Well, most of our robotic forces are air forces these days, but we keep learning about “spiders” and the like that are meant to assist ground troops.
It’s not just about protecting precious lives, although heaven knows that should be a sufficient rationale for investing in this sci-fi like technology.
It’s about substituting for Army and Marine ground troops that simply aren’t available.
Fred Kaplan, who writes most cogently on military affairs for Slate.com, has an intriguing analysis.
The Army’s Math Problem
We don’t have any more soldiers to send to Afghanistan unless we take some out of Iraq.
By Fred Kaplan | Posted Monday, May 5, 2008, at 4:56 PM ET
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants to send 7,000 more U.S. troops—about two brigades—to Afghanistan, according to the May 3 New York Times. But there’s a problem, which the story underplays: We don’t have any more troops to send. The Army is in a zero-sum state: No more soldiers can be sent to Afghanistan without a one-for-one reduction of soldiers in Iraq.
Let us recall that Afghanistan is the war that just might be winnable, with some luck, and lots more troops. Not guaranteed, but while Afghanistan is the typical Middle Eastern stewpot of tribal conflicts, it hasn’t nearly as much of the religio-political complexity of Iraq.
And there’s very little in the way of petroleum to fuel the flames, as it were.
And there may well be something to gain; not the least would be pacifying the provinces that are a continual menace to whatever stability might be feasible in neighboring Pakistan.
The poppy fields I care little about; they’ll stay in business forever, regardless of whatever energy we put toward that target. The drug problem of the U.S. isn’t about those poppy fields, it’s about who we let sell the manufactured drugs on the street. The idiocy of our war on drugs has been exposed here more than once [that’s three different links!].
But, we won’t have the boots to place on the ground in Afghanistan unless we find them among assets we already have in the field. Take a look at Fred Kaplan’s analysis.
[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]
So this is how yr (justifiably) humble svt ties in the robotic discussion. In the short term the troops to win Afghanistan will have to come from Iraq, and from whatever of those allies we may still possess whom we can persuade to increase, or make new, commitments.
Of course the Army’s soldiers and Marines can be spared in Iraq, as it’s difficult to believe that even a million more U.S. troops could sort out the miserable hash that the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld brain trust made there.
The next administration should have the mandate and the will to figure out a way to safely extricate U.S. assets, except perhaps enough sufficient to protect Kurdistan from Turkey, Iran and what’s left of Iraq, and leave the tribes to figure out what to do with the rest of what is, after all, a wholly artificial construct the British assembled from those disparate tribes after World War I.
Kaplan says the U.S. needs a top to bottom rethink of its global mission. Left-Handed Complement agrees, but also believes that the trend toward letting technology handle the in harms way part is a good development that should be pursued vigorously once the hemorrhaging is stanched in Iraq.
It’s it for now. Thanks,
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