Remote Control - The Future of Warfare??

Discussion in 'Staff College and Staff Officers' started by Bad CO, Oct 31, 2016.

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  1. Bad CO

    Bad CO LE Admin Reviews Editor Gallery Guru

    Thanks for the info and I assumed that they had an axe (or possibly a drone!) to grind. Despite their clear bias I still think they make valid points about the lack of public scrutiny of what is going on and the attractiveness of this to politicians.
  2. Not quite correct you will have LEGAD as part of the advisory team and an assortment of 'other advisers', as for the immediacy of the situation believe me there are split second decisions made on these matters.
  3. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    My favourite ever book is The Forever War. There's a sequel, Forever Peace. They're bundled into an omnibus, Peace and War. Theres a third book, Forever Free.

    The premise of the third book is that infantry are replaced by android drones, controlled from back in the good old US of A. It looks at the effect on the operators, who step out of a firefight in the Colombian jungle night into the cold night of day, and out for a beer.

    To be honest, that's all I remember about it. Must get book off shelf.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. Sarastro

    Sarastro LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    a) No, it doesn't, and I have no problem with doing so. The existence of such forums suggests that there are attempts to inform people, and there are people "in the know" who agree with doing so. I agree that we could be better at it, and often the reasons for not saying stuff are cultural, irrational and incoherent. But they do exist.

    b) I have less sympathy for that rationale. Yes, if you only get your Defence news from the MOD RSS feed or have only a passing interest in this (to be fair, pretty niche) stuff, then you might get that impression. There is no excuse for professional politicians and people who work in or around Defence thinking that. More importantly, like I said, there is no excuse for politicians to demand and elicit advice and opinion from professionals, and then deliberately brush off advice and opinion that - I'm sure entirely coincidentally - they happen to disagree with.

    The "we don't trust you because you're not trustworthy" mentality that some supposed professionals (politicians) have is just as damaging, and just the flipside of, the "it's secret because it's SECRET" mentality that other supposed professionals (in intelligence / Defence) have, which you criticise. Both reinforce each other and ensure that people who need to and should understand each other, don't. If any of that is going to change, it requires both sides to drop both attitudes, and penalise those who behave that way.
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  5. There seems to be some weird misunderstanding of the law of armed conflict in the anti drone lobby that assumes that if you fight a war it is morally desirable to risk the lives of your men in combat.

    Most modern industrial military equipment is based on NOT risking the lives of your men, by ensuring that you can find, fix and kill him without getting into knife fighting range.

    A drone is basically a flying sniper rifle, and is no more or less effective than the skill of the operator.

    If they were concerned about the morality of fully autonomous AI drones that made their own judgements, I could understand it. At the moment, the issue is fogged by wilful ignorance of the system capabilities and the peculiar idea that war is supposed to be fair, or is made more 'fair' by giving the enemy more opportunity to kill our troops.
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  6. Sarastro

    Sarastro LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Hmm. I agree that the anti-drone lobby conflate the Hollywood idea of "AI drones" with the reality, which they are well aware of, which is just a very long-range, human controlled weapon.

    It is, however, morally desirable to risk the lives of your men in combat. It is not tactically, strategically, or militarily desirable. It is not legally desirable (or, to be accurate, legally necessary). But it is morally desirable.

    It is morally desirable because the very fact of a combatant having to risk something by engaging in combat is a natural restriction or balance to the decision to engage in it, and the ease with which people make that decision. It's the quintessential "absolute power corrupts absolutely" problem that is also loved of Hollywood movies, that if you have the power to act with effective impunity and no real consequence, you're probably going to misuse that power pretty quickly. All of our understanding of war, and our systems of governing and controlling conflict, rely on the assumption that both sides have to risk something. Removing that is a very, very dangerous thing. This is the essence of the argument against remote warfare or AI combatants, and it's a good point, that needs serious consideration before we do away with it. Warfare without risk is pretty much the definition of moral hazard. So, yes, it is morally desirable to risk the lives of your men in combat. Sucks if you happen to be those men, but that's why the big decisions don't get made by soldiers.

    So the "morally desirable" argument is valid. I see this like the difference between saying "battery farming is bad" and being a full-time PETA activist. There are reasonable points to be made in this debate, but sadly the anti-movement is dominated by a fair few fanatics who push the extremes, and are the ones who are heard. Like PETA, they do it because it works, and because they aren't challenged effectively when they propagate these lies. The antidote to that is for the informed people to engage, and challenge the lies. Which, as @alfred_the_great points out, is exactly what we prevent the informed people from doing.
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  7. Is it not the fact that the depersonalisation of killing, increasing the range makes it easier for human beings to do it with less cognitive disonance.

    This is a farily well researched principle in the psychology of killing.

    Killing other people isn't pleasant and certainly not something the majority of humans are programed to do.

    Drones give politicians a moral distance when deciding to go to war. They also mean the public get less of a conection to the horrors of war.

    Bottom line, from an ethical point of view is, making killing people simpler, easier and less morally challenging is wrong at the level of civilisation/sophistication we like to think we've arrived at. Also modern war fucks many more non combatant civies than enemy soldiers

    the idea that there are RAF c+nts swanning around in grow bags on camp and playing video games with real world death and destruction makes me feel sick to the stomach. I can only imagine they are screened at the start of the training process to identify maleable morales, unquestioning minds and lack of empathy.
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  8. It's a shame I can only give this post a single "like".
  9. @alfred_the_great

    you'll have to counter my post with a bit more than a SABC

    Was it the RAF comment that you didn't like
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  10. Sounds and feels like the script for Terminator
  11. The
    The exact same arguments were probably made when longbows suppressed cavalry, field artillery entered the battlefield, and strategic bombers moved the threat of war into the enemy homeland and off the battlefield entirely.

    Basically, it seems that there is a feeling that war is a ritual feud between equals. Any technological development that gives one side an advantage in range and depersonalisation is seen as morally undesirable.-up until the point that both sides develop the technology. Then it merely becomes another batlefield capability, offering no advantage to either side.

    The feeling seems to be that war is so horrible that you must physically participate so that you KNOW it is horrible, so you don't get too fond of it.

    In reality, war is organised slaughter, and the trick is to slaughter as many of the opposition as possible while reducing the risk of your own losses. Politically, each dead soldier is not just one less voter, but any government that sent a human to die when they could have sent an expendable munition has to explain to the electorate why it made that decision. The question is this :
    "Politically, it was necessary for that enemy to be destroyed. We decided that the best TACTICAL way to do that was with human life, rather than with a guided missile".
    Justifying that is harder than justifying expenditure on ordnance that is built to be expended.

    The ultimate end point is to remove ALL risk to your forces, and leave the casualties to the enemy.

    There are generally accepted laws of conflict, but these are normally followed by the strong, who can afford self imposed handicaps on their war fighting.
    The weak (and deliberately amoral,such as the Russians) simply ignore them.

    Modern war is not a chivalrous contest of equals. In most cases, it isn't "war" in the classic sense at all, between nation states.
    It is more like urban pest control.
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  12. I suspect it is, they're normal people and the psychological effects have been reported on. He probably expected more than the standard leftie "baby killers" comments from you.

    Drone Wars: Pilots Reveal Debilitating Stress Beyond Virtual Battlefield

    There's shit loads more out there is you care to look.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Well that gives me some hope.

    Who knew long shifts of remotely killing people would cause stress

    Having read the article it backs up the theory. Technology has brought back the proximity/intimacy of killing some one and the effects are traumatic
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
  14. You couldn't be any further from the truth, the decision to kill is not taken lightly and the final decision is taken with very careful consideration. As for the people pulling the trigger and how they feel about it that's down to individual personalities but these people are very highly trained individuals.