Cash-strapped and somewhat adrift in terms of missions, the US Army is in the midst of an existential crisis. Once ballooning in budget and size, the US 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 US Army's Training and Doctrine Command, spoke about the future of the service at the US Army Aviation Symposium last week. Faced with sequestration cuts, the US Army is thinking about cutting the size of a brigade from 4000 to 3000 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 3000 people is probably enough probably to get by?" Gen Cone asked the audience last week. Well, 3000 plus robots. "When you see the success, frankly, that the US 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 US 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 US 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 US Army has the terrible task of convincing the public that it's ok to kill people with robots. Of course, we've been doing that for years though, haven't we? [Defence News]