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Context: OnWar

Quora Answer : If we could develop orbital drop pods for our infantry -marines- (like in halo) how effective would they be in modern combat?

Nov 14, 2016

I assume the main advantage is getting men to the battlefront fast. Faster than other transport like planes / helicopters etc.

That's probably not a massive advantage in today's wars. Right now we're seeing a lot of development and innovation in drones, cyberwarfare, and "irregular" (aka "terrorist" / "insurgency") warfare.

Future wars will probably involve large scale online argument (ie. attempts to win hearts and minds over social media, long before any actual fighting takes place), followed by cyberattacks on the enemy's communication and logistics infrastructure (either disabling it or misleading it). Then the activation of various sensors, drones and robots that will have been sneaked into and stationed across the battle-zone long before war breaks out.

Only then will the real fighting start. And there'll be ever greater resistance to suffering human casualties, so humans will be inserted into the battle-zone as late and as safely as possible.

At the same time, it becomes harder and harder to see when you've "won" a war or what "winning" means. What does it actually mean to establish control over conquered territory? Increasingly, the enemy leadership can retreat but continue operating, maintaining a conversation with its people via social media, commanding insurgent attacks on the occupying force, managing virtual resources like online bank accounts etc. Winning the war against an enemy which is notionally "in exile", but still very active and in touch with its loyal supporters, is very different from "capture the flag" type victories, where the main aim is to have your men occupy the government offices or presidential palace.

Probably orbital dropping is very expensive, and quite dangerous, and solves the wrong problem (getting infantry to a place as quickly as possible.)

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