Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Predictions About the Future are Hard

Why we can't predict the future of war. But two features should be expected:

When assessing the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand future land concepts, a common thread started emerging—information. The volume, scale, accessibility, contestability, and weaponization of information are all factors in the future of conflict. Another theme also emerged, which is the lethality of future conflict.

It is interesting.

Since a flood of information has to be analyzed by computers to make it useful to a commander, options for an enemy to hack your information flow could cripple your forces.

And technology will make the ability to target enemies without attacking civilians much easier. The authors even mention the possibility of targeting enemies by their DNA--for example when an enemy occupies a city, assuming they have different DNA signatures.

Of course, given odd things we've learned about multiple DNAs residing within a person, could an occupying army be "immunized" against such a DNA-targeted weapon?

Anyway, it is interesting to ponder the future of war.

Here's the last entry in my mini-series on reviewing predictions of war.

From the first article on new things possible:

Mass in the form of imprecise autonomous weapons could see deployable “boxes of missiles.” Essentially a box can be dropped in an area, be digitally camouflaged to its surroundings, and lay dormant until triggered. Once triggered, it can deploy multiple rockets or missiles onto a target providing mass of firepower to delay or destroy an enemy. Imagine these scattered across an area to defend borders, or to deter movement within an area of operations.

Which is very similar to my view in 2003 (starting on pg. 28):

In the future, separating missiles from the FCS makes the most sense for a networked force. Missile modules, each containing two or more missiles, could be dropped off in the wake of the advancing FCS unit or even scattered by aircraft along the axis of advance in the enemy’s rear areas. The FCS crew could control firing.

But future warfare will at first not be all high-tech (back to first article):

Match [under-investment in military forces overall; over-investment in political rhetoric; reduction in the size of militaries, along with specialization (and increased expense) of military technology; increased expectations of quick wars due to the lethality of the battlefield; and a decrease in societal support for war] to the increasing trend in the use of area-denial and machine-learning/AI technologies and you have an overall strengthening of the strategic (and operational) defense against the offense. Warfare today and in the future (at least against near-peer or peer adversaries) will again be about geographic positioning, interior lines, and the manufacturing base. Modern precision munitions, niche technological solutions, and first-echelon forces will indeed result in lethality unseen on the battlefield in decades and projected in today’s news reports and defense papers. However, once all those expensive, manufacturing-intensive munitions and technologies have been destroyed or degraded—which will be measured in weeks, not years—we’re back to late twentieth-century warfare; think Korea 1953 or Desert Storm 1991[.]

On the other hand, the weapons of 1953 and 1991 were once the leading edge rather than being the old forms. What is really scary is what might happen when the next first-echelon force is the old form of warfare we have to fall back on when that era's first-echelon force is depleted.

I need to think about this a bit more.