It seems like something out of the Terminator movies: American soldiers paired with machines while in combat. However, that very reality will likely be here within the next few years.
The Pentagon laid out new plans to deter countries like China and Russia from waging war against the United States. The piece de resistance: the “third offset.” The Pentagon’s leader of the project, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, unveiled what he called “human-machine collaboration and combat teaming” at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum.
Work said that, “The way we will go after human-machine collaboration is allowing the machine to help humans make better decisions, faster.”
The Pentagon’s “offset strategy” will invest in and focus on technology that will offset, or neutralize the technological advancements of other nations and enemies of the state.
Work added that, “This third offset … is really focused on the advanced capabilities that Russia and China can bring to bear. The whole purpose is to convince them never to try to cross swords with us conventionally.”
Learning machines, which will “literally operate at the speed of light” will help solve problems, such as the most effective way to respond to a missile.
The F-35 fighter jet is equipped with high-tech computers and sensors that, despite its critics, should outperform older models of the jet. Work defended the F-35 by saying that, “We are absolutely confident that F-35 will be a war winner. It’s because it is using the machine to make the human make better decisions.”
Work also alluded to “assisted human operations” and wearable electronics as additional game changers. “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 pointed out that machines and humans are already working together on the battlefield within the United States “global counterterrorism network,” which uses people, computers, special operation forces and unmanned drones to hunt militants.
The military advantages that the United States has for four decades had over the rest of the world are starting to dwindle. But, this new technology probably will not provide an edge for that long.
As United States Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter put it, Russia is challenging “our capacity to innovate and change.”
Carter added that, “[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.”
“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.”
As such, Carter said, the United States military is “adapting our operational posture . . . to deter Russia’s aggression, and to help reduce the vulnerability of allies and partners.”