Shawn Moore is Principal of the Russell Area Technology Center. He has studied abroad as a Fulbright Scholar in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Japan. He has conducted research studies in China and the Republic of Korea. Shawn is an Officer in the South Carolina State Guard and recipient of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers‘ Peter Jasin Graduate Fellowship. Shawn holds a Bachelor of Science in History and Geography from Morehead State University, a Master of Arts in Counseling, and a Masters of Arts in Leadership. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.
Title: Assessing the Need for the Battlefield Scavenger
Date Originally Written: January 14, 2023.
Date Originally Published: January 30, 2023.
Author and / or Article Point of View: The author believes that a new type of support soldier is necessary for the battlefields of today.
Summary: The decisive impact of autonomous systems on the battlefield today coupled with supply chain interruptions during major combat operations will lead to the novel creation of the battlefield scavenger. This scavenger will retrieve, repurpose, repair, and return autonomous systems to operational status, reducing supply chain dependence and enhancing combat effectiveness.
Text: The war in Ukraine has shown the demands for a wide range of technical capabilities across all facets of conflict. Autonomous systems, for the purposes of this article, refers to “any particular machine or system capable of performing an automated function and potentially learning from its experiences to enhance its performance.”
Autonomous systems in Ukraine have carried out surveillance, kinetic strikes, electronic warfare, and resupply missions either independently or operating collaboratively. When employed in combat, autonomous systems provide operational advantages over an adversary. The Ukraine War has also shown the rapid rate in which materiel is consumed in modern war. These autonomous devices may not be costly, but the technology becomes increasingly difficult to obtain as factories and supply lines fall under attack. Further, in a Great Power Conflict, access to raw materials to produce autonomous systems will be contested.
The worldwide diffusion of technology has the potential to offset some of the supply and procurement problems in Ukraine. Officials in Europe addressed these problems publicly with the revelation that Russian Soldiers were seen cannibalizing components and microchips from refrigerators and washing machines to use for military purposes. The Russian Military proved that autonomous systems being removed from the battlespace results in lives lost and the loss of valuable time at critical periods of battle. The Ukraine Military has turned to commercially available autonomous systems and modified them for combat operations.
The reliance on autonomous systems will require a new type of combat service support soldier who will scavenge the battlespace for discarded scrap, damaged autonomous systems, and devices that could be repurposed. Inspired by the Jawas of the film “Star Wars,” this article will refer to this new combat service support soldier also as JAWAS, though this is an acronym for Joint LAnd Water Air Scavenger. In “Star Wars,” Jawas were passionate scavengers, combing the deserts of Tatooine for droids or scraps which they would capture and sell to the local residents, forming a codependent circle of trade. In a not too distant future, the side that is able to innovate and employ JAWAS the quickest will have an advantage over the adversary.
The JAWAS will work in on land, water, air, and even space. The JAWAS will be composed of individuals with exceptional imagination, the ability to think laterally while having the physical stamina to engage in scavenging the battle space and defending their area of operations. JAWAS will station close to the front line to reduce the response time operating as a self-contained company from a mobile platform that includes workshops. The JAWAS will operate on the Golden Hour, a term familiar to military medicine. The Golden Hour is the ability to get wounded warfighters off the battlefield and delivered to the care of a full-scale military hospital within an hour. JAWAS will roam the environment to quickly retrieve, repurpose, repair and return autonomous systems to an operational status.
Once a system is acquired, relying on field expedient materials in theater and limited supplies, the JAWAS will undertake the process of designing, fabricating, programming, and assembling autonomous systems for combat on land, water, or air. JAWAS will need to be a special type of soldier coming from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, but also have with an exceptional imagination. They will use power tools, hand tools, and advanced diagnostic equipment to support multidomain operations. The leadership from junior officers and noncommissioned officers of JAWAS will be no less than that required by combat troops.
JAWAS support combat operations by leveraging autonomous systems to create advantages over adversaries. Furthering the reliance on locally sourced materials will limit the supply and procurement requests for parts and components. This local sourcing will allow scarce transportation to be dedicated to moving war materiel into the theater. While JAWAS may not exist now, the demand signal is coming, and employing untrained soldiers in this manner will result in confusion, panic, and possible defeat.
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 Jawa. Wookieepedia. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Jawa
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