2019, smaller firms will enlist the same cybersecurity approaches that large

enterprises use. This means leveraging the benefits of a robust security operations center.

No longer willing to be a hacker’s low hanging fruit, small to midsize businesses and small enterprises will find ways to monitor and

detect threats and respond when necessary. The impetus to do so will be accelerated by larger organizations, which will demand that

businesses they work with meet certain cybersecurity standards. So, there’s both a carrot and a stick leading this new approach. In

the end, hackers today are developing more sophisticated attacks than ever before and 2019 will pit many ongoing battles. The good

news is that companies today recognize the threats they face and are increasingly discovering new ways to better protect


Autonomous Vehicles

How soon will autonomous vehicles be driven

on the battlefield?

Answer all questions in your journal before selecting the

Further Analysis Button.

Further Analysis

Further Analysis

The Army wants 70 self-driving supply trucks by 2020 and is ready for unmanned vehicles but not yet for a completely unmanned

convoy. The 2020 iteration is called Expedient Leader-Follower because the Army still wants a human soldier driving the lead vehicle,

with up to nine autonomous trucks following in its trail. Oshkosh and Robotic Research has mentioned that they could take the

humans out altogether, when the Army wants this to happen. If you find self-driving cars impressive today, think about Army trucks

that can drive themselves off-road, in a war zone, less than three years from now. The self-driving trucks may still have soldiers in

them and able to switch to human control if necessary or, alternatively, to let the truck handle the driving while they watch for

ambushes and shoot back at attackers.

For all the Army’s embrace of high technology, the service still wants the lead vehicle in the convoy to have a human driver, at least at

first. The unmanned trucks that follow behind will need to stick to the trail without relying on street signs, lane markings, pavement,

or GPS. They might not even have a clear line of sight to the vehicle ahead of them, which may turn a corner in a city or disappear into

a cloud of dust driving cross-country. En route, they have to avoid not only pedestrians, animals, and vehicles, like civilian self-driving

cars, but also rubble, rocks, trees, and shell holes. They have to avoid solid obstacles without stopping every time they see tall grass, a

low-hanging branch, or a dust cloud in their path the kind of common-sense distinction that’s easy for humans but very hard for

computer vision.

The Army is confident it can be done. Army Secretary Mark Esper has publicly raved about the technology after riding in a prototype,

saying it could both free up manpower for the front line most troops work on logistics and maintenance, not in combat units and save

lives from roadside bombs and ambushes to which supply convoys are particularly vulnerable.

After years of tinkering, the Army has accelerated its Automated Ground Resupply program by spinning off something called the

Expedient Leader-Follower demonstration. Contractors are currently installing Robotic Research LLC’s computer brains and sensors

on 10 Oshkosh M1075 PLS (Palletized Loader System) trucks that’ll be used for safety certification tests in 2019. They’ll convert 60

more to self-driving vehicles in time to equip two Army transportation companies in 2020.

In a recent interview, Alberto Lacaze, President of Robotic Research said, while the two units’ main job will be to demonstrate that the

technology works in field conditions, if they get called to deploy, they will deploy with the vehicles and this could happen fairly quickly.

Pat Williams, Vice President, for Army and Marine Corps programs at Oshkosh Defense said, the large-scale demo starts in 2020 and

is still a moving target based mainly on how 2019’s safety testing goes. It’s the Army’s call on whether to compress the timeline, but

there’s interest in pulling that left where possible. That’s all part of the operational concepts the Army wants to work out in the 2020


Artificial Intelligence

What is the future of artificial intelligence in

the Army?

Answer all questions in your journal before selecting the

Further Analysis Button.

Further Analysis

Further Analysis

The Army is investing $72 million in a five-year Artificial Intelligence (AI) fundamental research effort to research and discover

capabilities that would significantly enhance mission effectiveness across the Army by augmenting Soldiers, optimizing operations,

increasing readiness, and reducing casualties.

The Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), Army Research Laboratory (ARL), the U.S. Army’s corporate laboratory,

announced that Carnegie Mellon University will lead a consortium of multiple universities to work in collaboration with the Army lab

to accelerate research and development of advanced algorithms, autonomy and artificial intelligence to enhance national security

and defense. By integrating transformational research from top academic institutions across the US with the operational expertise

and mission focused research from within CCDC, the Army will be able to drastically accelerate the impact of Battlefield AI.

“Tackling difficult science and technology challenges is rarely done alone and there is no greater challenge or opportunity facing the

Army than Artificial Intelligence,” said Dr. Philip Perconti, director of the Army’s corporate laboratory. “That’s why ARL is partnering

with Carnegie Mellon University, which will lead a consortium of universities to study AI. The Army is looking forward to making great

advances in AI research to ensure readiness today and to enhance the Army’s modernization priorities for the future.

This Cooperative Agreement for fundamental research was formed as a result of collaboration that initially started between the Army

Research Laboratory and Carnegie Mellon under ARL’s “Open Campus” initiative, which Carnegie Mellon joined earlier in 2018.

Carnegie Mellon and the team of academic research institutions will focus on fundamental research to develop robust operational AI

solutions to enable autonomous processing, exploitation, and dissemination of intelligence and other critical, operational, decision-

support activities, and to support the increased integration of autonomy and robotics as part of highly effective human-machine


“For almost 30 years, the Army Research Laboratory has been at the forefront of bold initiatives that foster greater collaboration with

U.S. universities,” said CMU President Farnam Jahanian. “At this time of accelerating innovation, Carnegie Mellon is eager to partner

with ARL and with universities across the nation to leverage the power of artificial intelligence and better serve the Army mission in

the 21st century.

In support of Multi-Domain Operations (MDO), AI is a “crucial technology to enhance situational awareness and accelerate the

realization of timely and actionable information that can save lives,” said Andrew Ladas, who leads ARL’s Army Artificial Intelligence

Innovation Institute (A2I2). Through this work, he said researchers expect to achieve automated sense making, or the ability for AI to

recognize scenes and generate real-time, actionable correlations, insights and information for humans.

An adversary with AI capabilities could mean new threats to military platforms including human in the loop platforms, or technologies

that require human interaction, and autonomous platforms.

“The changing complexity of future conflict will present never-seen-before situations wrought with noisy, incomplete and deceptive

tactics designed to defeat AI algorithms,” said Andrew Ladas. “Success in this battlefield intelligence race will be achieved by

increasing AI capabilities as well as uncovering unique and effective ways to merge AI with Soldier knowledge and intelligence.

Answer the question in your journal.

What will you do with what you have learned in this course?

Contemporary Issues Questions

What impact does contemporary issues in this lesson present for the Army’s future?1.
How can contemporary issues effect daily operations as a senior noncommissioned officer in garrison?2.
What effect does contemporary issues present during deployment operations for senior noncommissioned

What is the leading contemporary issue identified by senior noncommissioned officers throughout the


End of Presentation

Please contact your facilitator with any questions you may have.