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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.
  [vote for,

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 listening to a 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 good.

First, it ensures all soldiers on the battlefield have 4 years to get used to following orders and get better trained on using their equipment.

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 battle.

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.

21 Quest, May 10 2012

Ahem "They may direct these machines from .... a lounge chair" http://www.halfbake...9_20chair_20General
</ahem> [not_morrison_rm, May 11 2012]

US troops withdrawal from Saudi http://en.wikipedia...l_from_Saudi_Arabia
[not_morrison_rm, May 13 2012]

Formation and structuring of Al-Qaeda section http://en.wikipedia...iki/Osama_bin_Laden
[not_morrison_rm, May 13 2012]

W Churchill - green mohican look http://madecarefull...turf-war-mohican-2/
[not_morrison_rm, May 14 2012]

Osama's open letter to the U.S. http://www.guardian.../nov/24/theobserver
[doctorremulac3, May 14 2012]

Exporting scrap metal to Japan 1939 picket http://www.ohs.org/...DA-884B4ABC852E60ED
[not_morrison_rm, May 15 2012]

Drone Ships http://en.wikipedia...iki/Fleet_class_USV
[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.
8th of 7, May 10 2012

       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.
21 Quest, May 10 2012

       // 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.
Alterother, May 10 2012

       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 mission.

       (Typed this at the same time alterother typed his anno. It was meant as a response to bigsleep)
21 Quest, May 10 2012

       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.
FlyingToaster, May 10 2012

       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 as cavalry.
ytk, May 10 2012

       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 use.
21 Quest, May 10 2012

       // 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'.

       [21], 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.
Alterother, May 10 2012

       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.
21 Quest, May 10 2012

       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.
not_morrison_rm, May 10 2012

       Works just fine for countries with no ambitious foreign policy.
Alterother, May 10 2012

       //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.
FlyingToaster, May 10 2012

       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 battle//

       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 pro-prohibition campaigns?
UnaBubba, May 10 2012

       I'm not pro-prohibition, not regarding alcohol anyway, but college kids just shouldn't be drinking.
21 Quest, May 10 2012

       >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?
not_morrison_rm, May 10 2012

       I'm anti-pro-prohibition.
UnaBubba, May 10 2012

       //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.
DIYMatt, May 10 2012

       >I'm anti-pro-prohibition

       So we agree..I think?

       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.
not_morrison_rm, May 11 2012

       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 cheap lager.
8th of 7, May 11 2012

       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..>
not_morrison_rm, May 11 2012

       Hey, maybe the USA needs a coup d'état.
Loris, May 11 2012

       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..
not_morrison_rm, May 11 2012

       //Just hyphothetically, were in future would the cannon-fodder come from ?//

MechE, May 11 2012

       //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.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 11 2012

       (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 warfare.

       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 order. Hopefully.

       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 subject I find fascinating. Bun for opening a discussion that's certainly worth having.
doctorremulac3, May 11 2012

       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.
Alterother, May 11 2012

       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 the 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 looses, it 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 book.

       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?
doctorremulac3, May 11 2012

       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.
MechE, May 11 2012

       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.
Alterother, May 11 2012

       I respectfully disagree.

       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 intentions are.

       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- drones with one man controlling their overall mission and attack orders from safe cover no matter where he's located.

       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.
doctorremulac3, May 11 2012

       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."
Alterother, May 11 2012

       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 every time.
doctorremulac3, May 11 2012

       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."
21 Quest, May 11 2012

       Thank you, [21], for so intelligently illustrating my point. A solo human being just turned the worm against your human-led 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.
Alterother, May 11 2012

       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 alone.//

       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.
doctorremulac3, May 11 2012

       The future soldier is going to need longer, more diverse training to survive on the battlefield. Hence, the idea.
21 Quest, May 11 2012

       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.
WcW, May 11 2012

       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 your lives.

       And the Taliban is too stupid to make robots so don't even go there.
doctorremulac3, May 11 2012

       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.
Alterother, May 11 2012

       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?
21 Quest, May 11 2012

       Especially when you're distracted by keeping track of all those drones...

       // 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.
Alterother, May 11 2012

       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 dying.

       //who says the enemy can't come and get you under cover?//

       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 or food.
doctorremulac3, May 11 2012

       Since when are combat robots cheap?! Last I heard, the pricetag for an EOD 'bot was still close to seven figures.
Alterother, May 11 2012

       You can save money by not having these I suppose. You'll never win a battle, but you'll save money.

       I also propose that robots are worth much less than humans no matter how much cash is needed to make them.

       //(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 beach.
doctorremulac3, May 11 2012

       //"seasoned" hacking groups like anonymous//

       <obligatory LOL>
swimswim, May 11 2012

       // 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 on the battlefield has risen to 3:1 (that statistic, compiled by the DoD, includes figures for battlefields with no civilian presence).
Alterother, May 11 2012

       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.
21 Quest, May 11 2012

       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.
MechE, May 11 2012

       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.
WcW, May 11 2012

       Doing your shelling from a tank is so 1992 anyway.
WcW, May 11 2012

       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.
Alterother, May 11 2012

       //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.
FlyingToaster, May 11 2012


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