Thursday, October 19, 2017

US Army Squad Maneuver Equipment Transport (SMET) is plowing old ground...

Thanks to Shane for the linK!

via Janes.
The US Army plans to move quickly into experimentation with a Squad Maneuver Equipment Transport (SMET) system as the service seeks to finally determine if such a capability is worthwhile.

"We're still struggling to understand this device and what we want it to do for us," Lieutenant Colonel Bill Venable, the US Army's chief for its Electronics and Special Developments Branch.

SMET is now in a 'capability development document' phase that is being reviewed by the Army Requirements Oversight Council and is on hold as a pending programme. The service plans to purchase 80 in various configurations and install them in brigade combat teams (BCTs) across the army to inform doctrine, Lt Col Venable said.

Headquarters Department of Army (HQDA) has "kind of lost our patience with the status quo" and has directed the SMET programme to move forward rapidly so it can experiment with the systems and determine their usefulness, said Stuart Hatfield, the robotics branch chief for Army G-8.
Story here. 

Ground forces and unmanned vehicles.  I don't quite get the thinking or rather the indecision.  What do I mean?  This is old ground.  The military has asked for various studies, experimental vehicles and capabilities and industry/researchers have delivered but they still haven't pulled the trigger. 

What was that?  Prove it?  Ok, then let me hit you with a blast from the past. Below are a few unmanned vehicles that industry/researchers provided that were capable but weren't pursued.

Carnegie Mellon Crusher

Oshkosh Terramax

COoperative Unmanned Ground Attack Robot

Black Knight unmanned ground combat vehicle

Those are just a few examples.  If you do a simple Google search you can find many more.

It seems that the Army's FCS program actually never died, just transformed into something a bit different.  That still doesn't explain why the military isn't actually buying these vehicles but I have a theory.

Considering how the US is deploying its forces worldwide, mixed with the idea that the general public is "less enamored" with the military and finally considering the poor physical condition of recruiting age people, they're thinking that a manning crisis is approaching.

If you are sold on how the military is currently operating, then we're looking at global commitments that will INCREASE, not decrease.  If you're having to cover the same or more spots around the globe with fewer people then you're going to need a ground combat multiplier.

They're betting that unmanned ground vehicles will be that multiplier.

They're wrong though.

You will see these vehicles subjected to the same electronic warfare that our jet fighters will face over hostile skies.  Add in the possibility that the enemy has entire armies of hackers sitting in buildings with thousand ton AC units to cool supercomputers running 24/7 and we could see these vehicles either heading off to resupply the enemy or if they're gunned, see them used against our own troops.

The future GROUND battlefield will be a curious mix of "standard", high tech and primitive fighting.

There will be no shortcuts to success.  Only blood on the ground.

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