Machine Learning and the Effects on Combat

By Dennis McKonkie

The modern army is using all the advances being made in remote control and computer learning as a way to fight a new enemy on a new battleground. There are no more foxholes, no trench warfare, no dramatic beach landings with invading forces suffering tremendous loses. We are emerging from the latest political war with Russia as the loser to the country that wanted friendlier relations with the United States. It was a war without bullets, one in which ideas and opinions were the targets. This campaign assault on the collected public opinion is a sad revelation of how normal citizens can have their opinions shaped by a disinformation campaign.

Advances in the military through the use of smart technology and machine learning have many results. Among these are the limited requirement for “boots on the ground”, this will keep our youth away from dangerous wars but will draw our nation closer to being the target of the adversary which is using the same smart technology. There is now and will always be some type of military gap be it missiles or this new technology.

These new radical technologies use a space age concept of machine learning. You may ask, What is machine learning? the answer might scare you. Arthur Samuel designed and developed a computer that was capable of independent learning without outside help. For a more concise description of machine learning and more information go here.

We are all aware of “smart” bombs that are guided toward enemy targets and airplanes, and now drones do the hazardous work that made Francis Gary Powers infamous. If you don’t remember this incident that almost touched of another world war, here is a good starting point. History continues to offer us parallels that the general public all too soon forgets.

With all this talk about space age technologies used in warfare there is one important point that needs to be made. It was evidenced during the mega war game and military exercise that matched the U.S. Army against Iranian forces. This huge practice war was conducted at a great cost, but the general chosen to represent the Iranian forces was a brilliant tactician while the American forces were led by a mainstream general who planned out his campaign in a tactically conservative manner.

The general in charge of the U.S. operation depended on intercepting communications from the mock Iranian forces but the general of these enemy forces outlawed any radio communication and depended on word of mouth delivered by motorcycle courier and the help of the Mullahs announcing actions along with the five times daily call to prayer. The Iranians won the battle in a blitzkrieg manner, forever shaming conventional warfare strategies. Discover more of the story about these war games here.

Armies will forever be dependent not only on new advanced technologies but also on the knowledge of their generals. The history of the world states how a new weapon from a lance to a crossbow has changed the dynamics of battle and brought about the end and the beginning of empires. This military history should be taught in High Schools as a preparation for the enlightened life of its graduates. The weapons of war including the nuclear bomb are terrifying but awesome.

Our society should continue to produce inventions and refine existing products but we all should reexamine the importance of the roles of those in charge of the battlefield. The few who aspire to lead should be allowed the ample studies needed at the various military academies. But some consideration of the mindset and the military acumen of those who soon will be in charge should be closely monitored.

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