Changing the Tooth-to-Tail Ratio Using Robotics and Automation to Beat Sequestration
AIR AND SPACE POWER JOURNAL MAXWELL AFB AL
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It is a fact that the tooth-to-tail ratio in any modern military is heavily weighted towards the tail. The tooth the personnel and equipment in direct contact with enemy forces is a small fraction of the remainder the tail although identifying exactly where the line between the two falls remains a matter of great debate. The US Air Force is the world s leader in war-fighting automation and robotics. In fact, in accordance with the directive of Gen Larry Spencer, the vice-chief of staff, we are about to push the technological envelope even further by investigating quantum systems, cyber vulnerabilities, and the survivability of remotely piloted systems.1 Consider our use of drones to multiply the effects of large numbers of attack and reconnaissance pilots and to remove those personnel from the battlefield. Right now we are developing technology that will enable a single pilot to control a wolf pack of drones, further multiplying a single aircrew s mission effectiveness.2 However, we have not made much progress in using robots to enhance the effectiveness of the larger part of Air Force business. The amount of maintenance required by modern aerial war-fighting capabilities keeping the planes, people, and air bases in fighting condition produces a long support tail. If we use our established leadership and knowledge in the field of robotics and automation to address the tail side of the force, we can create a new, better paradigm.
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