Saturday, March 13, 2010

Over The (Beep) Top

Are we witnessing the first hints of a transformation in warfare (and not the one we are planning) on the Israel-Gaza border?

So what is the Hamas response to Israeli tactics that don't even give the terrorists the pleasure of at least killing a Jew before they are killed?

Over the last five years, Israel has automated it's security along the Gaza border. Vidcams, with magnification and night vision capability, cover much of the border where Palestinian terrorists try to plant bombs next to Israeli patrol routes, or to try and get through the security fence.

Remotely controlled gun towers with sensors and machine guns, robotic vehicles, and backed up by troops only when necessary. What's the glory in being killed by R2D2 for your terrorist grunt brought up on the joys of killing Israelis? I suspect that this is discouraging to even the most committed jihadi. I mean, what does the Koran say about dying in battle when you are killed by a souped up toaster and not an Infidel?

I have to wonder if the next step is for Hamas to switch to robots to attack the Israeli border defense robots. Perhaps crawling mobile mines or EFPs try to work their way through the border defenses, taking days or weeks to try and evade detection. Maybe tunnels are dug to push the robot to the surface where it will begin its infiltration mission. Perhaps UAVs  with mine or EFP payloads are sent on one-way missions to land by a road to hit an Israeli vehicle. Perhaps the crawlers wash up on shore as "junk" and then move out. Or maybe terrorists assemble a robotic terrorist inside a city or out in the countryside and then set it to deploy and attack hours or days after the construction team leaves?

Perhaps enough terrorist robots can overwhelm the robotic sensors to clear a path to allow "human" terrorists to exploit the gap and actually reach human targets before getting themselves killed.

Of course, I fully expect that one day even conventional warfare will have this feature. First robotic and remotely controlled recon elements and outposts will duel in the no-man's land between armies.

Eventually, more and more of the armies (and aerial units) will be robots or remotely controlled. In time. we may return to mass armies and attrition tactics, but with robots replacing humans as the cannon fodder that we shovel at each other.

Which means that the ability to out-produce rather than out-breed the enemy becomes important as armies need constant replacements for the robot casualties. This will be a dramatic change from the small professional armies that advanced countries developed over the last several decades and which seems like the wave of the future.

We've seen small professional armies replaced by mass armies before. I suspect we'll see the same happen again. But at least this time there will be fewer letters to parents since scrap iron won't be mourned.

This will raise lots of broader questions, too. If people worry that the public is disconnected from war because we rely on so few volunteers to fight in our military as compared to our total population, what will the effect be when relatively few soldiers die in battle behind the shield of robots? What are war crimes in those circumstances and who is prosecuted? And what happens when you don't surrender on the deck of the battleship Missouri but to the battleship?

Could we see the first hints of this transformation from small, professional armies to mass robotic armies on the Israel-Gaza border?