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CHIPS Articles: Thesis Paper Review – Human-Machine Teaming at Sea: A Model for Unmanned Maritime Systems and the Use of Force

Thesis Paper Review – Human-Machine Teaming at Sea: A Model for Unmanned Maritime Systems and the Use of Force
By DON Innovation - June 22, 2017
Lt. Andrea Logan, Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington, was named a Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Innovation Award winner in the Innovation Scholar (PME) Category during a ceremony at the Pentagon on June 5.

Innovation Scholar (PME) recognizes top academic achievements by naval officers and enlisted personnel in professional military education (PME) programs. Logan wrote her thesis, titled, “Human-Machine Teaming at Sea: A Model for Unmanned Maritime Systems and the Use of Force,” while getting her LLM at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS). Her article creates a model for unmanned maritime systems (UMS) and the use of force that applies legal principles to U. S. Navy (USN) doctrine in the area of Human-Machine Teaming. It provides a legal outline for the use of force to help naval operators manage encounters between manned and unmanned systems employed by state navies.

As UMS technology evolves and larger armed unmanned vehicles are developed, strategic considerations will weigh in favor of employing UMS as warships. The article proposes that unmanned maritime vehicles (UMVs) can be designated as warships instead of auxiliary vessels and recommends changes to the definition of UMS in Navy policy. It introduces a "use based test" to guide decisions to designate UMVs as warships and encourages legal review of UMS to meet legal criteria under international law. Because auxiliary vessels generally can only conduct attacks in international armed conflict in self-defense, the article recommends employing a “use-based” test to inform USN decisions on designating a particular unmanned vehicle as either a warship, an auxiliary, or as a weapon or mine.

Some of the myriad factors to consider before granting a particular surface or undersea vehicle warship status are its size, autonomy, payload, independent (rather than component) nature of employment, and intended purpose of a UMS. For example, a larger, armed, remotely controlled vessel deployed for offensive operations independently of another warship is a better candidate for warship designation than an autonomous unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) employed as a component of a warship.

As more UMS operate in the world’s oceans, the article argues for adopting an approach to the use of UMS that treats unmanned maritime systems similarly to manned systems. Applying the human-machine teaming model to USN doctrine, the article also contends UMS operators or programmers can respond in unit self-defense of UMS. Applying a USN human-machine teaming model, the paper argues that operators or programmers of UMS should be able to respond in unit self-defense (during an attack against a UMS that is part of a warship) or obtain supplemental rules of engagement to authorize the use of force (if there is an attack against designated UMS).

Although technological development of UMS and their widespread integration into the fleet is necessary to build trust in their use, this initiative proposes changes to USN policy that would allow UMS to engage in offensive operations while still complying with peacetime legal maritime regimes and the laws of war. Not only will these changes allow for expanded use of UMS in future naval warfare, they will bring the use of UMS in alignment with current U.S. policy and practice for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

Concepts in this paper have been used by judge advocates advising USN and USMC commanders for operational and navy shore activities, resulting in increased mission and operational readiness for units affected by UMS in their area of operations. This proposal also has the capacity to impact USN and DoD operations concerning naval warfare and future interpretation of the law of the sea.

This thesis paper was written by Lt. Andrea M. Logan (JAGC, USN) while attending The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS). Her thesis is currently pending publication. To request a copy of the article for academic or internal government use, you may contact the author via DON Innovation at DON_Innovation@navy.mil.

Washington, D.C. – Lt Andrea Logan receives 2016 SECNAV Innovation Awards trophy from Mr. Thomas Dee, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of the Navy.  U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan B. Trejo/Released
Washington, D.C. – Lt Andrea Logan receives 2016 SECNAV Innovation Awards trophy from Mr. Thomas Dee, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of the Navy. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan B. Trejo/Released
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