AI and robotics future of armed forces


The U.S. Army is looking to advance its technology and put its focus on future conflicts, as it presents its colossal budget request to Congress.

“This is a big day for the Army,” U.S. Army Secretary Mark Esper told CNBC on Tuesday. The bold request allows the Defense Department to prepare for “high-intensity conflict” against countries like Russia and China, he said.

“At the same time it also underscores this renaissance that the Army is in with regard to how we man, organize, and train and equip the force,” he added.

Esper expects the Army to look “much more robotic.”

“It has much more semiautonomy and autonomy and full-autonomy built into the system. You’ll see technology which allows soldiers much more survivability and lethality on the battlefield,” he said.

The White House officially released the broad details of President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request on Monday, with the Pentagon asking for $718 billion in its budget, about a 5 percent increase over what Congress allocated for 2019.

Esper said the Army itself has a request of $182 billion to grow the force and allow for advancements in technologies. Autonomous and semiautonomous vehicles, robotics, and using artificial intelligence are in the Army’s future, he said.

Last August, the Army officially opened the U.S. Army Futures Command Center in Austin, Texas, which is serving as the main technological hub for all advancements.

Esper told “Squawk Alley” that he tries to meet with technology CEOs every week to talk about the future of the Army.

“Business needs that predictability so that they can invest and help us move into the future,” he said. “AI will allow the soldier to act and think much more quickly. Whoever gets to AI first, I believe, will have dominance for many years afterward.”

— CNBC’s
Amanda Macias
Michael Sheetz
contributed to this report.

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