When Boomer was lost on the battlefield in Taji, Iraq, his brothers in arms gave him a funeral. The tribute involved a 21-gun salute, and the awarding of both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star Medal. All in recognition, according to a soldier who has worked with Boomer’s comrades, of Boomer’s heroism and of the many lives he had saved on the battlefield.
It was a funeral that was typical in every way but one: Boomer was a machine. He was a MARCbot, an inexpensive robot designed to seek out and disarm explosives. He — Boomer was, apparently, a he — saved soldiers’ lives as he tooled his way into dangerous zones, taking one for the team in the most selfless way possible. The tributes in Taji, be they figurative (the Bronze Star) or more literal (the firearmed salute), recognized all this. “Some people got upset about it,” the soldier recalls of Boomer’s improvised funeral, ”but those little bastards can develop a personality, and they save so many lives.”
The little bastards do save lives. Their personalities, however, aren’t so much developed as they’re imposed by their human minders. In the heat of battle, and in the chaos of war zones, soldiers, it seems, tend to humanize their robotic aides. They develop emotional attachments to the machines that put themselves in harm’s way so the humans don’t have to.
Read more. [Image: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Bobby J. Segovia/Wikimedia Commons]
Troop Drawdown of the Day: President Obama announced today that the United States will withdraw nearly all its troops from Iraq by year’s end.
“The rest of our troops in Iraq will come home at the end of the year,” Obama said at an afternoon press briefing. “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”
The Obama administration and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government were unable to reach an agreement concerning a more robust US military presence, solidifying the decision to leave. Some 150 American troops will remain behind to guard the US Embassy compound in Baghdad.
The New York Times has posted a handy infographic showing the number of troops serving in both the Iraqi and Afghani theaters since 2001.
As for Headline of the Day, that honor goes to Fark: “Obama eliminates thousands of American jobs and hands them to foreign nation.”