I don't think the soldier's presence on the battlefield should be contrived, but there is still reason for soldiers to be out there and in danger.
The situation is kind of split. Primarily because the situation of war is, and will likely always be, actually ending human lives. It will not remain just a competition of who can destroy the most capital equipment; nobody surrenders to the rule of another over how much money they've lost.
So the tactics will change and evolve on all sides (as they already have to include terroristic tactics like killing civilians). I would say in the current climate (early 2019) Russia is already adapting its tactics to sabotage support for its enemies so it can kill more of them. They, along with Saudi Arabia, are also already heavily engaged in covert assassination of their critics, both internal and external (and not so covert).
The machines of war will continue to evolve, and to some extent we will see an evolution of machine-vs-machine warfare, but the drones and everything else we see (and I presume the classified stuff we don't see) is still all about killing human beings, more so than just smashing up machines. Part of that evolution is actually making the machines (like drones) cheaper and even disposable, much like the military treated battlefield weapons in WW II (guns, bullets, knives, grenades, shoulder-braced grenade launchers, land-mines, etc). It makes a big difference if the enemy disables an Abrams tank; it makes zero difference if the enemy gets lucky and shoots down a kamikaze drone; that thing was expensed as a missile the moment it took off.
Soldiers likely won't be completely out of danger, ever, the enemy will find a way to kill enemy civilians, and preferentially to kill soldiers that are necessary for the enemy's war operation, because that is what war is all about; damaging and crippling the enemy until their will is broken, they can't take the human death toll anymore.
In the near future (a few decades, within most lifetimes) I don't think there will be the kind of battlefield with "front lines" and soldiers holding guns and shooting at each other across a field. But I do think soldiers will be in harm's way and getting killed, and civilians will be getting slaughtered, by other ways and means. The battlefield will be pretty much everywhere, and the business of war will always be the ending of human lives.
As for war itself, Malthus gets the last laugh. Life resources (food, potable water, land, livable climate, arable land) are declining, statically limited, or at best linearly increasing, while the population grows exponentially (7% to 14% per year). No population is going to lay down and die for the good of the rest, so as they run out of resources or their resources are depleted or become overcrowded, the desperate go to war to fight for their survival. Either in their own country, or with other countries, but it is war and the objective is to kill the human consumers of resources so the winners have enough to live on.
War will never be just a contest of destroying machines, because that doesn't solve the resource problem! It will always find a way to be about killing humans.