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Advancing Integrated Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific: the role of Emerging Technology and Defense

By Selihome Gebreyesus 

August 14, 2023

Earlier this month, the Pallas Foundation hosted a moderated discussion on the importance of adapting emerging technologies and strengthening allied defense relationships in the Indo-Pacific. It included government officials from the US and partners, academia, industry, and young professionals so I was invited to participate in the discussion as a Pallas Foundation Fellow.

Everyone in the room agreed that it would take a collective and continued effort of investing in cutting-edge technology and developing our strong partnerships further to deter our adversaries. Effective deterrence will also only be possible to the extent that we are able to prioritize these efforts equally. The adversaries we face operate aggressively and quickly adopt cutting edge technologies to their military advantage.

To continue to uphold our values in the face of evolving threats, we must remain focused on minimizing any advantages that adversaries stand to gain from our lack of coordination. We are stronger in the Indo-Pacific when we integrate our modernization efforts with Allies and Partners, it is worth the effort to continue analyzing where the current gaps exist.

Here are my three key takeaways from the conversation:

On competition, technology, and the acquisition process:

  1. Understanding the Adversary’s Perspective: China’s aggression is deterred by their knowledge that conflict with one U.S. allied country means conflict with all. We must continue to leverage our partnerships whenever assessing the Chinese decision calculus and prioritize visibility on the importance of U.S partnerships in the Indo-Pacific in foreign policy, and joint operations.

  2. Speed up the U.S. and Partner Acquisition Process: The U.S. and our Indo-Pacific partners share the common limitation of speed in the defense acquisition process. The DoD and other agencies should embrace non-traditional methodologies when acquiring emerging technologies to support innovation, and include allies and partner nations.

  3. Supercharge Defense Modernization and Innovation: It is time to develop a more agile defense industrial base across the U.S.’s allies and partners that leverages each country’s strengths. This should include developing requirements based on gaps in the collective capability of our allies and partners rather than allowing repetitive capabilities to be developed.

The U.S. and our partners are on the right path for defending against future conflict in the Indo-Pacific. We must continue to integrate emerging technologies and strengthen relationships in the region. Let’s continue fostering transparent and collaborative dialogues to ensure our continued strategic dominance.

N.B. The event described was held under Chatham House rules; the above summary reflects the views of the author alone and does not imply endorsement by any other attendee.

Selihome Gebreyesus is a fellow at Pallas Advisors. She is a recent graduate of Virginia Tech University where she graduated with a B.A in International Public Policy and a minor in Data and Decisions.


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