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The Future of Warfare Will Be Increasingly Robotic, Computerized and Generally Technologically Advanced

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The Future of Warfare will be Increasingly Robotic, Computerized and Generally Technologically Advanced.


“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein

When famous physicist Albert Einstein made the statement in 1949, it was with the assumption that World War III, if it happens, will be on a global scale and may cause massive destruction and likely with the usage of nuclear warfare and hence World War IV will be fought with primitive weapons. While nuclear warfare cannot be ruled out, the way wars or conflicts are fought, have evolved since then. Weapons and technology used today have advanced tremendously since Einstein's time. With countries investing more money into the research for more advancement in the technology of weapons, future weapons will be more advanced than now.


With the advancement in technology and technical know-how of military scientists, future warfare weapons will be much more sophisticated and more robotic. This will lead to wars being fought to be more technologically advanced and autonomous than now but humans will still be needed to front the wars.


It has shown from history that as time goes by, wars fought are increasingly more technologically advanced. Comparing World War I and World War II, the weapons used from the start of World War II were largely the same from World War I. However, during the course of the war, armies had developed jet aircraft and ballistic missiles. Main battle tanks were also deployed for the first time to the battlefield. Further advancement of weapons technology can be witnessed from the end of World War II in 1945 to 1991 where the first Gulf War between coalition forces with 34 nations led by the United States (US) against Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The aircraft used advanced technology and were aided by GPS navigation, a far cry from World War II. Stealth fighter aircraft were used by the US to conduct air raids on Iraqi targets, achieving much more precision and lesser collateral and unncessary damage. This shows that as time goes by, military scientists are able to invent “smarter” weapons and more technologically advanced weapons.


When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, the unmanned aerial weapons they had, were only a handful while on the ground there were none. Back to 2015, they have more than 7,000 unmanned aerial weapons and 12,000 ground robots task to search for roadside Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), among other missions. The US are not the only country that has increased reliability on robots, at least 87 countries also has been deploying robots during conflicts. This is just the beginning of the “Robot Age” as it has been forecasted that robots will be increasingly upgraded in terms of their mental capabilities. In the future, we might even see robots that has intelligence and autonomy, hence depending less on humans to control them. When this happens, humans might become divorced from warfare.


In recent times, usage of Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAVs) in warfare and assassinations are on the rise. The US uses the MQ-9 Predator drone, which can stay airborne for 14 hours while carrying their payload for missions. All these drones are controlled by human pilots thousands of miles away from the conflict zone. The reliance on the drones makes pilots job less dangerous as they are now stationed far away from the conflict zone to control the drones for their missions. UCAVs are so important to the US Air Force that in 2011, the US Pentagon stated that more unmanned drone pilots will be trained than fighters and bomber pilots combined. The US Pentagon has a blueprint to develop fully autonomous UCAVs by 2030. This means that the robots are capable to think on their own and able to execute a mission on their own without any inputs from a human.


From the beginning of man-kind, we have been waging war against each other. The evolution of wars can be divided into five stages:

        Stage 1: This was the beginning of time where wars were fought using chariots.

        Stage 2: The usage of infantry units and knights during war.

        Stage 3: Humans started using rockets during conflicts.

        Stage 4: During World War II, armies used vehicles to transport infantry units,         allowing their units to cover a wider area, leading to a reduction of troops         deployed.

        Current: Infantry units travel in helicopters of armoured vehicles.

What is consistent from history is that, as time goes by, less and less humans are needed to be deployed to the frontline to fight a war. Manuevure and deployment speed has also increased. We are now relying on technology to assist the infantry troops in warfare. In the future, we can expect to see the reduction in  losses of lives due to the advancement of technological weapons.


While the advancement of weapons technology and increasing use of autonomous robots in conflicts has its advantages, there are some shortcomings of these technologies. Robots may be programmed to kill without emotions, this brings to the point of morality. Humans are able to have a judgemental call on when to pull the trigger while robots lack this skill. If we allow the robots to make their own decision to kill, the outcome may be catastrophic as robots has no emotions and their goal is to  complete the mission. If this happens, who will be held responsible for the robots actions? Next, when it comes to Counter-Insurgency (COIN) operations, manpower will still be more needed. This is due to the fact that unlike conventional warfare whereby the enemies are easily spotted, insurgents often hide in the common crowd and there's no way technology can differentiate between the insurgent and the commoner.



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