Automated transports could one day move amphibious vehicles loaded with Marines to shore, deliver fuel trucks to remote bases, fly a pack to a Marine at a rendezvous point and serve as his forward eyes and ears on the battlefield.

Marine brass at the final panel of the annual Modern Day Marine military expo in Quantico, Virginia, looked ahead to what they’ll have to consider in transforming the Corps into a new fighting force facing an increasingly sophisticated enemy.

Basic questions must be considered as technology becomes more prevalent, said Lt. Col. Daniel Wittnam, of Marine Corps Plans, Policies and Operations.

“Do you carry your pack or is it delivered to you?” Wittnam asked.

Maj. Gen. Vincent Coglianese said the automated nature of some missions may mean that commanders take more risks because human lives aren’t at stake when sending out that refuel or resupply.

He added that automation could lighten the load for many heavy vehicles, which are armored to protect personnel.

Maj. Gen. Edward Banta, the deputy commandant for programs and resources, said that automation will mean changes in budget and resources. It will require an initial investment that the service branches should find money to fund, he said.

More drones might mean fewer trucks needed to haul gear to the fight.

“What capability does new robotics replace, what other costs can we forego?” Banta asked.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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