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Outsourcing War to Machines: The Military Robotics Revolution
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I am a military historian by training and trade, who commenced his career examining the American treatment of enemy prisoners of war. This topic is very Army-centric and no doubt contributed to my opportunity to teach history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I loved my time at the U.S. Military Academy and worked with outstanding colleagues and wonderful cadets—but there was a darker side to the position. I taught at West Point from 2006 to 2009, during the worst of the fighting in Iraq, and the vast majority of my cadets were deployed to a war zone within a year of graduating from the academy. Too many of those former cadets did not come home, a fact that began to weigh very heavily upon me and no doubt drove me to accept a position at the Air Command and Staff College. This book emerged, in large part, out of a piece of advice I received from my dissertation advisor, Professor Brian Linn of Texas A&M University. When I told him that I was accepting the new position, he opined, “You had bet- ter start examining some topics that the Air Force cares about.” As usual, Brian was 100 percent correct. I began to examine some of the emerging aspects of 21st-century warfare and publishing about them in parallel with my forays into 19th-century U.S. Army history. Military robots are enabling an entirely new form of warfare, one that will fundamentally alter the dynamics of human conflict. To their propo- nents, they allow bloodless war, an opportunity to punish the evildoers of the world without placing one’s own forces at risk. To their opponents, they are eroding the natural barriers against the commencement of war- fare, which naturally includes the risk to one’s own forces. It is my con- tention that both sides of this argument are correct—military robots do Preface