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A better way to downsize the military
The USA is in the process of downsizing the military, forming a leaner, supposedly more versatile and more elite fighting force. I have a better method to achieve this goal.
Rather than discharging more veterans, what we need is a means of
accomplishing two goals at once: effective downsizing, and saving
the lives of impressionable youths.
We do this by recruiting our infantry from the ranks of security
forces, ie military police. It occurred to me today, while
debate on whether or not to ban college football, that the military
doesn't send out 18 year Olds because they're man enough to hold
a gun. They do it because they're young enough to think they're
invincible and to be more impressionable by recruiters.
By forcing all new recruits to serve their first 4 year term of service
in a non-combat role, we accomplish several things, all of them
First, it ensures all soldiers on the battlefield have 4 years to get
used to following orders and get better trained on using their
Second, it gives them a chance to mature a bit before being sent
into such a stressful situation. This results in fewer disciplinary
issues, which has been a real problem lately in the Middle East, and
weeds out by attrition the ones who only signed up to kill people,
the ones who SHOULD have been screened out during the Psych
Eval process but always somehow make it through.
Third, we get rid of the whole teenager argument that if they're old
enough to go into battle they should be considered old enough to
drink, because they no longer ARE considered old enough to go into
Fourth, we stop getting our kids killed, and we stop making kids kill.
I have a feeling that this will reduce cases of PTSD because we're
only sending out adults who are (hopefully) better able to cope with
the stresses of war. Because, let's face it: we're taking college
freshman age people here and arming them. They're kids. Let them
serve food in a chow hall or stand guard duty at stateside bases for
a bit to train and mature before sending them out to fight.
Ahem "They may direct these machines from .... a lounge chair"
</ahem> [not_morrison_rm, May 11 2012]
US troops withdrawal from Saudi
[not_morrison_rm, May 13 2012]
Formation and structuring of Al-Qaeda section
[not_morrison_rm, May 13 2012]
W Churchill - green mohican look
[not_morrison_rm, May 14 2012]
Osama's open letter to the U.S.
[doctorremulac3, May 14 2012]
Exporting scrap metal to Japan 1939 picket
[not_morrison_rm, May 15 2012]
[MechE, May 15 2012]
||// to train and mature before sending them out to fight. //
|| Which is all very well, but by that point they may not be overly keen on being sent ...
|| Laudable, but only if you can get the opposition to do the same.
||I'm less concerned by the lack of scruples in a government I'm
not paying taxes to. Most of our fighting these days is done by
drones, long range artillery, snipers, and airstrikes anyway. We
really don't need cannon fodder because we aren't fighting an
enemy who uses cannons, and we should just conscript locals
to serve as IED fodder.
||// Most of our fighting these days is done by drones, long
range artillery, snipers, and airstrikes anyway //
|| No, it isn't. The bulk of the fighting is being done by the
infantry, just like it always has been, just like it always
will be. Artillery, air forces, and specialists like snipers
may rack up a lot of kills, but they are supplementary to,
and in fact could not operate without, the basic infantry.
The infantry platoon is the core unit of modern tactical
doctrine for a reason.
|| // I have a feeling that this will reduce cases of PTSD
because we're only sending out adults who are (hopefully)
better able to cope with the stresses of war. //
|| Laudable but again misguided. NOBODY can fully cope with
war, no matter how old or mature. Those who serve in
combat and come away without physical wounds will still
be detrimentally effected by it in some way. War is the
ruin of men's minds.
|| Young men are sent to war because they are at the peak of
their physical condition and because mentally and
emotionally they are still in a formative phase, meaning
they are more easily trained and most likely to conform to
the military hierarchy. Letting them cool their heels
manning a desk or standing guard at a gate for a few years
will only breed boredom and resentment.
||Well, not quite. Most of the fighting is done by other means, but
the infantryman will always have a mission. That's why what we
need is better trained, fewer infantry who can still fulfill the
|| (Typed this at the same time alterother typed his anno. It was
meant as a response to bigsleep)
||not entirely sure I agree with it, but worth thinking about. [+]
|| Combat soldiers aren't going to give younger non-combatant MP's the time of day. All the other trades, weapons are secondary so there's not that much experience gained.
|| Likewise taking orders: a line cook listens to the chef because he/she is the chef, not because there's an extra stripe on the arm. And (humour aside) those orders rarely contain ingredients that may get you killed or seriously injured.
||Why do you think they call it "infantry"? It's from the
same root word as "infant", meaning youth; it refers
to those who are too young and inexperienced to
fight in a more tactically sophisticated regiment such
||Well the idea is that if you sign up for a combat role, you get
put on a waiting list. During your first term, you are assigned a
non-combat role. Because there's already lots of support staff,
you're only going to be working in that role part time, like a
reservist. The rest of the time, you get combat training. After 4
years of this, you become the Swiss Army Knife of the infantry,
being cross-trained in just about every infantry position
(rifleman, grenadier, artilleryman, vehicle operator, minelayer
etc). After you reenlist for a second term, you are assigned to a
combat unit, who will decide which skillset they need you to
||// Why do you think they call it "infantry"? It's from the
same root word as "infant", meaning youth; //
|| Actually, it comes from 'infant' as derived from the Latin
meaning 'not speaking'; a Roman Legionnaire's role was to
follow orders without question, which in those days meant
'the lower ranks keep their damn mouths shut lest the
officers impose decimation'.
|| , here are the three main flaws in your idea:
|| 1) A recruit 'signing up' for a combat role is not the norm;
requests for deployment preference may be made, but
ultimately a soldier goes where the Army needs him.
|| 2) The majority of soldiers only serve for one tour. With
your plan, most would leave the service at the end of their
hitch having received all that special training without ever
putting it to profitable use.
|| 3) Training is very, very expensive. Having a bunch of
excess rear-echelon troops doing 4-year 'training tours'
would bankrupt the military.
||Well no, the idea is not to downsize. That's already being done,
it's been announced several times in the media lately. The idea
is to downsize intelligently.
|| Alterother, there are many different term lengths available,
depending on the job you're signing on for and the amount of
sign on bonus you're looking for. I've seen term lengths as short
as 2 years and as long as 6. It's not inconceivable that an 8
year term requirement could be instated to ensure the military
gets its money's worth out of these guys. The military is also
looking for ways to save on pensions, so they could go to a 25
year retirement plan instead the current 20. This should help
offset the cost of the extended training.
||So not some kind of shrinking ray device as the title led me to believe.
|| On a more serious note, follow the Costa Rican/Egyptian model of basically no army, just an awful lot of police who get the military training.
||Works just fine for countries with no ambitious foreign
||//just about every infantry position (rifleman, grenadier, artilleryman, vehicle operator, minelayer etc)// umm the last three are very decidedly not infantry positions except at a zero-skill level, close-supervised by a real arty/svc/sapper/etc.
|| //police who get the military training// <shudder> while some cops could certainly use a bit of military indoctrination, military skillsets <> police skillsets; mixing up the two usually ends poorly.
||Making police responsible for military operations,
or vice versa, usually ends up with a lot of bodies
you didn't plan on having dead, at the outset.
Soldiers make terrible policemen.
//the whole teenager argument that if they're old
enough to go into battle they should be
considered old enough to drink, because they no
longer ARE considered old enough to go into
|| You Do realise that the US trails the world (apart
from Islamic countries) on alcohol access
legislation, don't you? Or is this another of your
||I'm not pro-prohibition, not regarding alcohol anyway, but
college kids just shouldn't be drinking.
||>just fine for countries with no ambitious foreign policy.
|| Those are the best kind of foreign policies, being cheap, and not prone to clocking up lots of casualties far away from home, fighting campaigns with no actual prospect of a "victory". For example, countries with a population not particularly pro-foreign soldiers, awash with arms, with very porous borders.
|| Oh and I'm not pro-pro-prohibition, I think?
||//college kids just shouldn't be drinking// Maybe everybody wouldn't be so excited about getting smashed at college if it wasn't such a taboo to be too young to drink until the hour you turn 21...
|| As for the idea, didn't you explain in the very first paragraph why this wouldn't work? The military NEEDS young, impressionable people to do what they are told sometimes. How else are they going to get someone to walk down a dusty road in Afghanistan, hoping an IED doesn't go off, because of something to do with convoluted politics? If you want more mature people to fight call the Air Force.
|| How about combined military and bar? That way they can fight and get some drinks in at the same. Proposes re-worked APC, back end beer pumps, front end G&T's in the (very small) officer's mess.
||In practice, that would be the air conditioned
interior of the APC for the officers (complete
with Mess steward) while the OR's got to
queue under a tarp awning at the back for
one tin each of well-shaken low strength
||and quite rightly so..I'm not quite sure about the one can each, maybe one between two?
|| The battlefield would make quite a sight...bam bam bam..I'm not usually like this bam bam bam bam you're my best pal, y'now...and strangely a traffic cone would appear from somewhere. <cuts to black chinook delivering armoured kebab van..>
||Hey, maybe the USA needs a coup d'état.
||heads back to the Rat Pack era, when style was a coupe and a hat.
|| We tried the coup d'etat, Cromwell, Glorious revolution, the French tried it, the Russians tried it (several times)..doesn't seem to go anywhere, but would fill several hours of network tv news. Maybe you could get Fox News sponsorship..
||//Just hyphothetically, were in future would the cannon-fodder come from ?//
||//After 4 years of this, you become the Swiss Army Knife of the infantry//
In other words, just about adequate to do some jobs, but not good enough to do any of them well.
Except maybe remove Boy Scouts from horse's hooves.
||(My apologies, I just started typing and 30 minutes
later, I had created this monstrosity.)
|| These 4,000+ year old methods of combat are
already obsolete even though we tinker with them
to this day. We hate to let go of the classics. The
"total annihilation of the enemy" doctrine was
rendered useless (at least to western concepts of
why you fight a war) by the advent of the
thermonuclear bomb and pretty much un-
stoppable triad delivery system. (Land and sub
based missiles and aircraft) Mutual assured
destruction took the logical benefit out of total
|| The "rows of manly men lining up and fighting
other rows of manly men" war doctrine has now
been supplanted by the: "side that can better
manage their remote controlled killing machines
wins" doctrine. It's in it's infancy, but it's the way
wars will be fought eventually. So if you ask your
kid "What do you expect to achieve by playing
video games all day?" and he says "Total world
domination." that might not be a total
impossibility, because that's what the soldiers of
the future will look like. Somebody looking at a
screen and answering the query "Should I kill this?"
by clicking the "Yes" button. They may direct
these machines from the field instead of a lounge
chair, but machines are much better at patrolling,
locating, tracking and killing than people and
they'll always need a warm body to give the kill
|| The future of warfare lies in robotics. The
outcome for good or ill of these new tools of
death lies in the hands of whoever controls them.
|| The good news is this: For the most part, (and
there are glaring exceptions to prove the rule) the
side that's smart enough to build the better killing
machine is the side that's smarter. The side that's
smarter generally sees the benefit in engaging in
peaceful commerce with other tribes instead of
wiping them out or enslaving them. I say
generally, probably by a 1.1 to 1 ratio, but that's
enough to keep civilization progressing instead of
lying in smoldering ruins all the time.
|| But it's a thin line between war and peace. It only
takes some asshole with a book or catchy
philosophy to convince big groups of people that
the only problem with the world is that other big
group of people and their pesky existence.
|| Again, apologies for the long post, but it's a
find fascinating. Bun for opening a discussion
that's certainly worth having.
||Argh.. I wish [MikeD] would drop by to help me out here.
|| Yes, robotic technology, as with _all_ developing
technology to a greater or lesser extent, is having and will
continue to have very useful battlefield applications. EOD
robots, UAVs, sentry guns, and structure clearance robots
are already making positive impacts. But a robot or drone
cannot effectively take and hold a position and carry out
versatile tactical movement. This will only be achievable
when robotics advance to a degree of, mobility, autonomy,
and abstract reasoning equivalent to that of a human
being, and when/if that day comes, I hope we think twice
about putting a weapon in the hands of such a machine.
Can a robot, or a soldier remotely controlling one, discern
the difference between a civilian and a technical in the
space of a heartbeat? Can a robot maintain situational
awareness in the chaos of a firefight?
|| Advanced technology is helping to reduce the risk to front-
line soldiers, and also helping reduce their numbers, but it
will never successfully replace them. I still maintain that
there will always be infantry at the core of land combat
doctrine. Remember the three Gs of warfare: a Guy on the
Ground with a Gun.
|| And those guys will always come home with broken minds.
||Well, I've met lots of combat veterans with
amazingly sharp minds and lots of civilians with
"broken" minds but that's another discussion.
Suffice to say that killing each other in war isn't
optimum state of the human condition and should
be avoided if possible.
|| To the man vs machine thing, the guy on the
ground with a gun will always be beaten by a
technician with a remote controlling a robot. He
may be in the field "on the ground" but operating
from safe cover, not marching majestically into
the fray with banners waving. That war plan is
obsolete. The main difference is that if the robot
doesn't care and there are a thousand just like it
rolling off the assembly line and into battle. They
not only don't come home with broken minds,
they don't care if they come home at all. On the
flip side, winning a battle against a robot is about
as glorious as squashing a bug under your boot.
Not something worth risking your life for in my
|| This isn't something new, the war between meat
and machine is already raging. Remote controlled
drones kill manly men in the field as we speak.
There's a human behind the kill switch as there
should be, but we're talking about efficiency here,
nothing more. That being said, these remote
control operators will always be armed if posted in
or near the battlefield. Command
posts get overrun, systems break down, people
will forget to recharge the robot's batteries, so
Rambo will be with us for the foreseeable future.
And in some circumstances, it will be easier to
just have people with guns walk in and ask "Who's
in charge now bitches?" but the long drawn out
wars between lines of people serving as cannon
fodder are obsolete. You may have people serving
as cannon fodder to robots, but that's it.
|| I would propose that there be a international
treaty against autonomous killing machines and
there may already be. I say that full well knowing
international treaties generally aren't worth the
disk space they occupy but humans should always
be the ones to decide if a human is to die.
|| We must keep the slaughter of our fellow human
beings civilized no?
||We have to be careful, robot and teleoperated device are really two different things. Yes, it will be a long while (hopefully) before robots have that ability to kill autonomously, but cheap combat capable teleoperated devices for ground combat will be here very soon.
|| Think about, which is going to cost more, a complete NBC environmental system for a tank, or the devices to allow the driver, gunner and commander to be 80 miles behind the front line.
||I'm not suggesting that the infantry walk in straight lines
wearing red coats and waving big flags. That's stupid, and
it hasn't been done on the battlefield for over a century
(not survivably, anyway). I'm saying that until we design
robots that move and think faster and are more clever than
human beings, all-robot/drone combat units will always be
inferior to integrated units. I'm not against humans and
robots working in concert--in fact, I'm all for it. But under
present-day conditions and for the distantly forseeable
future (if not forever), a platoon of riflemen with RPGs and
a mortar squad would demolish an all-drone force
equipped with equal firepower. Manageable casualties on
one side, smoking wreckage on the other.
|| Put those two units together, and you have a force-
multiplication factor that goes through the roof, and yes,
you will need fewer men to man the front lines. But you
still need them.
|| Ask an experienced combat veteran to sit down and play a
sophisticated combat sim game like Call of Duty 4. Watch
how frustrated they become over the lack of 'feel' for the
battlefield that they would have with boots on the ground
(I've seen this). That's a telling indicator of the difference
between fighting with drones and fighting with infantry.
|| PIcture this: One man remotely controlling 10
semi-autonomous killing machines which go in the
general direction the person wants them to. They
take pre-programmed evasive maneuvers while
engaging in pre-designed search and destroy
programs, that is, locating targets and relaying
target info to the operator. Finally, after getting
the kill order from that single operator, they
establish the most effective attack profile, either
as a single unit or in concert with the others (in a
split second) and attack. Keep in mind, these will
most likely be programmed to do one kill mission
autonomously: "Immediately shoot back at
anything shooting at you or your fellow semi-
drones." This means you shoot at
one flying 12" robo copter gunship you better
hope you hit the other nine that now know
exactly where you're located and what your
|| And the person running these doesn't have to be
sitting on a futon in Omaha, he might actually
be on the battlefield watching a monitor on his
arm or through his rifle scope. Point is, this one
man army of ten will win against any one man with
an RPG in any battle 100% of the time. I pick the
number ten, but you could have as many units as
necessary. 100? 1,000? How many do you need to
win the battle? The man can spend his time
overseeing the engagement while the machines
work out the best way to get into that building,
trench or cave to find the bad guys and shoot
them. There is no effective cover against fifty
crawling and/or flying robotic hunter killer semi-
one man controlling their overall mission and
attack orders from safe cover no matter where
|| Hey, in the war between machines and us I vote
for us but that's purely for sentimental reasons.
Facts are facts. One man with a semi autonomous
army and air force is going to win against any one
man armed with anything less than his own mini
army and air force in every battle.
|| As an aside, my preferred design for these things
flies and crawls as necessary
but that's a different discussion.
||One man with one weapon against one man with ten
robots? Yeah, man with robots wins. But I didn't say "one
man with an RPG," I said a fully-equipped platoon against
an equivalent force of robots. Also, your one man // on
the battlefield watching a monitor on his arm or through
his rifle scope // while controlling ten robots does not
constitute an all-robot/drone unit, it constitutes an
integrated unit, which, as I believe I mentioned, could be
very effective indeed.
|| Furthermore, you're going to run into problems with //
pre-programmed evasive maneuvers // and // pre-
designed search and destroy programs //, and here's why:
humans are not preprogrammed. They learn, adapt, think
on the fly, make up new tactics on the spot. A human
being can come up with things that no computer can
devise, and can do it in an instant, without thinking about
it at all. You know the common explanation "it seemed like
the right thing to do at the time"? More battles have been
won by that logic than by pre-existing designs.
|| "A battleplan is what you have until the first shot is fired."
||Well, maybe I didn't make it clear, a human has to
be in charge of the overall battle and kill order at
all times, but sending him into a house looking for
infrared profiles that might shoot back is a waste
of a soldier's time and ultimately his life.
|| That which would be pre-programmed is the tasks
of getting from point a to point b and moving to
point c if something shoots at you, establishing a
firing solution and hitting the target, something
that a machine can do much better than a man,
no matter how clever that man is.
|| And my point about the numbers is just that. It is
a numbers game. It's much cheaper to equip a
man with ten outrigger robots than with an RPG
when the robot sidekick equipped guy wins every
battle. So a platoon of guys with the robots wins
against the platoon of the guys equipped with
nothing but old fashioned kinetic kill weapons
||What happens when the human being targeted by the drones
goes starts searching for their operator, finds him, and takes
him out with a sniper rifle? Or simply turns on a broad spectrum
signal jammer and shuts them down? Or worse, hacks their OS
and takes control of the drones, turning them on their
operators? The Syrians claim to have captured one of our
Predator drones by 'remotely taking control', ie hacking. Therein
lies the biggest risk with computerizing the battlefield. Any
computer broadcasting or receiving a wireless signal can, and
eventually will, be hacked. Another factor is vision. A remote
operator staring at a small screen doesn't have peripheral vision.
That's one of my biggest gripes in video games like C.O.D.
|| "Good against remotes is one thing. Good against the living...?
That's something else."
||Thank you, , for so intelligently illustrating my point. A
solo human being just turned the worm against your
robot army without even getting up from his chair.
|| The future of the infantry is humans and robots side-by-
side on the front lines, not robots alone. Wait twenty,
thirty, forty years, then come back and tell me I'm wrong.
||That would certainly be part of the defender's
battle plan and the attacker would have to be on
top of that. The telecommunication disruption,
not the sniper. We've already established that the
operator is under cover.
|| That being said, who do you want on your side?
The guys with the semi autonomous killbots or
the guys with the possible defense against them?
The battle field would certainly extend into the
digital realm where it could be won or lost, but I'm
making the assumption that the side that created
an army of semi autonomous robot soldiers is a
little slicker in the high tech arena than the side
that doesn't have them. Case in point: The Taliban
is welcome to take over any of our drones and
turn them against our troops any time they like as
soon as they can figure out how to do it. I'm not
losing any sleep over that possibility.
|| //The future of the infantry is humans and robots
side-by- side on the front lines, not robots
|| I never said anything about robots alone. My point
is exactly what you just said so not sure where the
argument is. So to clear up any confusion: "Wars
of the future will be fought by semi-autonomous
killing machines acting as force multipliers for the
people operating them." My first statement was:
"the side that can better manage their remote
controlled killing machines wins". That includes
defending them against hacking, interference etc.
|| This isn't really debatable.
||The future soldier is going to need longer, more diverse training
to survive on the battlefield. Hence, the idea.
||Maybe you should. They have already shown some competence at taking down digital logistics in the combat arena. Maiming GI's with crude pipe bombs planted by children is simply a more effective focus for their efforts. Also, lets not get cocky, they are going to win this war.
||Pipe bombs against robots are a waste of a
perfectly good pipe.
|| And which war are "they" going to win. Iraq? Last I
checked Al Qaeda isn't doing so hot over there.
Their expressed victory plan was to take over Iraq
and use it as a base for the new caliphate. How
that working out for them?
|| Afghanistan needs to be kept from being another
base for a 9-11 style attack and this can only be
done with the fighting method I've proposed and
to a great extent we're already engaged in, not
by "boots on the ground" which can be taken out
by remotely detonated pipe bombs as noted. I
knew there was a point to this somewhere, and
that's exactly it. We need a winnable approach to
wars of attrition and this is it. I suggest we retire
the "winning the hearts and minds" approach say
to the bad guys "You wanna play war, that's fine,
but we're only loosing machinery, you're loosing
|| And the Taliban is too stupid to make robots so
even go there.
||Part of the reason we've had such a hard go of it until
recently is that we were going in with well-equipped,
high-tech, full-spectrum armed forces that were designed
to fight other well-equipped, high-tech, full- spectrum
armed forces in open warfare, but instead found
themselves pitted against a bunch of civilian-clothed
fanatics armed with antiquated weapons and no tactical
doctrine to speak of. Suddenly we had to learn how apply
all of our wonderful technology to combat the rock-
throwers without just flattening the cities and villages they
were hiding in.
|| In WWII, Russian soldiers routinely defeated Tiger Tanks
using nothing more that steel bars and vodka bottles filled
with gasoline. In Vietnam, the VC made life a living hell for
heavily-armed Air Cav troopers supported by air and
artillery, and they did it mostly with shovels, punji stakes,
and scratch-built booby traps. In the Gulf War, the most
effective weapon against Saddam's SCUDs was not the
Patriot Missile, it was the Barrett sniper rifle. Overreliance
on technology is a recipe for disaster.
||Which side of the battle do you think the seasoned hacking
groups like anonymous are gonna be on? Don't discount their
capabilities so casually. Also, regarding your statement
regarding the drone operator working under cover... who says
the enemy can't come and get you under cover?
||Especially when you're distracted by keeping track of all
|| // the Taliban is too stupid to make robots //
|| But I'll bet you a tenner they're not too stupid to figure out
how to fight robots. Don't mistake a lack of advanced
technology for stupidity.
||Anonymous is going to be on the side of the
Taliban? I seriously doubt that.
|| All the examples given make my point. A cheap
weapon can be used to kill a person thus
thwarting his battle plan. So take the people out
of harm's way. Let robotic
extensions of the soldier do the fighting and
//who says the enemy can't come and get you
|| That swarm of about 1,000 flying/crawling killbots
surrounding his position and actively hunting and
killing anything that moves towards it 24/7, day
and night, in any weather, without need for sleep
||Since when are combat robots cheap?! Last I heard, the
pricetag for an EOD 'bot was still close to seven figures.
||You can save money by not having these I
You'll never win a battle, but you'll save money.
|| I also propose that robots are worth much less
no matter how much cash is needed to make
|| //(the Taliban) not too stupid to figure out how
to fight robots.//
|| We've already established the most effective way
to fight these. Hack into their command and
control mechanisms. And yes, they are too stupid
to figure out how to do that. But this isn't theory
we're talking about here. The Taliban is already
engaged with our drone fleet. They've had surface
to air missiles from time to time. I think they may
have even taken out one or two of them although
I'm not aware of any instances.
|| So let's judge honestly: Predator drone vs Taliban.
I'm holding up my 10 card for the Predator drone
and a 1.5 for the Taliban, and that's being
generous. Correct me if I'm wrong
here. Some other time though. I'm going to the
||//"seasoned" hacking groups like anonymous//
||// swarm of about 1,000 flying/crawling killbots ...
actively hunting and killing anything that moves //
|| Then I suppose we're distributing IFF transponders to the
local civilian populace? In case you haven't noticed, wars
are no longer fought in big empty fields. Over the last
century the average ratio of civilians to combatants killed
battlefield has risen to 3:1 (that statistic, compiled
by the DoD, includes figures for battlefields with no civilian
||Consider yourself corrected. Regarding cost.... you say a human
life is more valuable than a drone. The military's bean counters
would beg to differ.
||The cost to the US military to equip and train a single soldier is somewhat hard to track down, but it ranges somewhere between 50-150k.
|| Of course if you figure in the cost to the parents to raise a child, it goes up hugely, but still.
|| And yes, EOD bots are expensive, partly because they are very specialized and partly because they are purchased in limited quantities.
|| Under the hypothetical cheap end of a teleoperated drone (camera, wireless link, remote control dunebuggy and a grenade) they're going to cost $2-300 in quantity. Admittedly a real unit to mil-spec, with a secure command link and reuseable (rifle instead of grenade) will cost significantly more, but you can still probably produce one in the tens of thousands range.
|| So, roughly, you can buy between two and ten for every soldiers training, and replace 1-2 of them every year for the cost of the salary.
|| Obviously the specialist operating them will be higher paid and trained, but so is the seargant operating a squad.
|| And I repeat, the crew of an Abrams is already almost completely isolated from their surroundings. There is little practical difference (except for the risk to control links) between the crew being on the battlefield and in a simulator well away from it, except that they can get a better field of view in the simulator, and their training survives the tank being destroyed.
||Iraq is looking like a riper seat for a Caliphate today than it was a decade ago, who says that they can't win the hearts and minds? Also, Afghanistan? We have no real plan for keeping them out of power, we're just hoping we can taper for long enough that it isn't painfully obvious.
||Doing your shelling from a tank is so 1992 anyway.
||The crew of an Abrams is not isolated at all; they are in
constant communication with infantry on the ground and
spotters in the air. Tanks cannot and do not operate
without mobile infantry support--that was one of the first
lessons learned when they were deployed in WWI, and the
doctrine has been under constant refinement ever since.
Today, tank commanders are some of the best-informed
soldiers on the field.
|| A tank without its mobile infantry is either a dead tank or
a tank in full retreat.
||//There is little practical difference...// except now the enemy has two avenues to take the tank out: the tank itself and the bunker where the operators are, three if you include the control-linkage.