This is my current proposed subject for my Future of Infrastructure research paper.
A few links that I found particularly interesting:
Recent Washington Post Article
Paper from the Naval Warfare College.
Info from Defense Update.
My initial thoughts — Erosion / Evolution of US Military Man-in-the-Middle Doctrine and the changing face of warfare
There is an excellent argument that technology drives the way wars are fought. Many have argued that machine guns and powerful mobile artillery ended the primacy of the infantry / cavalry charge and lead to the trench warfare of World War I. Similarly, effective mobile armor and air power ended trench warfare and lead to the “blitzkrieg” model of warfare. Nuclear weapons are arguably the reason that there has not been a “total war” (Ludendorff) since World War II and lead directly to “low intensity” “guerilla” and “insurgency” warfare. Although the US attempted to counter this threat through a number of approaches including targeted killings (the Phoenix Program), aggressive propaganda (the “hearts and minds” program) and electronic intelligence (the “electronic battlefield”), success was limited and a paradigm shift did not occur as demonstrated by the Allied success in the first Gulf War (using traditional blitzkrieg warfare techniques) and the problems in the second Gulf War (given the huge number of casualties caused by IED’s and other insurgency / low intensity tactics).
A new warfare paradigm, however, may be emerging. Remotely operated vehicles and weapons actually were relatively well known as far back as World War II (the Germans had a large arsenal of such weapons and even the Allies had remotely piloted planes used as flying bombs). However, all such weapons have always had a human operator, or a “man-in-the-middle”. With the exception of land-mines and sea-mines, essentially all weapons (at least in the US) have required human intervention in order to kill. This doctrine most likely [research needed] arose as result of the nuclear cold war and severe concerns about a nuclear power “launching on warning” – essentially turning some degree of decision making over to machines.
However, over the last  years, truly autonomous weapons have begun to emerge. These are weapons that are permitted to “kill” without intervening human action. Unlike land and sea mines, which are typically mechanically triggered and are generally considered “defensive” weapons (that is, they are typically used to defend a position rather than being used to attack a position, although this is subject to debate). Autonomous weapons, including those that identify and discriminate between tanks and other vehicles, weapons that rely on facial and iris recognition are starting to emerge into the battlefield. I would like to analyze this, identify the trend, try to determine whether “man-in-the-middle” doctrine is changing and consider whether this is a fundamental shift in warfare akin to machine guns, blitzkrieg and nuclear weapons.