A different kind of war: the face of modern warfare is changing. In today's age of `Robo-soldier', tank-against-tank, platoon-against-platoon and eyeball-to-eyeball fighting is almost unthinkable, with the thought of Vietnam-era casualties an anathema to the American people.

Author:Vesely, Milan

The days when M1 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and 150 millimetre howitzers were ranged against T82 tanks, Soviet BMP personnel carriers and batteries of salvo-firing Katyusha rockets are long gone, US military experts contend, even while declaring that future conflicts will probably be fought on desert terrain, such wide open spaces favouring the US Air Force's superiority. "Should it happen, the up-coming could prove us all wrong," they note as an "with Saddam Hussein having learned his previous lessons well. There, the conflict could move from the wide-open Kuwaiti border to Baghdad's narrow streets and alleyways, and then it could be a different matter altogether."

The US military has developed a quantum leap in firepower during the last 10 years, the age of "robot" wars the new paradigm. Today's American soldiers is far more likely to find himself behind a computer terminal 20 miles back from the front lines, than to find himself directly in the enemy's line-of-fire. "Acceptable" casualties are a thing of the past," US military experts contend, "and the age of unmanned weapons is upon us." The last decade, and particularly since Afghanistan, has seen the US military rush into production of smart bombs with laser-guided GPS targeting systems, pilot-less UAV's (unmanned aerial vehicles) with heavy firepower capabilities, and even a whole slew of new cruise missiles designed to destroy everything from massed enemy personnel to deeply buried command-and-contol bunkers. "Bunker-busters", "Eyes-in-the sky" and "Stealth" are part of the new US military lexicon, with man-on-man warfare a thing of the past. For their part, lacking the sophistication of American technology, potential enemies such as the Iraqi military are reverting back to basics. A grinding, casualty-intensive urban war pitting man against man, Kaleshnikov against M-16 is their only choice, the lessons of Mogadishu having been learned well. Laying plans to suck the US military into the cities and to take them on street-by-street, the Iraqi military is counting on a long-term war such as that now being experienced by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in the Palestinian territories, to defeat America. And some military strategists believe that this could even be a decisive factor, especially since America's will to sustain heavy casualties remains untested.

The killing of suspected Al Qaeda chief Qaed Salim Sinan Al Harethi, and five operatives by a hellfire missile launched from an unmanned RQI Predator drone last November in Yemen's Marib area highlights...

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