Might Blockchain Assist NATO’s Provide Chain?

NATO’s provide chain vulnerabilities should be mitigated. One answer stands out – blockchain.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine uncovered NATO’s provide chain vulnerabilities. The alliance struggled to rearm Ukraine, to line up coaching and gear deliveries, to mitigate duplicate and lacking deliveries, observe data from suppliers, and to discourage Russian hacking.

The lesson is obvious: NATO wants to extend provide chain traceability and safety. A brand new Georgia Tech examine examined the accessible choices and located that blockchain gives the perfect treatment.

Blockchain chains collectively knowledge blocks through mathematical codes. Knowledge is accessible to all members at any time and if anybody member needs to alter the information, all should agree. It’s way more troublesome to hack than a centralized ledger the place one level of entry permits a consumer to alter the whole system. Blockchain’s hottest utility, Bitcoin, has by no means been hacked regardless of its fame and worth, and blockchain functions vary from digital foreign money to monetary transactions, provide chains, and even healthcare and insurance coverage.

Many NATO members have already invested in blockchain exploration. The US Air Power awarded blockchain-based startup SIMBA Chain $30 million in 2017 to work on integrating blockchain into army provide chains for the end-to-end verification of army elements. The European Union launched a mission in 2021 to develop a clear approach of monitoring the sustainability of crucial mineral provide chains.

NATO’s adversaries have additionally demonstrated curiosity within the know-how. China launched a Blockchain Software Subcommittee as part of its 2021 five-year plan.

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Ukraine is an efficient place to judge totally different applied sciences. We started by evaluating plenty of attainable technological options for the alliance’s provide chain issues. These included digital databases to trace data, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, QR codes, and blockchain.

Digital databases have been proven to be a very good first step in transitioning from paper, however not ample. Whereas RFID/QR codes are frequent and broadly accepted, they’re insecure and simply counterfeited.

Blockchain was essentially the most safe and clear answer, however requires a excessive degree of technological proficiency. It additionally carries the stigma of being an overhyped know-how due to its use in cryptocurrency. Our staff discovered failed adoptions of blockchain know-how within the transport trade, although they have been attributed to the businesses involved slightly than the know-how.

Adopting blockchain into NATO’s weapons provide chain wouldn’t resolve all of its issues and would take a very long time. Earlier than adoption, the alliance would want to make sure it has a very good digital basis for its weapons provide chain and entry to all its lower-tier provider data.

Members would should be on board with the usage of such a controversial know-how, which might imply schooling workshops for stakeholders and workforce coaching.

The following step could be to discover a trusted personal sector accomplice. Our analysis advised Hyperledger could be the perfect place to begin since it’s the most superior, customizable, and already utilized by governments together with the US.

If it does undertake blockchain, NATO would be capable to guarantee a just about impenetrable and clear provide chain. In a world of accelerating nice energy competitors and the potential for quantum computer systems to decrypt conventional safety measures, blockchain could be nicely well worth the funding.

Emili Sabanovic is presently an Worldwide Affairs, Science and Know-how PhD Scholar at Georgia Tech and serves as an Affiliate Researcher on the RAND Company.

This text was primarily based on the analysis and evaluation carried out by a DTI Course 2022-2023 staff made up of Anais Acree, Ainsley Brown, Dennis Murphy, and Emili Sabanovic.

Analysis was overseen by Nicholas Nelson, the DTI Course convener, and a Lecturer and Analysis Fellow at Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn Faculty of Worldwide Affairs, and Senior Fellow for Rising Tech & Coverage at CEPA.

Bandwidth is CEPA’s on-line journal devoted to advancing transatlantic cooperation on tech coverage. All opinions are these of the creator and don’t essentially signify the place or views of the establishments they signify or the Middle for European Coverage Evaluation.

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