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‘It’s not translating’: Army general says to focus on realistic robotic integration

“Every time it's like, go watch one [robotic tactical vehicle] follow another one around the parking lot and it runs over the curb and I'm like, ‘Come on, we got to do better than this,” Gen. James Rainey said today.

WASHINGTON — US Army leaders have been “screwing around” with robots for way too long and “it’s not translating” into an avenue for deploying robotic tank formations, according to one four-star general charged with modernization. Instead, the service is testing out ways to add existing capabilities into formations to better protect soldiers today, lift some of the burden and claim an incremental victory.

“Every time it’s like, go watch one LMTV [Light Medium Tactical Vehicle] follow another one around the parking lot and it runs over the curb and I’m like, ‘Come on, we got to do better than this,’” Army Futures Command Gen. James Rainey told an audience today during an Association of the US Army breakfast. 

“We may someday have a robot tank that can go 70 kilometers an hour in six feet of mud, maybe, but that ain’t happening anytime soon,” he later added. “We may get a robot through Ranger school someday, but that ain’t happening anytime soon, right? That was holding us back.”

Rainey has been at the newer command’s helm for more than a year now and has been focusing on what the service needs for the 2030-2040 fight, while also penning a new Army warfighting concept and working on a tactical fires study that is expected to drive artillery investment changes. The proliferation of robots crosscuts all of the above, and the four-star general has taken a keen interest in “human-machine integration” experimentation.

Today, the service is playing with unit prototyping, in part by inserting new robots into a light infantry platoon at Fort Moore in Georgia, while also giving a heavier, opposing force unit at the National Training Center its own set of new capabilities.

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