Friday, December 07, 2007

The Futurist Military Front

The military has always developed the most cutting-edge technological devices in society. This has given rise to a production scheme, a mode of production, in society that is driven and led by the militaristic enterprise, or the military industrial complex.

What we are witnessing is the beginning of the military technological singularity. Militaries in many countries are beginning Future Soldier projects, such as Britain's FIST (Future Integrated Soldier Technology) and its Soldier System Modernization plan. Since state control over military is incentivized toward greater technological superiority, militaries and athletics will be among the first areas to complete automation and super-human intelligences. Since the 1990s, soldiers have been equipped with experimental military systems like GPS, integrated radio systems, advanced ergonomics, and enhanced weapons sights with cameras attached to helmets and sights integrated into headgear. The French Félin program includes electronic flak jackets which integrate computer units, manager units, radios, man-machine interfaces, GPS, cables and connectors, a flexible water bottle. The French FAMAS chargers and the grenades, and optimizes weight distribution on the soldier. The light caliber machine guns, FAMAS, will still remain the basic French weapon, but it will include an IR sight, uncooled infrared sensors, magnifying optics, be equipped with special sighting abilities that allow weapons firing while maintaining cover behind walls and mounds.

The German idZ program is perhaps the most advanced in Europe. It includes the NBC protection system, a digital moving map which displays the soldiers own position and the positions of friendly units. The British NRBC combat clothing is similar to permanent combat clothing. It is designed to allow combat phases to be carried out with the same efficiency as that achieved with conventional combat clothing. The Félin information network allows for greater networking control, equipped with radios that allow infantry to download logistics, orders, and maps. Each network has a conference channel. The enhanced Australian Department of Defense is enhancing its Steyr rifle, and the Swiss are enhancing their weapons systems in the same manner.

Completely unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been employed by the advanced US military since 1986. RQ-2 Pioneers are automated aerial combat devices used for patrolling and reconnaissance in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. They're equipped with "75-pound payloads". The first time the RQ-1 Predator engaged in combat was in Iraq 2002. It was shot down by an Iraqi MiG-25 in the no fly zone, and thus unsuccessful. The Predators can be armed with AIM-92 Stinger missiles, and in 2002, a Stinger was fired at the Iraqi MiG, but the missile's heat-seeking device was distracted by the MiG missile. Since this incident, the Predators have been used as decoys. But soon it seems more plausible that automated weapons systems will become the new and accepted way to perform combat. Perhaps combat scenarios will no longer be considered in terms of wasted human lives, but wasted weapons capital. Autonomous warfare will dominate in the future. With the development of micro-UAVs, future robotic warfare is showing more possibilities than simply being used as decoy units.

This is only the beginning. Soldiers themselves will become highly sophisticated informatic warfare devices. Their bodies, no longer biological. The soldier will certainly become the first occupation to explore new areas of what is being called the post-biological future. That is, the post human future. What awaits in the future, however, is hopefully not oblivion but rather a future which, from our present vantage point, is a world in which human populations are swept away by the tide of cultural change and usurped by its own artificial progeny that will hold and advance our cultural knowledge at faster paces than is presently available.

At the moment the Future Force Warrior program includes all the specifics of the European digital warfare units but includes highly advanced specifics like artificial powered exoskeletons, and magnetorheological fluid-based armor to provide them with higher force-multipliers to protect them in combat. The program encompasses all the latest developments in nanotechnology and is attempting to integrate them into the future soldier. The new militarism will be for sure a futuristic militarism, like something out of a science fiction film. If there is not the same advances made in cultural knowledge, to combat, in a way, the advances made in militaristic technology, perhaps the future will indeed be bleak.

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