LtCol Jennifer “JJ” Snow, USAF, is the Donovan Group Innovation Officer for the USSOCOM, J52 Futures Plans and Strategy Division and SOFWERX Team. She serves as the military representative for technology outreach and engagement to bridge the gap between government and various technology communities to improve collaboration and communications, identify smart solutions to wicked problems and help guide the development of future smart technology policy to benefit special operations.
Over the past decade, China’s increasing activities in media and industrial acquisition, soft power messaging, development, and exploitation of international laws has made it starkly apparent that the U.S. is engaged in an innovative form of multi-dimensional competition. China’s commitment to the scientific and technological (S&T) enterprises as specific components of current and future Five-Year Plans emphasize an increasing reliance on—and investment in—convergent S&T approaches (e.g., cyber, nano, media, and economic) to effect dominance on the world stage. This use of multiple technological pathways, coupled with pre-bellicose, non-kinetic actions and subtle yet potent influence operations demonstrates a strategic paradigm to threaten, if not suppress, U.S. global power. During 2018, the Department of Defense (DoD) pressed forward on garnering both internal and external expertise to increase technology-focused efforts necessary to inform policy, acquisitions, and security strategy. Over the past four years, the authors were tasked by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Donovan Group and the SOFWERX Innovation Center at United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) with studying the use and advantages of current and emerging technologies (ETs) by near-peer adversaries. Toward that end, an exploration of these non-kinetic, technology-enabled engagements was conducted by the group to best define the current evolution in tactics and strategy challenging U.S. national security.