In recent years there has been a serious change in the views of military theorists on the nature of modern warfare, the form and methods of its conduct. The appearance of fundamentally new means of warfare, the introduction of qualitatively new production technologies for weapons and military equipment (IWT), and the active development of social engineering technologies play an important role in this. The problem is aggravated by the multidirectionality of the development of modern military practices.
On the one hand, for the implementation of armed aggression of the state use regular armies equipped with a large number of modern military equipment and weapons. On the other hand, no less dangerous were the actions of the “cloud adversary” - a pseudo-regular army, combining teams of professionals and non-professionals and the opposing regular army due to the primary destruction of the economy and population of the state - the victim of aggression. The destructive capabilities of such armies were widely demonstrated in the course of the new type wars deployed by the United States and its allies in the Middle East as part of the so-called Arab Spring. The deliberate destruction by the "cloudy adversary" of industry and transport infrastructure of the states of North Africa and the Middle East, which were victims of the "revolutions", led to their actual disintegration and removal from the international arena as serious players.
WAR - PLEASURE DEAR
The presence of such contradictory trends in the development of the armed forces makes it difficult to determine the rational directions for improving the military organization of any state. The problem is aggravated by the growth of the necessary economic base for the conduct of modern wars by regular armies. After all, war costs money, often a lot of money. And with each new round of the arms race, the cost of defeating the enemy only increases.
For example, according to statistics, Soviet troops spent more than 16 million tons of various ammunition (shells, mines and cartridges) during World War II. When correlating this figure with the number of official irretrievable losses of Hitler's Germany and its allies on the Eastern Front, we can assume that, on average, the Red Army required one soldier of the German fascist troops to expend up to ammunition 2 – 3. A similar assessment in other wars of the second half of the twentieth century will give comparable, and in some cases, great values. Of course, we are talking about the conditional amount of ammunition consumption, because an ever-increasing proportion of those who received fatal injuries during the hostilities are civilians. However, the above figure - 2-3 t of ammunition for hitting a single enemy - illustrates how powerful economic support should be for the current army when millions of armies converge face to face.
Naturally, such huge expenditures on a large-scale war made it economically inexpedient not only for small countries, but even for states - world economic flagships. Over the past few decades of the last century, this economic deadlock was veiled by the presence of geostrategic opponents weapons mass destruction, primarily nuclear. It is this “umbrella” that has come to be considered the absolute weapon that ensures the military security of any state during the creation of new means of warfare. The means capable of changing the strategic balance of forces in the world in favor of the country that is the first to realize the opportunities provided by the information revolution.
WTO - NOT PANACAIA
One of the promising ways out of the economic deadlock was the creation of effective precision weapons (WTO) in the 80 of the last century. The ability to significantly reduce the number of weapons required to destroy one enemy object through the use of such weapons has captured the minds of military experts in almost all the advanced states of the West. This immediately affected not only orders for industry, but also the structure of the armed forces of all economically developed countries of the world. A period began to diminish the role and place of the ground forces in the warfare system in favor of other, so-called high-tech types of armed forces.
However, the subsequent practice of military action confirmed the old truth: there is no absolute weapon. The widespread introduction of the WTO in the armed forces of economically developed countries did not give them a strategic advantage. The cost of hitting one target continued to grow. As a result: today, if the application of the WTO on the critical objects or high-tech models of the enemy's weapons and military equipment still has economic and tactical meaning, then its use against a single opponent (especially of low qualification) only leads to an economic depletion of the one who uses it so. This thesis is vividly confirmed by the low effectiveness of the struggle of the United States and its Middle Eastern allies against the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — ISIL), a terrorist organization operating in Iraq and Syria.
The experience of US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq (2001 – 2014), as well as the experience of the Soviet troops in Afghanistan (1979 – 1989), reaffirmed the high role of ground forces in solving military tasks. No WTO can provide full control of the enemy’s territory. You must have a powerful ground grouping. Everything else is relative.
At the same time, powerful ground forces capable of conducting strategic operations are today virtually none in the world’s armies. In the course of the various reorganizations that the armed forces of almost all economically developed countries of the world have undergone in recent decades, the combat and operational capabilities of the ground forces have been significantly reduced. Simultaneously, a simple quantitative increase in the number of these opportunities today is not restored.
Firstly, it is very expensive. The equipment is already in service, which, due to its technical complexity or the required level of qualification, practically does not differ from the equipment of such traditionally considered high-tech armed forces as the Air Force and Navy. In addition, the social obligations of maintaining a large number of both troops and ground troops discharged from military service become a heavy burden for any state.
Secondly, in all economically developed (or rich) countries there is a steady tendency to reduce the number of people willing to serve in the land forces. The situation is aggravated by the decline in the quality of the human mobilization resource, which in its intellectual, psychological and physical abilities is able to effectively master and use modern technically sophisticated military weapon systems.
Thirdly, such a generally positive trend for society, as an increase in the value of the life of any serviceman, right up to the individual soldier, plays a negative role. The need for large material payments in the event of a soldier being injured or dying also limits the state’s ability to significantly increase ground forces.
The consequence of all these reasons was a steady decline in the number of ground forces in any economically developed country. This is an objective trend.
Thus, today the ground forces face two important and controversial problems. On the one hand, the volume of combat missions assigned to them in modern hostilities significantly increases, on the other hand, there are serious limitations on the number and quality of specialists directly involved in the battle.
ARMY OF NEW GENERATION
The way out of the controversial situation is the adoption by the ground forces of new weapons systems that would ensure a significant reduction in the number of tactical formations while maintaining or increasing their combat capabilities.
In the twenty-first century, robotic systems, or combat (military) robots, as they are called, become such weapons.
In recent years, thanks to the rapid development of technology and huge money invested in information technology in general and in the development of robotics in particular, the era of robots has arrived. This is facilitated by increased technical capabilities and new scientific discoveries: new innovations in the field of robotics appear every few months - a year. Modern robots are becoming more and more human-like: they can move as a person, read, recognize human emotions. Even a material has been created to cover humanoid robots, which feels like human skin.
Today, ground robots are only helpers of a soldier, but in the future they will be able to completely replace him. Photo from www.army.mil
The strength of robots for any commander is that they can replace people in solving a wide range of especially difficult or especially dangerous combat missions. For example, robots can be very useful in conducting combat operations in the multidimensional conditions of a modern city, effectively solving complex combat missions in conducting reconnaissance or combat in various hard-to-reach places. Such as the ruins of reinforced concrete and stone buildings, roofs, attics, basements, collectors and cavities under the rubble.
Many military experts generally consider the development of combat robots the third technological revolution in the production of weapons and military equipment. The previous key revolutions include two key events that forever changed the battlefield: the invention of gunpowder and the invention of nuclear weapons.
Already today, thousands of units of robots are in service with various armies in the world. And the process is growing. Of course, most modern combat robots are designed for reconnaissance operations and demining, but it’s no secret to anyone actively using them to directly kill people. An example of this - thousands of missiles killed by airborne robots - unmanned aerial vehicles of the United States in the Middle East.
The use of ground-based robots in general combat is a qualitatively new stage in the art of war. In particular, the long occupation of the enemy’s territory has always been fraught with large losses of personnel during the rebel actions of the local population. Such losses significantly affect public opinion and may force the military and political leadership of the occupying forces to curtail their presence on foreign territory. The widespread use of combat robots to control territory removes this problem. The funerals will stop coming, they will stop talking about the war on TV, so everything is calm and good. Before the losses of robots and the number of "natives" killed by them, most likely nobody will care.
The continuous development of new technologies for the production of warfare equipment with artificial intelligence allows putting on stream production of ground-based robotic systems (complexes) for practically the entire spectrum of ground combat missions. Even today, in many armies of the world, robots are striving to shift some of the tasks that are now being carried out by living people. The priority is the development of combat robots, replacing soldiers on the battlefield, unmanned armored vehicles and other automatic platforms (including trucks).
According to American experts, the rapid pace of development of robotic and information systems leads to the fact that in the coming years the number of soldiers in brigade tactical groups can be reduced by a quarter - from 4 thousand to 3 thousand - while maintaining and, in some cases, increasing their combat capabilities. It is assumed that this approach will significantly reduce the total cost of maintaining each individual brigade.
Even today, some types of robots are capable of solving some combat missions much better than humans. This means that as software improves, their participation in the war will significantly expand in the coming years. For example, it is expected that by 2020, the US Ground Forces by 30% may consist of robotic systems for various purposes. In the first place, ensuring the widespread introduction of full-fledged combat robots into the ground forces of various armies in the world, according to some forecasts, can be expected after 2030. In our opinion, this period may be significantly less. This is evidenced by the high dynamics of the development of new information technologies and new production technologies of modern technology.
DISADVANTAGES OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
In the short term, the most likely widespread introduction into the ground forces of various semi-autonomous auxiliary robots and automated vehicles for the organization of autonomous convoys.
For example, Google has been developing a car for several years, the “driver” of which is artificial intelligence. In December, 2014, the corporation has already presented the first working prototype of such a fully autonomous unmanned vehicle. At the same time, Google engineers did not hide its flaws. In particular, the autopilot could "not notice" a bump or an open hatch in the asphalt. However, active development in this area and targeted investment in this niche allow us to successfully develop information and communication technologies for automobiles. So, according to the Auto Evolution portal, Google already in the middle of 2015, patented a new technology for fully automatic collection of information about poor quality road surfaces and the subsequent transfer of coordinates about pits and bumps on roads to special servers for generalizing and creating interactive maps. There is reason to believe that the task of creating a standalone Google car can be completed on time. A number of other foreign and domestic companies have equally interesting developments in this area.
Although the problems and technical challenges on this path are many. First of all, they are associated with the development of artificial intelligence. No less important are the legal aspects of organizing joint traffic on the roads of people and robots. For example, if an accident occurred through the fault of artificial intelligence, especially with casualties - who would be responsible: the manufacturer, the programmer, or someone else?
There are many other problematic issues that life poses to those who seek to the widespread introduction of robots in the ground forces. For example, robotization fundamentally changes not only the organizational structure and tactics of actions of the ground forces, but also the social structure of the army. In particular, a significant redistribution of social roles and social status of military professions should be attributed to the challenges generated by robotization.
This also includes the problems associated with the new type of social relations: a man is an autonomous combat robot with artificial intelligence. Robotization translates the “living” servicemen from the psychologically understandable state of war as a man’s fight against man into a man’s plane against a rational machine aimed at killing people. In the new conditions, a separate solution will require not only the organization of joint actions of robots and people on the battlefield, but also the problem of joint deployment and joint combat training of people and robots outside this time.
Another difficult problem that should be singled out separately is the problem of communication. First of all, between people-performers and robots-commanders. The problem may be aggravated by the degree of adaptation of robots to collaborative actions with humans. There is no doubt that not only friction can arise on this basis, but also open confrontation.
Socio-psychological adaptation of military servicemen who have been interacting on the battlefield with combat robots as allies and as adversaries can also be no less difficult. Since the times of the ancient wars, there have been cases in which servicemen animated their weapons. This practice has especially spread since the Second World War, when technically sophisticated weapon systems became widespread. In the course of the active introduction of robots into the groupings of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, many cases of attachment of military personnel to their “sponsored” robots are also known. To the perception of them as their comrades or talismans. The future active interaction of servicemen with autonomous robots with advanced artificial intelligence can only exacerbate the problem. To return to the full-fledged peaceful life of people such servicemen may need a new “finding themselves”.
There are a lot of similar issues. However, even a summary of them requires several publications.
The main thing - the war changes its face. The role and place of the armed man in it is changing. What is required now is the joint work of specialists from various fields of human activity. Not only gunsmiths, but to no small degree - philosophers, psychologists, sociologists and specialists in the field of information technology and artificial intelligence. This must be understood and taken into account in the construction of the armed forces.
In general, the designated trends in the development of ground forces indicate that in the near future we are expected to see qualitative changes in their organizational structure, technical equipment, and combat capabilities. The ground forces were and will remain the most important service of the armed forces of any state, but their functions and capabilities will grow by an order of magnitude.
The difficulty is that everything must be done in the conditions of a pronounced shortage of time. That army, which is the first to be ready for the qualitative transformation of its ground forces, has every chance of becoming an army of winners.