Over the last two years, HCSS has conducted research on Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) in a military context concerning several aspects and dilemmas. Throughout this paper on the implementation of RAS, we hope to inspire thinking and stimulate the reader to reflect on the future use of RAS, draw recommendations towards the year 2035 that fit within the ‘Operationeel Kader voor het Landoptreden’ (and align these recommendations with the foreseen ‘Defensievisie 2035’) and consider recommendations for the implementation of RAS towards the year 2045.
The rationale behind looking far into the future is twofold. First, significant questions must be addressed early in the development and implementation of RAS. Many technologies are still in their infancy and similarly, our understanding of the political, strategic, tactical and, operational application of RAS is in its early stages. The second reason stems from the idea that people tend to overestimate the maturation of technologies in the short term and underestimate the speed of technological developments in the long term. Thus, by using both shorter- and long-term time horizons, room is created to think out-of-the-box whilst simultaneously lending opportunity to plan against a plausible, but—not yet ready—future.
This paper assesses some relevant elements for the implementation of RAS into the armed forces and especially the Army. It raises questions regarding the formulation of concepts and doctrines, how command & control over RAS is organized, and the consequences of these changes for personnel (including their training), logistics, infrastructure, organizational processes, and leadership. Against this background, this paper develops recommendations regarding which lines of development or policies must be developed, the timeframe by which this should occur, and the prerequisites for these policies.