The day won't be far when humans will make up only a small portion of the army, while the main battle will be fought by robots.
According to a senior US Army personnel, by 2030 or by 2040 at least, the US Army will replace thousands of soldiers with robots. The US army will be "a smaller, more lethal, deploy-able and agile force," said General Robert Cone, head of the service's Training and Doctrine Command in the US Defence Magazine interview.
As of now the US Army is far from deploying Terminator-like robo-soldiers but the plan is to cut down a huge chunk of human force in the army over the years and replace them with robots and remote-controlled vehicles.
There are already studies in progress by the US Army to downsize the number of personnel from 540,000 to 490,000 soldiers by next year. However, according to General Robert Cone, the scaling down that the army is considering over the years will shrink the size of the brigade combat team from about 4,000 soldiers to 3,000. Hence their place will be takeover by robots and unmmaned vehicles.
The thinking among the US Army personnel is that "If we downsize a brigade, how can we keep the same types of brigades out there but be smaller? With technology, how can we do that? Robotics, how can that help us? Do we need a nine-person vehicle, or can we go to six-person? Do we use avatars?," said General Cone to DefenceNews.
In the long run, the US army is planning to depend more on technology to achieve the objective of scaling down its strength without losing its lethality by 2025. "We can keep our [science and technology] budget up so we can help ourselves down in 2025," General Cone stated.
"In favor of force protection we've sacrificed a lot of things (in the last 12 years), " he said. "I think we've also lost a lot in lethality" but in using robots, unmanned vehicles, the US Army wants that maneuverability, deployability and firepower back, he added.
Despite the enthusiasm to put a robot to do a man's job, one cannot be blind to the controversy surrounding drone attacks. According to the independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, 3,000 people have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, including at least 470 civilians. For the politicians in Washington, the drone may be a godsend but civilians lives being lost cannot be ignored simply as collateral.