Warfare in 2050's

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright August 2017


"We are well prepared to fight the last war. The next one will be full of surprises." -- a military truism


Warfare-style conflict is going to steadily get faster and more decisive. The shooting part will become drones versus robots with very little human interaction. The battles will take minutes to days, no longer than that. And the wars they are part of will take days to weeks, no longer than that. Finding peace after the shooting, however, can take much longer, as it has in the Middle East in the 2010's.

The humans, the "boots on the ground", will be there to deal with other humans, mostly the civilians that get swept up in the conflicts. If this style of soldier carries a gun it will mostly be to uphold tradition. So, the shooting part of the conflict in any particular geographic area will be over in minutes, and then comes the succoring the civilians part, and that will last a lot longer and get a lot more news media time.

The winners of the robots fighting phase will be out in the open doing their succoring. The losers will be hiding and sneaking around. They will be looking for terrorist-style opportunities. This will be a time and place of pervasive surveillance, so the sneaking and terrorizing will have to be done in ways even more clever than those used today.

How will human performance-enhancing mix in? Even enhanced humans are going to be slow and clumsy compared to purely robot fighting machines, so there won't be Captain America-style warriors during the conflict phase. Can Captain Americas be more effective in the succoring phase? If so, that is where they will thrive.

More thoughts

Between the mix of wearables influencing patriotism and cyber making suggestions to people, how will patriotism, conflict and military play out? This is going to be very different from the 2010's. What will be the most the same is the joy in rallying around the flag. What will be the most different is picking up a gun and marching off to war. There will be a lot discouraging that from happening. An example being cyber saying "No! No!" and backing that up by not letting the Big Business they control finance the military adventure. If someone wants to go to war, they are going to have to find a way to get luxury money and dilettante activities to support it. The result: if there is one it will be small scale compared to what we think of as a war in the 2010's. It will be more like gang war or guerrilla war than military-on-military war.

Pervasive surveillance is going to affect war making. The more you can see the more you can shoot accurately at. If the conflict is between two advanced powers it will start with drone vs. drone over the conflict zone to see who controls the airspace. That phase will end quickly with a winner. That side can then move soldiers and ground drones more openly. The loser side will have to hide in various ways -- the simplest being just become part of the crowd, as we have in terrorism today. What other ways?

These conflicts I'm envisioning are not going to be total war affairs with nuclear mixed in. They are going to be like Middle East conflicts of today -- local regions with local issues, local governments, and lots of proxy-style intervention. The humans -- the boots on the ground -- will be there to succor other humans, not to be shooting at enemies.

Additional thought: the hiding side may use mosquito-size drones that can go undetected for a while. Maybe, but as I think about it, not likely because any control signals back and forth can be easily traced.



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