U.S. Military Goes Hi-Tech in 21st Century

Improvised Explosive Device simulators are used to help train U.S. troops.
Improvised Explosive Device simulators are used to help train U.S. troops.

The U.S. military of the future will take advantage of new and improved technologies, such as virtual training with computer simulations, to engage an enemy in complex environments, reports CBS News chief national security correspondent David Martin.

Training to Fight a Changing Enemy

A recent report, "The Army Capstone Concept Operational Adaptability-Operating Under Conditions of Uncertainty and Complexity in an Era of Persistent Conflict"(Department of the Army, December 2009), outlines some of the promising technologies that could enhance combat readiness.

Quantum computers could improve effectiveness and reduce vulnerability of military sensors, command and control, precision navigation, and targeting systems.

• Improved sensors, sensor fusion, communications, and network capabilities offer the potential to improve information collection and sharing.

• Improved vehicle system durability, reliability, and fuel efficiency offer the potential to reduce sustainment demands and extend the operational periods between required replenishments.

• Improved robotics offer the potential to deploy appropriate combinations of manned and unmanned systems to perform an increasing range of tasks (such as explosive ordnance disposal, logistics resupply, persistent surveillance, close quarters reconnaissance).

• Immersive technologies offer the potential to develop virtual training areas that contain real-world objects and simulated characters to improve training realism and help Soldiers practice making decisions under stressful conditions.

Nanotechnology, the study of the controlling of matter on an atomic and molecular scale, offers the potential to develop increasingly strong materials of lighter weight; devices with improved electrical performance and electromagnetic pulse shielding; nano-robots for medical, sensor, and weapons applications; and genetically engineered organisms for producing alternative fuels.

• Improvements in the human sciences (psychology, sociology, biology, anthropology, physiology, ergonomics, and neuroscience) and social networking offer the potential to increase human potential in knowledge, skills, aptitude, attitudes, health, fitness, and resilience. Human science applications could improve personnel management, training, leader development, organizational performance, human engineering, behavioral and physical health, resilience and Soldier and family well-being.

• Renewable energy and improvements in the management of fuel and electric power requirements offer the potential for greater fuel efficiency, advances in engine designs, and improved power generation. Increased energy efficiencies hold promise for reduced logistical demand and an ability to retain freedom of movement and action across great distances.

• Advances in non-lethal technology offer the potential to counter enemy action with less chance of civilian casualties.

The report noted that technological advantage is core to military effectiveness, but the understanding how human beings apply technology will continue to be more important than the technologies themselves.

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  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.