No, Assassination By Drone Isn't A New Concept, I Have Been Warning Of It For Years

The U.S. government has been grossly late to act on the threat posed by small drones and there's a swarm on the horizon that is far more menacing.

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With the recent unsuccessful assassination attempt on Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro, the age of targeted attacks by small, commercially available aerial drones on VVIPs has officially arrived. While major media outlets are pushing big headlines detailing this 'new' threat and foreshadowing how it will only grow, with the U.S. federal government now stating the same, the fact is this was a totally foreseeable eventuality that a few of my colleagues and I have been harping on for years. All the while the U.S. government did next to nothing to confront it. In fact, it took weaponized hobby drones to show up on battlefield en-masse for any real counter-drone initiatives to begin in earnest. And what's to come in regards to this technology, both at home and on the battlefield, represents a far darker reality than pretty much anyone in an official capacity is letting on.

This glaring lapse, one of the most puzzling I have ever witnessed from the Pentagon, its domestic law enforcement counterparts, and from Congress to a lesser degree, should act as a reminder of the aversion these institutions seem to have towards dealing with low-end threats which often have non-glamorous solutions. 

We build multi-billion dollar, experimental, boondoggle blimps to maybe be able to spot cruise missiles heading towards Washington D.C. in a World War III scenario, but robustly countering over-the-counter remote-controlled drones that can carry pounds of explosives is blown off as a low-priority. 

Then again, maybe this should have come as no surprise. No big defense contractor was going to get rich pushing anti-drone systems and no general was going to get another star on their lapel pleading for funding to repel potential hobby-drone attacks, so the whole issue became a low-funded experimental game of paddy cake that nobody really cared much about.

Be outraged, they all deserve it.

What went down in Maduro town

The assassination attempt occurred on Aug. 4, 2018, while the Venezuelan president was speaking at an event honoring the 81st anniversary of the country’s National Guard. Bodyguards carrying ballistic blankets did quickly move in to shield Maduro before hurrying him off stage and there appears to have been a panicked stampede among those in attendance. Seven National Guardsmen were reportedly injured in the chaos.

“This was an attempt to kill me,” Maduro, who most recently won re-election in May 2018 in a poll that international observers categorized as neither free nor fair, said after escaping unscathed. “Today they attempted to assassinate me.”

For years now, the country has been in the grips of a major economic crisis, which has led to widespread shortages in critical items such as food and medicine, and which many say is the result of corruption and mismanagement on the part of Maduro’s administration. He has countered by saying that he is beset by reactionary elements inside the country who receive support from his opponents aboard, including Colombia and the United States.

However, a militant dissident group, Soldiers in T-shirts, subsequently claimed responsibility for what they said had been a deliberate attack. This organization claims to be made up of soldiers who have deserted and taken up arms against Maduro, which has happened in the past at least one some level. 

In June 2017, a renegade national police pilot and aspiring film star, Oscar Perez, very publicly stole a helicopter and attacked the country’s Interior Ministry and Supreme Court with small arms fire and grenades, which did not cause any substantial damage. Venezuela security forces killed Perez in a shootout in January 2018.

On Aug. 5, 2018, Venezuelan authorities said that they had arrested six individuals in connection with the incident, but did not identify them or whether they were members of Soldiers in T-shirts. Nestor Reverol, the country’s Interior Minister, also said there had been two DJI M600 drones, each carrying a little more than two pounds of C-4 plastic explosive, used in the attack.

DJI

M600 drone.

He added that one was supposed to have exploded above Maduro, while the other was to have flown in front of him before detonating, but did not say where this information had come from. Venezuelan security forces reportedly used some form of jamming system to throw one of the drones off target and the other hit a building some blocks away instead.

“I am fine, I am alive, and after this attack, I'm more determined than ever to follow the path of the revolution,” Maduro declared after the attack. “Justice! Maximum punishment! And there will be no forgiveness.”

Maduro has specifically blamed individuals in Colombia and the United States for supporting the assassination attempt, but has provided no evidence to support this claim. Colombian and U.S. government officials have denied any direct involvement.

“If the government of Venezuela has hard information that they want to present to us that would show a potential violation of U.S. criminal law, we’ll take a serious look at it,” U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton told Fox News on Aug. 5, 2018. “In the meantime, I think what we really should focus on is the corruption and oppression in the Maduro regime in Venezuela.”

Bolton also posited that Maduro might have staged the entire incident to bolster support for his government, but offered no evidence to support that assertion. There is now a concern that the Venezuelan President could use the incident as an excuse to further crack down on political dissent or otherwise consolidate national authority under his office. 

There were similar fears after President Donald Trump has publicly suggested he might take military action against Venezuela’s government and reportedly queried aides and friendly Latin American governments about the feasibility and support for such a plan. Other U.S. politicians have harshly criticized the government in Caracas, as well, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio at one point taking to Twitter to implicitly call for a coup.

The Venezuelan president quickly received words of support from countries such as Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Nicaragua, who the United States has also criticized in the past. Bolivian President Evo Morales called the attack a “crime against humanity.”

Now it is reported that the mastermind of the plot and the pilots of the drones, among other related individuals, were among those apprehended in the days following the attack, with CNN writing:

The investigation, which involves four prosecutors, has yielded the locations from where the drones were piloted, as well as the arrests of two of the drone pilots, the country's top law enforcement official said. "We also know the places where they stayed in the days leading to the attack. We have identified the people who made the explosives and prepared the weapons and their international links," Saab said. He further said the alleged assassination constituted a "betrayal to the motherland, intentional homicide attempt, terrorism, association to commit a crime and financing terrorism."

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Maduro appeared on national TV hours later to speak about the investigation and arrests.

He said the Venezuelan political far right, in collaboration with the Colombian far right and President Santos, were behind the attack. He also blamed Venezuelans living in the United States."The preliminary investigation indicates that many of those responsible for the attack, the financiers and planners, live in the United States in the state of Florida," Maduro said, adding that he hopes the White House is "willing to fight terrorist groups that commit attacks in peaceful countries.

Regardless of who plotted to take out Maduro, the fact that drones were used as the weapon of choice is terrifying, but for some of us, it is wholly unsurprising. 

Years of little action

The attempted assassination of Maduro by commercially available drones toting explosives and the imagery that went along with it startled many who got their first real look at the concept outside of dispatches from war zones—namely from the assault of Mosul when commercially available and even homemade drones morphed into weapons on a grand scale. The footage of the Maduro attack also let us see some of the tactics available to those tasked with protecting heads of state and other VVIPs from drone attacks—ballistic blankets, umbrellas, bodyguard flesh, and possibly electronic warfare technology. 

Although the jammers may have saved Maduro's life if indeed they were present and active at the time of the attack, the idea that ballistic blankets and bodyguards are all that stood between those drones and their target is not comforting. And clearly, the attack made a serious impact on the security operations of other heads of state. The next day, Turkey's increasingly tyrannical Recep Erdogan was seen being guarded by FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles. The type is now more capable of engaging small drones thanks to a recent upgrade

But once again, none of this should be surprising and it's hardly ripped from some script of a new, cutting-edge futuristic technothriller as many state. In 2013, I wrote the following:

...This technology does represent a double-edged sword though. In fact, almost all micro-drone technology that is proliferating throughout the commercial, and even civilian world, has a dark side. These small man-portable drones can be turned from surveillance assets to assassination tools by swapping out their payloads.

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As this technology continues to develop you will see new emphasis put on securing the airspace around VIPs and very delicate but important infrastructure on a level greater than anything we have seen before. Whereas the threat from direct fire has been paramount when it comes to personal security, the focus will begin to morph more and more into protection against nontraditional indirect fire, aka small drones with evil payloads. 

In 2014, I wrote a story all about how the threat landscape is changing and VVIPs are going to be targeted using this increasingly available technology. I wrote in part:

These diminutive man-portable drones can be turned from surveillance assets and backyard toys to assassination tools by swapping out their payloads. Even the quad-rotor type hobbyist/commercial drones, like those controversially pimped to millions on 60 Minutes by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently, can carry around half a dozen pounds. Swap out that pair of earphones or cookbook you ordered online, or a DSLR camera when it comes to rudimentary commercial photography drones, with an improvised explosive device and you have a guided missile capable of some very horrific things...

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 It is just another piece of twine in the exciting but also unsettling new world of unmanned weaponry. One where the word "drone" will increasingly be associated with both friend and foe.

And again in 2015, after a gyrocopter touched down in front of the Capitol unannounced:

Although taking down hobby drones and ultralight aircraft is not a glamorous mission, the threat posed by them is becoming more relevant than the hijacked airliner threat reminiscent of 9/11. The Navy has already deployed its first laser close-in weapons system and there are a series of other ground-based systems that are already capable of taking down small aircraft at relatively close ranges. Still, it is clear that the accessibility to low-end unmanned technology is rapidly outpacing the development of countermeasures designed to defeat that technology when it is used as an improvised weapon system.

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Sadly, it may take many more wake-up calls till the powers that be realize that lumbering hijacked airliners and cruise missiles are not the only major aerial threats to America's most sensitive locales and individuals anymore.

In the years between these and other earlier writings and today, the risk posed by hobby drones and the adaptation of small and inexpensive unmanned aircraft into weapons is somewhat of an everyday topic around here, and there certainly weren't a lack of major warning signs for the U.S. government to act on. Even a U.S. police department used a robot to kill a suspected mass murderer in 2016, setting a whole new precedented for domestic law enforcement organizations. But even though by this time nobody needed a crystal ball to predict what was to come, it was the Battle of Mosul that finally made the Pentagon and other government agencies begin to come to terms with what had become so glaringly obvious.

This piece I wrote in January of 2017, as the campaign to take back Mosul was underway, highlighted these same issues and how easy ISIS was able to quickly evolve the concept even on a battlefield that was largely cut-off from external logistics:

One of the major tactical developments during the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq has been the deployment of hobbyist and even homemade remote-controlled aircraft—often referred to as “drones”—armed with small explosive charges. During the Battle of Mosul especially, Iraqi forces have experienced a threat from aerial bombardment by low-end drones on a level never seen before in combat. Meanwhile, U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria have also scrambled to adapt to and counter this growing capability. 

Yet the hard truth is that the Department of Defense has had plenty of time and warning to do just that. In fact, they spent many millions of dollars looking at the problem, but no hard action was really taken to develop countermeasures, which makes their scramble for countermeasures now all that more frustrating.

The weaponizing of these increasingly prevalent and cheap hobbyist drones has been warned about for years by many of us outside the Pentagon’s five walls, and likely by some on the inside as well. Meanwhile, the DoD seemed focused on countering the problem with very high-end systems, such as emerging solid-state laser capabilities, which are more suited for the protection of extremely high-value targets than for providing a shield for soldiers on the battlefield. Some counter-rocket and mortar (C-RAM) systems, which use kinetic means to kill, with cannon shells or missiles, have also been adapted for this use to a limited degree, but these are also geared to defending fixed positions and can be horrifically expensive to use. 

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Clearly, this is going to become a much more complicated business than anyone would like to imagine, especially as these “over-the-counter” drone systems become smaller and more autonomous. Even here at home, as time passes, murder by drone is likely to become a very real thing. The police have already killed a suspect using a robotic system, and criminals may find that the drone is a far better tool for taking out one’s enemies from afar than a gun’s bullet, especially considering that said bullet cannot turn corners. 

As our lives become more encompassed by these buzzing craft, distinguishing friend from foe will be all but impossible. Washington D.C. and its surroundings are already drone-free zones, as are other sensitive areas. Expect many others to follow especially if the technology cannot be regulated to the point where it can’t be so easily abused. This is a problem pro-drone industries should confront head-on as the future of the technology and its applications likely depends on it. 

The thing is that we have rapidly moved from small but deadly and expensive suicide drones capable of inflicting lethal force, to even simpler and cheaper ones that drop expendable munitions and can be quickly reused again. What’s most concerning is that the majority of the innovation in this field has been achieved by the enemy in a war zone. This is both an amazing achievement and a horrific one that is a harbinger of things to come. Meanwhile, it seems as if the exploding low-end drone industry and the US government—including the Pentagon—are in denial of just what this all means for the future of warfare and quite frankly, humanity.

After the improvised attack drone showed up in force in Mosul, the U.S. military frantically accelerated its search for counter-drone solutions. Its efforts went from what seemed like an exploratory good time and generally a slow-roll to an all-out scramble. 

Today there are a number of technologies that show promise, and some are already in the field. These include multiple types of jammers, directed-energy weapons—lasers and high-power microwave emitters—and even tiny hit to kill interceptors. Old fashion anti-aircraft gun systems and shoulder-fired man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) also remain a staple fallback solution of varying effectiveness depending on the system. There are also more lowly solutions that are questionable at best, such as net ammunition for shotguns. The Pentagon has now also looked towards unconventional ways to get industry involved in small drone tactical issues via competitions and live demonstration events.

But while all this is now going on, the threat is rapidly proliferating and adapting, with non-state actors and peer competitors alike acquiring new and very concerning abilities. Sending waves of rudimentary drones to saturate well-defended and fixed high-value target areas is an established tactic now on the battlefields of the Middle East, with multiple incidents occurring in both Syria and Yemen. But the ability to use low-cost drones to act cooperatively as a swarm is on the horizon for individuals and is already becoming a reality for countries like China. The U.S. is exploring this capability as well, although we can only hope they are doing much more in the classified realm than what we have seen in the unclassified world.

The coming swarm

While defending against a couple weaponized small drones may be currently possible under certain circumstances and if early detection occurs—as potentially seen during the Maduro incident—doing so against a swarm of dozens or even hundreds of explosive carrying drones buzzing through the air is a whole other story. 

Jamming and high-power microwave beams may prove effective in some cases, but as I have posited for years, really the best way to counter a swarm is with one of your own. I go into detail about it in this article on America's larger short-range air defense gap which has since become a hot topic issue in defense circles and it's a problem the DoD is now scrambling to find solutions to as well:

Being networked together, and being autonomous in nature after being loaded with a target area location, along with other mission parameters, these swarms will be extremely hard to defend against using even the best SHORAD systems in development today. It's the saturation nature of the attack, the size of the attackers, and the fact that they work as a coordinated swarm, employing dynamic tactics to see as many in their company survive long enough to make their suicidal attack, that make them so deadly. They could even drop micro-munitions and be reused for a later attack. Just the knowledge that such an attack is possible would be psychologically stressful and demoralizing for troops on the ground. 

Similar swarming strikes could be unleashed behind the front lines as well, with hugely expensive and low density/high demand combat aircraft being especially vulnerable to this sort of tactic—something General James Holmes alluded to inadvertently while speaking to the Air Force Association, stating:

“Imagine a world where somebody flies a couple hundred of those and flies one down the intake of my F-22s with just a small weapon on it.”

Actually, it would be even easier to just strike the jets as they sit idle and vulnerable on the flight line. One swarm could see a whole squadron of tightly packed fighters destroyed without even having a chance to fight back. 

Maybe wide-area electronic warfare could help counter such a threat, at least to some degree. But clearly the best defense of all is to not let the enemy get close enough to launch such an onslaught in the first place. But this is a tough proposition when it comes to defense from such an attack in friendly areas or behind the lines, where even the fastest fighter jets sit stationary on flightlines—the coordinates of which are readily available on Google Earth. 

Although it may sound like a page out a science fiction novel, the only thing that could probably counter such a dense swarming attack on ground forces or a garrisoned force would be for those forces to have their own counter-swarm swarms at the ready. This would result in dozens or even hundreds of mini kamikaze dogfights in the sky—a life and death suicide struggle among diminutive hive-minded flying robots. 

Suffice it to say the SHORAD challenges of the future will be robust and plentiful. But it's time we start tackling today's SHORAD challenges head-on so we can adapt quicker to those of tomorrow. Getting America's military back in the SHORAD game in a serious way would be a good first step in the right direction.

But dealing with what is largely a traditional tactical problem like short-range air defense against low-flying aircraft, larger drones, and cruise missiles, is something the Pentagon is far more adept to confronting than the transformation of hobby drones into deadly weapons of warfare and espionage. 

With the U.S. already behind the curve, the threat of individual drones will quickly give way to swarms, and how exactly this will be dealt with even when it comes to proliferation among non-state actors remains unclear. Closely regulating components that provide cooperative capabilities and networking among multiple drones would certainly be a start, but even just larger volumes of disparate types of hobby drones that do not work semi-autonomously or autonomously together will be hard to defend against. The jammers work for some won't work for others, and decoys that run without man-in-the-loop control won't be easy to discriminate against quickly.

As I stated above, the best defense against small drones is small drones, especially when it comes to swarms. Now, it seems as if industry is finally getting that impression too. In the meantime, just being able to reliably counter individual or small numbers of improvised attack drones remains the priority.

Frankly, we are very lucky this type of attack hasn't happened before and against a less controversial head of state or other VVIP. The barrier of entry to executing such a plan is so low and potential targets have been so soft for so long that it's a miracle this is just becoming a mainstream issue now. But I really need to make the point here that the lowest-end and highest-end drone technologies are really the most disruptive. The weaponization of cheap swarms of drones will absolutely change the nature of combat in the not so distant future in ways that are far more complex than the issues just beginning to be talked about widely today. 

A far darker cloud on the horizon

I made some predictions as to what's coming in terms of drone warfare back in 2012, most of which has already become a reality or is in the process of doing so. What must be understood is that drone/unmanned warfare on an increasingly miniaturized level will irrevocably warp our perceptions of modern combat and these weapons will make the individual soldier far more vulnerable than they have been in a very long time. 

I wrote the following in early 2012 and it it has made its way around to the curriculum in a number of war colleges and other academic institutions:

Imagine for instance if a Marine unit wanted to take down a village. Instead of sending in platoon after platoon of Marines to clear an objective, you could send in swarms of small UAVs, every soldier could even individually operate or monitor their own micro UAV and be in the battle “virtually,” each platoon represented by a swarm. They could enter the town in mass, and not only recon it, but if the operator “sees” an enemy threat they can just fly the UAV over to that threat and detonate a fragmentation charge. Such a capability would drastically decrease the dangers of urban warfare and when used in a non-urban environment there would really be nowhere for the enemy to hide.

The best part about such a concept is that the drones, unlike young Marines, are fully expendable. If one is lost via enemy fire or simple malfunction, no big deal, others will adapt to fill in for their lost brethren automatically. By arming these micro UAVs with explosives you create a suicide robot that would be feared psychologically by the enemy on truly unprecedented levels, as they would literally be able to sneak in a cracked window at night and detonate themselves above the enemy as they sleep.

There are other areas where micro UAVs, and specifically small swarms of them, would come in handy. For instance, during direct action operations by special forces, swarms could stand guard at key vulnerability areas while the special operations team goes about their raid...

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On a smaller scale, imagine a scout sniper team being able to recon their area while still remaining hidden almost as if they were doing it on foot. A micro-UAV system would give them the ability to go inside open buildings and peer around corners. All the swarm’s intel could be recorded/relayed in real time as well. Further, micro-UAV swarms could be used as a weapon instead of a telltale sniper shot which often gives away a stealthy scout sniper team’s hiding position. Instead, they could spot their target and fly a little drone too it, detonating next to the target by surprise when it comes within lethal range. No muzzle report or muzzle flash needed. 

In many ways, science fiction has already portrayed such drones as the ultimate in persistent search and destroy weaponry—too hard to kill and relentless in their pursuit.

Today these concepts have become common in pop-culture, but just the better part of a decade ago, they really weren't. And it's probably time for me to update these macro-battle concepts, but this shows it wasn't that hard to see what was around the bend, and the fact that the Pentagon and law enforcement were so caught off guard by a much more blatant and immediate threat is really troubling. 

The dark art of espionage will increasingly rely on tiny drones for everything from assassination to intelligence collecting. And mother nature has provided the perfect cover for these clandestine operations. In my big 2012 feature Tyler's 10 Thoughts On The Future Of Drone Warfare I wrote in part:

The days of thinking of “small drones” as those that fit in a Navy SEAL’s backpack are numbered. Soon we will see operational drones the size of a grapefruit, then the size of a dragonfly, and eventually, maybe in 30 years time, we won’t be able to see them at all. 

As drones shrink so will the weapons they carry. Today we see the sub 50lb smart munitions being deployed on smaller drones, yet these cutting-edge micro-munitions may prove to be comparatively colossal in time. Eventually, miniature UAVs will use sub 5lb guided bomblets and even guided bullets to deal death from on high. Even smaller drones will eventually be able to take out the enemy by “biting” or “injecting” them with poison, both lethal and non-lethal, very similar to the ways in which insects have operated for millions of years. 

On the sub-micro end of things nanites or nanobots, which are microscopic robots, will be able to infiltrate computer circuitry or even the human circulatory system in large numbers and conduct repairs or cause catastrophic damage. In the end, the smallest drones may end up being the most useful and dangerous of all, able to act like life-saving mini-surgeons living in our bloodstreams or as self-replicating weapons of mass destruction for which the only defense may be, dare I say it, anti-nanobot nanobots! 

We have all seen just how effective computer software viruses can be when used as weaponry, now just imagine if the computer hardware itself could be infected on a microscopic level with mechanical viruses in the form of nanobots. The same could theoretically be done to the human body, instead of biological weapons of mass destruction based on human-engineered super-viruses, micro-mechanized based weaponized viruses may be the alarming norm of the not too distant future. It is bewildering to think that the world’s most lethal future wars may be fought on a microscopic battlefield.

Mirroring the organic creatures in our biosphere also offers a veil of stealth never really obtainable to such a believable or functional degree:

Eventually, [in certain circumstances] you will not need expensive and imperfect stealth technology to infiltrate an enemy’s territory, instead, you will send robotic birds, fish, and even insects to do so. A replica bird carrying miniaturized information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) equipment would be able to operate over enemy territory with near impunity. Further, bird or fish-like drone imposters would be even more effective and survivable than their traditional counterparts by being able to operate in flocks and schools just like their organic cousins without drawing any extra attention to themselves.

On the tiny side of things, mechanized dragonflies and mosquitoes will become the ultimate tools of clandestine warfare. Able to penetrate almost any structure, these tiny drones could be used to literally look and listen in on the enemy’s most sensitive conversations without being detected or requiring risky planting before such a meeting takes place. Further, these types of mechanical micro-insects will be able to track an enemy high-value target by simply attaching themselves to their vehicle or clothes. Even machinery and computer networks could eventually be infiltrated with tiny mechanical spiders, still far larger than the aforementioned nanobots, that could wreak havoc on hardware from inside the computers themselves.

Finally and the most sinister of all, mosquito, wasp, or even ant like drones could use their organic pseudo-pedigree in deadly ways, injecting the enemy with poison even while they are fast asleep. What at first would seem like a harmless series of bug bites would soon turn out to be a death sentence. 

With this insect-like drone technology, there will no longer be a need to blow up a building with a Hellfire missile in order to kill a single high-value target inside. Instead, war-fighters could just drop a swarm of mechanical mosquitoes over the building in question and proceed to deal death with microscopic accuracy and finesse.

These tiny drones represent the ultimate in low collateral damage stealth weaponry. Yet the technology also represents a massive threat to our forces as well. How do you adequately protect the common soldier, let alone people like the President or other highly important figureheads when just a drone-mosquito bite could mean certain death?

Once this technology gestates, what once were traditionally safe havens, such as inside known structures surrounded by security personnel, will no longer be considered so. The only true defense against such an insidious capability would be to live within totally sealed structures at all times. What I am trying to say here is that this type of micro-drone, insect-like technology, once developed, has the ability to change the way we live, and if it were to fall into the wrong hands it could become incredibly dangerous.

AP

Drones line a table at remote-controlled aircraft show in Moscow.

The truth hurts, but it  have hurt way more 

So what's the big takeaway here? The Pentagon and law enforcement need to treat emerging drone technology in a different manner than they do when it comes to more traditional and established threats. The democratization of unmanned aircraft technology is only going to increase and it could make our lives better is so many ways and it will also provide unique and critical capabilities to our military and to law enforcement. At the same time, it has an even better chance of disrupting security here at home and the safety of our dignitaries and service people abroad more than almost any other threat technology on the horizon, including 'sexier' high-end threats like hypersonic weapons and railguns

The powers that be have blown it when it comes to identifying and actually acting on this threat early on and I have little confidence they will invest anywhere near as much as they need to going forward to try to outpace it as it morphs rapidly and drastically in the future. Then again now, after they have they been warned for years about the potential dangers of low-end drone technologies and have now seen the threat manifest itself in audacious forms right before their very eyes, that may change. 

But we are really talking about yesterday's threat here and there are dark clouds on the horizon regarding just how these capabilities could rapidly evolve and the dangers they may pose, and those clouds aren't made up of rain and mist, but massive swarms of small drones that could change the course of human history. 

Will our government buy an umbrella and rubber boots in advance of the approaching torrent or will they once again turn their gaze elsewhere and be left to ride the storm out on short notice and get drenched in the technological mayhem as a result? 

We'll have to wait and see, but when it comes to small drones it seems like there is a dire lack of creativity of vision to see what is coming and not just react to what has already passed.

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com