As Alessan said in xtisme’s MPSIMS thread, how wars are fought is decided by the technology of the time… Rome fought in tightly packed legions, medieval England used cavalry and pikemen, the Third Reich used battleships, tanks, and jets, and now, in the modern world, the US mantains its hegemony with air superiority, nuclear ICBMs, submarines, and satellite surveillance.
How much will this change in the next fifty years? What will the next great shift be? Will there be a point within the next century that jets and bombers take second or third stage to something else? What are the likely candidates? Will it be a resurgence of something familiar like tanks or mechanized infantry or will it be something still on the drawing boards in the Pentagon or Kremlin?
WAG: Warfare in the next few decades will become increasingly “asymmetrical” because of the wide availability of inexpensive small-to-medium armaments guerrillas can use. RPGs, etc. And because of a few new technologies that might be around the corner, like military nanotechnology and new developments in bioweapons.
There will be greater and greater integration of communications, meaning that any particular problem can be instantly reported to a wide variety of units and the one best suited to handle it, will. I can imagine an Army Ranger reporting an enemy position and having it relayed through an Air Force F-16 to a waiting Navy Destroyer who’ll launch a cruise missile.
The problem with that scenario is that you can’t solve every military problem with a cruise missile. War is essentially about control, not destruction, and you don’t really control any piece of ground until you can stand a teenager with a rifle on it.
The scenario was an example. If artillery or a sidewinder or a Marine company will do, they can be brought to bear. The point is that no single advance (like giant robots) is likely to change war, but rather the ability to use existing forces to their maximum potential with maximum efficiency.
Precision will be the key…that and communications. Basically it will be a data processing revolution, where commanders have more and more DATA available to them from more and more sources. Hyperwar is the coined phrase if I remember correctly, where everything is tightly integrated together to form an organic whole. Troops (tanks, ships, planes, resupply, etc) going into combat (or logistics support, administration, etc) will have a multitude of non-intrusive sensors giving everything from bio data, to logistics data for automated resupply, to tactical data…providing commanders at all levels and in all jobs the instant real time data needed to make the decisions…strategic, tactical, logistical. Air, land and sea units will be fully integrated and able to instantly share data between themselves from all perspectives…strategic, tactical and logistical.
The US is already well on its way to doing this, and its really what will set us appart in the decades to come…not just the fact that our weapons are better, or our training…but our C&C systems will make us lightyears ahead of anyone who doesn’t adapt to this new environment.
BTW, I encourage everyone to go to my thread on space battles and put in their two cents.
Well Iraq should be an example of how military conquest depends on much more than military issues… surely some advances will be in the sense of “fifth column” elements of propaganda and psychological warfare. The US can win battles… but tends to lose wars.
Outside pshy warfare… communication and control should be the big new things. Digital info to ground troops and a better integration of information.
Good AI pwns everyone far away. Guided missiles, communication, drone warfare, battle bots of doom and such could make it possible to invade without ever having to put “our boys” in danger.
Nano-bots pwns everyone close up. Why kill your enemy when you can literally change their mind? Take their biomass and make some Soylent Purple. Have missing WMDs? The nano-bots can find them, neutralize them and turn them into Scenti-Candles.
Psy warfare pwns the post war as Rashak Mani said. Sure you can devastate a country, but what are you gonna do when the army or populace melt into a country and guerilla warfare your booty. Using proven psychological techniques known today to not even create new technologies, but new methods of keeping peace would really change the post war situation. Don’t put a troop on every corner when you can put a mind-controllling cheerleader of doom there.
Don’t get too enthusiastic with psych warfare just yet… Bush has the setting for mind control figured out only for “Americans”. They still haven’t got the “Arabs” and “Muslim” settings figured in their machines.
I’m quite surprised how much marines have been put in the way of harm in that cemetery combat. I’d figured they would have had more robots and other means of remote viewing to support ground troops… but I imagine that is not the case yet.
Also do remember that the pentagon isn’t necessarily interested in the most efficient equipment. Pork Barrel, higher budgets and pride are more important to those 2-4 star generals. Flashy technology sometimes is just flashy technology.
I don’t think we’re all that far from robotic soldiers. We’ve got people working on solutions to moving fast over uneven terrain. Mount a machine gun on that platform with a camera and a remote control with a soldier remotely controlling it, and you have a soldier-substitute that can kill without being killed (though it might be destroyed). It could have 360 degree “visions” in all sorts of frequences not visible to the human eye, with two or three soldiers manning its cameras to detect attacks. If the transport mechanism and the electronics can be shielded, it might also be very hard to destroy. Imagine a platoon of those patrolling the streets of Fallujah. Might calm things down a bit.
Extremely small (fly-sized) remote-controlled cameras might also be useful in making conspiracies more difficult. Imagine if Musawa and his buddies had a swarm of those secretly monitoring their meetings. might make all this insurgency stuff a tad more difficult.
Of course, sooner or later, somebody will want to use it against Those With Incorrect Political Opinions, then Hello, Brazil!
The ultimate example? Eventually, one guy with a computer and a powerful rocket motor will be able to fling a rock into a planet’s gravity well and, if it’s big enough and started accelerating far enough away, kill virtually every human on the planet. Piece of cake, really, and virtually impossible to defend against.
We don’t yet know how to snuff out a sun, but I bet the seeds of an idea can be found in some bright theoretician’s paper or other.