With the success of the drone program—in terms of waging long-distance war without risking your own troop casualties—and against the warnings of science fiction writers, the US Army is considering replacing some human ground forces with robots. Robots are already employed in the military, specifically in explosive ordnance disposal or EOD, but this is the first real suggestion of employing robots on a mass scale for numerous tasks.
According to British newspaper The Telegraph, a “senior American officer has said he is considering shrinking the size of the Army’s brigade combat teams by a quarter and replacing the lost troops with robots and remote-controlled vehicles.” This suggestion comes at a time when the Army is considering drawing down its force reserves as a result of larger Department of Defense or DOD budget restructuring.
That said, we’re still very far away from a platoon of Terminators fighting America’s wars. Although, the DOD does have its eyes on a workable android, it is being designed for rescue and relief rather than warfare. Still even the addition of robots to human units will involve a fundamental change in the way the US Army trains and fights.
Some of the robots being considered are like those used by EOD, employed to accomplish dangerous or meticulous tasks. There are dog-like robots, driverless vehicles, and a robot on tank treads that can fire a squad-assault weapon.
Still, the drone program has created a lot of ill feelings towards the U.S. and further use of robots runs that same risk. The chaos of war is often only tempered by the humanity of the soldiers who wage it. So ultimately the success of any new robotic program would rely on the efficacy of the human soldiers who would control and work with these devices.