On August 28, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks announced the Department of Defense’s Replicator Initiative, a program to field thousands of low-cost autonomous systems, such as drones, in the next two years to support U.S. strategic aims. The program seeks to harness lessons learned from Ukraine and the growing commercial drone industry to level the playing field against China’s People’s Liberation Army. But can the DoD achieve its goals? What platforms are available? How might they affect plans and operations? And what else will the DoD need to do besides just buying more, faster?
On November 16, CSET hosted a panel of experts to discuss DoD’s Replicator Initiative, including what capabilities might be available now and how DoD might maximize the program’s goals over the next 18 to 24 months. Be sure to check out the recording below for an in-depth conversation and Q&A on this high-profile initiative.
Dr. Jaret C. Riddick is a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET). Prior to joining CSET, he was the Principal Director for Autonomy in the Office of the Under Secretary for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), serving as the Senior DOD official for coordination, strategy, and transition of Autonomy research and development. As Principal Director, he created a DOD-wide initiative on trusted Autonomy, led efforts to advance Autonomy for undersea warfare with allied partners, and provided key strategic analysis to support development of the newest DOD university-affiliated research center (UARC). Prior to OUSD(R&E), Jaret served in executive leadership roles in the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL), where he established a 200-acre robotics research collaboration campus and led ARL Senior leadership efforts to establish the research competencies of the Laboratory. He has also served in leadership roles in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, and the former Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. He holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech, M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University, and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University.
Lauren Kahn is a Senior Research Analyst at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), focused on national security applications of artificial intelligence.
Prior to CSET, she was a Research Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) within the National Security and Defense and Digital and Cyberspace Policy programs, where she worked on defense innovation and the impact of emerging technologies on international security, with a particular emphasis on AI. Prior to joining CFR, she worked as a Research Fellow at Perry World House, the University of Pennsylvania’s global policy think tank, where she helped launch its project on emerging technologies and global politics.
Her work has appeared in outlets including Foreign Affairs, Lawfare, War on the Rocks, the Journal for Conflict Resolution, and AI & Society, and has been featured in the Economist.
Lauren holds a master’s in computer and information technology and a B.A. in international relations, both from the University of Pennsylvania.
Michael O’Connor is a Major in the U.S. Space Force and is a Department of the Air Force Fellow at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technologies (CSET). Prior to joining CSET, he was a space program test lead at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA. Before his program office role, Michael served as an evaluator flight test engineer supporting remotely piloted aircraft testing at the Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base. He holds a Master’s in Flight Test Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, a Master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor’s in Astronautical Engineering and Math from the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Igor Mikolic-Torreira is the Director of Analysis at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET). He was previously a Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation, where he led research on military cyber operations, cyber weapon effects, and Army force structure. Prior to RAND, Igor worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he supported Secretary Gates’ efficiencies efforts and Secretary Hagel’s Strategic Capacity and Management Review. Earlier he served as Director of the Operations Evaluation Group at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA). Igor also spent many years as an operations analyst in overseas assignments and deploying with several carrier strike groups. He has a Ph.D. in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology. His awards include the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, the Department of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service, the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award, and CNA’s Phil DePoy Award for Analytic Excellence.
Emelia (Emmy) Probasco is a Senior Fellow at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), where she works on the military applications of Artificial Intelligence. Prior to joining CSET, she was the Chief Communications Officer and Communications Department Head at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), leading technical and institutional communications to support and drive APL’s strategic vision. Prior to APL, Emmy served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy, deploying twice to the Indo-Pacific. She also served in the Pentagon as the speechwriter to the Chief of Naval Operations and at the U.S. Naval Academy as an instructor in political science. She has masters’ degrees in Forced Migration and Economic and Social History from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and a degree in Political Science from the U.S. Naval Academy.