Urban Warfare in 2015: The Role of Persistent Assistants in Achieving Capabilities for Small Unit Precision Combat

Richard H. Van Atta

Small Unit Precision Combat (SUPC) aims to extend current US military dominance to complex terrains, such as urban or mountainous areas. Currently, when forces engage in close-in combat in such terrains, US capabilities for precision strike and surveillance/reconnaissance are negated. SUPC contemplates creating a similar advantage in complex terrain through improved situation understanding generated by a combination of air and ground sensors and weapons available to highly trained small units in a manner that is available to these units as if they were controlled by them. However, the complexity of the surveillance/ reconnaissance and precision strike tasks in complex terrain means that these assets must embody a significant degree of autonomy. Such autonomy will be necessary to control the contemplated decentralized, multi-layered architecture that seamlessly coordinates national, operational and tactical assets. This talk will outline a concept of ground, low-air and high-air assets and the basic tactical and operational requirements of the system. It will point to specific challenges where persistent agent capabilities would be needed to support the SUPC concept: (1) loitering swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles that autonomously detect threats; (2) the control of remote nonlethal weapons to protect forces; and (3) intelligent indirect personal weapon systems that identify obstructed targets and select the ideal strike method from remote weapons. For the entire system concept the multi-layered management and control system requires a high level of autonomous allocation of assets across distributed operators and the ability to manage sustainment and replenishment.

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