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Army ponders replacing thousands of boots on ground with robots

The Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) can carry 544kg of cargo including equipment, food, arms and ammunition.

The Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) can carry 1,200 pounds of cargo including equipment, food, arms and ammunition.

Gen. Bob Cone, the Army’s commander of Training and Doctrine, dropped a metaphorical “bomb” last week, Defense News reports.

The Army is shrinking in numbers, on its way from more than 520,000 down to as few as 420,000 by 2019, according to budget plans.

How to make up for the lost manpower?

“I’ve got clear guidance to think about what if you could robotically perform some of the tasks in terms of maneuverability, in terms of the future of the force,” Cone told the Army Aviation Symposium in Arlington, Va.

That’s right. Robots.

The Army is discussing the possibility of shrinking the size of a brigade combat team from 4,000 to 3,000 soldiers. “Don’t you think 3,000 people is probably enough probably to get by” with?, he asked.

There are “functions in the brigade that we could automate — robots or manned/unmanned teaming — and lower the number of people that are involved given the fact that people are our major cost,”  he said.

Some unmanned ground vehicles have already been deployed in Afghanistan, the Telegraph notes. The Squad Mission Support System is a jeep-like luggage carrier.

 

 

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