We’ll be fighting with robots – Army chief
‘Man and robotic machinery could be at war together’:
ACOMBINATION of humans and robots fighting alongside each other in the conflicts of the near future is not inconceivable, a senior British Army officer has said.
Brigadier Zac Stenning is the commander of the Wiltshire-based 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade, which is currently taking part in Exercise Saif Sareea 3 in Oman.
During the month-long exercise, Brig Stenning said his Tidworthbased troops will be experimenting with commercial drones and their tactical utility in conflict.
Asked how he thought warfare would change in the coming decades, he said he thought conflict “will look significantly different to now”.
“It could be a combination of man and robotic machinery – that is not inconceivable,” he added.
Brig Stenning said there was a balance to be struck between technology and new tactics, but that fundamentally it was about personnel and their ingenuity.
He said the ability of humans to out-think other humans, and to outthink the environment, would remain “our decisive capability”.
More than 5,500 British personnel and 65,000 Omani troops will take part in the exercise, being held in locations across the Middle Eastern country.
Brig Stenning said Saif Sareea 3 allowed them to work out how to operate combat operations, but also as a joint force – with aircraft, ships and soldiers.
UK troops will be operating 18 Challenger 2 battle tanks and more than 100 armoured vehicles, plus other equipment, as they train in the harsh desert conditions and searing heat over the coming weeks.
Quizzed on whether he thought tanks and armoured vehicles would be relevant in future conflicts, he said the ability of them alongside infantry personnel, engineers and artillery, if required to move forward across ground, was an “enduring requirement”.
“Of course, what armour does is it offers us a level of protection which in the 21st century is important for any nation state – the ability to protect its people,” Brig Stenning added.
“Also, of course, it involves the ability to be lethal, to carry weapons systems that can reach out further than your opponents, and I think that’s a struggle that will continue throughout history.
“One of the things that is interesting is how we now bring in technology – robotic capabilities, information systems, this is changing.
“This nature of warfare that we are seeing is really starting to change, and I think it is a hugely exciting time. Our brigade is involved in it, and it has got to be part of the joint force.
“The joint force is evolving as we are going forward. The use of artificial intelligence – many, many exciting things going on.”
Brigadier Zac Stenning, Commander of 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade, says future conflicts will look significantly different to now
Brigadier Zac Stenning in the Oman desert, where UK forces are taking part in a month-long exercise