Letter from Garrison - Smart Interdiction Bases
Jason F. Rutledge
The following is presented as part of the TRADOC G2's "Soldier 2050" Call for Ideas. This material will form a compendium of thoughts and ideas that will support the exploration of future bio-convergence implications on the Army of 2050.
Well, it finally happened. The air guys had for the moment secured brief control of skies. The enemy would certainly be airborne again in a matter of hours, so our outfit deployed while the opportunity presented itself.
Our mission was to insert into enemy territory a SIB, Smart Interdiction Base. The idea behind these things was that a small base run by Artificial Intelligence would temporarily challenge control of the skies while placing a relative few men at risk. We would last or we wouldn’t; either way, our services were vital to the campaign.
Deploying the base was interesting. We Army guys launched off the Navy’s USS John Sidney McCain, the first of the cruiser-carriers named after the infamous senator. Each of the tilt-rotors transporting us carried a few men and a “pod”, a modified cargo container, filled with goodies and equipment. Within a couple of hours, we at the base site, which had been chosen by some Rangers operating ahead of us. The tilt-rotors began an aerial dance where they lowered the pods onto the ground in a predetermined layout; huge alpha-numeric numbers were labeled on top of the pods and their sides to make the deployment easier. Once they were done, the tilt-rotors let us off and most of them departed. However, a couple remained behind in case we needed to move something or leave in a hurry. It took only ten to fifteen minutes for us to hook power cables and computer links between all the pods.
The next part went even faster. Once the generators had the AI powered up and running, it began shunting power to various pods. Basic hydraulics within each pod lowered the top and sides pretty quickly to reveal defenses like anti-air missile launchers, motorized sentry guns, ground sensors, and auto-mortars. While the sentries rolled off by themselves to their positions, the AI routed power to the next tier of priority.
Miniature radars began to turn their dishes, seeking out the enemy. Communications linked up with satellites that hadn’t been destroyed yet, and we mere humans started getting back into the big picture.
The next thing I knew the AI was sending off sustainment drones to resupply nearby units that had been operating ahead of us. Also, the AI sent up a tethered drone that could receive radar waves or something. The sarge said it was supposed to be a sensor that would alert the AI to when all the SIBs should activate their main radars to ambush the enemy. It was just after dusk when just that happened.
I woke up from my nap to see blazing hot rocket trails leaping skyward in mass volleys to engage the enemy. A little while later the skies started erupting into hues of red some distance away. I got word after the operation that the SIBs had downed a few dozen airplanes in a theater wide ambush. I didn’t see much action until a couple of hours later.
Surprisingly, the enemy chose a mixed response to our incursion. Some SIBs were targeted by mass fires from multiple directions while land forces simultaneously engaged most of the others, including ours. The AI directed all of our anti-missile systems to help protect a nearby SIB. Simultaneously the AI reported to the CO that enemy tilt-rotors were using terrain to mask their approach according to remote sensors.
We hunkered down while the AI engaged the enemy at the SIB’s extreme perimeter. Motorized sentry’s guns fixed the enemy with direct fire while the auto-mortars zeroed in on their positions and killed off the first probing raids. Then the sentries rolled off to new positions to do it all over again. We could hear the machinegun fire coming from far away, and the nearby thunk noises as mortar rounds flew off towards the enemy. I was tensed up from having to stand still and do nothing while the enemy used sheer numbers to press forward. Luckily all of us could play backseat-quarterback while watching the action through our wrist-mounted computer screens.
The AI was pretty smart, but everyone was thinking we could have done things a little better than it did. Sarg said I should play some wargames with him and the other Noncoms when we get back to the States; he says it intimidates the officers who aren’t all that on the tabletop. I think the idea is great.
Anyway, some grunt that was new to the unit had the balls to tell the CO that we should pull the AI memory cores and bug out. The CO chewed him out for trying to give orders then calmly explained that the AI needed as much experience as possible engaging the enemy so analysts could go over the information later, and give the next AI better odds at engaging the enemy. It was so surreal watching the grunt do pushups while bullets and mortars were shooting rounds all over the place, but the CO seemed to think it was a good idea.
The enemy started zeroing in on the pods that had our auto-mortars. I guess the geniuses who designed the things should have made them motorized too, but sarg was saying something about auto-mortars needs to be big and bulk so they could hold more rounds. Anyway, the AI began shrinking the perimeter and shutting down radars and anti-air defenses as more and more enemy mortar shells started hitting our generator and battery pods. It was only going to be a matter of time before it would be up to the human Americans to defend the ground. But the CO and the AI came to a different conclusion.
The CO gave the order for everyone to bug out. The tilt-rotors left behind with us started revving up. My team pulled the memory cores to the AI. I distinctly remember the feel of the mud beneath my boots while I toted this box to the tilts. The AI laid down heavy fire while we humans zoomed away.
Things were pretty exciting, and our outfit was lucky to get away without any casualties. I just feel a little bit like dead weight since I didn’t do much compared to the AI; but, everyone needs to do their job, right? Anyway, I’m getting tired. I think it’s time for bed. Tell mom I love her. I love you too, you big lug.