Speaker: Souhan, B. (Director for Technology Wargaming for the Deputy Assistant of the Army (Research and Technology))
Date: 11 July 2019
SMA hosted a speaker session presented by Dr. Brian Souhan (Director for Technology Wargaming for the Deputy Assistant of the Army (Research and Technology)), as a part of its SMA General Speaker Series. During his brief, Dr. Souhan presented the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology’s (DASA R&T) 2017 and 2018 annual reports on emerging trends in science and technology (S&T). Dr. Souhan first provided a brief history of these trend reports, highlighting their origin in 2013 in order to provide a strategic picture for senior leadership, the inception of one-page trend cards for each emerging S&T trend in 2014, the implementation of a survey to help determine US position in trends in 2017, and the movement towards more quantitative data in order to better assess the US’s position in the identified emerging trends in 2018. Dr. Souhan then explained that every year, governments, industry leaders, think tanks, nonprofits, and other organizations publish dozens of analyses of S&T trends through rigorously-developed, open source reports. The goal of DASA R&T’s reports is to “synthesize the collective insights of the professional foresight community to identify trends that are highly likely impact the US Army over the coming decades.” Dr. Souhan discussed the top trends identified in the 2017 and 2018 reports and highlighted the minor variations across the years. He also spoke about the top contextual trends from both years, as well as the major takeaways from the 2018 report: 1) the US Army is likely to find itself operating in and around dense urban environments, 2) future conflicts are likely to arise over limited natural resources, 3) the US is highly unlikely to maintain its dominance in global innovation, and 4) cybersecurity will become an increasingly strong driver of R&D. Dr. Souhan discussed the further analysis that was conducted in 2018 to assess where the US stands technologically when compared to the rest of the world. He highlighted that China is a significant competitor in robotics and AI automation, and South Korea is in the lead with respect to biomedical science and human augmentation. To conclude, Dr. Souhan spoke about the 2019 report and DASA R&D’s future plans.