I'll get some down and dirty insurgent thinking up tomorrow.
In the meantime, here's some of my thinking on a strategic concept that could direct the development of autonomous robotics. It's called cognitive dominance.
Cognitive dominance is the ability to make more and better decisions than the competition through the use of autonomous robotics. This scenario, written in pentagon speak, applies some of the ideas I outlined earlier.
The war started when a peer competitor’s African client state invaded a weaker neighbor. The peer competitor had been investing heavily in this client state over the last decade in order to gain exclusive access to a massive tract of increasingly rare, arable land. To expand this precious resource, the client state (with the peer competitor’s backing) invaded a neighboring country to seize its arable acreage. This aggression created a massive humanitarian crisis, sending tens of millions of refugees north towards the safety of the European Union. The global response to this aggression was immediate and clear, but the demands to withdraw went unheeded.
To overcome this impasse, the US issued a stern call to the client state to withdraw and to back it up, US military forces were sent to to the region. This move prompted the peer competitor to decry US intervention in the “internal affairs” of Africa and that US forces would not be permitted within 1,000 nautical miles of the affected region. To back this declaration up, the peer activated a massive A2/AD defense system it had been building in the client state over the last decade. With this move, the situation became a direct threat to US and global security. Simply, if this provocation was allowed to stand, Africa and much of the rest of the world would be quickly divided into areas of control, defined by the effective range of A2/AD systems. To prevent this outcome, a combined US led Joint Task Force was assembled to remove the peer competitor’s A2/AD system from the region and force the client state to return to it’s pre-war borders.
This was the first major war since rapid advances in RAS inspired a revolution in military affairs transformed the US military. The fruits of this transformation were seen in the first days of the war when the Joint Force opened up its first front in the war with RAS platforms and weapons systems already inside inside the opponent’s territory and formations. In fact, much of this mix of cyber and robotic weapon systems had already penetrated the opponent years ago. These cyber side weapons had been built to slowly traverse the Internet on their own looking for target systems to disable when hostilities began. On the robotic side, there were long term underwater vehicles screwed in the sandy muck of the client state’s harbor, a critical pathway for the peer competitors long supply chain. Other robotic weapons systems were entrenched in the landscape in and around the peer’s installations.
These prepositioned systems had been gathering detailed information on the peer country’s order of battle in the client state for many years. In fact, some of these prepositioned systems were cognitively adept enough to actively retrieve [and analyze on the spot] the detailed information most needed by the Joint Force Commander. This information provided a critical part of the “big data” in the Joint Cloud that Joint Force autonomous systems used to construct detailed physical, organizational, and systemic models of the opponent. These models made it possible for the Joint Task Force commander to run the millions of simulated engagements needed to develop successful methods of attack and uncover the nasty surprises that could put the mission in jeopardy.
Based on this earlier work, the first major assault of the war was designed to stress the peer’s A2/AD system in order to gather intelligence on its operation, deplete its resources, and [if possible] reinforce the Joint Force’s prepositioned forces with new capabilities. The assault was composed of RAS swarms of smart air, land and sea platforms set to a high degree of variable autonomy. Given the risk of the mission, the human teams teamed with the swarms were stationed beyond the edge of the battle area. The RAS swarms were trained to deceive, jam, and confuse the active sensor network, on land and in space, the opposition’s defense systems relied upon for strike guidance. This worked. The defense system was lit up like a Christmas tree and fired multiple salvos of hypersonic missiles at the Joint Force assault. However, when these missiles reentered, they were unable to find the ships and aircraft they were expected to destroy. The second wave sent by the defense system was composed of thousands of low cost RAS platforms packed to the brim with lightning fast PGMs. The RAS platforms, manufactured in large volume over the last two decades, were expected to close on targets and overwhelm them with superior mass.
As these forces closed, it became clear that this wasn’t going to be a fair fight. The Joint Force personnel at the edge of the effective battlespace were not surprised to see that the cloud-based training system they used to train their RAS swarms up until the last few days had successfully exploited the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the peer’s A2/AD system. These swarms were able to systematically confuse, jam, outmaneuver, evade, and destroy the much more numerous RAS platforms of the opponent due to the far superior situational awareness, adaptability, and training of the traditionally developed systems deployed against them. The swarms that did make it through did run into a surprise when the anti-air mobile laser used RAS based cognitive capabilities to knock out a dozen Joint Force drones before it was taken out of action. Fortunately, the peer’s employment of RAS platforms that were cognitively dangerous, was limited to this this mobile laser. This allowed the surviving drones to successfully reinforce the prepositioned assets before departing for recovery.
One the second day, the Joint Force Commander decided, based on the high degree of success so far, to accelerate the battle plan and takedown the entire A2/AD system without delay. The takedown assault began with an attack by hypersonic MIRVed missiles launched by F-35s in the north and converted Aegis cruisers at the edge of the peer’s defensive envelope. These missiles released mesh networked MIRVs with the cognitive capability to rapidly evaluate their local situation and adopt the appropriate tactics during the handful of seconds available in the reentry phase. To their credit, the MIRVs worked as expected, and they were able to take out the mobile RAS lasers that had been so problematic the day before. Simultaneous with this, the forward deployed RAS forces sprang into action. Cyber weapons forced the systems they had penetrated into critical collapse and the RAS UUVs in client state’s harbor blew up two peer munitions transports, crippling resupply efforts. In few short hours, the entire defense grid, with tens of thousands of PGMs still unused, was down and Air Force and Navy continuous monitoring by flights of man/machine teams went into action to ensure it stayed dark.
The moment the grid went down, the third and final phase of the operation was launched. This phase leveraged the automation of the US military’s logistics system to rapidly stage a ground assault force to secure the area. Largely automated, this system was able to move men and material at and construct forward bases at an unprecedented pace. It was so fast, in fact, the Army and the Marines were ready to stage their assaults within a few weeks of the success over the defense grid. The men on the assault teams were armed with RAS weapons and able to find, identify, track, and engage multiple threats simultaneously. They were teamed with RAS attack dogs and RAS mules serving as the support base for the swarm of RAS drones constantly gathering information for the team.
The Army teams moving overland and Marine teams arriving by amphibious assault [in and around the harbor] traveled rapidly within self-driving RAS vehicles. Since these vehicles, and the drones above them, were all using decentralized movement protocols, thousands of robotics vehicles were able to maintain high speed forward advance without congestion. Mesh networks connected these ground assault teams with the reinforced prepositioned forces, the combat overwatch above, and each other. The ground assault’s RAS driven vehicles rapidly converged on the defended points identified by the prepositioned forces. Despite some hard fought engagement and a few attempted ambushes, the ground assault was over quickly. It was later determined that that due to the rapidity of the assaults, the peer competitor was completely unprepared for a ground assault.
Cognitive dominance achieved, the Joint Force Commander accepted the surrender of the enemy commander.