Recent war game scenarios suggest the U.S. is ill-prepared to contend with the combined military might of China and Russia. Now, a new report suggests the U.S. is also increasingly lagging behind its biggest geopolitical rivals when it comes to militarizing blockchain technology.
That report, titled “Potential Uses of Blockchain by the U.S. Department of Defense,” was published on May 20th by the Value Technology Foundation, a non-profit think tank centered on blockchain tech.
The publication, which counted among its contributors major firms like Amazon Web Services and IBM as well as cryptoeconomy mainstays like ConsenSys and Wachsman, is aimed at educating U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) officials on how blockchain can be used to enhance multiple elements of America’s military activities.
Land of the Free, Home of the Blockchain?
In recent years, U.S. Representative Darren Soto has established himself as one of America’s most pro-blockchain legislators. It’s no surprise, then, that Rep. Soto wrote the foreword for Value Technology’s new blockchain report.
In that foreword, Rep. Soto warned that China and Russia have already respectively “invested millions of dollars worth of research and development” into blockchain initiatives, whereas American legislators were “still trying to understand what the technology is” and “still trying to enforce old laws” around the tech.
With that said, Rep. Soto noted Value Technology’s report was a step in the right direction for the U.S. and pointed toward progress to come:
“When I see the creativity of thought in ways of applying blockchain technology to support the Department of Defense in this paper, I am reminded of what a free and democratic society can do when called into action.”
Toward Optimizing U.S. Military Operations
The DoD is a sprawling organization involved in a sprawling range of activities, and its leadership routinely focuses on making the expansive U.S. armed forces more efficient. Value Technology’s report argued that blockchain could particularly increase DoD’s efficiency in the following areas:
- “multi-domain command and control”
- “acceleration of procurement”
- “management of mobile device assets”
- “enhancement of supply chains”
- “additive manufacturing,” e.g. 3D printing vehicle parts
The supply chain suggestion is hardly surprising, as enhanced logistics have long been touted as one of blockchain’s most promising use cases, and the U.S. military has no shortage of logistical problems when it comes to fraud, waste, and abuse that blockchain could help mitigate.
However, what’s really interesting is seeing the report’s comments on blockchain’s ability to boost “multi-domain command and control,” i.e. implementing command structures that don’t have single points of failure and can operate with multiple heads.
This area is of huge concern to DoD, as a hypothetical war with a near-peer ally like China or Russia would likely entail these adversaries taking decisive strikes at the U.S. military’s key command structures. The body would fail without the brain, as it were.
Accordingly, Value Technology argued that blockchain tech can bring “antifragile properties” across DoD’s key operations, a dynamic that would be hugely advantageous during times of crisis:
“When it comes to the decision-making process during emergency and catastrophic events, it is critical that the state and effectiveness of large operational networks and ecosystems remain functional, which [blockchain] can help to ensure.”
Whether the U.S. military’s leaders will take such recommendations and run with them remains to be seen, but the mere fact that this kind of paper was produced and presented in the way that it was suggests blockchain could play a much bigger role in the defense sector in the years ahead.
Logistics use cases will probably come first, naturally. But more advanced possibilities are becoming increasingly imaginable as time goes on.