WASHINGTON — The US Army is drafting doctrine for the first time that would govern its robotic and unmanned systems, with the service's sights set on robots for supply convoys, tactical reconnaissance and as robotic wingmen for soldiers on foot.
"In the end, we want to prevent our enemies from leaping ahead of us," Dooley said, speaking at a ground robotics conference on Wednesday. "There is a risk associated with investing a lot of money and a risk to not doing anything. You have allies and potential threats that are moving forward with robotics. We have to acknowledge conditions on the battlefield in 2025 will include robotics whether we invest in it or not."
"We have a sky full of UAVs and industrial sized full-motion video, but the person at the point of contact has access to none of it," Dooley said. "If we can enable soldiers at that level, we think that's in the realm of the feasible."
"We needed a single document we could point to and say this is the Army's overall mission," Dooley said. "There are a lot of [concepts of operations] and concepts for deployment out there, slides and white papers that point to a particular capability and gap, but there's not been one overarching vision."
Dooley was firm that there was no effort to create a lethal autonomous function, in keeping with the Pentagon's 2012 directive on the topic. "We're not going to leave those types of decisions to a robot," he said.
Dooley said he would like to see AMAS appear in one of the Army's semi-annual Network Evaluation Exercises to allay some of the safety concerns. He said he would also like to see reconnaissance drones used at the platoon level, but modified to create alerts so as not to suck up a soldier's attention.
"The soldier needs to have the asset and still perform the task in front of him," Dooley said.
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.