While America obsessed over just which “F-word” Vice President Joe Biden might have uttered, an mild-mannered representative of a multinational military conglomerate lobbied Congress for permission to deploy military robot drones domestically and sell them across across the world. His audacious plan was made openly but utterly without notice by any American newspaper or television news network.
On March 23, 2010, Michael S. Fagan of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) was invited to testify to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to advise the Congress on a proper course of action regarding military robots designed to spy on and attack people and other objects designated as the “enemy” by whomever sits behind the controls. See here for Fagan’s prepared remarks and see here for Fagan’s video testimony, beginning at 1:23:00. Fagan characterized the AUVSI as a “non-profit organization.” Fagan failed to mention that AUVSI is financed by 1,500 corporations headquartered in 55 different countries across the globe (see below for access to the portion of the AUVSI list that is made available to the public).
In a calm and matter-of-fact manner, Michael Fagan asked Congress to allow the domestic deployment of military robots to autonomously collect and analyze in the USA:
…detection, surveillance, measurement, and targeting are more effective when done as close to the observable as possible. This axiom applies to military systems as much as it does to everyday life….
As reduced SWAP [Size, Weight And Power] allows more data processing to move onboard the UAS, available data link bandwidth can transmit to the ground more products that are more relevant to more analysts over larger areas – compared to raw data now sent to the ground. Additionally, processing onboard the unmanned aircraft automates intelligence-analysis tasks and increasingly permits the same number of analysts to be effective over a greater area….
AUVSI is in favor of FAA rulemaking that will enable increased airspace access for UAS manufacturers…. AUVSI is in favor of FAA rulemaking that permits educational institutions the airspace access they require to effectively educate the next generation in autonomous system technologies….
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have certainly driven demand for these systems, but many Americans are unaware that a ScanEagle UAS also aided in the successful recovery of Captain Phillips of the Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia last year. There are many other useful applications of unmanned technology — air, ground and maritime systems — that can protect our nation. Border patrol, emergency response, wildfire monitoring, civil unrest, search and rescue, law enforcement, port security…. Unmanned systems have been and will continue to be proven in war, and it is time to prove their heretofore under-recognized capabilities for increasing the effectiveness of civil law enforcement and public safety…. The United States has an opportunity to be at the forefront of the research and development of these advanced systems if it can address regulatory obstacles.
Fagan also requested point-blank that international arms sales of military robots be expedited and deregulated:
Our industry growth is adversely affected by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) for export of certain UAS technologies, and by a lengthy license approval process by Political Military Defense Trade Controls (PM-DTC). AUVSI is an advocate for simplified export-control regulations and expedited license approvals for unmanned systems technologies.
Michael S. Fagan is not making this request personally. He is a paid representative of the 1,500 member corporations of AUVSI that are eager to deploy military surveillance and attack robots domestically, and to sell them internationally for profit.
The 1,500 international corporations who are official members of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and who financially support the AUVSI agenda are too numerous to list in this article, and only 181 of the group’s 1,500 corporate members are publicly identified by AUVSI. All publicly identified corporate members of AUVSI are listed here.
The following are countries whose corporations are openly represented by AUVSI and its lobbyists:
And the following are some notable names among corporations supporting AUVSI’s work to advocate for domestic deployment and deregulated international sales of military surveillance and attack robots:
Air Force Research Laboratory
Applied Signal Technology, Inc.
Booz Allen Hamilton
Canadian Center for Unmanned Vehicle Systems
Crane Aerospace and Electronics
Cybernet Systems Corporation
Defense Research Associates, Inc.
Israel Aerospace Industries
Swedish National Defence College
Teledyne Brown Engineering