Review: “Swarm Troopers” by David Hambling


thSwarm Troopers: How Small Drones Will Conquer the World by David Hambling. Kindle Edition. 323 pages.

I’ve always had an affinity for all things techie, even though I’m not a physicist (though I could play one on TV). And so this kind of book was good in the sense that it presented something somewhat new tech without going overly overboard into the technical aspects of the subject.

The basic premise is that technology on drones has developed so dramatically in recent years that small swarms of them could threaten even the United States military, including our own massive nuclear supercarriers. I had initial objections to this premise, as likely most readers will have, but Hambling does a very thorough job of going step by step through his argument and documenting every point with government and commercial sources that seem to know what they are talking about.

Most people are familiar with the drones that are used by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan that look like pilotless gliders and carry names like Predator and Raptor. Those are still being used, actually quite extensively. But Hambling states that the move has gone to smaller and smaller craft, ostensibly for reconnaissance, and the military is using them now, even on a unit basis. Many of them look like the small quadcopters you see sold at Best Buy and Radio Shack. In fact, competition among commercial electronics firms has the military in many cases buying their equipment straight off the rack rather than waiting for their own R & D to develop it.

At the same time, advancements in explosives development has made larger booms come from much smaller packages, meaning that a very small quadcopter could be responsible for decimating as much as an entire building. The premise is frightening.

There are some problems with this book, however. It’s self published, and there are many proofreading errors in it. He does a great job of including sources, which I am very grateful, but he builds an argument that still feels one sided. Often it sounds as if the military is either totally stupid and ignoring a potential problem, or that they just aren’t telling him what their possible solution is. In either case, the picture is only half there, I believe.

The book goes on longer than I thought it needed to. I thought there was lots of good information here, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject, but there may be some areas that might call for some skimming.

I give it three out of five stars.

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2 thoughts on “Review: “Swarm Troopers” by David Hambling

  1. Glad you liked the book. All the proof reading errors have now all been corrected in the latest edition (as far as I know). Any that I hear about are corrected immediately.

    As for the military being stupid…I hope the book conveyed some of the scale and complexity of the procurement process which means that a behemoth like the trillion-dollar F-35 program is hard to stop once it is in motion, however badly it may be going. As far as counter-UAS goes, there is a growing recognition of the problem, but whether solutions come in time is another matter. I do not believe that the military are hiding a silver bullet solution which will provide protection from drone swarms, but are working hard on a range of countermeasures.

    1. Thanks for the response and clarification. It’s always great to hear authors responding to honest evaluations. Best wishes on your future projects!

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