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US Army Studying Replacing Soldiers With Robots

Triton

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"Second 4-Star General Talks About Replacing Soldiers With Robots"

Source:
http://blogs.defensenews.com/intercepts/2014/01/second-4-star-general-talks-about-replacing-soldiers-with-robots/

Seems that the Army’s idea to cut about 1,000 soldiers out of each Brigade Combat Team and replace them with unmanned systems and robots has now been floated by two different 4-star Generals in the Army.

Last week, TRADOC Gen. Robert Cone revealed that the Army is mulling the feasibility of shrinking the size of the brigade combat team from about 4,000 soldiers to 3,000 in the coming years, and replacing the lost soldiers with robots and unmanned platforms.

“I’ve got clear guidance to think about what if you could robotically perform some of the tasks in terms of maneuverability, in terms of the future of the force,” he said, adding that he also has “clear guidance to rethink” the size of the nine-man infantry squad.

In an interview published in the Army Times on Jan.20, the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff Gen John Campbell said essentially the same thing, telling the Times that “our brigades will go to about a 4,500-man brigade, and what we’re looking to in the future is having the same capability or even stronger, but with only 3,000.”

It’s pretty clear that this is very much a work in progress, or in Pentagonese, “predecisional” since neither Cone nor Campbell was able to really articulate what this might mean.

“If we downsize a brigade, how can we keep the same types of brigades out there but be smaller?” the vice chief asked. “With technology, how can we do that? Robotics, how can that help us? Do we need a nine-person vehicle, or can we go to six-person? Do we use avatars?”

Great questions, general.
 

Triton

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"US Army Studying Replacing Thousands of Grunts with Robots"
Jan. 20, 2014 - 03:45AM |
by PAUL McLEARY

Source:
http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140120/DEFREG02/301200035/US-Army-Studying-Replacing-Thousands-Grunts-Robots

WASHINGTON — The postwar, sequestration-era US Army is working on becoming “a smaller, more lethal, deployable and agile force,” according to Gen. Robert Cone, head of the service’s Training and Doctrine Command.

But just how much smaller might come as a surprise.

During remarks at the Army Aviation Symposium in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 15, Cone quietly dropped a bomb. The Army, he said, is considering the feasibility of shrinking the size of the brigade combat team from about 4,000 soldiers to 3,000 over the coming years, and replacing the lost soldiers with robots and unmanned platforms.

“I’ve got clear guidance to think about what if you could robotically perform some of the tasks in terms of maneuverability, in terms of the future of the force,” he said, adding that he also has “clear guidance to rethink” the size of the nine-man infantry squad.

He mentioned using unmanned ground vehicles that would follow manned platforms, which would require less armor and protection, thereby reducing the weight of a brigade combat team.

Over the past 12 years of war, “in favor of force protection we’ve sacrificed a lot of things,” he said. “I think we’ve also lost a lot in lethality.” And the Army wants that maneuverability, deployability and firepower back.

The Army is already on a path to shrink from 540,000 soldiers to about 490,000 by the end of 2015, and will likely slide further to 420,000 by 2019, according to reports.

Cone said his staff is putting together an advisory panel to look at those issues, including fielding a smaller brigade.

“Don’t you think 3,000 people is probably enough probably to get by” with increased technological capabilities, he asked.

It’s hard to see such a radical change to the makeup of the brigage combat team as anything else than a budget move, borne out of the necessity of cutting the personnel costs that eat up almost half of the service’s total budget.

Cone used the Navy as an example of what the Army is trying to do.

“When you see the success, frankly, that the Navy has had in terms of lowering the numbers of people on ships, are there functions in the brigade that we could automate — robots or manned/unmanned teaming — and lower the number of people that are involved given the fact that people are our major cost,” he said.

Some of Cone’s blue-sky thinking was echoed by Lt. Gen. Keith Walker in a Jan. 6 interview with Defense News.

In what Walker called the “deep future” — about the 2030 to 2040 time frame — he said that “we’ll need to fundamentally change the nature of the force, and that would require a breakthrough in science and technology.”

While Walker, the commander of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, which oversees much of the Army’s modernization and doctrinal changes, didn’t talk about replacing soldiers with robots, he did say the Army wants to revamp its “tooth-to-tail” ratio, or the number of soldiers performing support functions versus those who actually pull triggers.

“Right now our force is roughly two-third tooth and one-third tail, so as we decrease the size of the Army you may end up reducing one-third tooth and two-third tail, but what if you could slide that fulcrum? Maybe it’s one-half to one-half. The point is you get to keep more tooth, more folks that actually conduct operations on the ground and less supporting structure.”

The Army is already heading down that path in the structure of its brigade combat teams, announcing last year that it was adding a third maneuver battalion to each brigade, along with engineering and fires capabilities. It is adding more punch to its brigade combat teams while reducing the number of teams it fields from 45 to 33 by the end of fiscal 2017, while transferring some of those soldiers to the existing brigades.
 

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I've seen that movie...

surrogates3_large.gif
 

Triton

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It's amazing to think that robots and drones will be cheaper to acquire and operate in the future than it is to recruit human beings.
 

JFC Fuller

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Triton said:
It's amazing to think that robots and drones will be cheaper to acquire and operate in the future than it is to recruit human beings.

It's not just the recruiting- equipping and then sustaining a modern soldier is now crippling- when weapons, armour, NVGs, navigation etc are added in kitting out a single soldier soon heads towards $100,000 plus. Then you have to train, feed, water, air condition, transport etc. When he finally retires you also owe him substantial benefits. In many ways the initial pay is fairly paltry.
 

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JFC Fuller said:
Triton said:
It's amazing to think that robots and drones will be cheaper to acquire and operate in the future than it is to recruit human beings.

It's not just the recruiting- equipping and then sustaining a modern soldier is now crippling- when weapons, armour, NVGs, navigation etc are added in kitting out a single soldier soon heads towards $100,000 plus. Then you have to train, feed, water, air condition, transport etc. When he finally retires you also owe him substantial benefits. In many ways the initial pay is fairly paltry.

Exactly right and during 'peacetime' you can store them and they don't need their pay or food or eventually their pensions.
 

Triton

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bobbymike said:
JFC Fuller said:
It's not just the recruiting- equipping and then sustaining a modern soldier is now crippling- when weapons, armour, NVGs, navigation etc are added in kitting out a single soldier soon heads towards $100,000 plus. Then you have to train, feed, water, air condition, transport etc. When he finally retires you also owe him substantial benefits. In many ways the initial pay is fairly paltry.

Exactly right and during 'peacetime' you can store them and they don't need their pay or food or eventually their pensions.

Sure, I wasn't disagreeing with General Robert Cone's statement that "people are our greatest cost." We live in a time where it is cheaper to acquire and operate technology than it is to have human beings do the job. This wasn't the case in previous generations.
 

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Triton said:
It's amazing to think that robots and drones will be cheaper to acquire and operate in the future than it is to recruit human beings.

And not just for soldiering.

Imagine that a good All-Purpose RoboSlave could be purchased for $1,000,000. Further assume a practical lifespan of 10 years. That's $100K/year. However... instead of only working a portion of 8 hours a day (no breaks, no chitchat, etc.0, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year (2000 hours), the RoboSlave could work 8760 hours a year. This means that for $100k a year you get the equivalent of 4.38+ human employees. If you are paying those employees more than $22,831 a year, it'd be cheaper to replace them with bots.

Soldiering throws in the complication that a ten year lifespan is probably wildly optimistic. However, training would be a matter of uploading the appropriate files. And "dead" ones can be scavenged for parts. Plus no PTSD, no paying for college after, no pensions.
 

beachhead1973

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I perceive serious ethical issues with this.

Remember what Lee said?

"it is good that war is so terrible; we should grow too fond of it."

More is in play here than saving money; they want to take the blood out of warfare, if they do, it will become a game. We should stay away from armed robots/drones. It's almost the only weapon system besides WDMs i think we need treaties against.
 

Orionblamblam

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beachhead1973 said:
More is in play here than saving money; they want to take the blood out of warfare, if they do, it will become a game. We should stay away from armed robots/drones.

Oh, I dunno. Imagine if warfare became a matter of robots beating the tar out of each other, sort of a growed-up Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. Massive expense... little death. Wouldn't that be preferable to massive armies, carpet bombings, cities going up in nuclear fire?

Alternatively: imagine that Your Side takes the "moral high ground" and abandons robotic weapons systems. And The Other Side sends a million killbots into your cities. And *these* killbots do *NOT* have preset kill limits. How morally superior will you feel when your home is ground under the steel boot of the enemy killbots, and your all-human military has been slaughtered to a man and their heads stuck on mechanical pikes?
 

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http://breakingdefense.com/2014/01/bird-dogs-drones-terminators-swarms-the-race-towards-robotic-warfare/?utm_source=Breaking+Defense&utm_campaign=58559daec6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4368933672-58559daec6-407814345
 

Triton

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"20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age"
January 22, 2014
Robert O. Work, Shawn Brimley

Source:
http://www.cnas.org/20YY-Preparing-War-in-Robotic-Age#.UuGLf7SIbDe

Written by CNAS Chief Executive Officer Robert O. Work and CNAS Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Shawn Brimley, 20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age calls upon the United States to prepare for war in new era in which “unmanned and autonomous systems will play central war-fighting roles for the United States, its allies and partners, and its adversaries.”

The authors warn of a not-too-distant future where “guided munitions and battle networking technologies have proliferated widely and are employed by both state and non-state actors,” making all military operations more deadly and costly. At the same time, and notwithstanding changes in the strategic environment, the spiraling costs of personnel and crewed combat systems means the U.S. armed forces will likely be smaller in the future than in the immediate past. In response to both of these trends, the authors argue that U.S. planners will increasingly turn to unmanned and robotic systems for answers, and these systems will be increasingly capable and autonomous in action.

http://www.cnas.org/sites/default/files/publications-pdf/CNAS_20YY_WorkBrimley.pdf
 

Rickshaw

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Orionblamblam said:
beachhead1973 said:
More is in play here than saving money; they want to take the blood out of warfare, if they do, it will become a game. We should stay away from armed robots/drones.

Oh, I dunno. Imagine if warfare became a matter of robots beating the tar out of each other, sort of a growed-up Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. Massive expense... little death. Wouldn't that be preferable to massive armies, carpet bombings, cities going up in nuclear fire?

Alternatively: imagine that Your Side takes the "moral high ground" and abandons robotic weapons systems. And The Other Side sends a million killbots into your cities. And *these* killbots do *NOT* have preset kill limits. How morally superior will you feel when your home is ground under the steel boot of the enemy killbots, and your all-human military has been slaughtered to a man and their heads stuck on mechanical pikes?

I don't think the good side would have much to worry about. Afterall, if we follow the Hollywood meme, all we'd have to do is have an intrepid group of Nerds who'd introduce a computer virus to the Robot's operating systems (which of course would be created by Microsoft) which would cause them all to simultanously Blue Screen. :D :D

BTW, how do you create a "mechanical pike"? A Pike is after all just a spear. ::)
 

Arjen

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It's a fish. Genetically engineered, its intelligence might be adjusted to an appropriate level for officers.
 

Rickshaw

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Arjen said:
It's a fish. Genetically engineered, its intelligence might be adjusted to an appropriate level for officers.

Why lower the fish's intelligence?
 

Arjen

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Ah.
Uhm.
Well.

If you have to ask, there's no point in answering the question ;D
 

sublight is back

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Kadija_Man said:
I don't think the good side would have much to worry about. Afterall, if we follow the Hollywood meme, all we'd have to do is have an intrepid group of Nerds who'd introduce a computer virus to the Robot's operating systems (which of course would be created by Microsoft) which would cause them all to simultanously Blue Screen. :D :D

This would be funny if it weren't dangerously close to the truth. More than 80% of the ATM machines out there run WindowsXP. The full-of-security-holes-OS that Microsoft is just days away from not making security fixes for any more...

"real" Terminator will have chips and software made with very little oversight. Unless the contractor is willing to let "real" Terminator fight against hackers for a giant cash prize, they'll never get a accurate idea of what kind of cyber vulnerabilities it has.
 

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http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/engineering/robots/indestructible-starfish-robots-could-save-your-life-one-day-17190305?click=pm_latest
 

bobbymike

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http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/video-liquid-metal-flows-programmable-shapes-t-1000-style?src=SOC&dom=fb
 

bobbymike

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http://defense-update.com/20150121_robot_atlas_unplugged.html#.VMZoHsJ0ysc

I get interested when they strap a Dillon Aero mini-gun on him.
 

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