Every country has a different idea on how much money should it spend on its military forces. Military spending covers the costs of training, paying salaries and healthcare of the uniformed personnel, war expenditure, nuclear weapons, technological advancements in warfare, and international military aid. While it is a necessity for any nation to have a well-equipped military, the question that often gets asked is, where does one stop? How much expenditure is enough to be spent for military purposes, and does spending more on the military mean more security?
Technology of War
The technology of war can be categorized into the following five:
- Offensive Arms: These include weapons that are used to harm the enemy. Over the years, nations have secured access to modern weapons like AK47, M4 rifles and Ar-15 to load their soldiers with at all times.
- Defensive Arms: These include arms that can keep off or defend against any offensive assaults or blows. Long range defence systems go a long way in protecting the civilians from a surface as well as aerial attack.
- Transportation: Technology in transport is used to transport the soldiers and weapons from one location to the other. This is also beneficial at times of evacuation missions to rescue the civilians to minimize the casualties and injury risks.
- Communication: Miscommunications, misinterpretations or inadequate intelligence can prove to be fatal in case of military operations. Hence, any military budget needs to allocate sufficient funds in advanced communication systems and cutting-edge technologies that eliminate the risks of erroneous interceptions or communication gaps.
- Sensors: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones are increasingly being deployed in modern warfare to effectively scan areas of war and provide crucial information to the ground military base for formulating war strategies.
What Do We Expect of Our Military?
To understand if increased military technology is actually keeping us safer, we first need to get a handle on what do we really expect our military forces to do for us and how are they being used.
- Protect the Homeland: The first and foremost job or responsibility of any military is to protect its homeland from foreign invasions and shield the nation from bigger enemies. The U.S. alone spends more on the defence than the combined expenditure of the next seven highest-spending nations in the world combined. In 2015, the U.S. spent $610 billion on the military in comparison to $601 billion that China, Russia, India, France, Britain, Japan, and Saudi Arabia spent combined.
- Protect the Allies: It is not enough to just protect your own homeland but we expect our military to step up when the going gets tough for any of the nations we pledge to defend. These allies are the countries we would never have to fight against. It is for this reason that many nations today are a part of the U.S. led global alliance.
Smarter Technology for the Military
To help the military in fulfilling their responsibilities researchers all around the globe are invested in having a positive impact by using their technologies. A Georgia Tech team of biomedical engineers are developing a new medical treatment that could be used to save lives of soldiers in a battlefield when they suffer serious injuries. The aim of this technology is to help the injured soldiers stop bleeding. This is being attempted by developing artificial blood platelets that when injected intravenously could reduce combat fatalities.
Another technology already being used by the U.S. is autonomous warships that can patrol the ocean for 2 to 3 months without the aid of a crew. This warship also has tanks that are equipped with specialized cameras which are connected to the uniformed personnel’s helmets to allow them 360-degree visibility to optical and thermal systems while preventing them from being exposed to any risks.
There is an evident exponential growth in the deployment of high-tech warfare. Use of drones, fly-by-wire technology, submarines, tomahawk missiles, stealth aircrafts, and space & nuclear weapons are some of the examples of high-tech being used for military operations today. But are we any safer today?
Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking had released an open letter in 2015 where they urged the government of all the nations to ban artificially intelligent soldiers and other autonomous weapons. They think that it would lead to a global arms race and once the technology became cheap enough to hit the black markets, it would prove to be disastrous if it fell into the wrong hands.
The more high-tech our military becomes the more emotionally detached we become from the brutalities of war. Instead of peace negotiations, people who have the power would be more tempted to settle issues with violence. Today we have the nuclear weapons, but together with that, we also have the undying fear of a World War III to erupt someday.