The End Of Human War

Recently, Russian troops approached what they assumed to be a bunker with a Ukrainian machine guy crew. They thought this because they took machine gun fire from the location. They responded with mortars and drones, but when they approached again, they came under heavy machine gun fire. The Russians then struck the spot with thermobaric munitions, but the Ukrainian machine guy kept firing. Eventually, they were able to outflank the sight and destroy it.

What they found upon closer inspection was not a heavily armored machine gun nest full of dead Ukrainians, but instead it was a robotic machine gun. The gun itself was in a concrete bunker, but it was operated by computer. It is unclear if it was operated remotely or if the accompanying laptop was autonomous. There are two versions of the story on Russian channels. Regardless, this autonomous machine gun nest is the latest example of how cheap electronics are revolutionizing the battlefield.

The Russians think that this autonomous machine gun was a prototype created by a NATO country and provided to the Ukrainians for testing. That is possible as the war in Ukraine has become a giant military testing center. NATO contractors are using the conflict as an opportunity to evaluate new and old technology. The Russians, of course, have also been experimenting with new ideas. This war will be viewed in time as the first war of the autonomous munitions era.

One reason for the revolution on the battlefield is the proliferation of cheap electronics that can solve battlefield problems. A five-hundred-dollar quadcopter can be rigged up to drop grenades on enemy trenches. The user can be a girl or even a wounded soldier who operates it from the rear. It also allows for a better understanding of the enemy’s defensive positions and their troop strength. Instead of artillery barrages, men in trenches now attack one another with cheap drones.

There is another innovation that has turned up in Ukraine. Both sides have now started to deploy small ground-based drones. They look like the RC cars you would give to a child, except these are packed with explosives. The Ukrainians have been driving these into Russian trenches and then driving them near troops and supplies. The Russians, on the other hand, are programming their ground drones to operate without an operator and simply search out targets on their own.

This is the big leap forward that has occurred recently. The Russians have taken the next step in remote weapons. They now have drones that operate on their own, programmed to find a target and then attack it. More important, they are now equipping these drones with night vision cameras. These drones are flying around and crawling around the battlespace at night hunting for Ukrainian equipment. Now, there is no hiding from the robot warriors in the sky and on the ground.

What the Ukraine war has ushered in is not so much the rise of the robot warrior but the rise of the cheap robot warrior. The point of these innovations is to change the math of the battlefield by weaponizing cheap electronics. If a two-thousand-dollar drone can take out multimillion dollar armor and artillery, the material advantage of the side with the armor and artillery flips on its head. All of a sudden one side sees its cost spiraling upward in the face of cheap counter measures.

This is another revolution on the Ukraine battlefield. The Russians have always been the best at electronic warfare. Their defensive strategy has always assumed they would be attacked by high-tech NATO warplanes and missiles. In Ukraine, they have had to quickly adapt these concepts to the very real threat of NATO cruise missiles, ATACM missiles and guided artillery. The last two years the Russians have had to race to figure out how to defeat these advanced weapons systems.

The result is the Russians have slowly revolutionized electronic warfare. The vaunted Storm Shadow missile from Britain had some initial success, penetrating Russian air defenses and hitting targets in the rear. At some point, the Russians solved this puzzle like they solved the HIMARS problems, and these missiles now fly into the ground soon after they are launched. The Russians are doing this with relatively cheap, ground-based mobile electronic warfare systems.

Notice a word that keeps turning up. The word “cheap.” This has been the main driver of innovation on the Ukraine battlefield. NATO has outspent the Russians close to ten-to-one in terms of weapons and technology. The United States has given to Ukraine in two years about ten times what Russia spends annually. In addition, the West has provided mountains of technical and intelligence support. There is simply no way Russia could match NATO dollar for dollar.

In fairness, the Ukrainians have faced a similar problem. Much of what has been supplied to them has not been suited for the task. America war planners have always assumed they would be facing an under-armed opponent trying to defend perfectly flat ground on a clear sunny day. That is not Ukraine. As a result, the Ukrainians have had to do like the Russians and improvise on the cheap. The Ukrainians are probably the second best in the world using cheap drones.

Probably the most terrifying development to date is the one just unleashed. The Russians have reengineered the Iranian drones they have been using so they are stealthy, autonomous, and work together. They recently unleashed a swarm of these drones that could avoid Ukrainian radar, seek out targets on their own and coordinate with the rest of the drone swarm. These drones cost maybe twenty thousand a piece and can take out expensive things like Patriot missile systems.

The West will no doubt learn and adapt to what is happening in Ukraine and begin to create autonomous robot weapons. Artificial intelligence is mostly hype at the moment, but automated decision making within the narrow parameters of the battlefield is now a reality, so the day of the killer robot is upon us. It is not going to take long before weapons production moves from multimillion dollar tanks that are no match for a flying killer robot to building better killer robots.

As was the case in the Great War when military technology lapped the thinking of the men tasked with using the technology, the result in Ukraine has been a weird form of trench warfare. The Ukrainians built massive, fortified locations to use as strong points along the line of contact. The Russians built complex defensive structures designed to minimize their losses while attacking Ukrainian positions. The result has been a slow grinding war of attrition now fought with robots.

That brings up another change brought about by technology. The NATO form of war with big arrow offenses and combined arms warfare is now obsolete. That was made clear in the Ukrainian offensive last summer. A NATO trained and equipped army was sent into to bash through the Russian lines using NATO tactics and it was instead blown to pieces in cheap, high-tech minefields. Remotely placed and activated mines are now a dominant feature of the modern battlefield.

What is coming out of the Ukraine war are big questions. If big expensive items like tanks and fighting vehicles are being turned to death traps by cheap robots, then what is the point of building them? Similarly, if manned aircraft are made obsolete by air defense systems and drones, what is the point of building them? What is the point of having an aircraft carrier if aircraft are no longer viable? Trillions of weapons systems are now becoming white elephants thanks to cheap robots.

It is always assumed that the desire to kill our fellow man will lead us to overcome these technological cul-de-sacs. The shield blocked the spear, but waves of cheap arrows defeated the shield wall. The machine gun forced men into trenches, but the tank forced the men back out of the trenches. It is assumed that the robots will force some new counter so that rich men and can get richer by sending poor men to their deaths, but there has to be some end point to this process.

More important, every weapons systems has behind it an army of men who believe in fighting war a certain way. The NATO trained Ukraine army, that was obliterated by the Russians this summer, was the result of old men determined to stick with the old ways of fighting a war, despite battlefield reality. On the other hand, the defeat of weapons systems leads to the defeat of the ideas behind them. Right now, the American military’s notions of war are dying on the Ukrainian steppe.

It is hard to say if we have reached the end point, but the end of manned war seems to be coming into focus. Robots will only get cheaper and smarter. Soon, sending men to clear a building will seem as antiquated as the cavalry charge. The skies will be full of robotic killing machines and the ground crawling with their brothers, hooked together by electronic communications and artificial intelligence. The automation revolution will mean the end of war, at least for the human participants.


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213 thoughts on “The End Of Human War

  1. 6 reasons the Air Force wants to get its hands on Russian DNA
    On Jul. 19, 2017, the Air Force posted a request on FedBizOpps, the U.S. government’s contracting opportunities site, looking for price quotes on how much it would cost to acquire 12 each fresh frozen normal human Synovial tissue and Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) samples. So why do they want Russian DNA?

    https://www.wearethemighty.com/intel/air-force-wants-russian-dna/

  2. To me, the interesting thing about this is how utterly meaningless war becomes. I mean we literally have TV shows called “Robot Wars”.

    If it’s cheap, there’s no money in it. If all you’re doing is building tiny robots to destroy other tiny robots, what exactly is the purpose of a war? It’s like China vs Taiwan. To reclaim Taiwan, China would have to destroy Taiwan. That would create global economic havoc that serves no purpose and would probably destabilize China’s economy. The Ukraine war has accomplished…NOTHING!…except it has destabilized the economies of everyone involved and killed hundreds of thousands of human capital. Literally everyone is worse off.

    The robots make it all the more pointless. I think that’s where this is all heading. I’m still trying to think of a good metaphor for it. Star Trek TOS contemplated a robot war in “A Taste of Armageddon”. Instead of robots fighting robots, the societies took the next logical step: computer simulations. People “killed” in the simulations were disintegrated in execution chambers.

    I’ve always felt like Trump figured this problem out with his bilateral peace treaties in the Middle East and has recognition that there’s no point to bringing Ukraine into NATO and precipitating a war. IOW, let’s all just put this bullshit aside and get rich together?

    There’s a ridiculous pointlessness to robots fighting robots.

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      • Russia’s economy is being propped up by US energy policy. Like an egg balanced on an upside down bowl, just because it isn’t currently moving doesn’t mean it is in a stable position.

        • This is not true. The Russian economy is propped up by sound monetary policy, sensible trade relations and high demand for its agricultural, energy and manufactured products.

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  3. “From CT to CP – from Counter Terrorism to Counter Populism.”
    How military and intelligence tactics were used by State Department contractors to influence 2020.
    Kindly left online.
    With their own documents, the CTI morons left online their domestic intelligence operations during covid and 2020 politics.
    We’re already fighting sub humans, with marketing degrees, playing at spies, playing at KGB.

    “The Dumb and The Restless.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPAGaMi6bjg

    • This is one of those things that if there are still “conspiracy theorists” in fifty years, they’ll cite these docs over and over and over again, nobody will ever go back and look at them, and official history will never change.

      My personal version of this is pointing back at the Meese Commission Report (as it’s known) on pornography. There’s a story that from the ’80s through the Clinton years, “conservative Christians” were culturally ascendant and went on a censorship campaign against rock and rap, video games, underground comic books, etc. This isn’t true at all, and if you look at the actual documents it’s obvious that the Religious Right™ was entirely a left-feminist phenomenon, a sockpuppet/useful idiot of Women Against Pornography, Dworkin/MacKinnon, etc. Can anyone be convinced of this? No. The story is established.

      Similarly, the story of Trump/populism/etc. is about “Russian influence”—and it will *never* be otherwise.

      Who killed Kennedy? “Dallas”—the right-wing anti-civil-rights climate of the ’60s south.

      Etc.

      It’s not the first “narrative” but the first *lie* that always wins.

      We have no idea what actually happened in our past.

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  4. Pure Robots vs. Robots out there on some battlefield would be just another iteration of economic warfare assuming a long peer conflict stalemate.

    So the incentive to do an end run around automated strongpoints and the heavily defended automated weapons fabs and go directly for upstream civilian infrastructure to put the hurt on the opposing population would be clear… but much essential infrastructure could conceivably be defended by swarms of cheap automation.

    But could you put a defensive swarm around every *Civilian*? I think not. Inexorable logic –> it ain’t gonna be nice.

    And with ‘Cheap’… well our Bug Men Overlords like to use the euphemism Non State Actors… All the fun of the fair!

    (Probably about as useful predictions as the late Victorians and Edwardians fantasizing about Land Battleships and Martian Tripods.)

  5. You will want to have someone install plank flooring for you.

    Before that, you will want to have your plumbing inspected.

    You have a book to finish and do not have the time to be screwing around either on hands and knees or keeping the road warm between Z Estates and Home Depot.

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  6. Today’s essay is not wrong given the limited context of the war in Ukraine, but it’s too strong for a universal description. Nothing is ever permanently obsolete; it’s just temporarily obsolete modulo a given set of countermeasures. It is certainly not true that human warfare is dead or ever will be dead. In fact, one of things that could overwhelm a drone swarm is an even larger human swarm, which nations may resort to if they become desperate enough. Even the “cavalry charge” has been revived lately, with some success, by Hamas against Israeli armor. At any rate, the human being is the sole center and source of the will to fight, and it is the human being who must ultimately be met and defeated. Technology, everywhere and always, is only a means.

    One of the necessary caveats that comes with using this war as a textbook case for the “developing battlefield” is that the oddities of the Ukrainian situation have greatly influenced how the war has developed and aren’t necessarily applicable everywhere else. The Russians, for example, have taken a comparatively light hand when it comes to many traditional battlefield objectives: They have not engaged in mass infrastructure attacks except against electric substations; they have not bothered to interdict the arrival of enemy weapons into the battlespace; they have not been very committed to taking and holding large amounts of territory; and, most bizarrely, the haven’t even attempted the decapitation of the regime in Kiev. On the other side of the ledger, NATO has made no attempt to establish air superiority or to reenforce Ukraine with boots on the ground.

    As a result, this “war of attrition” that everyone now talks about is more of a deliberate choice than it is an organic development. I certainly understand the reasons advanced in defense of that choice, and I agree with many of them. In fact, I was one of the first people making those kinds of arguments back when everyone else was ridiculing Russia for their slow progress. However, unlike some other commenters, I am not unaware of certain ambiguities and drawbacks in that position. There is something unsatisfactory about the “war of attrition” model that must not be repressed. If it is not voiced, it makes itself felt in the form of cognitive dissonance, like of the sort which always has Alexander Mercouris speaking of a real Russian invasion in another six months.

    One of the most important questions about the conduct of the war, and one that few people on the pro-Russian side are mentioning, is the prolongation of the human suffering. We know that Russia has the means to destroy Ukraine any time it wants to; but therefore, in the interim, every additional Russian death and Ukrainian death is morally attributable to Russia’s delaying the victory. One has to ask what objective is being achieved by this, and the only possible answer I see is that it allows Russia more opportunity to grind down and destroy the Ukrainian military.

    Let’s pause here a moment to note the irony of that answer: The war of attrition, the next-generation war fought with drones and AI that was supposed to end war between humans and to be so sparing of soldiers’ lives, has actually resulted in maximal human carnage. Whatever the intended effect of this style of warfare, casualty minimization has not been the real-world outcome, which at least raises the possibility that this was never the goal in the first place. Another problem with this line of thinking is that the strategy’s success depends upon Ukraine’s willingness to keep pouring ever more men and machinery into the Russian meatgrinder, which (admittedly) they have strangely continued to do. Ukraine’s behavior here is more difficult to explain, but the usual answer is that Ukraine is fighting a PR battle and therefore must continue to mount one offensive after another for appearances’ sake, no matter how militarily hopeless the situation is. Russia, in turn, has been thought to back its more aggressive tactics so as not to provoke a proportionate response from NATO.

    But that is where the argument starts to break down. Is a proportionate response by NATO more likely as long as it looks like Ukraine is holding its own, or after it looks certain to lose? The closer Russia gets to winning the “war of attrition,” the more likely the chances are of a dangerous NATO escalation. I submit that Russia knows this, and that this is the real purpose behind the Surovikin Line and the hundreds of thousands of trained recruits in theater. NATO also knows this—they must have known that Ukraine never really stood a chance against the Russian military without full kinetic support from its own soldiery. If that ever happened, the war would have far-reaching and devastating effects, even if it didn’t go nuclear. The one thing that could entirely prevent this possibility is if there is no longer a Ukrainian state or a Ukrainian government to assist.

    In short, every day that Russia prolongs the war, the more pain and suffering occur, and the closer becomes the possibility of a horrible conflict. There is a weird circularity to all of this that eventually must be broken. At some point the calculus will change. At some point we will have to say that it would have been cheaper in blood and treasure just to sack Kiev and occupy Ukraine than it was to continue the “war of attrition.”

    Since this war is basically a result of the refusal of both sides to put all their cards on the table, I doubt that it is really a template for the future of human conflict. We will only see the next chapter of human conflict when somebody does put their cards on the table.

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  7. Good article, Z-man. Interesting that the Russian army has emerged as the toughest military in the world, despite all the criticism from the West. The Israeli military right now is looking terribly overrated.

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    • There is not a single western military that isn’t hopelessly pozzed. Every single one of them is casualty averse to the point of uselessness.

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      • The US is casualty averse because it hasn’t been involved in an existential war since the War of Northern Aggression.

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    • i don’t think the us military is at all casualty averse. they are not bothered by the west virbginia hillbilly and texas farm boys getting IED in absurdistan for decades at a time .

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      • But US military performance and tactics in Iraq DO tell a story of a risk averse policy. 130k troops, max, to pacify a nation of millions?

        • destroying a country of millions and killing a million civilians in a country that in no way threatened our country while killing tens of thousands of our soldiers and and getting the arms and legs blown off another hundred thousand or so does not exactly scream “reapect for human life” to me. so what did we get for the trillions spent and blood shed , hannity?

  8. “… If big expensive items like tanks and fighting vehicles are being turned to death traps by cheap robots, then what is the point of building them? Similarly, if manned aircraft are made obsolete by air defense systems and drones, what is the point of building them? What is the point of having an aircraft carrier if aircraft are no longer viable? Trillions of weapons systems are now becoming white elephants thanks to cheap robots.”

    You can bet the boys in the MIC are pooping their pants over this.

    Andrei Martyanov and others have been saying this exact thing for ages now.

    The MIC and their Pentagon stooges are likely thrilled the spotlight has shifted from their Ukraine disaster to Gaza. But then there are all those aircraft carriers cruising offshore. And the Iranians are supposed to now have missiles that will sink them nicely. Even Hezbollah may have this capability, according to some.

    Oh what a delicious irony if the MIC starts using all its considerable influence to push for peace–or at least to get all American-made equipment removed as far as possible from potential harm. Because it is bad for business when customers see your gear is junk, or taxpayers see those big boats going down glug-glug and finally understand they are paying for sea-going dinosaurs.

    Patriot batteries have been useless.

    And where is the F35 hangar queen in all this fighting?

    That’s right.

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  9. In Renaissance Italy, private contractors – condottori – had honed mobile warfare down to an art, resting on the doctrine that with proper maneuvering, a war could be won without a single shot being fired: you put the enemy in a so disadvantageous tactical position that he realized the battle was lost and surrendered. Armies could maneuver in the field for months on end without making contact, each one dodging each other, looking for that definite advantage.

    Losses in such warfare were minimal, but it relied on highly trained mounted knights, crossbowmen and arquebusiers, and, unsurprisingly, it cost their city state employers absolute fortunes to have these mercenaries lounging around the taverns, polishing their gold-inlaid armor and their jeweled sword hilts, showing off their silk stockings to the the tavern wenches.

    Then, Francis I figured out that you could mass produce cheap flintlock muskets, give a bunch of peasant boys three months’ training, line them up in long rows, invade Italy, massacre everything you encountered with massed musket fire, march on Rome, and loot the Vatican.

    And that was the end of the condottori.

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  10. a ukrainian tv station “accidentally ” put up a real casualty number for the kranian forces killed or captured . it was a staggering 1.1 million. given that wounded is usuall y about 3 time KIA, that means 4 million ukrainian men and Women have been killed off or maimed in the kagn clans latest project . given that many of the wounded are permanently disabled , it’s clear that this project to genocide the ukrainians was sucessful. it should be called holodomore II . https://bigcountryexpat.com/index.php/2023/11/27/an-abrams-in-the-wild-and-krainian-kasualties-leaked/

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    • That’s obviously a fake news.

      Those who think they are exclusive property of the West are naive.

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      • have you seen the pictures of the latest ukrainian recruits? its all men who are OLD , like 50’s 60’s old . the russians have been posting pictures of trenches full of dead ukrainian WOMEN. they are drafting women for the front lines . if you read any media from any neutral country the reporting all lines up . only the media in the west, the proppaganda corp for the MIC , has anything else out there .
        So back to watching hanity for you!

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  11. A new age weapons system that is underperforming so far, at least in Ukraine, is lasers and their directed energy cousins.

    EMP is a logical thing to look at to defend against swarms of small drones. So far haven’t heard much about that. And it has been suggested that weapons grade lasers would flip the advantage that areal platforms have against ground platforms. Since at least WW2 a plane had the edge over a tank. But as anyone who has ever used a laser pointer knows hitting with a light beam is far easier. Since it is easier to hide on the ground than in the sky, this should give a ground laser the edge in a duel with an airborne one. But again no signs of that on any battlefield I know of

    • Is it possible to create a sub-atomic level explosion that will create a disabling EMP? I’ve seen a video of a man portable electronic “gun” that disables a single drone by interrupting its signal from a controller.

      If drones become auto-dictating to avoid the need for a controller’s signal, I imagine they become an area-denial device similar to artillery deployed mines. They won’t be intelligent enough to distinguish friend from foe. I suppose each man in the friendly force could be equipped with a portable transmitter to identify himself as a friendly (similar to aircraft or “glint tape” used in the Gulf War). That device would have to be encrypted and jumping frequency like the Singars radio.

      I suppose self-dictating drones could be swarmed ahead of an advance, killing anything they can in the route of advance and then detonating or going inert at a proscribed time as ground forces advance behind them. In effect becoming the rolling curtain fire used in both World Wars.

      I recently watched an air show in Canada where masses of drones were used to create massive patterns and images in the air. It got me thinking how casting a wide net over a battlefield or even peacetime surveillance of a city wouldn’t be that hard. Simply putting thousands of cameras in the sky would be a game changer. Rotating drones in turns to recharge would enable constant surveillance.

      It boggles the mind, and that’s not even considering what nasty killing/maiming/destroying nastiness developers will incorporate into future drones.

      I think myself a decent person and I can still imagine some of these nightmare scenarios. What horrors are being cooked up in the minds of immoral people whose job it is to bring this stuff into existence? Terrifying.

      • I don’t know. I saw a documentary once that said the Russians had fooled around with nuxlear propellants for hand weapons and the like. It was supposedly based on another element, not plutonium or uranium. But this could have been poorly researched nonsense. What seems very likely is that there is great interest in super powerful EMP that is no nuclear and somewhat portable

    • Lasers are very complex and very finicky thereby defeating the purpose of “cheap & effective” countermeasures. They are high dollar, high tech, high maintenance, and work only under specific conditions.

      EMP weapons are sci-fi still. Directed EMP blasts are not really a thing yet. Once you can focus EMP energy you have a game changer but who knows when that will be? The only current reliable EMP generation is a by product of FISSION so… yeah, not practical. You can create very small EMP bursts but at that point you may as well just ram a drone with another drone using kinetic impact energy. WAY cheaper and more effective.

      • At the advent of drone, technology more than a decade ago, some friends and I posited training (conditioning from the egg) birds to do kinetic assault.
        No need for anything exotic: a gull, a goose…

      • Boeing has been testing non nuclear EMP but not sure how that’s going. As for lasers they are definitely har to scale up but I still think they’ll find uses for them.

        I really like the idea of geese learning to knock out drones lol

  12. “Second Variety” by Philip K. Dick, is what comes to mind as the end state of drone warfare.

  13. One thing Western planners are oblivious to is the creative minds of the East, specifically Eastern Europeans who have learned to make do with spit, dirt and bailing wire.

    During the cold war days, East Germans had lost access to West German tools, machines, tractors, cars or anything else that required maintenance and parts. To get around this, they quickly figured out a brake line from a 1964 Mercedes worked perfectly well as a fuel line for a RS01 tractor. These are our version of your southern Rednecks or the Canadians’ Red Green.

    We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of some poor East European farmer with a missing wheel on his wagon who has strapped a log on that side. While not technically elegant, it makes a point about what people who have very little can accomplish in problem solving.

    We all know how effective IEDs were against US military. They were built by illiterate people who live in mud huts with no toilets or running water. Crude as they might have been, their ingenuity and effectiveness made US troops think twice about kicking in a door.

    So if you think for a minute these people are impressed or intimidated by Americas trillion dollar air craft carriers or their billion dollar fighter jets, guess again.

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    • Yes. The two big takeaways from this madness are (a) the United States no longer can destroy a somewhat viable economy with sanctions and (b) wars can be fought successfully on the cheap. Both of those are bad news for the GAE. They were somewhat understood previously but the Ukraine has put paid to any residual doubts.

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    • I once saw a hippy friend successfully incorporate a Christmas Cookie tin into the engine of his VW bus.
      Not sure if it’s true but I had always heard that part of the design impetus for the “people’s wagon” was to allow the possibility of such inventive repairs.
      I recall seeing some books/manuals among the Dead/VW Bus crowd that were specifically addressed to the topic.

  14. The girl we now have as our Chief of Naval Operations has no doubt been convinced that her Eisenhower carrier battle group located in the Persian gulf poses a big threat to any Washington designated bad people in the area. However, should it transpire that Mr. Kinzhal and a dozen of his compatriots come calling at Mach 5 from various directions at the same time on a dark and stormy night, I expect the poor woman’s cherished narrative will be much tarnished. The cost ratio of such a caper probably runs at least six orders of magnitude in favor of the Kinzhals.

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  15. “He, general or mere captain, who employs every one in the storming of a position can be sure of seeing it retaken by an organized counterattack of four men and a corporal.”

    — Ardant du Picq

    Just a quote I believe to be somehow true.

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    • “And here we have a particularly smart Siamese fighting fish. He waits and watches as the other two exhaust themselves in battle, and then, like SPECTRE, he strikes!”

      “I find the allegory amusing, Number One.”

      Ernst Stavro Blofeld and Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love

  16. I don’t know. There sure are a lot of dead people for the end of human wars. Supposedly the number of MIA/KIA was broadcast on a Ukrainian news network and is over a million (1,126,652).

    As for air power, it’s been many decades since the last war where both sides were advanced Western nations. It could be that they were obsolete decades ago.

    Up until Feb of 2022, everyone was talking about 4th generation warfare and how the old way was obsolete and that we would never again see the “2nd generation” warfare. That the role of the military was fundamentally and permanently changed. That the new way of war was going to be non-uniformed civilians using guerilla tactics using only small arms and IEDs. Yet, here we are with advanced mechanized military units fighting other advanced mechanized units and complete with trench warfare. Really, who around here imagined in 2020 that trench foot was going to make a comeback.

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    • Kurt Vonnegut saw all this in his early novel Player Piano…where the troops are only there to serve the robots and keep them plugged in properly….

      • That was 70 years ago…Only a few years after the firebombing of Dresden that he immortalized in Slaughterhouse Five…

    • The propaganda machine must be going into total clampdown mode over that casualty stat. It cannot be allowed to propagate. Normie is unlikely to ever hear it. Or if so, “Russian disinformation.”

  17. Combat soldiers may well be a thing of the past, but once the bots have achieved their battlefield aims, men will have to occupy the newly won territories. And they will encounter old-fashioned guerilla warfare at that point. No true victory can occur until many boots are on the ground. I do not think that will ever change.

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    • It is likely drones will be coupled with biological and chemical weapons to assure there aren’t enough survivors left to pose a guerilla threat. We are just getting a glimpse of how ugly the future portends to be.

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      • How far are we from genetic (race, ethnicity, regional grouping) markers being targeted for biowarfare? Terrifying.

        • The US is known to have been pursuing ethnic-specific “germ warfare” since the early ’60s. Either they’ve succeeded already, or they can’t.

          The Soviets claimed—so American libs believed, and some aged ones who haven’t updated their software still do—that AIDS was a US bio-weapon aimed at black people.

          RFK Jr’s quickly abandoned flirtation with the idea that covid was ethnically targeted was him rerunning that old program, thinking it was still allowed. Boomer moment.

          The forgotten “biolabs” subplot of the Ukraine show may have been Putin’s true reason for invading. But something above him told him he’s not allowed to talk about that, so he stopped.

          • Imagine the comedy when they realized it was killing off their beloved poofters instead of the negros

  18. Say what you want about Dilbert (Scott Adams) – a stopped clock is right on the money twice a day. “Propaganda works on us – even when we know it is propaganda.”

    This notion that small hobby drones can be repurposed into squad killer robots is patent nonsense. I am something of a chit house expert on cheap electronics (with emphasis on ‘cheap’) – and have built my hobby drones from scratch – and I heartily recommend it as a great father/son activity as a way of fostering an interest in electronics and robotics in kids. Let us be realistic: if you want to bust tanks, bunkers, and level buildings… you need the payload to do it! If the key to winning a war is as simple as duct taping an RPG to a small hobby drone, this war would have been over already. You wouldn’t be seeing half starved women on the front Ukranian front lines, you wouldn’t be seeing WW1 style trench warfare – and the Russians would have been driven back and cowering in fear in Moscow. This is readily apparent to anyone that has even a passing interest in cheap hobby drones. If it were that simple, we would throw our multimillion dollar Reapers, Predators and other mil drones in the garbage and be done with them. A serious payload requires a serious serious airframe to deliver it. The laws of aerodynamics will not be denied. The small drones HAVE made superb surveillance and reconnaissance possible… but we already have had that for well over 50 years with advanced surveillance aircraft and satellites.

    Yes, multirotors CAN carry payloads, but they are expensive, dedicated machines that require heavy lift capabilities. They are fragile, and require skilled operators to use effectively. The little guys CAN carry small fire crackers and submunitions… but they are not, and never will be serious game changers on the battlefield outside their surveillance capabilities. If they WERE game changers we would use them and win with them.

    The other ludicrous proposition here is that AI can autonomously pick and choose their targets. This MAY be possible with big things like armoured military vehicles and installations where the adversaries are using vastly different machinery and equipment. In this case, the Russians are using much of the same equipment that the Ukes are. The potential for friendly fire at this point of AI development is huge. I am dubious about this scenario alone – the algorithms required to distinguish between friend and foe would have to be DARPA level, black ops cutting edge shite that we would never release into the modern battlefield where the Russians might capture it and reverse engineer it. Uncle Sam has many faults, but his reluctance to put cutting edge technology on the Ukranian battlefield is legendary. Just look at the reluctance to field the famed invincible Abrams tanks in the Ukranian theatre. If those things were all they were cracked up to be the Russians and the Chinks would be deploying their own variants. As it is, they can build and field three relatively capable modernized T72’s for every Abrams we build.

    I think you said it best – that most of America’s high tech wonder weapons are grossly over sold and hyped beyond reason. You never say “never”… but in this case, there will be no new wonder weapons performing miracles on the battlefield, or novel surprise tactics or clever traps that change the course of the war. The reality is that the Russians have taken the very worst we can throw at them and prevailed with remarkably light casualties. Maybe one day small drones and AI machine gun nests be a reality… but for now…? I’ll believe it only when it is a documented reality. Again – you said it best: we live in an age where we literally can’t trust ANYTHING we see or hear.

    If I were the King Of NATO, I’d be concentrating on the enemy and learning the lessons he has taught us. There is a place in modern warfare for high tech… but it isn’t the answer and never will be. The Germans in WW2 actually had truly revolutionary weapons to field but lost anyways. I am fearful that we are going to make the same mistake. That – and coupled with our faggotified and our vibrantly diverse militaries, combined with our despicable leftist leadership … make it a near certainty that we will lose any conflict we care to engage in.

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    • The purpose of the hobby drone is not to fight a war, but to fight the people that cause the war. And for that purpose, everything that you cite as a negative is in fact a significant advantage. You don’t need payload; just anonymity, numbers, and the element of surprise. Smarter not harder.

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        • God help us. Had they done so, half a million good men would still be alive today. But to answer your comment directly, they never tried and what came next should be a lesson to us all.

    • It is this line toward the end or your excellent analysis that resonates loudest…

      our faggotified and our vibrantly diverse militaries, combined with our despicable leftist leadership

      I’ve spent my entire career working in defense electronics and seen some frightening shite developed…in the lab. The weakest link, the chink in the armor, always has been and always will be the squishy, fragile, incompetent meat ‘n bones operator out in the field, cowering inside the armor, or directing the mission from far out of harm’s reach.

      Battle ‘bots is a fun sideshow, but as soon as there are humans involved, making impulsive, stupid decisions, it all goes to hell. I’ve dealt with senior “technicians” in the army and navy who forgot over a long weekend how to power up the zillion dollar weapons systems we provide them. And despite obscenely expensive effort put into automated diagnostics (built-in-test and fault isolation) it still requires flesh-and-blood operators to request and fulfill spare parts orders, as well as prying out the defective gizmos and swapping them with replacements.

      You wouldn’t believe the nightmare clusterfvcks that are a daily occurrence on board those 5 billion dollar carriers, with room temp IQ “technicians” pretending to maintain fickle, state-of-the-art electronic weapons systems that look so damned invincible on paper.

      A copy of our latest, crazy-complex anti-ship missile system was actually bricked out in the Persian Gulf off Bahrain not long ago because the black, lesbionic sooperchick in charge of the radar room neglected to flip up the breakers on the transmitter unit. I was flown halfway around the world at enormous expense to “troubleshoot” that disabled breaker, and was rewarded with a typical sour homegirl pout as sooperchick was humiliated in front of an amused crowd when the system was back online in 40 seconds total elapsed time.

      The tools and toys continue to get exponentially smarter while those charged with maintaining them go the opposite direction.

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      • Just to piggyback, your talk can be applied to automation in general as the more that is asked of a piece of equipment the more that is asked of the operator.

      • Heh. Like the Hiroshima bomb, even Skynet Terminators won’t be able to outdo the destructive power of Africa.

    • Don’t judge drones by what they do right now, judge them by the potential that is clearly there. Small drones have destroyed MBTs in Ukraine. I see no reason why you could not have swarms of them. And they will come in different sizes and capabilities. The more accurate the smaller charge you need. Plenty of small drones could carry 20 oz of HE

      Besides, reconnaissance is one of those things people often underestimate the importance of. To hit the quarry you need to know where it is. Drones have already revolutionized this on the tactical field. If hand grenades are pocket mortars, small drones are backpack satellites

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      • Correct, It all hinges on the energy density of our explosives. Currently, there are no viable explosives out there strong enough to do serious damage. The payload on small hobby drones is around 100~200 grams… about half the size of a conventional NATO grenade.

        The vaunted Javelin missiles have a payload twice or three times that and they were a spectacular flop. Even at their best it took multiple hits to disable Russian tanks. The Russians now have more of them than we do because the Ukes threw them away.

        If you DO develop some miraculous explosive that can kill a tank with a mere 200g payload… the counter is already in the works. Reactive armour technologies are already working on the battlefield and working as advertized.

        This is why I say that high tech can only provide a temporary advantage… and IMHO… we are very, very close to losing that, if we haven’t already.

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        • It might not literally be hobby drones they use. They will be more rugged and expensive than a hobby drone from Walmart. But a $3000 drone that kills an artillery tube or three soldiers or an armored vehicle one third of the time, will be worthwhile

          • Exactly. Start with the battery pack on a modern drill. Enough power to spin the drill right out of your hands. Run time of more than long enough to get over target.

            Add 3-6 $20 stepper motors. Add an Arduino with gyro to get rid of most of the required operator skillset, something you could easily run using an off-the-shelf XBox controller.

            The reason you don’t see these in stores is not the cost. It’s the FAA licensing.

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          • Okay.

            Try that in -20C. Drop it? It’s done. Bump or knock it – it’s done. Rain? It’s grounded. Try dropping a light bomb in high winds.

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        • The use of cheap quadcopters is limited to anti-personnel weapons, which si why we have thousands of videos online showing them dropping grenades on trenches. The point I was making was not that hobbyist drones are changing the battlefield, but that they are leading to things like Lancet drones which are revolutionizing the battlefield.

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          • You don’t have thousands of vids. Probably less than 100, shown thousands times. I have seen the same vid claiming the Russians are the hapless victims, then again claiming the Ukes are the victims. You can’t trust anything you see. I’ve seen dozens where the bomb goes off right beside the intended victim…and he walks away afterward.

            Again – Scott Adams applies. To understand the ins and outs of drone realities you literally have to get a drone and fly FPV to grasp the complexities. It’s do-able too. You should do it personally simply for the fun of it and prove it to yourself.

            I tried to do it myself. The tofts have dog competitions at a local dog park and I decided I was going to bomb them with wieners and hotdogs as a practical joke. My machine wouldn’t lift enough of a payload to make the effort worthwhile. Sure, it’s anecdotal and doesn’t prove much… but it puts the lie to a lot of the misinformation.

            Pity, that…

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          • @Filthie, I agree that we are being played, but effective drones are NOT misinformation. All they are is illegal. Just like “J” size model rockets, it’s not that it can’t be done by amateurs, it’s that the powers that be are terrified of what can be done with modern batteries and circuitry. The 249g limit is not technological but rather legal. And like it or not, 250g of payload can easily put you into the Destructive Device category, even in the States. Canada is probably worse. And just the battery pack of a regular old drill takes you over the 249g limit to operate without a license.

            There are all kinds of prop designs you can download and 3D print and try out, but suffice it to say if you wanted to, you could easily loft a payload that would be lethal, even just kinetic payloads, using nothing but off-the-shelf parts.

            FPS drones are over-rated. Yeah, they can be fun, but unless your goal is to get some cool footage following a tight line, there isn’t much of a point. If times become sporty, being able to accurately drop a gallon of petrol will be much more useful than filming some cinematic scene. Wind, rain, etc. don’t really matter. In such a situation, you can always fly tomorrow.

            These are not concerns for countries at war. But they are massive concerns for countries who want their populaces to think drone technology is useless.

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    • The more I think about it, the more concerned I become. We assume that the Russkies and chinks aren’t developing these miracle wonder weapons because they can’t.

      What if it is because they WON’T? Consider: China has an academic elite every bit as capable as our own. The second they saw the Mars probes – they promptly made and built their own. The Russkies are the only guys to date that could put a probe on Venus. Their rocket engines are better than ours and can run at higher temps and pressures. These guys are not the backward peasants and illiterate serfs that they were 60 years ago. Their top minds and scientists compete tooth and nail for a position with their respective military/industrial complexes. Our top minds get banished for wearing tee shirts that offend feminists and vibrants… and are replaced by brain dead vibrants and feminists.

      I think they know something about these sooper-dooper high tech applications that we don’t. Working smarter? In this day and age…? I am dubious, to say the least.

      Do they know something we don’t?

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    • I feel like you answered your own skepticism already in your self-reply.

      Yes “off the shelf” DJI drones are not game changers, but they are a spectacular proof of concept. Just so happens DJI is a chink company…

      Those videos you are describing are one off attacks on individuals by someone who strapped a grenade to a DJI drone, that isn’t very effective.

      Now take an actual superpower with actual smart people (China, the US no longer qualifies on either count) and the R&D to massively expand that idea. I now have a drone swarm with made for purpose armaments, a small aerodynamic explosive charge. I send 1000 of these at once over top of your trench and have just eliminated your entire battalion.

      The psychological effect of that should not be underestimated.

      Likewise, why on earth would I try to attack the head of the snake by hitting the Abrams tank directly when I can simply snip off its massive logistics tail by peppering the supply chain with the same drone swarm and/or kamikaze drones?

      I feel like you are letting your commercial off the shelf experience limit your thinking on what a far larger budget and more creative thinking could achieve.

      An aircraft could be brought over the battlespace and release those 1000 drones all coordinated centrally. This is not some far future scenario, this can be done -today-. What defense would have against it?

      I have flown FPV drones, and I very strongly disagree with your take even with that experience. I have often thought when flying of the insane ways that platform could be weaponized. This is the tip of the iceberg we are seeing in the Uke.

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      • My mistake. I’m sure The Russians are quaking in their boots.

        At the end of the day, none of the cool kids or self proclaimed experts has actually flown an FPV drone or tried to weaponize it to carry a payload. Or deploy it. I’ve done both. The concept is pure sensationalism and hogwash the same way Covid was.

        • You seem to be saying we’ve hit some kind of technological ceiling with regard to payload. I see absolutely no sign of this

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  19. Do not forget these electronics still follow the laws of physics. They need recharges, batteries run out quick and you still need someone to recharge them. If they are remote controlled the signal can be jammed and if they are autonomous you can shot them and bring them down easily. These blades are cheap plastic and they should be easier to bring down.

    Boston Dynamics has some pretty scary robots, but you don’t hear a lot about how long the battery lasts and how robust are they against someone determined to stop them.

    These gadgets are very effective against dumb enemies, but smart armies with electrical and mechanical experts can figure out cheap plans against the cheap terminators.

    You can imagine the Russians figuring out how to jam the sensors of an automated machine gun, if they have a camera just paint the lens, if they have thermal sensing point a laser to it. If they are remote controlled jam the signal. You can only fall into an unexpected trap once (or a few times) until you figure out the mechanism and design a countermeasure.

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    • EXACTLY.

      Atlas looks like a rock star as he dances and prances like the chubby nurses in the empty hospitals during the COVID scam… but in reality, all he is doing is running lines of code with cutting edge speed and advanced data acquisition. He is incredibly fragile when you look at him closely. You or I could take him out with a ball peen hammer. He could take himself out with one minor glitch or fall. To put him on the battlefield and keep him there? When all he can do is read code and preprogrammed instructions…?

      I have heard it said that to field one human on the battlefield takes at least 8 others in supply and logistics to keep him there. Putting these guys on the battlefield will take another 50 years of materials and R&D… and an incredibly advanced technical back up team the likes of the entire research staff at Boston Dynamics. Then you need an equally cutting edge industry to manufacture them and provide spares.

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    • Bear in mind that those Boston Dynamics demos are mapped out over the course of weeks, possibly even months. They’re not rolling those bots out of the lab and sending them in cold.

      Large scale battery maintenance is a critical activity, yet it is extremely hard to do well. This is because it is boring, repetitious work that requires attention to detail and solid technical judgment. That nakes it difficult to recruit worthwhile people for that role.

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    • I have always responded to people who OOOOHHHH and AAHHHHH to BD robots with the following illustration: Did you see that Boston Dynamics dog? Did you see how that dog could step over an obstacle? The guy even kicked it in the side and it didn’t fall over. Amazing! It cost only 40 million dollars to do that….
      On the other hand, my mutt dog, which cost $50 for the adoption fee, maintains her balance, too, when I kick her. And she can jump on the bed!

      For the record, I love my dog, and I do not kick her, especially now that she is in double digit age.

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  20. Can drones work in rougher terrain, like Afghanistan? One Air Force officer I spoke to said the best terrain to defend against drones is rocky/bouldery terrain. Don’t see much of that in Ukraine.

  21. So, your drones beat my drones.
    Check.

    Your robots better than my robots.
    Check.

    Your germs kill more of my people than mine kill of yours.
    Check.

    Your cyber weapons hurt me more than mine hurt you.
    Check.

    Checkmate?

    No, I still have my nukes.

    • AI will become able to defeat nukes before they’re fired and only your AI will be able to defend against that. And when you have AI supremacy over your adversary you won’t need nukes. Therefore I think AI will make nukes obsolete in 30 years. But will be more dangerous to humans as well. The cure for nukes will be worse than nukes are. And human freedom will be in the greatest peril ever.

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        • Artificial intelligence. If you want a definition of that I suppose “adaptive, self moderating computer systems”.

          Most here don’t believe me and my comment above is just a guess. But as everyone knows a lot is happening in this field. The Chinese and others I am sure, are asking their systems what those systems need to be able to disarm, say a medium nuclear power like Pakistan (the US, India) or France (Russia, China). The AI will augment its own development which is one reason, barring a TEOTWAWKI breakdown, the pace of development will accelerate.

          And one question resourceful powers will be asking is “hoe do we disarm our adversary of nukes”.

  22. The automation revolution will mean the end of war, at least for the human participants.
    Or the end of humanity which is more likely…

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        • No they are killing humans by the million. when its all over there will be no ukrainians left in ukraine. then blackrock will own the whole place. the robots seem to make it easier to kill the people , The casualties are looking WW1 – esque

          • When the war in Ukraine is done, there will be a boom in (White) mail order brides. Good looking ones at that. 😉

  23. Perhaps the worst part is all of this will come home to be part of an inescapable surveillance system. We will all be in a digital cage. Technology is making the world too small for personal freedom and privacy. I find that quite depressing

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    • Yes, but a digital cage run by the same people who run the DMV. And as IQ lowers, the cage will fall apart. That gives me a bit of hope.

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      • Government incompetence may be a silver lining but two-edged; Jamal with his new DHS badge will now be flying drones full of HE over your house. That could be problematic

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    • I am reminded of an original Star Trek episode called “A Taste of Armageddon” where the war was fought entirely electronically, with simulated hits, and when one of these occurred, the simulated “victims” had a short time before they voluntarily had to report to a destruction center to be actually killed, AND THEY DID—sheeple! (snorts in derision).

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        • There probably isn’t a single girl being named Karen anymore. The name is going to die out for a while. But it will probably make a comeback in some later era. Like we’re seeing some old long dormant names starting to come back now. Although Mabel hasn’t become trendy again yet.

        • The covid mask would be replaced by masks impregnated with strychnine. And both equally necessary for the public good.

          • “Society needs you to take this cyanide tablet.”

            It seems we are seeing something like this and Canada and the Netherlands seem to be at the forefront of it. It’s hard to know how much is hyperbole or disinformation but there are stories out there of doctors in Canada prescribing euthanasia for patients’ problems.

          • We aren’t far away at all from what was depicted in Children of Men in 2006, where you could order the suicide pill kit online and have it shipped to your home

  24. A lot of this drone warfare debate reminds me of the interwar debate on the role of aircraft, particularly the advocates of “strategic bombing” against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War and the Sino-Japanese War. I’m sure there are drone versions of Gulio Douhet, “Billy” Mitchell and Hugh Trenchard who maintain that “The drone will always get through” and predict apocalyptic techno-war, but reality does dial that back.

    As an aside, since I was a former machine gunner myself, I wonder about the practicality of that autonomous gun bunker as reported. A computer can’t change barrels, clear a jam, or slap in a new belt. Nor, as some smartass Marines proved, is it infallibly “smart”-
    https://www.businessinsider.com/marines-fooled-darpa-robot-hiding-in-box-doing-somersaults-book-2023-1

    “Two of the Marines did somersaults for 300 meters. Two more hid under a cardboard box, giggling the entire time. Another took branches from a fir tree and walked along, grinning from ear to ear while pretending to be a tree, according to sources from Scharre’s book.

    Not one of the eight was detected.

    The AI had been trained to detect humans walking…Not humans somersaulting, hiding in a cardboard box, or disguised as a tree. So these simple tricks, which a human would have easily seen through, were sufficient to break the algorithm.”

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    • You make a very good point about maintaining the gun. The images I saw were of a belt-fed machine gun. It had a servo for moving it around and some optics, which was probably used by a remote operator. You never know with these images that come out of Ukraine, so you cannot put too much stock in what you see. Still, it was most likely a conventional machine gun. Not only do you have the maintenance of the weapon, but you also have the other equipment like the servos and the computers.

      On the other hand, if you are building these things to be disposable, then you are going to rethink everything about the weapon. We are seeing this with tanks. Both sides are stripping down old tanks to use as remote operated weapons platforms. They are rethinking the tank in light of new technology.

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      • What about Walter’s machine gun in the trunk of the car in Breaking Bad. Ran pretty will autonomously.

        • I always thought that final scene was just not believable. That level of operation, which is to say killing all those people remotely and to the last man, being pulled off without a hitch, by a one man developer, and it goes just right on the first try. No way.

          • It was not believable because any halfway competent security always checks the trunk.

            I worked on a Third World military base for years.

            The guards checked the trunk. Every single day.

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      • I cogitated a little and think what was shown might not be some NATO superweapon being tested, but some Afro-engineered stuff slapped together by some Uke nerd who had a bright idea.
        First, NATO is not going to allow some cutting edge killbot tech get captured like that. They lose their minds when a drone gets shot down, so I think it unlikely that some supersecret wonderwaffen gets stuck in some Uke bunker on the front line for Ivan to capture.
        This feels like the Ukes were pulling back from their defense line, and in order to do that, they needed to make the Russians think the position was still manned, temporarily. so you rig up some field expedient shit like this to cover the pullback instead of sacrificing their ever limited supply of soldiers. In fact, the British/ANZAC forces did precisely this when they abandoned Gallipoli-they left rifles and machine guns in the empty trenches rigged with strings tied on the triggers, attached to a bucket that water dripped into, so the empty trenches were firing all night as the Tommies filed away to be evacuated. This smells like a higher tech version of that.

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    • I’m more bullish on AI so let me suggest that AI will soon catch up to recognizing somersaults and such. About changing barrels, reloading etc that might make the system bigger but it’s certainly something robots could learn to do

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      • Perhaps. But so far, some gun jambs I’ve seen have required a thought and dexterity in excess of anything short of a human to achieve solution. I suspect we’d need to redesign the weapons to some extent.

        • They’ll go totally operations research on the problem; if it only costs 20 percent to produce 90 percent reliability compared to 99.99 because of diminishing returns on the last precision, how far du we get with robot guns 90 percent of which fire 90 percent of their ammo but cost 20 percent to make. Is that worthwhile?

          It’s the T-34 philosophy, only build it good enough. Don’t waste time on a super transmission etc

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        • Yeah – guns jamming is machinery failing. Machinery is generally not able to fix itself, just find routes around it to avoid complete failure. Of course, only one route exists for a round, but several points of failure exist. I am of the bearish variety.
          Now, could there be more indiscriminate use of robotics (e.g. fire at everything with a certain heat signature)? Sure. But, again, the solution and way around it seems to already be obvious. Always the hand of man will be needed to guide. No deus ex machina from the workshop of man.

        • Sure, but in my experience, most jams are operator related in the first place. I can run thousands of rounds through without issue, but when my 120# wife tries, she isn’t able to control the recoil as well as my lard butt, and ends up having to clear once every dozen or so. Same with pretty much any handgun above a 9, and some 9s with a high bore axis. DIL, same thing. She somehow manages to limp-wrist a full size M&P 9.

          Probably not a lot of redesign required apart from the mount.

          • Actual deployment (as in one place, sitting, subject to the environment) presents multiple opportunities for disruption.

          • Yup. I was at the range with my daughter when she was first learning to shoot and had her trying my Glock 26. Now, that thing has been as reliable as it is possible for a gun to be for me though thousands of rounds, but she was getting a FTF every magazine or so because she didn’t have a good stable grip and stance (which has since been corrected!).

      • Again: please define “AI” for me? I work in a (peripheral) field, and I thought I understood the term, both conceptually and as a practical matter, but…?
        (BTW – I’m with “water falling in buckets to fire the Enfields so the boys can get away…” on this one.)

        • I’m not sure if you’re asking for a deep philosophical or a practical software and academic definition. But the latter are easily available and the former while relevant easily become very hairy and preliminary.

          Of more practical importance is that a major breakthrough happened in the field when they began using versions designed for language to analyze other material. And these proved very adept at that. Meaning that one architecture could now be used for very wide ranging tasks. This waa perhaps a simulation of general intelligence.

          This breakthrough worried a lot of the leaders in AI. Because they found it hard to control

    • Will so-called AI scanning the battlefield usher in the development of new research into camouflage? A sort of 21st century dazzle ships?

  25. Something similar has been happening in the Middle East and Caucasus, has it not? And what has been happening in the Middle East and Caucasus is linked to the Russia-Ukraine tussle, is it not? Azerbaijan was using cheap Israeli and Turkish drones against Armenia. Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran have all been testing and deploying drones and cheap(er) missiles against foes that have bigger and more expensive militaries. Likewise with the North Koreans. The poor man is finding workarounds for waging war against the rich man.

    The problem with the Americans seems to be they’re politically invested in large and expensive military systems — regardless of whether they work any more or not. USA’s military-industrial complex is a self-serving and prodigiously expensive affair, and one that is strategically scattered throughout the country so that every Congressman has a vested interest in keeping it going for the jobs and concomitant economic stimulus it provides. And of course in DC itself the MIC greases palms liberally. Not to mention that it provides well-remunerated sinecures to retired generals and admirals.

    And so it seems that the construction, maintenance, and deployment of white elephants like aircraft carriers will continue, regardless of the fact that they’re sitting ducks these days.

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    • Politics, marines were forced to take the osprey. A gee wiz machine with an a questionable safety record at best..not to mention 10+ hours of maintenance for every operational hour.
      The army was forced to keep buying Abrams & its endless “upgrades” in order to keep a production facility open and workers familiar in take building.
      Tha Navy with the littoral combat lemons. And the surface vessels with the biggest prise of all harpoonong a carrier. A goal adivsaries have been thinking about since 1945.
      Sooner or later this is going to happen. Whatyagunnado? only the dead have seen an end to war.

  26. Paradoxically, this creates a scenario in which a declining GAE that can no longer afford expensive weapons, and lacks manpower to enforce its law, simultaneously increases its ability to enforce its will on the AINO economic zone population. Unfortunately, someday soon the regime’s drone swarms are going to make those rifles in our closets about as effective as zulu spears were against british rifles. Maybe less.

    Perhaps the poster who recommended expatriation was onto something, but it’s not as if drone tech stops at the (nonexistent) border. The devil you know and whatnot.

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    • The rifle fanatics I know are also drone fanatics. There is an innate instinct in those types to know and understand the battlefield they live in.

      • While it is good to be on the drone wave, I’m not sure this will save the bacon of the 2A anti tyranny logic. For starters drones are probably not covered by the 2A. But also drones are a computer technology and hence in rapid development whereas firearms are in very slow development. So the gov will find it easier to get ahead in drones and countermeasures. Whereas a rifle can’t get hacked, jammed etc

        IOW we stood better vs the gov in technologically stable platforms like firearms than we will in platforms in highly dynamic development like drones

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    • Against the very smallest drones the shotgun may just have risen in relative importance. But your point still stands about rifles vs tyranny

    • The hope is that the creeping decline of the Power Structure’s intellectual capital will render further development and maintainence of battle bots impossible. Patience and vigilance are our greatest assets.

      • Perhaps more likely is the economic reality. Total war has a heavy cost that was easier to bear a couple of generations ago.

        I mean, I don’t think tptb haven’t nuked the world for humanitarian reasons. They know it would be bad for them, too. It sure isn’t conscience that limits warmongers. Hence my musing about limited war below.

  27. It’s even cheaper to develop and deploy biological weapons, and the technical knowledge to engineer bioweapons is readily available and advancing rapidly. The future of warfare is not cheap terminator robots that can be detected and destroyed, but zombie viruses that are all but undetectable until the blood starts squirting from your eyeballs. Biowar has the added bonus of leaving all the infrastructure of your opponents intact.

    Once the biowar genie is out of the bottle it will make the mass killings of the 20th century look puny by comparison. Covid may well have been a test run. There will be no safety in Prospero’s abby.

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    • No doubt. Greg Cochran has long argued that the Soviets used biological weapons against the Germans at Stalingrad. The point being is we have been at this for a very long time and no doubt have come up with some very useful weapons. There is also the speculation that Covid was weaponized in an effort to destabilize China. Create a flu that hits Asians particularly hard and you have a powerful weapon against your biggest future adversary.

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      • There is pretty strong evidence that the United States already used bioweapons against China to keep from being overrun during the Korean War. The first law of war is there is no law of war.

        As an aside, something initially reported regarding the Wuhan Lab was bioweapons were engineered there specifically to target white people. Given the United States funded much of that laboratory, it is perfectly believable. There were neither follow-ups nor denials about the race-specific weaponry and that was quickly dropped.

          • There were other bioweapons also discussed, and one in particular was claimed aimed at whites. That got my attention, as did its immediate memory-holing.

          • Sterilization: slow but sure.

            Like the Russian or Barbara Spectre strategy, the point is not a quick victory. The point is to eliminate future generations of opposition from ever being born.

      • Very interesting to me, and largely forgotten, is that Covid affected China first, and shortly afterward certain government ministers in Iran.

    • Let’s not forget all the bio labs owned by the United States in Ukraine just outside Russia. Thinking the situation now is the same as chemical weapons in WWII. Everyone is waiting to see who uses them first.

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      • See my comment above. The United States likely used bioweapons against China during the Korean War. The line may have been crossed way back then.

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          • If you can get around the paywall, The New York Times did several good pieces in the Nineties. It reported that Imperial Japan’s Unit 731, which developed bioweapons and was coopted by the United States after the war, had provided its captors with the very same weapons it had used against the Chinese.

            From memory, the main article was “The Crimes of Unit 731.” Of course, the NYT would be completely down now with using bioweapons on the GAE’s enemies. I will dig around for a book unrelated to the newspaper reports I read some time back and link it if found.

          • @Chet:

            He’s a great writer! HUMAN SMOKE was awesome, and I suspect some of the unsavory behaviors of the Allies in WWII that Baker chronicled, including the bioweapons developments, led to him to write BASELESS. He wasn’t the first to broach the subject of American use of bioweapons but he was the first to bring it to my attention. Take note that it was published almost simultaneously with the Covid panic.

    • It’s already happening. mRNA agents reprogram cell function at the root level and can be engineered to express latently either via staged procreation effects or later triggered by external stimulation. If you call it a vaccine, the target population willingly infects itself without a single shot being fired. It is maximally efficient because it creates unknowing hostages that can be easily controlled by withholding the “cure” which only works with perpetual doses administered solely the state. No need for concentration camps and slave labor is in endless supply.

      This is what we’re up against. This is not a trivial fight.

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    • One issue with biowar seems to me is that the consequences are far more unpredictable. A drone can be controlled but once a virus is unleashed who knows what it might do . . . or become.

      • Don’t worry!
        As the rabbi says, once Esau (whites) and Edom (white Christianity, that is, Roman Europe and her colonies) are destroyed, the Messiah will come.

  28. “…the result of old men determined to stick with the old ways of fighting a war, despite battlefield reality.”

    This has happened before. In 1776, the British still thought war should be tidy and organized. Lacking such resources, the Americans fought like bandits.

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    • There was no conventional army!

      You might want to read about the Napoleonic era in terms of the “old ways” being bad.Even the civil war.

    • They fought like bandits until they began receiving support (and training) from conventional military forces from France, Germany, etc.

  29. This was a great piece. I would just add two points:

    1) The Ukraine War shows that ISR is an essential battlefield tool. Any effort to mass troops and equipment can be detected from space and drones/robots/long-range artillery can be dispatched against it. The corollary is that any country without ISR is essentially screwed and will be reduced to guerilla warfare, even with drones etc. Being “neutral” – without access to space-based ISR – also means you’re screwed.

    2) The US Military and upper planning echelons have understood this robot/drone phenomenon for a long time. As I mentioned here a while back, the last QDR (2014, pages 14,21) discussed it as did the 2018 NDS. The problem of course is that procurement/graft cycles are long, entrenched interests prefer huge, expensive multi-District platforms and there is a huge military-institutional bias against COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) technology.

    If I had to guess, the US is going to invest heavily in this stuff because we cannot afford manned big metal anymore and it’s obsolete. The deficit will force rationalization of programs. The labor shortage will force the substitution of robots/drones for soldiers.

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    • One thing is certain. The military-industrial complex will find a way to make cheap robot weapons expensive, such that the trillion dollar military budget never shrinks.

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      • All drones will be equipped with gold-plated curb-feelers, tinted windows, spinner rims, and bumpin’ systems that blast rap at deafening levels. That’ll drive up the price and provide boo-coo multicultural enrichment into the bargain.

      • The basic problem is that the MIC is baked into the US economy at a deep level similar to that of the welfare state. As people have pointed out here, it’s entrenched in every Congressional district. An added problem is that the “stance” of the US military has been to aggressively seek involvements abroad, particularly in the ME. So you’ve got strong economic and political *needs* for constant warfare. There doesn’t seem to be much of a need to actually win these wars though since the nations the US has picked on have had little capability to strike back at the US mainland. This is why we keep seeing these things like Iraq and Afghanistan that eventually just get abandoned with a shrug and a chorus of “well, we tried.”

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  30. New technologies are unpredictiable.

    Knowing that the clash-of-armies might mean an embarrassing (and expensive) loss of tanks, planes on runways, and ships at sea, major powers might go straight for the jugular and massively attack civilian infrastructure remotely to “break the will” of the enemy.

    Saw some of this already with the destruction of the Kakhovka dam and the Nord stream pipeline, and certainly in Gaza by “America’s greatest ally”.

    Never put it past the military to “save soldiers’ lives” by inflicting mass civilian casualties (If I were Pvt. Tries Hard 1st Class, I certainly wouldn’t mind).

    Drones may make “Total War” a binary choice…all or nothing.

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    • Bruce Sterling wrote about this very thing in “Heavy Weather” and other books in the 90’s. A side note of his imaginary future was that war had evolved into deniable “structure hits” carried out by proxies, drones, and computer hacks.

      His book “Distraction” even featured a military checkpoint that also hosted a bake sale to fund Barksdale Air Base. The guy was a visionary.

    • If that’s the case, why mollycoddle about? Rather than attack dams and pipelines, why not just inflict a few Dresdens, Tokyos, Hiroshimas and Nagasakis?

      • My grandfather did that very thing in a B-24 in WW2. But since then we have only fought wars of choice, which affords the luxury of choosing how to fight, and the American public thinks dead civilians are icky and gross.

        This is related to choosing to lose those wars.

  31. How much does China spend on its military?

    How much does China INVEST in wire, small motor, plastic and chemical manufacturing?

    America won WWI and WWII because it had production. What do we produce today? Diversity, homosexuals, transvestites and strawnk indapandant wahmen will not be counted as an asset in a future conflict.

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  32. I also wonder about some kind of EMP weapon that will render electronics useless? Maybe we make a full circle back to spears and shields or at minimum the simple Enfield rifle.

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    • The Navy and other branches understand the EMP threat pretty well. They have been working on this issue since the 1980s (at least). Whether they have solved it, I don’t know.

    • From what I gather, the Russians are using electromagnetic energy to disable drones and missiles. From what I have read, they do this not by damaging the electronics of the target by by interrupting its guidance systems. My guess is this is a matter of cost. Wheeling out a vehicle capable of delivering a transient electromagnetic disturbance at a small flying target would be expensive an perhaps impractical, due to the energy requirements. This has been the issue with lasers.

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      • Disrupting and spoofing signals in missile guidance systems requires a lot less energy than physically damaging the circuitry.

        That said, there are inherent physical limitations in modern ICs that do permit them to be damaged at relatively low radio signal levels.

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      • GPS guidance is also a choke point that is baked into nearly all long-range guided weapons. The Russians are experts at jamming/spoofing these satellite signals.

        They can also focus radar beams from their more powerful air defense systems to fry computer chips…and that works against manned aircraft as well.

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      • Seems to me the next logical objective is to figure out how to project disruptive energy–of whatever stripe–accurately to a large sector of enemy territory from whence the battle bots originate. If you could press a button and render a massive swarm of these bots inoperable, you might be on the path to returning humans to the battlefield, for better or worse.

        • The MIL has been working on this for a while with the hardware being mounted on an airship (but don’t call it a blimp).

          Massive. Fragile. Visible from the horizon. Tethered to a ground power supply. Over $100m per unit.

          MIL wet dream.

      • I recall an incident a few years ago with a USN destroyer or maybe RN was noodling around Crimea on the edge of territorial waters. A Russian patrol plane of some kind overflew the destroyer and somehow disrupted all electronics on board. They were helpless until the plane either was out of range or turned off whatever they were using.

        I’m pretty sure that Russia has been fighting with one arm tied behind their back and willl have some suprises for NATO when the war turns hot. Also I’d bet that it won’t last as long as the Ukraine kerfuffle has lasted.

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  33. All true, and price of that education has been the needless deaths and maiming of hundreds of thousands of white guys (most of whom are average Ivans and family men). And the beat still goes on and on.

    Why are these guys continuing to sacrifice themselves for the enrichment of poseurs like Zelensky and his Western handlers? What insanity causes them to enter a high-tech slaughter mill, die miserably and automatically, leaving behind wives and children to fend for themselves? How can anyone think that that is patriotism? Who among us would die for Joe Biden?

    What is the real lesson of this transition to cheap and autonomous hunter-killer technology? Anyone can learn to build it in a garage, basement, spare bedroom, office storeroom, or anywhere innocuous that suits your interest. And its best utilization is not for killing your namesake in the trench across from you. Its for killing the son-of-bitch that put you in that position.

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    • The only way war will be made “obsolete” is going to be to replace it with something much, much worse.

      Unfathomably evil, but mass industrialized economies probably made it inevitable.

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  34. “Soon, sending men to clear a building will seem as antiquated as the cavalry charge.”

    Lol, no it won’t. Clearing a building is often done for seeking cover and establishing a fighting position when engaged in an urban setting. If a drone starts dropping its BS on a convoy or a surveillance platform is detected, putting a roof over your head is not a bad idea. If the nearest building is of unknown quality, it’s getting cleared and utilized – simple as.

    Christ, this article is one of your worst.

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    • Pax, Mr. Templar. It might be our host’s “worst”, but even bad arguments can be learned from.

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    • I think the current room clearing doctrine is what will become obsolete rather than room clearing itself. Instead of stacking, breaching, and entering, I (roughly) imagine a “toss drone” would become included as a matter of course.

      I tested some of these about 8yrs ago and they add LOTS of capability.

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      • There are a ton of videos of Russian using drones to clear buildings. In villages where the building are of the residential type, the first drone takes the top off building and right behind it is a thermobaric bomb on a FPV drone. Everyone inside is vaporized.

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  35. The real question is what does this mean for GAE? Cheap warfare would seem to negate the advantage of spending well over $1 trillion a year on the military. If Russia can spend $80 billion and defeat you, well, that’s a bit of a problem. China will be able to spend $500 billion, no sweat. That’s a lot of drones, missiles and robots.

    The entire US strategy seems to be based on the idea that our technology is just so much better than Russia or China that if an actual war did happen, we’d wipe them out. But if that’s not case, what happens next.

    What happens if Iran launches a warning missile that penetrates a carrier group but lands harmlessly. Same for the Chinese in the South China Sea.

    Ukraine may not be the Suez Crisis for the US, but I’d suspect that other large countries no longer fear US military power as they did before the war. Nor do they fear economic sanctions as much.

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    • This is the interesting point that first struck me. I could see this cutting both ways for the GAE. On the one hand, if it has to spend significantly less, than it may help with financial stresses, though there would be shockwaves on those dependent on military spending largesse. A couple that come to mind: a transformation in the oligarchy from legacy companies to newer, leaner companies; Fallout from the end or transition of the, “conservatives”, traditional spoils system.

      I don’t understand any of this and I much of it is too early to tell what it all means and where we end up. I listened to this recent podcast with Palmer Luckey of Anduril. He really underscored ZMan’s point or emphasis on cost vs capability or cost of capability.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kONhhKQi0pU&pp=ygUicGFsbWVyIGx1Y2t5IG1pa2Ugc29sYW5hIGludGVydmlldw%3D%3D

      I am sure this will lead to more rabbit holes. I see the GAE with some severe domestic issues that make it very hard to think about anything else. Though, cheap autonomous or semi-autonomous weapons systems do have massive implications for what happens if the GAE descends into a bunch of, “balkanized neighborhoods”, as I recently heard Sam Dickson describe them.

  36. I wonder how well robotic systems survive EMPs.

    Other weak points:
    * The industrial infrastructure required to build the drones and robots. You can’t fabricate a microchip in your basement. Industrial sabotage may become big business. He who controls the spice, er, I mean chip manufacturing, controls the universe.

    * Software is hackable. If not in the field, then back at the developers. Again, industrial sabotage and infiltration.

    * Drone operators and programmers gotta sleep sometime. Assassinations and attacks on the civilian infrastructure that support the robotics.

    Stripping humans from the battlefield could just move the battlefield into everyone’s homes, nastier than ever.

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    • Well, if the battlefield moves to where the operators and programmers live and work, the assassins will find that they are targets too.

      Hmm, which country can locate a potential foreign assassin better, a multi-racial, multi-ethnic country or a country 99% Chinese?

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    • Great points. This is why the US has embargoed high-end semiconductor manufacturing equipment shipments to China.

    • The Russian civilians use a common Chinese security camera system that has a built in speaker. It’s very widely used in Russia. The Ukrainians hacked into the system and had all the cameras playing the Ukrainian national anthem. The cameras also recorded and uploaded the reactions to it.

      That was some grade-A trolling via hacking.

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      • No, it’s useless and of no benefit to the Ukraine and will blow back on them at soome point if it hasn’t already. If they spent as much time actually trying to fight as they do on tricks and propaganda they would still lose but they wouldn’t piss Russia off and make it harder on themselves after the war.

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      • Chinese security camera system

        I think that’s the only kind there is, I mean, if you lump “Taiwanese” in there too.

    • IIRC, silicon-on-insulator stuff is naturally rad hard (the COTS engineers need to add a circuit breaker to get export clearance). Other circuit technologies have well-known solutions for this vulnerability.

      True guerilla/irregular fighters will have to use the vulnerable COTS versions, but any half-decent country can work around it easily.

  37. “The Russians have always been the best at electronic warfare.”

    No, they haven’t. It was only recently, within the last 15 years, that their ability to utilize effective, deployable electronic warfare platforms went beyond making jerk-off motions with their hands. You could argue they never really developed the capacity on their own as all their stuff they’re using is off-the-shelf to begin with and adapted for field use. I know I’m right because the Soviet Union never had ANY reputation for decent field electronics and every piece of Russian-made electronic I’ve come across was garbage (commo gear especially) for the respective era.

    Now, the Russians have modernized, granted, but that was, like I said, recently; whatever reputation they gained was also recent.

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    • It has only been in the last 15 years that EW has become important, so you are saying, without knowing it, that the Russians have been pioneers in the field.

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      • EW was important in WW2.

        You not familiar with the bombing of Germany and Britain?

        Plenty of good books on the tech war between the Allies and Germany to better their ability to destroy each other .

        • We may be running into the vagaries of language. When I talk about EW, I am thinking specifically about knocking out enemy aircraft and communications. In WW2, radar played a big role, for sure, but they were not using radio waves to disrupt opposing aircraft and hijack their satellite communications.

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  38. There’s been talk of neofeudalism for years, now I read this. The return of limited war between kings? There’s a mind bender!

  39. “The automation revolution will mean the end of war, at least for the human participants.”

    Unless your goal is to kill as many enemy civilians as possible.

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  40. Good food for thought here. All those gadgets are nice, as long as you can operate and feed them.
    Then it’s time to use all those old ideas that will be new again. CRS anyone? The best lessons are the ones that are remembered

  41. I remember a while back reading an article about Iran building a new type of ship. Instead of carrying manned aircraft it was loaded with lots of drones.

    • The benefit of the aircraft carrier is that it can stand off from your land-based defenses. We park an airfield off your coast that you cannot hit with missiles, but the planes can hit you with its missiles. Throw in cruise missile ships and subs and it is a powerful asset, as long as it is unreachable.

      Once drones are able to reach these assets, things change quickly. Imagine a fleet of small autonomous boats packed with explosives but also carrying a few aerial drones. They are hard to detect and they get those drones close enough to you big expensive assets to cause real damage.

      In the Black Sea, the Russians deployed booms all over the place to prevent the drones away, but this severely limits what you can do with your own ships. The mere threat of autonomous weapons changes things greatly.

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