Monday, January 26, 2009

Robots at war:
Only a handful of drones were used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, with just one supporting all of V Corps, the primary U.S. Army combat force. Today there are more than 5,300 drones in the U.S. military’s total inventory, and not a mission happens without them. One Air Force lieutenant general forecasts that “given the growth trends, it is not unreasonable to postulate future conflicts involving tens of thousands.”

...

The Army believes that by 2015 it will be in a position to reorganize many of its units into new FCS brigades. The brigades will present a revolutionary new model of how military units are staffed and organized. Each is expected to have more unmanned vehicles than manned ones (a ratio of 330 to 300) and will come with its own automated air force, with more than 100 drones controlled by the brigade’s soldiers. The aircraft will range in size from a small unit that will fit in soldiers’ backpacks to a 23-foot-long robotic ­heli­cop­ter.

Fewer American infantrymen will die in combat, (unless, as the author P. W. Singer fears might happen, technological superiority leads to an overconfident, trigger-happy political class).

The article is interesting throughout. An interesting potential social change that the author doesn't mention is that the career of warrior might become more popular among the elite. Why? Because more and more jobs will be office jobs.

In the words of one Predator pilot, “You see Americans killed in front of your eyes and then have to go to a PTA meeting.” Says another, “You are going to war for 12 hours, shooting weapons at targets, directing kills on enemy combatants, and then you get in the car, drive home, and within 20 minutes you are sitting at the dinner table talking to your kids about their homework.”

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