“Every year, more and more of the world’s population moves into cities. The number of megacities is growing exponentially. Both of these global patterns and their inevitable consequences for military operations are well documented. Yet we still do not have units that are even remotely prepared to operate in megacities. If we want to find success on the urban battlefields the US Army will inevitably find itself fighting on in the future, that needs to change.” — John Spencer, West Point scholar and former Ranger Instructor
The change referred to above by John Spencer appears to be rushing in upon us. There has been increasing urgency coming from the military in recent years about how to field troops in the unconventional terrain of where they expect future warfare to take place.
Last year The Intercept released a shocking video of how the Pentagon views this time of transition; it perfectly puts into context the announcement that follows:
Following the trend of ever-increasing complexity — whether it be due to social chaos in economically collapsed cities, or tightly controlled high-tech smart cities — the U.S. military is ramping-up its development of autonomous and semi-autonomous ground vehicles that they believe will offer more flexibility in congested urban terrain.
Mind you, this has been a trend long in the making, as Activist Post reported back in 2011 about a project called MUSIC that was part of the Future Combat Systems architecture that was later “canceled.”
Yet, now in 2018 we see many of the components of that system coming together and readying for deployment as the U.S. Army is making new announcements for its plan to modernize their war machines. Some of this is set to be showcased at the AUSA conference in Huntsville, Ala. March 26th-28, according to Breaking Defense “where the Army will formally unveil the org chart for its new Futures Command, to which the CFTs will belong, along with other Army entities as yet unspecified.”
After 20 years of cancelled programs, the Army now wants prototypes of all-new robotic and “optionally manned” combat vehicles by 2019 so soldiers can begin field-testing them in 2020. Compared to current vehicles, they’ll be lighter, smaller and optimized for urban combat, said Brig. Gen. David Lesperance, head of the armor school at Fort Benning, Ga. and the hand-picked head of the service’s Cross-Functional Team on future ground vehicles.
…Gen. Milley promised the Army would seek “radical,” ten-fold improvements in technology on a tight timeline. Lesperance’s proposal would definitely deliver on that promise — if it works.
Milley has said specifically his Big Six modernization program won’t repeat the mistakes of FCS, and there are grounds for hope. First, technology is just better. The private sector has made dramatic advances in computing power, artificial intelligence and ground robots since FCS was cancelled in 2009, when the iPhone was in its infancy and self-driving cars were a fantasy.