Small Wars Journal

How Lethal, Mobile, Protected and Aware?

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 3:47am

How Lethal, Mobile, Protected and Aware?

Exploring the Art of the Possible in Future Infantry Combat

Jeff Becker


This paper describes a technologically advanced and re-envisioned Army at the small unit level and how these capable small units may contribute to solving critical challenges in modern land warfare.

In 2002, an obscure, yet very important study by Andrew Marshall’s Office of Net Assessment (OSD/NA) described the historical evolution of the infantry unit as a tactical system.  The most important observation described how complementary and interlocking tactical systems create small unit advantages, with each part of the system “trading aspects of mobility, engagement, and protection capabilities to achieve some advantageous military characteristic.” [1]

Today, the technological and tactical advantages available to the Army and the broader Joint Force at the critical 5 meter to 5 kilometer range are eroding. The reasons for this are many, and include “Adversary forces augmented by advanced C2/ISR and information technologies, lethal precision strike and area affect weapons and the capacity for first rate technological innovations.” [2]  Adversary small units will take advantage of widely available disruptive manufacturing technologies including computer aided-design and manufacturing, weaponized commercial technologies such as drones and technical vehicles. State and non-state infantry forces will take advantage of widespread proliferation of capable communications and information technologies, and advanced small arms and individual precision weapons.

The OSD/NA study goes on to suggest that “military advantage rests on a bedrock of advantage in tactical combat. Tactical combat is defined as the sphere of direct physical interaction between the combatants. Advantage is often a combination of armament (technology) and tactics integrated into a coherent tactical system that decisively defeats an opponent's comparable tactical system.”[3]

But what should the tactical system of the Army look like in the 2035-2050 time frame?  What capabilities does it need to decisively defeat an opponent’s comparable tactical system? If you agree with the perspective on the importance of the infantry unit as the “fundamental building block” of military advantage as described above, then perhaps a promising avenue of investigation might be described as follows.  Given a range of emerging technologies, just how lethal, how mobile, how protected and how aware might you make a very small – say a 12-15 person – unit on the future battlefield? 

The Multidomain Challenge

Given these changes in the character of war, the challenge for the Army will be to design future land forces that can protect, transit, seize, and hold land terrain and populations while influencing or interrupting adversary activities in adjacent domains through an effective mix of forward positioned and maneuvering battle formations. 

The Joint Force has been highly successful, though increasingly challenged at ranges from 5 to 500 kilometers between combatants. Heavy investments in a range of systems – long range artillery, mechanized land forces, air mobility, naval strike missiles, strike and interdiction aircraft and the C2 and ISR to orchestrate them have led to demonstrated battlefield successes. Despite these past Joint Force successes, adversaries are investing in a range of technologies – collectively known as A2/AD – to defend against them.[4]

Even more troubling is the tactical balance at ranges between 5 kilometers to 5 meters. Here, U.S. technological overmatch is far less pronounced – and is eroding fast. A number of challenges, including restricted ground mobility of urban environments, proliferated sensors and precision guided rockets, artillery, missiles, and mortars, improvised explosive devices, and a range of armed UAVs and drones.[5]  Moreover, thermobaric, tandem warhead RPGs, and capable snipers with advanced optics and good training are all outpacing the ability to protect people and systems through heavy armor and defeat the lethal reach of these weapons.

U.S. heavy land formations are also increasingly vulnerable to the introduction of working reconnaissance strike complexes (RSC). Emerging RSCs are able to develop persistent ISR coverage, electronic detection capabilities, and forward observer teams able to bring a range of fires to bear from all domains.  For example, evolving Russian concepts seek to “…deliver devastating indirect fires, while maintaining stand off from their enemy, and protecting their own forces thought he use of air defense artillery and electronic warfare. Once adequate forces have been delivered ground forces begin to maneuver, preferably with an armored element to security time and space for indirect fire and protection platforms to move forward and begin the cycle again.[6]

The ability to acquire targets and be extremely lethal on the battlefield is increasingly available to non-state actors as well.  ISIS has employed lethal drones in Iraq, and is integrating imagery into attack planning.  The Decade of War Study warns us that “In the past decade, individuals and small groups increasingly exploited globalized technology and information to expand influence and approach state-like disruptive capacity…largely due to commercially available technologies with the capability to create mass casualties [and] technology enabling enhanced communication and information operations.”[7] Moreover, proliferated cell networks, social media, mesh networks, and encrypted technologies enable “homebrew” battle networks able to integrate forces almost anywhere.[8]

The Joint Staff’s Joint Operating Environment calls for a Joint Force designed to conduct 24 distinct future missions, among them, Global Maneuver and Seizure, Defense Support to Stabilization, and Major Sustained Combat. Each of these difficult missions is evolving swiftly and must account for these changes in the character of war. [9] Each also requires highly lethal, mobile, protected, and aware infantry and mechanized units to anchor joint operations at this core 5-meter to 5-kilometer dimension of the fight.  Part of the multidomain fight is to make the smallest tactical units players in cross domain operations. Given increasing challenges to joint force capabilities in the air, maritime, space, and cyber domains, the Army can contribute to the joint fight by developing a range of advantages in this close-in fight.

Based on these challenges and joint requirements, this paper will explore how to assemble and combine advanced capabilities into technologically-superior land units able to attack and destroy like units on the battlefield, maneuver over the land domain, and seize and hold terrain in support of these missions.

The purpose of this thought experiment is to stretch our minds beyond the familiar, because the future will not be “like today, only more so.” Really understanding the future must at times include leaps of the imagination – sometimes pushing the boundaries of “credible” or “respectable” intelligence analysis to place the reader in a future that is substantially different – and even a bit disorienting. What follows, then, is a description of the most lethal, mobile, protected, and aware unit that can be developed based on technologies and conditions that based on our best foresight are something more than possible, but somewhat less than inevitable in the 2035-2050 time frame.

The Multidomain Dragoon Squad

Historically, “dragoon” units referred to a type of unit that combined the all-terrain, close fight capabilities of infantry with the operational mobility and flexibility of mounted cavalry. Typically, dragoon units would move deeply across the battlefield and dismount to attack fixed positions or units by closing and destroying, rather than the raiding that was typical of the pure cavalry units of the time. As part of a larger scheme, dragoons provided ground commanders the ability to disrupt or unhinge prepared defenses over long ranges. Although relatively weak in protection and long range firepower, these units relied on tactical maneuver, operational mobility, initiative and surprise, and close-in lethality to provide a potent mix of capabilities on the battlefields of the time.  

Although ancient dragoons have long since been rendered obsolete by modern combined arms capabilities, technological trends and a changing character of warfare suggest a requirement to update this type of tactical system for the 21st century.  The combat system for a very lethal, mobile, protected, and aware land unit – designated here as the Multidomain Dragoon Squad (MDS) – is composed of:

  • 12x soldiers organized in four fire teams.
  • 4x Infantry Mobility Vehicles (IMV).
  • 8x Armed Reconnaissance Robots (Quadrupedal “Cheetah” variant)
  • 1x Autonomous Mobile Robotics Support Vehicle (MRS-V)
  • 1x Autonomous Indirect Fires Support Vehicle (IFS-V)
  • 12x Organic Air Support (Quadcopter variant)

The remainder of this paper will describe the individual parts of this proposed future unit and its role in contributing to the future Army and Joint Force missions.

The foundation of the MDS is the individual soldier. The Joint Force spend tens of millions of dollars to train – and hundreds of millions of dollars to equip a single pilot with a capable combat aircraft. Investments in an individual soldier suite of augmented capabilities can help the Army develop individual advantages the future operating environment will require. This advanced equipping of the individual begins with a soft ‘exosuit’ to increase the strength and endurance giving a soldier “10 times the muscle endurance of enemy soldiers” meaning heavier, more capable individual weaponry or the ability to stay at peak performance over time.[10]

Each soldier system includes a lightweight helmet-mounted display to provide augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) pictures based on feeds from sensors – including views of the cyber and electromagnetic environments when appropriate. Communications suites, helmet mounted displays, and associated tablets and warphones will, through the AR/VR systems and big data correlation and tagging allow for new levels of close-in situational awareness and may include IFF/blue-force tracking, threat designation and threat probability indicators on all individuals within the soldier’s field of view. 

Moreover, the AR system will allow the individual to virtually walk, or even fly, through an area covered by supporting or organic ISR assets. AR/VR systems may be further enhanced by haptic sensors and neural controls to command and direct robotic augments seamlessly. Interfaces for robotics, vehicles, and weapons across the MDS include handheld devices derived from the commercial, voice and gesture controls, and intuitive heads-up-displays and iconography familiar to players of first-person shooter videogames. 

Much like American mechanized forces in the Second World War took advantage of machine-minded farmers and urban auto enthusiasts, the MDS will take advantage of the information-minded, connected, and sharp-reflexed young Americans of 2035-2050 using these tools to conduct 3-D, interactive mission planning, surveillance, tagging, marking, targeting and engaging.[11] Moreover, as human performance enhancement, including commercially-available genetic engineering takes off over the next two decades, widespread human enhancement may reverse the trend of increasing obesity and lowered fitness – and a ready pool of more physically capable and heathy 2035-2050 population than we may expect today.

Metamaterials – complex composite materials to reliably manipulate electromagnetic waves – will allow lower profile, higher bandwidth antennas integral to the soldier suit as well as the vehicles and robots within the MDS.[12] Advanced AI-enabled signal processing will help enable communications despite adversary electronic warfare techniques through a mix of “low probability of intercept” agile radios, quantum-encryption or commercially-derived, but encrypted Wi-Fi like networks. By 2050 soldier exoskeletons may allow members of these squads to communicate through ultra-high bandwidth, personal point to point laser communications and associated quantum cryptographic techniques.

Modernized assault weapons for the solder will include guided rounds, increasing the probability of a hit. Communications and augmented reality capabilities would be integrated between helmet, suit, and weapon, providing cuing and targeting feeds and haptic and optical feedback from any sensor within the local net. Moreover, optical and laser designators, or other electronic environment sensors integral to the weapon will provide targeting for others within the squad, or if necessary, to long range artillery units, or joint fires from the air and maritime domains – or even cyber forces –when required.

In the MDS, there is no reason why soldiers should carry large amounts of stores on their backs.  MDS members should instead focus on “piloting” the unit, concentrating on guiding and directing the tactical engagement and on developing and exploiting opportunities. Machines, vehicles, and robots are far better suited to the task of carrying heavy loads and do it without long-term damage. Focusing the MDS fire team soldier on the complex, cognitive task of directing and engaging in the battle ensures they arrives at peak efficiency, and that the unit as a whole is taking advantage of the inherent and respective strengths of humans, machines, and computers.

Four Infantry Mobility Vehicles (IMV) carry each 3-person fire teams into combat. The IMV is envisioned as a 4500lb-class wheeled vehicle, with 2500+ lb. carrying capacity at ranges of 400 miles. [13] Semi-autonomous, the vehicle can be driven by one of the squad members, placed in autonomous mode, or remotely-controlled by the fire team leader to maneuver in concert with the dismounted fire team. The IMV propulsion will be a hybrid design with an electric drive train supported by batteries, but also able to power up batteries with a small internal combustion engine.  Furthermore, each vehicle should be capable of scavenging electrical power from power lines or generators encountered in the field.

Each IMV provides overwatch and fire support for the fire team during an assault. This covering fire is provided by the core offensive element of the vehicle, a robotic turret, which includes a variable power laser of 10-50kw, a crew-served machine gun of .50 caliber or higher, and a precision indirect fires weapon providing a range of effects such as high explosive, counter-defilade fragmentation, thermobaric, or high-power microwave bursts depending on the tactical situation.

The coaxial laser is used primarily for dazzling, blinding, and destroying optics and sensors, but may be lethal, depending on the speed of advances in directed energy over the next two decades. The laser beam director continuously sweeps the battlefield with a low-power target acquisition beam – scouring the area for any optics – including human eyes – that are observing the unit. Reflections from the optics are shown on a display – either on the vehicle or to dismounted soldiers, and causes an immediate, higher dazzling pulse to disorient the target while simultaneously slewing the lethal turret in the direction of the threat.

The sensor system and associated AI will be capable of detecting, locating, classifying and prioritizing multiple targets, while providing warning to the fire team, indicating the possible threat on heads-up displays and haptics and cuing the team toward the threat. On-board AI, including visual recognition software, will assist in characterizing friend or foe – any weapons will be recognizable to the system. With this information in hand, the fire team can then either engage directly with individual weapons – even guided by the vehicle laser – or direct the robotic turret to engage with its direct or precision-indirect fire systems. The fire team may also opt to increase the power of the laser to directly damage or destroy the threat – particularly for mines and IEDs while on the move, but also blind or disable enemy optical systems or sensors. The AI-enabled fire control can be given higher or lower levels of autonomy based on operational conditions.[14]

In combination, the four vehicle turrets provide an “optical shield” for the MDS, particularly against observation by ground threats, UAVs or other aerial vehicles.  Moreover, they collaborate to manage the tactical sensor fight, conducing tactical blinding (vs. optics) and dazzling (vs. eyes). If linked to higher units, these sensors may pass refined sensor data to brigade-level laser IADs or other units – sensor data which through high speed AI and big-data analytics, may assist in developing high-quality track data for rocket, missile, and mortar threats – both guided and unguided – that threaten the unit.[15]

The first tactical “echelon” of the MDS consists of eight armed reconnaissance robots. These are envisioned as four legged 4-foot-high “cheetah-like” devices able to move over ground at speeds in excess of 40-50 miles per hour.[16]  These robots should be capable of traversing complex terrain quickly and closing with areas of interest at high speed to provide the fire team with ground level views up to several kilometers forward.[17] The armed reconnaissance robots should have a lethal capability, including several short range munitions with a mix of thermobaric, HE, concussion, obscurant, or calmative grenades. Together, the robot and munitions can flush or clear buildings, bunkers, or confined spaces, maneuver behind walls or barriers, to find, fix or displace adversary combatants. Each armed reconnaissance bot should also be armed with a 5.56-class weapon to engage targets of opportunity, or provide covering fire while advancing or during a withdrawal.

The MDS is supported by organic air support, which is provided by an array of quadcopter drones. These short range, low altitude systems provide optical and electronic sensing to the unit, providing constant updates to the AR/VR backbone. Each quadcopter should be capable of perching on buildings, trees, or other overhangs to provide sustained forward observation and target designation if required. These systems may also be armed with a small caliber weapon with laser guided bullets, miniature bomblets or other precision guided munitions based on the state of technology.

The armed reconnaissance robots and quadcopter drones are tended by a Mobile Robotics Support Vehicle (MRS-V). Each robot is carried by the mothership for overland mobility while providing electrical power, ammunition, and software updates. On the command of fire team leaders, the MRS-V deploys the robots into tactical array from integral racks. These robots may be operated individually by a soldier as a man-machine team, or controlled in a variety of swarm-based configurations and modes depending on the mission. For example it can; coordinate a defensive screen for the squad, spearhead a prepared attack, emit in certain ways to conduct a deception operation, or provide route coverage or area surveillance and reconnaissance.[18]

The MRS-V also provides the tactical communication, computing, EW, and cyber backbone of the MDS. An on-board computing capability provides AI support, high-resolution 3D models of the operating area – which are updated as each organic robots and sensors report back, or as the MRS-V connects to satellite, UAV, or other communications nodes to other echelons. Metamaterial arrays and laser communications integral to the MRS-V provide the main linkage between the MDS and other Army and Joint Force elements within the battlespace. These conformal antennas continuously monitor the electromagnetic environment near the unit and – in concert with on board digital radio frequency management-like capabilities – deliver electronic warfare and cyber payloads. The MRS-V integrates this data – as well as battle management support to – MDS team members passing relevant data to the unit through the AV/VR environment and cues robotic mission support as well. 

The MRS-V also supplies power to other elements within the MDS, with on-board electric generation, storage, and like each IMV has the ability to scavenge electrical power from electric lines and other sources of electrical power, which will be increasingly plentiful as truly austere environments give way to widespread urban and suburban areas.

Finally, the Squad Indirect Fires Support Vehicle (SIF-V) provides a range of indirect fires directly to each team.  Built of the same platform as the MRS-V, the SIF-V carries a bed of vertical launch racks– much like the Navy’s shipboard VLS system, but on a smaller scale, to provide a range of on-demand munitions to the MDS and are optimized to provide precision coverage out to 5 miles. The SIF-V can be armed with a wide range of munitions, including loitering missiles much like the current Switchblade-class, small laser-or GPS guided rockets, guided mortar-like ballistic projectiles, and a range of scatterable bottom-attack or anti-personnel mines. By 2050, small precision missiles for the MDS may incorporate new energetic materials, allowing the same range and capability, but with the size and weight of swarming Perdix-type systems recently tested by the Strategic Capabilities Office.[19]

Any loitering, lethal aerial missile system available to the MDS should be configurable to deliver multi-mode warheads, including top-attack anti-armor shaped charge or fragmentation, thermobaric, or anti-personnel effects depending on the target.  Warheads may also include electromagnetic pulse area munitions to counter enemy electronic systems. Within this time frame, munitions may also carry a range of biologically engineered calmative, sleep, nausea or fear agents that are non-lethal but highly disruptive to the combat efficiency of the target.

The exoskeleton and AR/VR enabled infantry fire team, the semi-robotic, turreted IFV, the armed reconnaissance ‘bots, the swarm of organic quadcopters, the mobile robotics, power, and computing support vehicle and the indirect fires support vehicle constitute a coherent tactical system that can develop several advantages for wider Army and Joint Force in the face of future threats. The question is: How would these advantages at the finest tactical level support the Army and Joint Force in a future multidomain battle?

The MDS Contribution to Future Army and Joint Operations

The overall tactical system of the MDS presumes that projected physical armor technologies will be far outpaced by advances in kinetic warhead technology. The basic trade underpinning the MDS is to respect the advantage of raw kinetic firepower over any foreseeable physical armor and reject penalties in unit mobility and logistics (fuel) support associated with heavily armored forces. The MDS instead leverages enhanced all-electric mobility, protection through lasers and, AI enabled cueing and battle management, robotics, and personal precision fires.

But what might such trade buy in terms of multidomain battle and joint warfighting? General David Perkins describes the requirements:

“Future Army and Marine tactical ground maneuver units will combine sufficient cross-domain fires capability to enable decentralized ground maneuver and the creation of durable domain windows for the joint force with the mobility, lethality and protection to close with and destroy enemy ground forces in close combat. With combined arms pushed to the lowest practical level, these units will be flexible and resilient with the ability to operate in degraded conditions and with sufficient endurance to sustain losses and continue operations for extended periods and across wide areas.”[20]

The tactical awareness, lethality, and human-scaled multidimensional air, cyber, and EW reach of the MDS can anchor a range of follow-on Joint Force capabilities. Its integrated combat system will provide number of distinct advantages that support this vision of future land combat, expressed below in terms of several joint force mission examples drawn from the Joint Staff’s Joint Operating Environment.  

The first advantage of the MDS is to assist in shattering the cohesion of enemy multidomain forces and provide creating temporary windows of advantage throughout the depth of the battlefield. During a Global Maneuver and Seizure joint force mission MDS can provide a theater infiltration capability with respect to adversary theater defenses. A2/AD – the modern incarnation of the ‘prepared defenses’ that dragoon units are designed to unhinge – may be vulnerable to the attacks by a modern take on the dragoon. 

The MDS’s small and relatively self-contained forces could enter the battlespace with significant offset from targets. Its high mobility allows it to appear in unexpected places and maneuver under an adversary’s A2/AD umbrella, concentrating combat power against aerial or maritime strongpoints – but weakly defended in the land domain. After moving overland, the MDS is capable of assessing the defense from close range and capable of delivering a range of lethal and electronic fires or cyber payloads, opening operational lanes to be exploited by the rest of the Joint Force.[21] The MDS has enough organic firepower to destroy radar systems and other sensors and quickly move to another important node in the A2/AD system.

The second advantage is the MDS’s high degree of human-scaled situational awareness, reaction time, and personal lethality.  During a Defense Support to Stabilization operation, these advantages contribute to Joint Force operations by providing detailed resolution of terrain and human conditions at the 5 meter to 5 mile range. The MDS with its arrayed robotic systems, optical systems, and laser systems will allow it to move and operate in close proximity to the population, secure key terrain, positions, infrastructure, or protect local government officials. For example, in close proximity, hovering or perching drones providing ‘instantaneous overwatch” for fire team members and allow the unit to fight into, within, or through urban environments.

The MDS may uses its organic, metamaterial-enabled EW capabilities very close to an adversaries’ radar or electronic systems, providing “stand-in” support for global cyber or EW attacks. These capabilities may assist in disrupting the cohesion of the infantry and irregular forces of an adversary.  The inclusion of optical shielding and EW could ensure that even ground-based mobile phones would be unable to observe or report on the movement of these units. MDS operations will not so much “own the night” as Army units do today, but rather, “create the fog” that opens maneuver space within which other Army and Joint Forces can operate.  

A third advantage of the MDS is its ability to restrict or channel enemy freedom of maneuver.  During Major Sustained Combat the MDS contributes to joint force operations through its overland maneuver capability, allowing it to swiftly cross artillery ‘killing grounds’ and engage and adversary indirect fire batteries. The size and dispersal of the unit and its optical shields and robotic systems mean that it may be difficult to engage by a range of adversary direct-fire systems, while hypersonics and ballistic missiles too expensive or precise to use against an MDS in tactical array, and in any case, rely on cueing which may be disrupted by the MDS’s optical shields.

During Major Sustained Combat, the MDS can contribute to the destruction of a range of foot mobile forces, but particularly adept at identifying and engaging mass sniper formations – of the kind used in the emerging Russian model – which screen the Russian main body and fix adversary forces.[22] The MDS may pick out these screening forces engage them at range with the mix of laser and robotic systems while moving through the position and forcing a retreat – in addition to opening a lane for heavier forces to engage.

Operating in the context of the larger Joint Force, the MDS projects combat power through its unique tactical system to assist the Army to “close with and defeat enemies in close proximity to civilian populations while minimizing collateral damage” and are “of the necessary size and composition with the ability to conduct cross-domain fires will create multiple dilemmas for the enemy.”[23]


This thought experiment was intended to combine a number of technologies into a tactical system that might have wide ranging operational effects.  Together, these complementary and interlocking tactical systems can provide a foundational multi-domain capability through a highly lethal, mobile, protected, and aware small unit providing significant advantages for the Army on the future battlefield. 

Multidomain battle is not truly multidomain if land forces cannot contribute to the fight at the closest, most human tactical levels. My plea is to think about this from the bottom up – not the top down.  The Air Force and Navy give us the top down view of warfare. The Army needs to think at the granular scale of the human because it is on this scale and on this terrain that human lives operate. From this foundation, it is then possible to think through all the higher echelons and support that might be needed to further enhance the MDs as well as the Army modernizes in order to protect, transit, seize the land domain and influence the people inhabiting it.

End Notes

[1] Office of the Secretary of Defense for Net Assessment, Military Advantage in History (Washington, D.C., 2002): 4.

[3] Office of the Secretary of Defense for Net Assessment, Military Advantage in History (Washington, D.C., 2002): 4.

[4] Andrew Krepinevich, “Why Air Sea Battle,” Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (2010), p. 8 and Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Operational Access Concept (17 January 2012), p. 14.

[5][5] Barry Watts, “The Evolution of Precision Strike,” Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (2013), p. 3.

[6] Asymmetric Warfare Group, Russian New Generation Warfare Handbook version 2 (January 2017), p. 12.

[7] Joint and Coalition Operational Analysis, Decade of War, Volume 1:  Enduring Lessons for the Past Decade of Operations (Suffolk, VA: Joint Staff J7, 2012): 38.

[8] Jeff Becker, “The Evolving Scourge of Global Terrorism: Avoiding a Multi-City Mumbai,” National Interest (17 August 2016).

[9] For a description of these and the other 21 future joint force missions, see Joint Staff J-7, Joint Operating Environment: The Joint Force in a Contested and Disordered World, (14 July 2016), p. 51.

[10] See, Anne Jacobsen, “Engineering Humans for War,” The Atlantic (23 September 2015).

[11] Jane Benson, “Keeping it Real – Natick scientist investigating augmented reality as a mission planning tool,” NSRDEC Public Affairs (April 6, 2017), for a fictional account of how this might play out, see the fictional book Daemon by Daniel Suarez.

[13] An example of the basic size and structure of the vehicle can be found here: Sidney Freedberg “Trucks for the Sky,” Breaking Defense (9 May 2016).

[14] The AH-64D Longbow fire control system is already capable of this today under a range of battlefield conditions.  See Brian M. Michelson, “Blitzkrieg Redux: The Coming Warbot Revolution,” The Bridge (6 March 2017)

[15] Mark Gunzinger, with Chris Dougherty, “Changing the Game: The Promise of Directed-Energy Weapons, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (2012) p. ix.

[16] See this video for an example of this today: “MIT Cheetah Robot Lands the Running Jump” or for a provocative glimpse at how nimble robots may become, see this highly mobile, balancing robot:  “Introducing Handle.”

[17] For an excellent discussion about how to integrate quadrupedal robots with human infantry, see Jules Hurst, “An Infantry Squad for the 21st Century,” War on the Rocks, (31 May 2016).

[18] Paul, Scharre, “Robotics on the Battlefield Par II: The Coming Swarm,” (15 October 2014), p 30-38.

[19] David Hambling, “Will 2016 be the ear of the portable lethal drone?Defense Tech (15 January 2016), Robin Hughes, “AeroVironment Unveils multi-pack launcher for Switchblade,” IHS Jane’s Missiles & Rockets (18 October 2016) and “Kris Osborne, “Pentagon Tests Fighter Jet-Launched ‘Perdix’ Mini-Drone Swarms,” Defense Systems, (24 October 2016).

[20] General David Perkins, “Multi-Domain Battle: Joint Combined Arms Concept for the 21st Century,” AUSA (14 November 2016).

[21] FM 3-21.10, The Infantry Rifle Company, (July 2006), p. 4-5.

[22] Asymmetric Warfare Group, Russian New Generation Warfare Handbook version 2 (January 2017), p. 13.

[23] Albert Palazzo and David McLain III, “Multi-Domain Battle: A new Concept for Land Forces,” War on the Rocks (15 September 2016).


About the Author(s)

Jeff Becker is President and senior analyst at Context LLC, a defense consultancy based in Southeast Virginia.  Mr. Becker is currently the Senior Futurist at the Joint Concepts Division of the Joint Staff J7.  Mr. Becker has over 19 years of direct experience conducting and managing future military studies, analysis, and experimentation projects.  He has provided analytic support to a wide range of clients interested in considering the implications of strategic and military change for the structure and function of military forces and national strategy.

His analysis has been part of key studies, concepts, and other efforts within the Joint Staff, U.S. Joint Forces Command, NATO/Allied Command Transformation, OSD/Net Assessment, the Naval Postgraduate School, and the Army and Navy.  Mr. Becker has worked with a wide range of foreign partners on joint analytic projects abroad, including the NATO Alliance, the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Chile, Peru, Indonesia, and Kyrgyzstan.

Mr. Becker was the primary author of the Joint Staff’s 2016 deep futures study, Joint Operating Environment 2035: The Joint Force in a Contested and Disordered World which surveys science and technology, human, and geopolitical trends and develops their military implications for the Joint Force. He has written and edited numerous articles on future military challenges, including for example, On “Predicting Future War, in Parameters, Contexts of Future Conflict and War in Joint Force Quarterly and “Strategic Trends and Drivers” in Stanford University Press’s Securing Freedom in the Global Common. He has written many articles focused on the future military implications of technological developments, including most recently, speculative articles on the future of high tech terrorism and the use of reusable rocket boosters as part of a theater strike system.



Wed, 05/10/2023 - 3:05am

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