December 29, 2014 – Since the earliest days, leaders of major armies have sought out the latest technology to provide a military advantage. From the introduction of iron swords to gunpowder, and horse stirrups, many of our greatest innovations have changed the course of history when used to make soldiers more effective in combat.
A Continuing Evolution
Today’s soldiers are equipped with marvelous innovations inconceivable when WWI broke out nearly a century ago. From GPS-guided weapons, to ruggedized laptops – and even military laptop cases – the modern warrior depends on technology more than ever. This is a trend that is supported by billions of dollars in ongoing research and development. For example, the current and growing dependence on drones and unmanned aircraft is the direct result of targeted research from the 1990s.
In fact, most major countries have departments within their military with the sole purpose of working to find ways to incorporate futuristic concepts into their development plans. Recent press releases have even spoken of the possibility of real cloaking devices, once the purview of science fiction writers. Where it will all lead is anyone’s guess, but these efforts will continue to change the way warfare is conducted.
A Focus on Basics
While there is a lot of buzz and attention paid to these more esoteric weapons and military technologies, many strategists are more focused on the basic skills and needs of the infantryman. In the final analysis, experienced military leaders note that it is the proverbial “boots on the ground” that ultimately win wars and achieve decisive victories.
The U.S. Marine Corps has achieved legendary success in its combat roles, and one of the reasons is its unrelenting focus on marksmanship. The strategy and tactics of the Corps are based on the fundamental philosophy of focusing overwhelming firepower on an enemy target.
One new technology that can help achieve this objective for the Corps and other soldiers is the so-called smart rifle. Recently announced firearms have the capability of achieving amazing accuracy, even with untrained shooters. These rifles include a number of intelligent features, including a Linux-based computer in the scope. Fed by sensors reading a number of factors such as wind, cant, inclination, and even the earth’s rotation, these weapons achieve remarkable results.
In a recent test, one version of the rifle achieved a remarkable 70 percent first-shot success at 1,000 yards. This compares to an average of 20 to 30 percent for trained sharpshooters at that range. Such professionals only achieve the 70 percent level on following shots, after manually making the adjustments the smart rifle makes automatically.
While the first versions of these amazing devices cost as much as $25,000, mass production would drive the prices down to a fraction of that. Will history look back at the smart rifle as the new iron sword, the device that changed the way wars were fought?
About the Author: Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.