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Pentagon Directive on “Autonomy in Weapon Systems”

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Speaking of autonomous weapons systems, which Matt and Ken and Human Rights Watch all were, the Department of Defense has issued a directive entitled “Autonomy in Weapon Systems.” It declares:

It is DoD policy that:

a. Autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force.

(1) Systems will go through rigorous hardware and software verification and validation
(V&V) and realistic system developmental and operational test and evaluation (T&E) in accordance with the guidelines in Enclosure 2. Training, doctrine, and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) will be established. These measures will ensure that autonomous and semiautonomous weapon systems:

(a) Function as anticipated in realistic operational environments against adaptive
adversaries.

(b) Complete engagements in a timeframe consistent with commander and operator intentions and, if unable to do so, terminate engagements or seek additional human operator input before continuing the engagement.

(c) Are sufficiently robust to minimize failures that could lead to unintended
engagements or to loss of control of the system to unauthorized parties.

(2) Consistent with the potential consequences of an unintended engagement or loss of
control of the system to unauthorized parties, physical hardware and software will be designed with appropriate:

(a) Safeties, anti-tamper mechanisms, and information assurance in accordance with DoD Directive 8500.01E (Reference (a)).

(b) Human-machine interfaces and controls.

(3) In order for operators to make informed and appropriate decisions in engaging
targets, the interface between people and machines for autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems shall:

(a) Be readily understandable to trained operators.

(b) Provide traceable feedback on system status.

(c) Provide clear procedures for trained operators to activate and deactivate system functions.

b. Persons who authorize the use of, direct the use of, or operate autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems must do so with appropriate care and in accordance with the law of war, applicable treaties, weapon system safety rules, and applicable rules of engagement (ROE).

c. Autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems intended to be used in a manner that falls within the policies in subparagraphs 4.c.(1) through 4.c.(3) will be considered for approval in accordance with the approval procedures in DoD Directive 5000.01 (Reference (b)), DoD Instruction 5000.02 (Reference (c)), and other applicable policies and issuances.

(1) Semi-autonomous weapon systems (including manned or unmanned platforms, munitions, or sub-munitions that function as semi-autonomous weapon systems or as subcomponents of semi-autonomous weapon systems) may be used to apply lethal or non-lethal, kinetic or non-kinetic force. Semi-autonomous weapon systems that are onboard or integrated with unmanned platforms must be designed such that, in the event of degraded or lost communications, the system does not autonomously select and engage individual targets or specific target groups that have not been previously selected by an authorized human operator.

(2) Human-supervised autonomous weapon systems may be used to select and engage targets, with the exception of selecting humans as targets, for local defense to intercept attempted time-critical or saturation attacks for:

(a) Static defense of manned installations.

(b) Onboard defense of manned platforms.

(3) Autonomous weapon systems may be used to apply non-lethal, non-kinetic force, such as some forms of electronic attack, against materiel targets in accordance with DoD Directive 3000.3 (Reference (d)).

d. Autonomous or semi-autonomous weapon systems intended to be used in a manner that falls outside the policies in subparagraphs 4.c.(1) through 4.c.(3) must be approved by the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD(P)); the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD(AT&L)); and the CJCS before formal development and again before fielding in accordance with the guidelines in Enclosure 3, References (b) and (c), and other applicable policies and issuances.

e. International sales or transfers of autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems will be approved in accordance with existing technology security and foreign disclosure requirements and processes, in accordance with Directive-Type Memorandum 11-053 (Reference (e)).

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