Originally published November 19 2015
Pentagon seeks to pair soldiers with battle-ready robots on the front lines
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) The Department of Defense is developing its next-gen weapons with the goal of pairing men and machines to give U.S. fighting forces a battlefield advantage, Defense One reported recently.
At the heart of the ambitious Pentagon effort is a concept called the "third offset," a strategy that attempts to deter countries like Russia and China from ever considering waging war against the U.S.
Defense One noted further:
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who is leading the offset project for the Pentagon, touted what he called "human-machine collaboration and combat teaming" at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum, a gathering of American national security leaders.
"The way we will go after human-machine collaboration is allowing the machine to help humans make better decisions, faster," Work said.
The strategy makes new investments in cutting-edge technology that defense officials say will "offset," or neutralize, technological advances of other potential adversaries.
"This third offset... is really focused on the advanced capabilities that Russia and China can bring to bear," Work said. "The whole purpose is to convince them never to try to cross swords with us conventionally."
Machines that learn are at the center of the offset strategy, said Work, adding they will "literally operate at the speed of light." Guided by computers the machines will help solve problems like how to respond to a missile that is traveling at six times the speed of sound.
Robots to breach defenses a decade from nowOne of the new thinking, adaptable machines is the F-35, which Work describe as "not a fighter plane" but rather "a flying sensor computer that sucks in an enormous amount of data, correlates it, analyzes it and displays it to the pilot on his helmet."
Though the F-35, called the Joint Strike Fighter, has been panned for not being able to maneuver as well as older fighter jets and has encountered a raft of well-documented problems during development, Work says the plane's new computers and sensors will enable it to outperform predecessors.
"We are absolutely confident that F-35 will be a war winner," he said. "It's because it is using the machine to make the human make better decisions."
He also pointed to "assisted human operations" and wearable electronics which will give troops access to combat apps as another war-changer.
"I'm telling you right now, 10 years from now, if the first person through a breach isn't a fricken robot, shame on us," Work said.
Defense One also reported that in August, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the Pentagon would be investing in electronic components that can bend.
Already humans and machines are working together on the battlefield within the U.S. "global counterterrorism network," combining people, unmanned drones, computers and special ops forces to locate militants, said work.
Unlike previous offsets – fielding of tactical nuclear weapons and precision-guided munitions, which deterred war and gave the U.S. military, in some cases, four decades' worth of advantages – the new technology most likely won't provide an edge for that long, Work advised.
Not seeking enemies, but...Russia, in particular, is challenging "our capacity to innovate and change," Carter noted during a luncheon where the audience was mostly made up of lawmakers, Pentagon officials and defense industry representatives.
"[I]n the face of Russia's provocations and China's rise, we must embrace innovative approaches to protect the United States and strengthen that international order," Carter said.
As NationalSecurity.news has reported, Russia is also developing battlefield robots.
In recent months, Russian aggression – including interventions in Ukraine and Syria and mimicking Cold War behaviors and tactics – have caused the Obama Administration and the U.S. military to change how they view the future.
Top uniformed officials have said that a nuclear-armed Russia and not the Islamic State poses the greatest future threat to U.S. national security, even though the latter still holds a sizable portion of land in Iraq and Syria, with a presence in other countries across the Middle East and North Africa.
"We do not seek to make Russia an enemy," Carter said. "But make no mistake; the United States will defend our interests, our allies, the principled international order, and the positive future it affords us all. We're taking a strong and balanced approach to deter Russia's aggression, and to help reduce the vulnerability of allies and partners."
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