Cash-strapped and somewhat adrift in terms of missions, the U.S. Army is in the midst of an existential crisis. Once ballooning in budget and size, the Army now says it wants to be "a smaller, more lethal, deployable, and agile force." And it's going to need robots to do it right.
General Robert Cone, head of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, spoke about the future of the service at the Army Aviation Symposium last week. Faced with sequestration cuts, the Army is thinking about cutting the size of a brigade from 4,000 to 3,000 soldiers. It would fill the gap with robots and other unmanned systems. In fact, it's been testing out possible combat drones for years now.
"Don't you think 3,000 people is probably enough probably to get by?" Gen. Cone asked the audience last week. Well, 3,000 plus robots. "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?"
Both good questions! This shrinking of the Army is not a hypothetical or a new idea, either. We've known this was going to happen for some time now. Reports indicate that the Army will shrink from its current size of 540,000 soldiers to just 420,000 in the next five years.
But replacing all those soldiers with drones won't be an easy task. After its finally developed the right technology—and you know DARPA's working hard on it—then the Army has the terrible task of convincing the public that it's okay to kill people with robots. Of course, we've been doing that for years, though, haven't we? [Defense News]
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