The INSIDER daily digest -- Aug. 28, 2023

By John Liang / August 28, 2023 at 3:02 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of a nascent Pentagon initiative to build "attritable" autonomous weapon systems within the next two years, a new dry combat submersible for special operations forces, the Missile Defense Agency exploring expanding its national missile defense mission beyond North Korea and Iran and more.

The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian gave a major speech this morning on autonomous weapon systems:

DOD reveals new initiative to rapidly mass-produce autonomous weapon systems

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks today unveiled a new Pentagon program called "Replicator" that aims to produce and field thousands of "attritable" autonomous weapon systems within the next 18 to 24 months in a bid to counter China's surging military ambitions with a next-generation arsenal that is "small, smart, cheap and many."

U.S. Special Operations Command's new dry combat submersible achieved initial operational capability this summer, but defense officials are disclosing little about its capabilities:

Dry combat submersible: No wetsuit required

Costing $70 million per hull, U.S. Special Operations Command has fielded a dry combat submersible (DCS) to "complement" current underwater delivery vehicles for transporting special operations forces.

Laura DeSimone, the Missile Defense Agency's executive director, said the Pentagon's policy shop has tasked the agency to consider options for defending against a wider set of nations beyond Iran and North Korea:

MDA tasked to explore missile defense policy shift, brace for 'regional' strikes by Russia, China

The Pentagon is considering expanding current national missile defense policy -- which is focused on threats from North Korea and, should Tehran obtain a long-range nuclear capability, Iran -- to also counter "regional" aggressors, including Russia or China, according to a senior Defense Department official.

The Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit has partnered with the Space Safari Program Office of Space Systems Command on tactically responsive space systems:

DOD seeking solutions for tactically responsive space systems

The Defense Department is looking for commercial solutions to develop and demonstrate on-orbit tactically responsive space systems, according to a notice posted yesterday.

An Army official recently discussed the future of robotics in the service:

Army Futures Command official says robots will reduce demand for soldiers

Robots must play a key role in warfare, particularly when it comes to sustainment and creating a “demand reduction” for soldiers, an official with Army Futures Command said Wednesday.

More Army Futures Command news:

Army Futures Command official seeks industry involvement in modernization

The Army will need to work closely with private industry to realize its many modernization goals, especially those requiring emerging technologies, according to a three-star from Army Futures Command.