In an industry where gaining advantage can be the difference between mission success and failure, standing still has never been an option for military organisations and defence service providers. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly maturing to help improve the readiness of military equipment. Over the course of the last year worldwide military services have launched projects to shrink this gap.
It’s fair to say AI is already coming front and centre to actually operate military equipment. Much thought last year centred around unmanned equipment, but a year on the potential of grouping AI-controlled drones together is to provide a Swarm, a frightening development that is incredibly difficult to defend against.
The battlefield, the traditional area of combat to many minds, has been relatively immune to the wave of technology hitting the civilian world, from cars to homes and public transport. However, this is about to change, and will be about so much more than simply ‘green energy initiatives’, and more about delivering strategic benefits by introducing new ways to power military operations.
China, it appears, has taken this a step further. It has been reported recently on New Delhi Television that Chinese soldiers stationed in the Tibet Military Region will soon be equipped with new digital systems embedded in their combat gear. Cutting edge technology is often in the military arena long before the general consumer has access to it. (The internet, for example, was originally deployed by DARPA to increase intelligence capacity.) Now it is an everyday part of our lives
Chinese soldiers will be outfitted with satellite antennas on the helmets, new night-vision goggles, and a digital control terminal on the arm. They will also receive advanced body armour, a new navigation device, personal radio, camera module, audio converter, information processing, and a power supply module.
While the upgrades sound nothing out of the ordinary, there was mention that the new combat gear would be fitted with a ‘self-destruction mode.’
New Delhi Television expands on this salient point
More importantly, this system is equipped with a self-destruction device. If a soldier is seriously injured but does not want to be captured, activating the self-destruction device will not only maintain the dignity of the soldier, but the enemy will not be able to obtain any information about this system. The Lu media report bluntly wrote, “Another self-destructive method is in the battalion-level command post. If the commander finds on the screen that the individual soldier is farther away from other troops, but the order cannot be contacted. If you’re a soldier, it will also initiate self-destruction.
There was mention that the self-destruct mode can be triggered remotely by the military command structure, allowing the soldier to, as they describe it, ‘maintain military dignity’ and prevent information leakage. (The latter is probably their main driver in this)
Many observers are outraged that soldiers would be fitted with exploding bombs that could be donated by superiors. Some were quoted as saying ‘Isn’t this stuff a human bomb?’
Some observers have noted “This is too ruthless. Keep away from the team and be detonated by the commander. This is a typical control technique for future operations. They are afraid of soldiers running away, pretending to be dead, and rebelling.”
In the past, the Chinese Communist Army has asked each soldier to keep a grenade for himself. Before he was captured, it sounded and died with the enemy. It was also called ‘Glorious Bomb’. Reminiscent of the Kamikazi brigades of Japan during WWII. The difference now is the command structure has control over whether a soldier is to be suicided, regardless of their mission success or military capabilities.
I wonder if the soldiers themselves know this? Probably not.
It gives a whole new meaning KillSwitch