The mission involved dislodging a defending company of infantry, about 120 soldiers, with a single platoon of just 40 attackers on foot.
How big a difference does it make when you reinforce foot troops with drones and ground robots? You get about a 10–fold increase in combat power, according to a recent Army wargame.
“Their capabilities were awesome,” said Army Capt. Philip Belanger, a Ranger Regiment and Stryker Brigade veteran who commanded a robot-reinforced platoon in nearly a dozen computer-simulated battles at the Fort Benning’s Maneuver Battle Lab. “We reduced the risk to US forces to zero, basically, and still were able to accomplish the mission.”
According to a special report from Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. in Breaking Defense, that mission involved dislodging a defending company of infantry, about 120 soldiers, with a single platoon of just 40 attackers on foot.
That’s a task that would normally be assigned to a battalion of over 600. In other words, instead of the minimum 3:1 superiority in numbers that military tradition requires for a successful attack, Belanger’s simulated force was outnumbered 1:3.
When they ran the scenario without futuristic technologies, using the infantry platoon as it exists today, “that did not go well for us,” Belanger said drily.
But that was just the warm-up, getting the captain and his four human subordinates – three lieutenants and a staff sergeant, each commanding a simulated squad – familiar with the Army’s OneSAF software. That’s a complex physics-based model so fine-grained it can assess whether an individual (simulated) soldier is killed, wounded or unscathed in any given attack.
OneSAF also strictly limits the amount of information each human player gets. They only know what their simulated soldiers on the battlefield could, so it replicates the fog of war, if not the fear, the report said.