Battlefield Science: Laser-Guided “Smart” Rifles

Endgadget’s write-up of the laser-guided rifle raises harrowing questions for the future of combat and the widening gap between the haves and have-nots.

Guided or assisted targeting is not new in videogames, but it is a gamechanger in real life. In the face of computer-assisted targeting, the imperative to fire and move will likely become even more pronounced; any delay at all may allow opponents to lock on from even long distances. And even then, this target assistance module can potentially track an object moving 30 mph at a mile’s distance, so movement alone will be no protection from unseen, unerring death from afar.

While history suggests there is no end to war, and that armies in conflict will adapt to this technology, it seems hard to imagine that armies without “smart” rifles will fare very well in the interim against those armies that do. At least, until a neutralizing technology is discovered.

Modern Combat: Choppers, ATVs and hit-and-runs

Somewhat questionable source and tone notwithstanding, here’s a fascinating, almost sci-fi like description of evolving combat methods as the SAS takes on ISIS via choppers, ATVs, and guerrilla tactics.

While no one part of these tactics is strikingly new, it’s still interesting to see reports of combat forces evolving and incorporating a variety of tools and methods for the modern battlefield (and for specific tactical needs). Further, it’s a striking counterpoint to the idea that drones and robots will take over warfare in future – clearly, there is still room and demand for literal “boots on the ground.”

Finally, it is interesting to compare the combat styles and reports in the Near East as relates to ISIS with the reporting on eastern Ukraine – in one (the latter), the older notion of battlefronts, territory under control, and linear offensives appears still to hold, but in the latter (ISIS/Near East), these are much more fluid concepts, with debatable relevance.