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War: What Can Technology Do For Us? 787

Posted by JonKatz
from the expectations-vs-reality dept.
Political figures and military analysts are lining up on talk shows to caution Americans that this will be a different kind of war, protracted, costly, secretive. But recent military confrontations have taught Americans to expect conflicts primarily waged by machines -- wars without real sacrifice. This war began with dreadful, although geographically localized, civilian sacrifice. But those greenish nighttime pictures are already pouring out of Kabul and Kandahar, along with the precision-bomb photos, and satellite shots of training camps and military outposts. Most Americans are convinced that technology -- GPS targeting systems, thermal imaging, new intelligence retrieval systems, pilotless drone reconnaisance aircraft, high-altitude bombers, special forces equipped with goggles than can see into caves -- will carry the day for us. Will it? What can technology really do for us in this new war?

Both the first Bush and the Clinton administrations, from Desert Storm to Kosovo, advanced the idea of conflict with little civilian loss and few casualties of our own. But thousands of American civilians are already dead in this conflict, greater civilian losses than in any war in U.S. history. Still, the military analysts, network pundits and Pentagon officials are going to great lengths to point out that Taliban and fundamentalist fighters are skilled and determined, that this conflict will be long and difficult, that our expectations should be kept realistic. And bin Laden is a surprisingly agile enemy. He not only grasps America's most vulnerable points, he understands "spinning," using video-imagery and satellite transmission to get his side of the story out. This is something Saddam never began to grasp.

But are our expectations realistic? Are we once again overrating our own technology, and underestimating less sophisticated cultures and populations? Most Americans have been prepared for years to place enormous faith in a range of new technologies that are supposed to make us the most powerful military force in world history. Sophisticated technologies devastated the Iraqi military in Desert Storm. While their results were more controversial in the Kosovo action, there remained little American loss of life. The bloody action in Somolia showed us yet again that technology is not effective if it can't be used for political or military reasons. And Panama and Grenada resembled police actions more than military conflicts.

In this new war, though, it seems clear that American forces will be involved in some sort of ground fighting on Afghanistan's murderous terrain, and that would mean a battle more reminiscent of Vietnam than Kuwait.

What can technology do for us? Can GPS targeting systems really place bombs that accurately? Can intelligence analysts in the U.S. instantly track raw data without leaving their offices? Can civilian populations really be protected? Can thermal imaging and satellite surveillance see into caves or track small units in mountainous terrains? Can government computers follow money around the world? Will our soldiers' tech-equipped vehicles, equipment and weapons give them an edge over the the Russians, who were chewed to bits in their conflict with Afghanistan guerrillas, but whose equipment was comparatively primitive? Have we actually developed a new mix of tech-supported human and machine warfare that is deadly, flexible and effective?

From reading the papers and watching the generals on TV, we see confidence from the military that the answers to most of these questions is yes. But the people reading this have a much better than average grasp of these tech issues. Do you agree? What can tech do for us -- or not do -- in this supposedly new era?

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War: What Can Technology Do For Us?

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  • by ackthpt (218170)
    For $600,000 [navy.mil] a pop we can rearrange the rocks in Afghanistan. Probably a good read would be Starship Troopers (skip the really dumb movie) Technology vs. experience + fighting on their home turf + emotional value of fighting for their way of life (however you want to define it) and the result is move very, very carefully. Also, the country is littered with mines from 10+ years of war, which are redistributed with each rockslide along mountain trails. Something to think about.
    • by radja (58949)
      And the UN agency in afghanistan that was clearing those up just got bombed by the US. Way to go. 4 deaths. 4 more victims of terrorism.

      //rdj
      • And the UN agency in afghanistan that was clearing those up just got bombed by the US. Way to go. 4 deaths. 4 more victims of terrorism.

        Considering that those cruise missiles were fired for a tremendous distance (definately beyond the line of sight), the fact that they got as close to their original target as they did is quite remarkable, I think. In case you didn't know, the original target was a Taliban communications tower.

        Moreover, those people (Americans) knew the situation they were in. They had the ability to leave when the rest of the UN left, but they chose not to. They chose to carry on making the land a bit safer for those who might find themselves atop a landmine. Frankly, they each are heros and deserve recognition as such, at least as much as the firefighters and police who lost their lives in New York. Like those firefighters and police, the UN staff risked their lives to help those who could not help themselves.

        When you compare those 4 accidental deaths against roughly 6000 murders and 44,000 attempted murders, I think it's a small price to pay. If I were one of the 4, I would die happy knowing I did what I could when I could.

      • I imagine a dung beetle thinking to himself, "Why would anyone go to so much trouble to move my favorite rock?"

        If you have good technology, you can be really annoying to dung beetles.


        ABC News article: "Abu Sayyaf ... train[ed] terrorists in the methods taught by the CIA ..." What should be the Response to Violence? [hevanet.com]

        • What Can Technology Do For Us?

          For $600,000, we can buy a Tomanhawk missile and...

          ... make dung beetles feel important.

          ... help Afghanistan's electronic hobbyists by contributing guidance electronics to the landscape.

          ... make a donation to rich people we don't know who own weapons plants.

          ... aid in the next planting of opium poppies by breaking up the soil.

          ... impress Afghanis with U.S. technology.

          ... make acquaintances in a place we have never visited.
      • Would this be the UN agency that was sacked and occupied by the Taliban some weeks back? The UN pulled out of Afghanistan long before the bombing started because the Taliban was too nuts for the UN to risk its personnel with them.

        DB
    • by tenman (247215)
      I guess what I'm about to say should be taken with a grain of salt, because we've all seen the quote 'Sci Fi of today, is Sci Fact of tomorrow.' But it seems to me that the bugs in ST lived off the land, under the support of a seemingly endless food supply. The difference here, is that while these people survive in the land, they don't survive off the land. They are a poor people, and as such can't replenish the supplies they use in their efforts to defend/police their way of life. The only way they will be able to eat is if we allow that. It's easy enough to lob bombs in there and never suffer the life of an ally to be lost. But it is easier to allow them to starve. Our technology isn't to only hope we have to to win this war.

      Also, please note that our forces are well equipped to deal with mines of that nature. The HTQ-67 & 68 land mines that the Soviets placed are expected to be 99% inoperable now. We have means to expose the few remaining mines that the US gave to them.

  • One of the things that tech should NOT do.. given that part of this is human failure.. is give the other side an advantage by letting him know our plans. Sometimes I wish I could just reach out and smack some reporter who, by quick use of Email and communications, trumpets his "scoop" about what we're doing, and where, before the operation is complete. Hey, goons, our side isn't the ONLY ones watching your reports!
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:29AM (#2406512)
      > Sometimes I wish I could just reach out and smack some reporter who, by quick use of Email and communications, trumpets his "scoop" about what we're doing, and where, before the operation is complete. Hey, goons, our side isn't the ONLY ones watching your reports!

      Thanks for saying this. Half the time I watch the news, my roommate wonders why the hell I blurt out a "Shut the fuck UP!" every hour or so. (Side note - not all reporters are idiots; mad props to one reporter who, when questioned as to his whereabouts by his anchorman, replied with "Y'know, I think they said it was OK to tell you where I am, but I'm going to err on the side of caution for now. I'll tell you tomorrow.")

      To Slashdotters reading this - you can help.

      Do not post reports of military activity in your area. If you see lots of planes taking off from an airbase, or lots of planes landing, or lots of trucks moving about, or anything that might indicate our future plans, keep your mouth shut about it for a day or so before telling folks what you saw. Don't post names of people you know are on duty or being called up. Don't post unit numbers.

      Exceptions can be made for breaking news, such as yesterday's intercept over Chicago, where our forces wouldn't be jeopardized. But I'm sure that anyone, with a moment's thought, can see the difference between "Holy shit, sonic booms over Chicago!" and "I wonder where all those planes and ships are going?"

      Loose lips sink ships.

  • War machines (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aaronsb (138360) <aaronsb@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:22AM (#2405998)
    I think that regardless of how remote we can get from killing things with our machines, we need to keep the perspective that we're still killing people.

    I think a lot of people miss that point when you watch it on television or a computer screen.

  • by Sir_Real (179104) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:25AM (#2406020)
    Last night on CNN a military official said (paraphrase) "We're running out of targets to hit."

    The war in Afganistan isn't our big concern. Our greatest threat comes from within and is directed at our fundamental freedoms.
  • by dasunt (249686) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:26AM (#2406027)


    Sure, war may drive technological change, but do we really want to be benefitting from death and distruction? Especially when we have a peaceful alternative that has resulted in faster internet connection speeds, the acceptance of DVDs, and the spread of the internet itself?


    Yes, I'm talking about porn. Wanting free, anonymous porn everywhere has resulted in widespread internet access, even if its dialup to a local number at unlimited rates (in the US). Wanting high-quality pirated porn movies has resulted in the spread of broadband. And for viewing porn in the privacy of your own home, nothing beats DVDs, especially since they won't wear away the tape if you pause and keep viewing the same few minutes of certain "adult" videos.


    Sure, you can talk about war all you want, but porn will drive further technological changes. Voice recognition software is perfect for hands-free browsing and other computer usage. Interactive movies will be another idea driven by porn. And don't even ask about what fully interactive virtual reality would be good for. ;)


    As the Dead Kennedy's sang "Kinky sex makes the world go round!"

    • The Taliban doesn't let anyone have telephones or even computers... so although the theory is (somewhat) good, it won't work in Afghanistan =P
    • Won't work (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ars-Fartsica (166957)
      The Sept 11 gang was in the US for a long time soaking up our vices, and one of them was even observed in a porn shop. Beer and tits didn't give them pause. In fact its likely that they had the same reaction most intolerant people do - they soaked up the porn, but later in the guilt phase it probably made them hate the US more for presenting them with the means to betray their faith.
  • Killing Machines (Score:5, Insightful)

    by webword (82711) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:27AM (#2406037) Homepage
    Here are some interesting charts showing how war and technology are blood brothers [unc.edu]. As technology advances, we increase our ability to kill more people, at a faster rate.

    Indeed, this idea applies even to non-war machines and technology that is not directly tied to war. For example, with the World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks, the killing was made possible using a regular old plane. However, the plane is a technology exemplar. The plane, in many ways, defines so much technology. The commercial planes were not meant for war or killing, yet they did kill many people.

    As technology increases, we will see more death. However, the death will come from humans using and abusing technology. That is always the way it has been. Humans kill other humans. Technology just helps.
    • This would be an interesting study thing. Take a wars death toll (on both sides) compare vs world population and see what patterns emerge. As technolog advances, how does the percentage of population loss fluctuate?

      Far more variables than I'd like to calculate, but it would make for in interesting study.
    • by sid_vicious (157798) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @01:26PM (#2407200) Homepage Journal
      As technology advances, we increase our ability to kill more people, at a faster rate.

      Call me a starry-eyed optimist, but I believe that technology has helped prevent the deaths of non-combatants.

      Laser-guided rockets, TOW missiles, satellite intel... all things have allowed us to specifically target military establishments, rather than carpet-bombing cities full of civilians.

      Is technology 100% perfect? No. Non-combatants will still be killed. That's war. But at least technology has given us the ability to target the people we're really after, rather than carpet-bombing whole cities.
  • Use Nukes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by notestein (445412)
    We should use nukes.

    There is an article at wirednews titled "Nuke 'Em From On High"
    http://wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,47319,00 .h tml

    A couple excerpts of note:
    ******
    The most likely candidate is a tactical micro-nuke called the B61-11, an earth-penetrating nuclear device known as the "bunker buster."
    ******
    The design directs the force of the B61-11's explosive energy downward, destroying everything buried beneath it to a depth of several hundred meters, according to a story in the March 2, 1997 issue of Defense News.
    ******
    Any debate inside the corridors of power about using tactical nukes will be heightened by the intelligence buzz surrounding bin Laden's possible ownership of Russian nuclear "suitcase" bombs purchased from Chechen mafia.

    Those weapons are said to be hidden in deep caves and fortified tunnels in remote regions of Afghanistan.
    ******

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:28AM (#2406046)
    The Differential Theory of Special Operations Forces (Snake Model)

    Upon encountering a snake in the Area of Operation (AO):

    • Paratrooper: Kills the snake.
    • Armor: Runs over snake, giggles, and looks for more snakes.
    • Infantry: "Look, a putty cat. Come 'ere kitty . . . Ouch! Hey, that's not a kitty cat."
    • Infantry (alt): "Ugh! Me see snake. Me like snake. Ouch! Me no like snake."
    • Army Aviation: Has GPS grid to snake. Couldn't find snake. Back to base for crew rest and the club and some sort of drink called "The Snake"
    • Ranger: Plays with the snake, then eats it.
    • Ranger (alt): Assaults the snake's home and secures it for use by friendly snakes.
    • SEAL: Expends all ammunition, several grenades and calls for naval gunfire in a failed attempt to kill the snake. The snake bites the SEAL then retreats to safety.
    • AF Special Ops: Pulverizes snake from 15,000 feet with AC-130 gunship fire. Heads back to O-club for some shooters.
    • Corps Artillery: Kills snake, but in the process kills several hundred civilians with a massive TOT with three FA BDEs in support. Mission is considered a success and all participants are awarded Silver Stars. (Cooks, Mechanics, Legal Clerks etc.)
    • Marine Recon: Follows the snake and gets lost.
    • Combat Controller: Guides the snake elsewhere.
    • Pararescue: Wounds the snake in first encounter, then feverishly works to save the snake's life.
    • Special Forces: Makes contact with the snake, builds rapport, wins its heart and mind, then trains it to kill other snakes.
  • by Diabolical (2110) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:28AM (#2406053) Homepage
    This war will be neither. I'll wage that small teams of highly trained commando's will be used instead of large forces like in 'nam. America can and will not be trapped in another situation like that.

    Besides.. this time they are after a terrorist and it's hosts not an entire country. And of course... it will not be the US alone. Don't forget that allmost half the entire world is standing behind the US. Off course.. if it takes too long support will weaken with the day...

    In the end nothing will have changed though. Bin Laden will just be replaced by someone smarter. Smarter because he knows what he can expect. More intelligent because he will probably use more sophisticated means, not nescesarily technologically sophisticated but sophisticated nonetheless.

    All our technology in spite we will never be able to root out all terrorism. Whatever kind of goggles we use...

  • Will our soldiers' tech-equipped vehicles, equipment and weapons give them an edge over the the Russians, who were chewed to bits in their conflict with Afghanistan guerrillas, but whose equipment was comparatively primitive?

    One point: The Russians were chewed to bits by the Afghan guerrillas because the Afgans had our support, first in the form of funding and Russian-made weapons to disguise or involvement, then we flat out gave them our tech-equipped weapons (the stinger missiles, which were deadly effective in neutralizing the Russian's helicopters).

    Personally, I'm going to trust our military strategists and their technology and hope that they know what they're doing, because right now there's not much else I can do otherwise except for carry on with my life as best as I can.

  • by kaladorn (514293) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:30AM (#2406071) Homepage Journal
    As usual, Katz incisive and thought provoking (NOT) analysis of the situation leaves one breathless...

    What are laser-guided bombs, satellite guided missiles, penetrating sensor systems, stealth planes, etc?

    Force Multipliers.

    But anything times zero is still zero.

    The core of this, and every other conflict, is the soldier. The core of any operation involving taking ground and holding it, or in denying that ground to an enemy, is the infantry. Poor, thankless, cold, and tired infantry. Some poor shmuck (possibly quite well educated nowadays) a long way from home, in a nasty situation, with some people out to kill him and maybe some friends he's trying to keep alive. And hoping he'll get out in one piece and hoping he'll have dry socks.

    This isn't a _new_ kind of war. It's a very _old_ kind of war - what is going on in Afghanistan today is a conventional war - suppression of air defenses prior to ground action. This war (like many others back many millenia) will be fought by conventional and unconventional means.

    Will technology make a difference? It'll help. Being able to see at night is a big plus. Having comms and fire support and airborne mobility are pretty big assets. But ultimately, it'll be skirmishers, light infantry and special operations forces that will go toe to toe with the terrorists in the hilly backcountry of Afghanistan. All the technology in the world won't change that reality.

    And will the allied forces get their asses kicked? Maybe they'll take some hits (probably some boys will be dying... this is always the cost of fighting an implacable enemy such as the terrorists are...). But the allied military forces have learned a lot from the Russian experiences and they've learned a lot in conflicts around the world in the last 10 years (Kosovo, Sarajevo, Bosnia, The Gulf, etc.) about how new conflicts are fought, their horrors, and their risks.

    Ultimately, they will prevail against a government that does not enjoy unified support from its people because it is corrupt and because it abuses its populace. But don't ever think they have prevailed because of some wazoo technology.

    They will have prevailed because some farm boy from Iowa was willing to bust his ass training to be a Green Beret and because he's willing to lay that same ass on the line for what he believes in and to do what it takes, wherever in the world that may be, to get the job done and make the world a safer place for his fellow citizens. That farm boy's guts and training and sacrifice will be what carries the day, as always.

    God Bless America (and I'm not even 'Merican!)

    Tomb Raider
    • by jshep (194929) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:59AM (#2406309) Homepage
      As usual, Katz incisive and thought provoking (NOT) analysis of the situation leaves one breathless...

      I beg to differ. It was thought-provoking for me. It caused me to look up the correct spelling of "reconnaissance." (note the correct double 's' Katz).
    • errr... your last two paragraphs sound like excellent pro -taleban propaganda (swap Iowa for region in Afghanistan). I'd say that these paragraphs sum up well exactly why the Taleban forces have an excellent chance of giving the USA and all the other allied forces a really hard time . The USA doesn't want casualities in a far off land. The Afghan soldiers are fighting to protect their motherland, their way of life, their religion.


      Personally I consider that both the governments of Afghanistan and the USA could be considered not to enjoy unified support from their peoples, are corrupt to some degree and abuse their populace.


      I far prefer the latter to the former but I don't see purity and unsullied goodness on either side of the political fence. I just worry that yet more innocent people who would like peace and want to get on with their lives are going to die.

    • As Usual,

      This looks like it's going to be a Special Forces and Infantry fight, with DARNED good support.

      One good thing is that the guys in the 10th Mtn have a fairly long memory, and they can think back. They were one of the divisions that went up the mountain spine of Italy. That is also VERY rough terrain. How did they deal with it? Their Recon Troop went to using Horses. The resupplied the rest of the guys with mules! They tried high tech (as it was during WWII) and had to go low tech

      The 10th is trained to fight in the mountains (Therefore the Mtn patch), and the Special Forces of all types...

      Disclaimer:
      My Dad started out in the original Special Forces (Read OSS), and when he broke his leg, ended up in the 10th Mtn Recon troop, so I'm sort of emotionally attached to those guys

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:58AM (#2406700)


      The core of this, and every other conflict, is the soldier. The core of any operation involving taking ground and holding it, or in denying that ground to an enemy, is the infantry. Poor, thankless, cold, and tired infantry. Some poor shmuck (possibly quite well educated nowadays) a long way from home, in a nasty situation, with some people out to kill him and maybe some friends he's trying to keep alive. And hoping he'll get out in one piece and hoping he'll have dry socks.


      During one of the press breifings, a minor fact suddenly stood out. There was discussion over what targets were being selected. It was noted that Taliban troops had been targeted in the northern area of Afghanistan. It seems Taliban forces had massed there in responce to a push from the Northern Alliance. The speaker pointed out that this showed the importance of ground troops in the area. You need ground forces to cause enemy forces to mass and provide a suitable target for air attack.


      Rewind a bit there.


      Note that the ground forces being referred to were not US or British forces. It was Afghanistan rebels.


      Granted - US special forces have been in the area for some time. They've been collecting intel, doing recon, and possibly interfacing with Northern Alliance representatives. But the grunt work is being done by Afghanistan nationals. The US and British forces are supplying the "force multiplyer".


      This is an important point. US troops may eventually contribute to a ground war, but it will be important that Afghanistan rebel forces will be taking leading roles in unseating the Taliban government. Just as it was important that the Kuwait military be the first to roll in to Kuwait City.

  • Microwaves! They will fry any electronics or living beings. If we have any idea bin laden is in a hill somewhere, just get a bunch of Microwave dishes and burn him to a crisp. Clean, cheap and no one will know any different because there is no crater. Sure, all the dead animals would be a sign *something* happened but there would be no crater!

    There is no way we're going to be able to search every cave in Afghanistan, but we can use Microwaves to cook us some Taliban!
  • by El_Smack (267329) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:30AM (#2406074)
    Our mighty technological superiority over Iraq was useful until we beat them down till we had no more targets large enough to justify using half million dollar missles on. At that point, you send in the ground troops, and incur casualties. Afghanistan is already at the point where ground troops are necessary, so our tech doesn't give that big of a percentage advantage. Look for 20 to 1 kill ratios (U.S. to Osama) when the fighting gets up close and personal, rather than the zero casualties we are used to.

  • Is it possible that war is a necessary evil? Many of the technological advancements over the past 100 years have been made because they filled a need during war-time... it was only after the war was over that these devices found uses in the commercial market (ie radar in car bumpers, GPS units for hikers). War creates as well as it destroys.

    The use of technology in warfare means that the days of drop-and-pray bombing are over, precision GPS and laser guided missles mean that targets can be singled out and destroyed without needing to destroy the whole area so there are going to be fewer civillian casualties.

    A lot of people died in the Sept. 11 attacks and the retaliation attacks will cause more deaths no matter how accurate the weapons are. The only reason we can sit here and debate these issues is because the bombs aren't targetting our buildings.

    The only way to achieve the same level of technological advancement without the war-driven invention craze is for everyone to work together on a common goal, but given the track-record of human interaction that's not likely to happen anytime soon is it?

    Think about it, we'd probably have clean-burning fuel and personal aircraft now if people worked together instead of fighting all the time.

  • by wbtittle (456702) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:32AM (#2406082) Homepage
    Here is how technology can really help. If we combine current e-book technology with high density storage like C-3D [c-3d.net] we can create a device that can store lots of books in a small space.

    Make millions of them. Get every text possible stored onto the media. Drop them all over the middle east, but most importantly Pakistan and Afghanistan. It would probably be useful to dump them all over the "stan's".

    There are a few logistical problems (like how to power them consistently), but a small device can be easily hidden. Libraries are more difficult to hide. An e-book and its media could be stuffed under a brick, behind a stove, in the rafters easily.

    Saturate them with knowledge. Send the good with the bad.

    Hey, if we are clever, we can even make the e-books play video. Then we can send really subversive stuff, like episodes of "Friends!," "Soap," "All in the Family," "Days of Our Lives," "The OJ Trial."

    Bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice is important, but educating the world is more important. In the long run, enabling education will help us more than destroying infrastructure.

    TNT

    Brad Tittle
    • by Wolfier (94144)
      Brainwashing is nothing new and can be really effective in the current war...

      In fact, the US is already doing this in the name of "humanitarian aid" and "food dropping".

      What I don't understand, is why they haven't dropped booklets in ARABICS as well.

      Printing in English on the food packs is as stupid a move as you can make. With their literacy level how are they going to understand English?
  • Personally I think that in many ways our technology could be a liability in this war. This was already shown by using our own airplane/jet technology as a weapon. Also during the flight our cell phone technology was used as a weapon of terror by having the hostages call thier families. In the future I personally am expecting a lot more technology centered attacks. Imagine the effects to a lagre city (here in austin for instance) if all of the cell phone towers were taken out followed immediately by a propane delivery truck slamming into an office building. Hell even just cutting under-water cableing using depth charges would bring the entire world banking industry to a halt in 3 seconds flat and could be done using reletively cheap parts.

    I guess the point that I am making is that most of our communications tech (at least the civilian stuff) was not made with wartime in mind. Hell I can just imagine what kind of information could be garnered by a good hacker with a portable with boosted up wireless card on it. Hell even a van with jamming equipent driving through most major cities cutting off cell phone calls would create massive havoc. And these are just some ideas I had on the spur of the moment wihtout knowing the ins and outs of a lot of these system.

  • Whether or not technology is going to be the deciding factor in this particular conflict is debatable. It does seem likely, though.

    Consider the weapons which we have which (as far as we know) no other nation can even touch; The highly engineered fuel-air bombs with kiloton yield, stealth fighters, 2,000 mile range cruise missiles which can follow roads, flying low, and pop through your bedroom window... literally. When they get there (and I'm talking about tomahawks here) they can deliver a nuke, EMP, high explosive, antipersonnel, et cetera. How's that to really put the cap on your bad day?

    Now, this is the technology that we know about. Some of it we know about because it became inconvenient to hide, and some of it we know about because the military wants to brag about how big its stones are. But think about how long some of this stuff was around before we really knew anything about it, or in some cases, anything. Think about what the military must have that they're not even telling us about.

    On the other hand, Bin Laden lives a fairly low-tech life. Many of the methods we would ordinarily employ to locate someone will not work because of this. Ultimately, however, I think the pressure we're putting on the nation will lead us to him. Whether or not he's actually the one responsible for the attacks is a seperate issue. I personally don't care; He's a known (and admitted) terrorist, responsible for the deaths of [relative] innocents, and he should be killed. While I'm against the death penalty in most situations, sometimes someone is just too dangerous to be allowed to live. Better thee than me.

    On top of all this; We trained most of these people, either directly or indirectly. We know how they operate, and we know just what level of technology they posess, and in most cases exactly what kind of gear they have, because they got it from us. We have both the technological and information edges on these people. You can further bet your ass that there's a significant number of "spy" satellites hanging out over these areas right now, just checking out anything that looks interesting. It might take us a while, but it is only a matter of time. Also, as a final point, consider that the US government, or at least influential pieces of it, is/are completely ruthless. This is merely something it has in common with almost every other government. While perhaps not a Good Thing (tm), it is occasionally useful.

    Like the mounties...

  • by Chris_Pugrud (16615) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:33AM (#2406091)
    One thing I really hope we learned first from Vietnam and second from the Russian attack on Afghanastan is that you cannot fight unconventional forces with conventional forces. The Afghans have a very well oiled guerilla force. The Soviets spent 6 years fruitlessly trying to fight an army that wasn't really there.

    It wasn't until 1986 when the soviets realized they needed to match their forces and began sending in Spetznatz (Special Forces) units instead of traditional forces. They were tremendously sucessful, and by some accounts pretty much had the war won. At that point Reagan stepped in and gave the Afghan forces American Technology, principally lots of Stinger missles. New weapons were enough to turn the tide of the war and the Soviets spent the next two years in a somewhat controlled retreat.

    Be careful who you think your friends are, as our own Stinger missles are currently considered the biggest threat to the safety of American planes in Afghanastan.

    Our targeted strikes are merely to knock out known defenses and to destabilize the infrastructure. The only way we can flush out their military will be with on the ground special forces.

    The biggest thing that I fear is that the US will renig on their commitment to rebuild Afghanastan once we are done blowing it up. If we do not make the investment to rebuild Afghanastan to a stable and capable society, then we will merely be back where we began.

    Remember that's how the Taliban came to power. Afghanastan was obliterated by the Soviets. It was an Anarchistic country dominated by local warlords, and ripe for a unifying force to take brutal control. Starving and desperate populations are the breeding ground for violent dictators: Witness numerous 20th Century european countries (names withheld to avoid invoking net flame degredation rules :).

    Enjoy,

    Chris
    • That we would integrate a back door in our high-tech weapons that are sold abroad so that they misfire/explode/active a lojack-like device if they are used against us. The government is so back-door-encryption happy that I'm surprised they haven't done this. And, if they haven't done so because of fear that the keys would be compromised, then why would the FBI want to implement such system for civilian encryption?
  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:36AM (#2406116)
    The media onslaught is just like the "number" movies '1984' or 'Fahrenheit 451'. The media brags about some high-tech onslaught against some evil external threat. You see very little diverse opinion in the media, and the people who have offered some have paid (e.g. Bill Maher). Ironically, Orwell and Bradbury predicted that a dictatorial state would be necessary to impose such a uniform view, whereas in the present case the "silo-vision" seems to be emerging from all levels- the viewers, the media providers and the government.

    On the other hand, the beauty of the net is that I can see the analysis almost totally absent from US media by reading European and Asian web papers.
  • by Zen Mastuh (456254) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:37AM (#2406125)

    When Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, we responded not by becoming independent from fossil fuels but by establishing a permanent military presence in Islamic holy lands. Even then we were warned by ibn Laden of the consequences of our actions. Even now he is saying that America will not be safe until we leave their holy lands. He has factually and impassionately stated both the problem and the only acceptable solution. He hasn't even the slightest fantasy of taking over America. He just wants us to leave them alone. Sounds simple to me. However, both Papa Bear Bush and Little Bear Bush are oilmen whose pockets are lined by the richest corporations. How many more Americans will these two gentlemen (a term I use loosely) sacrifice with their greed-driven ideologies?

    I am disappointed in Little Bear Bush for lying to us once again. During his speech (9/11 or 9/12), he stated that we will use every tool at our disposal, including diplomacy. Time and again, the leaders of the Taleban have stated their desire to speak with us, which fits the dictionary definition of diplomacy. Time and again, Bush and company have rejected the Taleban's proposals. Bush's idea of diplomacy is apparently as screwy as his handle on compassion.

    On a side note, we may be witnessing the beginning of an Anthrax outbreak. This is poetic, considering that most Americans are "following the flock" with meaningless flag-waving and spouting of rhetoric.

    • It must be a nice view from the Ivory tower. I spent 6 years of my life in the Marines and in different operations around thee world; Desert Storm included. If the US did not have a physical interest in the world outside of North America then you would not have the life you are enjoying now. Tyrants rise and fall, criminals who run terrorist organizations torture and kill people who stand in their way, and Islamic zealots see the world as theirs. Make no mistake...this is as much a religious war (to the zealots) as it is a terror war to the US. To put our head in the sand and say nothing is stupidity. I have seen terrorism first hand in Thailand, Southeast and Southwest Asia, and the US. You're abstract view of how things should be are just that...abstract and not reality. The terrorists are cunning, lethal, and committed. It was sheer brilliance to use jumbo jets against targets in the US. They don't have the resources to wage war...so they steal it. That is power.... One day, even your might ivory Tower might get hit too. Then you will ask Bush for help.
    • He hasn't even the slightest fantasy of taking over America. He just wants us to leave them alone. Sounds simple to me.

      How about the many times that bin Laden has called for the destruction of Israel? Its clear the man has a broader objective that fits in with the established pattern of Islamic fundamentalist dogma.


      Time and again, the leaders of the Taleban have stated their desire to speak with us

      Please, you aren't interviewing on CNN. Don't insult our intelligence.

    • When Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, we responded not by becoming independent from fossil fuels but by establishing a permanent military presence in Islamic holy lands. Even then we were warned by ibn Laden of the consequences of our actions. Even now he is saying that America will not be safe until we leave their holy lands. He has factually and impassionately stated both the problem and the only acceptable solution. He hasn't even the slightest fantasy of taking over America. He just wants us to leave them alone.

      Please begin thinking for yourself. I am tired of sophmoric pseudo-intellects regurgitating silly rhetoric heard by callers on NPR.


      Why does Bin Laden have the right to tell America to leave the Islamic holy lands? Does he own all of it? Is he the elected representative of ALL the people? Does he even have the best interest of all the people in mind?


      We have been asked to stay in the Holy Land by the governments of those areas. Granted, not all of these governments are democratically elected, but Bin Laden is not even "unfairly elected". He is nothing. He has no more right to tell the Saudis that they must ask the US to leave their land than he has to tell you to wipe your ass with a cactus.


      We are protecting Kuwait. Iraq invaded them once, and would do it again if possible. We are assisting the Saudis (they're next after Kuwait, look at a map). Iraq still has a war machine hell bent on owning the entire peninsula.


      Bin Laden does not care about the people of the Islamic world any more than Hitler cared about the Gypsies and Jews.
      If he did, he would have worked to stop the war in Afghanistan - he has been living there for the past 8 years!


      Bin Laden is a murderer. He defiles a beautiful religion. He wants to own the Arab world, and remake it in his image. He will murder whoever he can in order to accomplish this. He must be stopped. Our world does not need another (and another, and another) holocaust. There are already too many.

    • When Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, we responded not by becoming independent from fossil fuels but by establishing a permanent military presence in Islamic holy lands.


      Please explain how we can become independent from fossil fuels over night? There are many large corporation around the world who would love to do this.


      Even then we were warned by ibn Laden of the consequences of our actions. Even now he is saying that America will not be safe until we leave their holy lands.

      Funny, he didn't mind the US being there when we supported him against Russia.
      So he kills thousands of people, then we say OK we'll leave, then you think he'll stop? He won't, people like him never do.


      He has factually and impassionately stated both the problem and the only acceptable solution. He hasn't even the slightest fantasy of taking over America. He just wants us to leave them alone. Sounds simple to me.

      so we should just strand our allies? And if he begins to believe he can intimidate us, he will start thyinking he can control the US.


      However, both Papa Bear Bush and Little Bear Bush are oilmen whose pockets are lined by the richest corporations. How many more Americans will these two gentlemen (a term I use loosely) sacrifice with their greed-driven ideologies?


      Total unnesesary for your "point". I am not a Bush supporter, and I think he's a pretty crappy president, however his response in dealing with this madman, and the fanatics that harbor him has been pretty good.


      I am disappointed in Little Bear Bush for lying to us once again. During his speech (9/11 or 9/12), he stated that we will use every tool at our disposal, including diplomacy. Time and again, the leaders of the Taleban have stated their desire to speak with us, which fits the dictionary definition of diplomacy. Time and again, Bush and company have rejected the Taleban's proposals. Bush's idea of diplomacy is apparently as screwy as his handle on compassion.

      he has given the Talaban every reasonable chance for diplomacy. they are playing the stalling game, and not even very well. They could of handed him overright away, he is wanted for several crimes other then 9/11, then they would have the high ground.


      On a side note, we may be witnessing the beginning of an Anthrax outbreak. This is poetic, considering that most Americans are "following the flock" with meaningless flag-waving and spouting of rhetoric.



      This is just trolling.

    • When Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, we responded not by becoming independent from fossil fuels but by establishing a permanent military presence in Islamic holy lands. Even then we were warned by ibn Laden of the consequences of our actions. Even now he is saying that America will not be safe until we leave their holy lands.

      You're right. We responded not by instantly switching from our centuries-old dependencies on fossil fuel to Mr. Fusion-powered cars and oh-so-good-for-the-environment NiCD-powered electric cars (1990 remember), all the while letting the Kurds and Kuwaitis and (undoubtedly in short order) the Israelis get steamrolled by Iraq. Instead we responded to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait by taking our ships and aircraft to the Gulf and floating around for a few months saying "please get out of Kuwait and go back to your own country. Respect their sovereignty and we will respect yours." From August to January, we floated around and tried diplomacy. When it didn't work, we (the Western world - I'm not American) punted the Iraqis back into their own country. We did not level Bagdhad.

      Of course Bin Laden wants us out of the Middle East. How will he set up his pan-Arabic regime if the US is hanging around trying to protect smaller countries (Kuwait, Israel, et al)?

      If the US leaves the Middle East, what will happen to Israel and its 6 million people? Well, just before they get completely slaughtered, they'll fire off their 100+ nuclear weapons - the so-called "Samson option". Tens of millions of Arabs who think their god is telling them to destroy Israel, and more than a hundred nuclear warheads within Israel's borders intent on proving them wrong. And having the US there as a stabilizing influence is a bad idea? You think Iraq would have stopped at Kuwait?

      It's not a US thing. And its not even a US-plus-the-countries-kissing-the-US'-ass thing. There's a reason so many countries supported the actions of the Bush administration in 1990, and a similar reason so many countries support the actions of this Bush administration. And it isn't because they're all getting paid off by insert-big-corporation-here. It's because the alternative is even worse.

      As for the crack about diplomacy, if you followed the past few international issues with the Taliban, such as their destroying of monuments or their imprisoning of aid workers, you'd understand that the Taliban is not interested in negotiating with the western world.

      m@

  • One thing technology helps us do is distance ourselves from the fact we're killing innocent people. But it's okay, 'cos we can all tune in and catch the latest glory news of how we're all doing so well.


    Excuse me, but this whole thing, from beginning to every minute of every day that this continues makes me sick.


    Goodbye karma, but what's the good of it anyway?
    Tom.

  • by DickBreath (207180) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:38AM (#2406133) Homepage
    While we may loose some lives, and I don't intend to downplay the seriousness of this, it is probably not going to be militarily significant. That is, it won't change the real outcome.

    The plain simple fact is that not only do we have vastly more and better equipment, but we also have vastly more and better trained people. Some of them will be lost, the the outcome is not in doubt.

    The only thing in doubt is our will to see this through. In the past we have not had the will. After the first few body bags, we run home with our tail between our legs. And that is partly why Sept 11 occured. There is no credible belief that we'll do really very much about it. We'll drop a few bombs, and then when the first few body bags arrive, we'll run home.

    After the Sept 11 outrange, we may now have the will. And this, I believe, is Osama's miscalculation.

    Another one is this. He may grasp how to use PR to spin his side. But it seems to me that each PR bit he has released has stired our side to even more anger. And we may be able to counter spin his own remarks in front of the Arab world. That remains to be seen.
  • by raresilk (100418) <raresilk.mac@com> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:39AM (#2406141)
    I know, I know, it's just Katz rabble-rousing and I should lower my expectations, but what is the basis for this statement:

    "Most Americans are convinced that technology -- GPS targeting systems, thermal imaging, new intelligence retrieval systems, pilotless drone reconnaisance aircraft, high-altitude bombers, special forces equipped with goggles than can see into caves -- will carry the day for us. Will it? What can technology really do for us in this new war?"

    Everything I have read, viewed or heard in the media, every poll I have seen, and every live human I have spoken with in the weeks since September 11 supports precisely the opposite proposition - the general public DOES NOT BELIEVE that technology gives the US/Allies the advantage in this war; it will be won, if at all, by traditional human intelligence, gritty casualty-producing ground combat, determination, and patience. And I don't hear anyone underestimating the low-tech Afghan mujahedeen.

    Where are the "most Americans" who believe this is a magic tech silver bullet war? I don't see or hear them anywhere.
  • The most distinctive feature of American-style warfare in the recent past was our extreme aversion to casualties, which developed during Viet Nam. Our development of high-tech warfare was motivated at least in part by this. In the wake of 9-11 that fear has become irrelevant, and we're going to be applying miltech in new and interesting ways.

    Tactically (thanks to the elusive nature of the enemy), the war we're in now is all about intelligence gathering, which we have developed to a high degree technologically while leaving more conventional man-on-the-scene methods behind. The question is whether technology alone can compensate. I suspect that it can to a much higher degree than people might suspect, especially in the mountains of Afghanistan, but in order for it to be really effective (especially in populated areas), we'll need the new capability to put a bug/bot-on-the-scene.

    Of course I don't really know how effective our tech will be in this war, but one thing is for sure - we'll soon find out.
  • And I don't mean in Afghanistan. A by-product of this conflict will be vastly increased surveillance and observation. When Bush said "you are either with us or against us", you can interpret that to say that in the future, the US will only do business with and allow travel to/from nations that observe and track as closely as we will. This means profiling and tracking by key demographics.

    Once you seal up the US as "secure" through surveillance and tracking, the "interfaces" to the US will also required to be secured, and those nations that do not engage in similar practices will simply be part of the "them". No one is going to risk lowering security through transitivity.

    Note that I am not being cynical about this - in this instance, racial profiling and surveillance based on that profiling would have worked. We know its not the 70 year old granny from Boca Raton that is seeding the water supply with poisons. We should use that information to make better guesses about who is tracked.

    Welcome to the Panopticon!

  • by FFFish (7567) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:41AM (#2406165) Homepage
    If you start reading the global press, you start to get the sense that perhaps a *lot* of the mid-East is not so happy with this attack on Afghanistan, and is, in fact, quite impressed with bin Laden's video monologue.

    Nearest I can figure is that this "war" on the rubble of Afghanistan is going to just create an excuse for more terrorist attacks against US civilians.

    Ol' Dubya has just initiated a tit-for-tat war of attrition. This is not going to be a good time to be an American citizen.

    And, finally, an interesting bit of thought from Michael Moore:

    "Orwell warned us about this one. Big Brother, in order to control the population, knew that it was necessary for the people to always believe they were in a state of siege, that the enemy was getting closer and closer, and that the war would take a very long time.

    That is EXACTLY what George W. Bush said in his speech to Congress, and the reason he said it is because he and his buddies want us all in such a state of fear and panic that we would gladly give up the cherished freedoms that our fathers and those before them fought and died for. Who wouldn't submit to searches, restrictions of movement, and the rounding up of anyone who looks suspicious if it would prevent another September 11?

    In order to get these laws passed that will strip us of our rights, they have been telling us that we are in a LONG and PROTRACTED war that has no end in sight."
    • by SnowDog_2112 (23900) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:36AM (#2406555) Homepage
      There's one problem with the line of reasoning you're taking (and others I've heard taking as well).

      Regardless of whether OBL had a valid point in his little speech, regardless of whether it makes moral sense of the US to have a presence in the Middle East, regardless of all those things ... you don't negotiate with terrorists. Doing so encourages them to do it again.

      Let's say the US is doing something really stupid. In response to this, someone who disagrees with what they're doing comes along and murders 6,000 civilians. The US turns, looks at itself, and says, "Wow, maybe we're doing something really stupid. Let's stop doing that before 6,000 more civilians get murdered."

      Then what? Then next time somebody out in the world with a chip on their shoulder sees the US doing something they don't like, they think, "Hey, it worked for so-and-so, let me try."

      Bush's diplomacy, in this case, had nothing to do with the Taliban, and everything to do with the other nations in the region who are backing the US in this (however reluctantly it may be). "Diplomacy" with the Taliban was limited (as it absolutely should have been) to strict demands of what needed to be done.

      You don't negotiate with criminals, you bring them to justice. You tell them what they need to do, and what will happen if they don't do it. If they don't do what they need to do, you follow through with your threats.

      Look at this a little differently. Change the scale a bit. There's a new zoning law in your town that prohibits people from having cars on cinder blocks in front yards. Some guy in the town really likes having his car on cinder blocks, so he complains to the town. The town says, "The citizens of this town voted for this ordinance, you must follow it." What does this person do? Maybe he puts up signs, trying to change the view of the people -- ask that they change the law, try and tell his side of the story. But maybe that doesn't work. So, instead, he blows up a bomb at the local elementary school. The police, and the local citizens, are outraged. "Hey, you should have listened when I asked you to change the law. Maybe you'll change it now?"

      You don't negotiate with that person. You go get him and lock him away for life. Maybe you kill him. But you certainly don't change the law beause of him! And if his landlord refuses you access to his apartment, you arrest him as well -- treating him as much a criminal as the man he's protecting.

      I'm against war.

      I have a healthy amount of skepticism about the US foreign and domestic policy. I question the usefulness of our sanctions against Iraq. I question a lot of things.

      I am not a drone. I am not a sheep.

      It makes me indescribably sad to think of the innocent men, women, and children dying right now because of this.

      But I can't think of a better way of handling what needs to be done. As much as I hate Bush, these strikes, and this "war," need to take place.
  • I dunno what news channel Katz watches, but what I see, over and over, is the government telling us how this war will be different. In Afghanistan, they tell us how few targets there are and how little the bombing can do besides take out some anti-aircraft weapons, some terrorist camps, some runways.

    In polls and on-the-street interviews, people say they expect ground troops and special forces to be used. I think the American public definitely knows that this is not a video game war like Desert Storm.

    On the news, over and over, we are told that the USA needs to get dirty and use spies and human intelligence to fight this "new cold war" (after a while this is what it will become, a cold war with occasional attacks). I think the government and the people fully understand that most of this war will not be fought with cutting-edge technology that we'll see on TV, but good old-fashioned dirty business and black ops. Sometimes tech will be used, sometimes not. Maybe we'll get a few pointers from the old KGB generals on how to play dirty and undetected?

    High tech is definitely a sideline in this war.

  • Technology in this war will be useful only so-far as a means of limiting human casualties. All the smart-bombs and stealth bombers of the world though will have little bearing against a group of fanatics fighting for a belief rather than a thing of concrete and steel, and as such, its an almost impossible foe to defeat.


    Yeah, so we can drop a bomb down somebody's chimney, but does that make a fanatic (whos now lost his family) impressed? Does it alter his believes enough to lift the blinkers and see the pain his government is causing? No, it just makes him more determined to murder the infidel. And besides, it isnt as if theres a lot in Afghanistan to actually bomb.


    In my opinion there is no way that the allied nations can win this war against terrorism. Just as hercules faced the hydra, cut off one head and (at least) another will form in its place.


    Just look at northern ireland for an example. The english have been trying for years to deal with the terrorist organisations. A ceasefire is called with the IRA and another disgruntled group who disageree with the peace process entirely springs up.


    The soldiers themselves, having been exposed to the troubles are now as bitter toward the terrorists as they are to them, essentially cerating 3 sides of bitterness that will never really move forward.


    Until we start to apply a doctrine of politics to these people to capture the hearts and minds of the people under the regime, then fighting is pointless. And all the talk of "Reasoning is useless" or "we want payback", is clearly a knee-jerk reaction. Yes, people are hurting now, but does that justify the eye-for-an-eye mentality?

    ChAoS

  • by Medievalist (16032) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:44AM (#2406187)
    /.
    When we built all these fancy weapons, I thought they'd be used in a reasonably fair fight - that is, we'd send the tomahawks against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics when they delivered their promised global revolution.
    I didn't write all that code so that we could use it to kick over some mud huts in a stone-age nation bent on recreating a 16th century theocracy.
    Granted, our jingoistic, bloodthirsty, home-grown perpetrators of atrocities are going after people of similar moral virtue, so at least we aren't knocking off Lapps, Tuvans or Bushmen... but I'd still like to see a fair fight. Let Bush and all his hawk buddies go fight a ground war, like the one he dodged in Viet Nam. I'll be happier about funding that, especially if we can use all-volunteer armies and ban all weapons more sophisticated than a bow and arrow.
    Why can't all these warmongering bastards sate their bloodlust without bringing my nice clean superweapons into their dirty little terrorist tit-for-tat?
    --Charlie
    • Fair fight?

      The last thing you want in combat is a "fair" fight. You do everything you can to give you an advantage puts the other side in a world of hurt. That is why you build walls, camp on a hill, use ranged weapons when the enemy has none, etc.

      Try to take away my 12d6 fireball just because of game balance, fine. Real life? Pull out the trusty +2 tomahawk of seeking and let them have it!
  • I think the experience of the last decade should give us a very clear answer to this question. Technology will not solve this problem, or its like, for us.

    Our gadgets might be very useful in immobilizing an opponent that relies on sophisticated infrastructure, like we do. But when Rumsfeld and his generals speak of knocking out "command and control structures" in Afghanistan, the US Government's structural inability to even understand this kind of situation gets a nice bright underline. It's the same kind of mentality that insists the best road to security for the US is a multi-trillion dollar shield against ICBMs.

    We've destroyed Afghanistan's meager air and air defense capabilities. All our cruise missiles and precision munitions can do for us now is make us look like cowards attacking what must rank as one of the most unfortunate countries on earth, with goals that are clear to no one.

  • I've read several comments, articles and opinions about this war, since 9-11. Unfortunately, I've got the same conclusion, always: this isn't a winnable war. No war tecnology, modern warfare can win this war, and it's very simple to explain it: this war is not a military one.

    The US (and the western world, by extension) isn't fighting a opressing regime or an expanding, threatening militar force. We are fighting terror, and senseless attacks on civilians. These attacks do not come from Taliban troops. They come from organized fundamentalists, which are functioning as any american corporation. The difference is the goal: the fundamentalists do not want profit, but some kind of religious "justice".

    The real war isn't on Afghanistan: it's in the minds of a big number of people who think of the US as their biggest enemy.

    Bombing Taliban sites or capturing/killing Osama bin Laden will not end terror. The terrorists are well spread all over the world. To stop these people, we'll have to make them stop wanting to hurt us. The bombs or the modern tecnology will not achieve this.
  • by sterno (16320) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:48AM (#2406230) Homepage
    One thing that seems to get glazed over an awful lot is that during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the rebel groups were being backed by the United States and others. In this war they are completely cut off from outside assistance. Nobody is dumb enough to do something like that right now and risk us making them an enemy.

    Another thing to note is that the Soviets had very different goals when they went into Afghanistan. They wanted to take over the country. The US is interested in eliminating a threat, which means taking out terrorists and those who sponsored them. We want to get in and get out as fast as possible, and ideally want some other group to come to power in afghanistan who doesn't hate us quite so much. We are trying to play various internal afghanistan factions against eachother, and making a point of not being a common enemy for them to unite against.

    To analyze this war against the backdrop of Soviet Afghanistan or Vietnam seems to belittle the truely different nature of this conflict. This doesn't mean it will be easy, and certainly with some policy mistakes we could turn it into such a conflict. But the goals here and the enviornment under which we are attempting to achieve them is very different from these historical precedents.
    • You're right about the US support of the rebels during the Soviet occupation, but you're wrong about the Soviet goals. They were mainly worried about the rogue prime minister of Afghanistan, and wanted to do a quick switch with a more moderate pro-Soviet administration. Their expectations initially were of a week-long operation or so, in and out. The Soviets had no trouble with modern warfare--they captured the urban areas and infrastructure within weeks. Their troubles began when they started overextending themselves into the mountains and caves, a type of warfare they hadn't trained and were not equipped for.

      We might be enamoured with our high-tech silicon-driven equipment, but there's no evidence yet that we would fare any better than the Soviets in them thar hills. Push-button death is one thing, hand-to-hand combat something entirely different. We have little definitive evidence of our vast superiority given no force multipliers or superiority in numbers.
  • ultimately all our "Smart Bombs" and "Stealth Planes" all do the same thing that "Not So Smart Bombs" and "Quite Visible Planes" did in the past. Soften up the enemy for ground troops.

    It would be wonderful if we had weapons that could finish off the war but ultimately we'll have to have a lot of 18-40 yr olds die in the process. When it is all sadi and done Afghani rocks will have been moved about and we will have "bombed them back to the stone age" setting them back a good 45 minutes.

    War requires humans to kill one another face to face. It is sad.
  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:50AM (#2406241) Homepage


    along with the precision-bomb photos, and satellite shots

    I guess the illusion of "surgical strikes" can now be put into the dustbin.

    The US airforce just blew up the United Nations building, close to Kabul in afghanistan.
    But strangely, I can't find a word about it on US websites ??
    The closest is This article [cnn.com] but it doesn't mention a word about that the people were in the UN building outside Kabul.

  • I strongly recommend the book "Black Hawk Down" by Mark Bowden, http://blackhawkdown.philly.com/

    In the longest running gunfight in recent US history, Task Force Ranger (including members of Delta Force) suffered heavy casualties. They thought they succeeded in their mission, if imperfectly. They inflicted much, much heavier casualties on the Somalis trying to overrun them, and held out long enough to be rescued by members of the 10th Mountain (who are right now in Uzbekistan, IIRC) (with Malaysian and Pakistani armor)

    They DID complete the mission (capturing some important members of the ruling clan structure in a daring daytime raid) but after they suffered casualties, the mission was scrapped because the public couldn't deal with a relatively few lives lost. Note to enemies: Kill just a few of our men, and we don't have the resolve to keep fighting. I think maybe this has changed, since we've lost a lot of civilians.

    A huge advantage of our forces is that we can afford to train them all the time, even when that gets expensive. We can afford truly awesome fire support. We have a truly huge military, largely because we're the only really huge country that isn't really poor. Militarily, we could close the borders to Afghanistan, occupy it, segregate it, and sweep across it forcing everyone to be inspected at a checkpoint. Would we be able to ID bin Laden at that checkpoint? I don't know. But that's a more subtle mission than one that's purely military.

    We have at least two significant advantages over the Russians. The first is that the most useful of our technology, like the Night Optical Devices, are very useful even in urban on-the-ground situations. The second is that we were supplying and training the people fighting against them, and no one (AFAIK) is supplying or training them against us. That means they'll run out of midrange technology like SAMs if they use them...

    Even in Vietnam, we won militarily. But we had no exit strategy. No amount of military success will make a corrupt puppet gov't legitimate. Defeating an enemy is much easier than nationbuilding, and I'm not at all sure how we're going to go about nationbuilding after we blow this stuff up. I suspect we can kill or try bin Laden and dismantle at least most of the structure of Al Queda - but as long as we leave festering countries bombed into the stone-age around, there are always going to be new problems.

  • But thousands of American civilians are already dead in this conflict, greater civilian losses than in any war in U.S. history.

    Seems to me more than 5000 civilians died in the US Civil War. And it was not from the side-effects of war. Civilians were legitamate targets back in those days and were fired on by both sides. I don't have a link, but Gettysburg seems to be a good place to start researching this.

    Although this is a bit offtopic, I do find it irritating when you hear all the "This is the first time that..." crap in the media. We've been attacked on our soil before, had our territory occupied before, and yes, our civilians have been attacked and killed in large numbers in war before. This seems to be a tool that journalists use in order to make it look like the story they are reporting is some radically new type of event, when in reality it is just a slightly different spin on what has been happening for centuries.

  • Bunker Busting Nukes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:55AM (#2406285)
    Following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was questioned on ABC television's This Week program about the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons in the expected conflicts to come.

    In practiced Pentagonese, Rumsfeld deftly avoided answering the question of whether the use of tactical nuclear weapons could be ruled out.

    Though large "theater" thermonuclear devices -- doomsday bombs -- don't fit the Bush administration's war on terrorism, smaller tactical nukes do not seem out of the question in the current mindset of the Defense Department.

    The most likely candidate is a tactical micro-nuke called the B61-11, an earth-penetrating nuclear device known as the "bunker buster." The B61-11 was designed to destroy underground military facilities such as command bunkers, ballistic missile silos and facilities for producing and storing weapons. However, it could be used against the warren of tunnels and caves carved under the Afghan mountains that are often cited as a potential refuge for the U.S. government's prime suspect, Osama bin Laden. The B61-11's unique earth-penetrating characteristics and wide range of yields allow it to threaten deeply situated and otherwise indestructible underground targets from the air.

    The 1,200-pound B61-11 replaces the 8,900-pound, nine-megaton B53 device, a bomb initially designated as an earth-penetrating weapon. The B53 is deliverable only by enormous and vulnerable B-52 bombers. By contrast, the relatively diminutive B61-11 can be delivered by the stealthier B-2 bomber, or even by conventional fighters such as the F-16.

    The B61-11 is designed to burrow through layers of concrete by way of a "shock-coupling effect." The design directs the force of the B61-11's explosive energy downward, destroying everything buried beneath it to a depth of several hundred meters, according to a story in the March 2, 1997 issue of Defense News.

    The B53, on the other hand, with a force equal to 9 million tons of TNT, penetrates the earth simply by creating a massive crater, rather than the more precise downward blow of the B61-11.

    The B61-11 is the most recent nuclear device added to the U.S. nuclear arsenal since 1989. It was developed and deployed secretly, according to a story from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The U.S. military sneaked it past test and development treaties, as well as public and congressional debate, by defining the B61-11 as an adaptation of a pre-treaty technology rather than a new development. Depending on the yield of the bomb, the B61-11 can produce explosions ranging from 300 tons of TNT to more than 300,000 tons. This is significantly less than the B53, but still far larger than even the greatest conventional non-nuclear device in U.S. stockpiles. And it is several times more powerful than the atomic weapons dropped on Japan in 1945.

    Studies by the Natural Resource Defense Council estimate that more than 150 B61-11s are currently in the U.S. arsenals, scattered among NATO aircraft carriers and planes on bases in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Turkey, Belgium, Netherlands and Greece. Many B61-11s were withdrawn from Europe during the '90s and are now stored at Kirtland and Nellis Air Force bases in the United States.

    According to a desk release from the U.S. Air Force's Public Affairs office, tests of the earth-penetrating capabilities of the B61-11 were completed on March 17, 1998, in frozen tundra at the Stuart Creek Impact Area, 35 miles southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska. Two unarmed B61-11s were dropped to test their ground-penetration capability. The tests were designed to measure the nuclear bomb casing's penetration into frozen soil and the survivability of the weapon's internal components.

    A team excavated the two unexploded dummy bombs and took careful measurements of their angles and depth of penetration into the soil, which were 6 and 10 feet, according to the Air Force. The shells were sent back to Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico for full analysis of how the simulated internal components fared in the impact. The B6-11's casing didn't rupture in any of the tests, including drops through concrete from 40,000 feet. All bomb casings were recovered 100 percent intact, according to the release.

    Any debate inside the corridors of power about using tactical nukes will be heightened by the intelligence buzz surrounding bin Laden's possible ownership of Russian nuclear "suitcase" bombs purchased from Chechen mafia. Those weapons are said to be hidden in deep caves and fortified tunnels in remote regions of Afghanistan. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the discussion of ways to eradicate this potential nuclear threat -- while simultaneously destroying bin Laden and his teams --- may have led to talk about tactical weapons that can destroy even heavily fortified underground shelters.

  • by spikeham (324079) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @10:57AM (#2406297)
    It is obvious that the US and UK have already deployed special forces on the ground and soon will be sending a lot more.

    Guerilla tactics are pretty much the only way to take out guerillas. The Soviets proved that controlling the cities and highways with a lot of heavy armor just makes you a static target.

    So, don't expect this to be bloodless for the US/UK. All this government rhetoric about how this will be a hard effort means "we're gonna take casualties."

    The US ground troops will have far more technological assistance than the Taliban: GPS, helicopters, night vision, personal radios, satellite imagery, powerful individual weapons, artillery and air strikes on call. But the Taliban are on their home turf, and they are ready to die for the cause.
  • Technological superiority can be a hazard or a benefit depending upon how blindly we trust that superior technology means superior ability to kill.

    Consider that when the F-4 Phantom was built, we relied so heavily on the technology of the radar guided missle that we thought there would never again be any dogfighting in the skies, and all kills would be done from a range of 25 miles away. And so, F-4 Phantoms were built without guns.

    We got our butts kicked as a result with high losses as the MIG's tore the crap out of the Phantoms,

    The next batch of F-4's had a gun built into a pod that would have been used to carry a missle. Suddenly the idea of building a manueverable fighter aircraft with guns was again, seen as a necessity. We learned that technology alone doesn't win a war.

    The "Top Gun" school was started as a result of that embarassing mistake.

    Let us hope that we still remember that painful lesson in this instance.
  • by gorgon (12965) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:03AM (#2406334) Homepage Journal
    But thousands of American civilians are already dead in this conflict, greater civilian losses than in any war in U.S. history.
    Is the number of civilian casualties in this war really greater than in any previous US war? Does anyone have any references for this? I hadn't heard this before and to me this seems unlikely. Surely some of the previous wars on US soil have had large number of civilian casualties. In the Revolutionary War there may not have been much collateral damage by direct bombardment, but certainly there must have been some deaths indirectly caused by the war - famine, etc. In the Civil War the similarly effects were present but to a greater extent due to campaigns like Sherman's march to the sea.

    Probably the closest comparisons to prior conflicts can be made with the Indian Wars. During these conflicts between the US settlers and the Native Americans it is difficult to separate out the civilian casualties since much of the fighting was done by militias, etc. It should be possible to estimate civilians casualties for both sides in the Indian Wars by only counting women and children, and I would guess that the totals would be more than 6,000.

    Of course the fact still remains that the number of civilian casualties that we've inflicted were much higher than those inflicted on us in the major wars of the 20th century. This is mostly a result of the fact that those wars weren't fought on American soil, but it bears consideration when trying to put the current conflict into historical context.

  • Neato military gadgets are all well and good, but I'm more interested in long term solutions to the poverty, degradation, and oppression that leads the world to war in the first place.


    In particular, I'm interested in clean, sustainable energy sources [iowawind.org] and delivery systems [millenniumcell.com] that would give the energy-hungry USA the luxury of acting according to its democratic principles in the international arena, instead of its all-too-common current tendencies to do whatever it has to to keep cheap oil flowing in.

  • I hesitate to call this conflict a war since it is not between two states, but rather between a state and a group of individuals. The fact that Bush Jr has involved the Taliban doesn't change that for me.

    That said, I think you will find that the tech involved in this conflict will be primarily oriented to command and control, recon and surveillence.

    It appears that so far the "smart bombs" have done no discernable damage to the Al Queda network. Nor are such devices likely to work as they are designed to take out military assets, not individuals. Several experts believe that the US and its allies will rely heavily on special forces used on the ground. I tend to agree. The strengths of the Al Queda followers are the same as those of the muhjadeen - rapid strike ground forces that disappear after contact - hit and run tactics as explained by a former British SAS member who helped them refine their techniques. Those kinds of tactics cannot be fought by bombing an area into submission.

    Wherer the tech does stand out however, is in tracking and locating friendly forces. GPS allows ground commanders and operational officers to know where their men are at any time. That is a great advantage for recon (When the enemy is spotted or engaged), evac (if troops are in danger). Enhanced communications and satellites will play further aid these processes.

    Other less glamorous technologies such as night vision and short range heat trackers will lend a tactical advantage to ground forces (who will be more likely to attack their opponents at night), but again these aren't the high profile items that cost 5 and 6 figures each.

    As for playing up the danger of conflict, that's been SOP for a long time. Remember the US government built up Iraq as the fourth largest military in the world (when it couldn't make a dent in Iran for 10 years). Technology's role in the military since WW2 has rarely created a paradigm shift, it merely increases the efficiency in which something can be done.

    The fact that once again the most dangerous weapons US troops are likely to face are ones we sold our opponents doesn't help.

  • http://www.pushback.com/terror/DroppingPhones.html [pushback.com]

    This idea would show the terrorists a bit of the reality that they're working so hard against. It's the nature of people to want to be free and prosperous, and despots and dictators are working against that nature. The useful information we could get from anonymous "squealers" and the terror instilled in the terrorists' hearts would be two very potent weapons.

    There's no need for the US to limit itself to expensive, marginally effective military technology. There are probably more solutions like this one that take advantage of the cheap technology our free market has produced.

    ----------- (Excerpt from the web site) -----------

    Freedom Phones and PINs--How to Find Osama bin Laden and Other Terrorists with Methods that Guarantee Anonymity for Informants

    Immediately after the WTC attack on September 11, many top scientists and Middle East experts in the U.S. suggested and recommended the anonymous reward scheme described below to encourage those with information on the identity and whereabouts of terrorists to provide this information to U.S authorities such as the FBI.

    Dr. Bill Wattenburg gave the first public descripton of this clever scheme on his talk show over KGO Radio AM810, San Francisco, on September 25, 2001, from 7pm to 10pm. The response from listeners on the west coast was overwhelming understanding and approval.

    Terrorists Leaders Will Know the Fear That They Can be Betrayed at Any Time by Captive Citizens Who Formally had no Secure Communication--or by Their Own Henchmen Who Can Safely Collect Large Rewards Here on Earth Instead of Only in Suicide Heaven.

    ...
  • Are these facts Jon? (Score:3, Informative)

    by trcooper (18794) <coop@red[ ].org ['out' in gap]> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:18AM (#2406431) Homepage
    But thousands of American civilians are already dead in this conflict, greater civilian losses than in any war in U.S. history.

    First we'll assume you mean U.S. civilians, as millions were killed in WWII, which is certainly still in the recollection of most Americans. Going a bit further back, but again certainly within U.S. history, there was the civil war. Do you honestly believe that there were not more civilians killed in that war?

    Now on to your question. There is no doubt that our technology will benifit us. Do our GPS targetting systems work, certainly. Are our satellites as good as we think they are for battlefield intelligence? You betcha. Have our soldiers been better prepared both mentally and physically? Absolutley. Can the Taliban win this war? No chance.

    But it isn't technology that gives us the real advantage. We had technology on our side in Vietnam. We didn't win. Sure, it wasn't nearly at the level we have now, and we didn't have the experience using what we had in real situations, but we simply were more powerful. But we didn't win. Why didn't we win? During Vietnam we were a divided nation. We had defeated the Viet Cong in South Vietnam by 1968. But the north saw our division here in America, and counted on us to give in to internal pressures. To make a long story short, we did.

    Today there's no such division. The overwhelming majority of people in this country believe this is something that needs to be done. Sure there are some people who disagree, but they certainly aren't the majority. Our nation is united. The other nations of the world are also standing behind us. If we continue to stand united, we will win this war, just as we've won all other wars that we've stood through united.

    When all is said and done, some may say that technology won the war. But the real reasons will have had nothing to do with technology.
  • Would you eat those funny packages they've pushing out of the planes? First, they are nothing like you've ever seen before. Second, how do you know if the enemy who just bombed you isn't trying to poison you?
  • But the people reading this have a much better than average grasp of these tech issues.

    Yeah, and I've got this nice bridge in New York I'm interested in selling. (Better buy it quick, though, before it gets blowed up real good.)

    If anybody reading this site knows what the advanced military nations of the world are actually capable of, and if they were to write about it here, it would mean their immediate dismissal from the secret services and subsequent vaporization.

    My information is about a decade old, but according to it, back in the early nineties, we had the technology to see through mountains, pinpoint kill from huge distances, and with shoulder mounted arms put nuclear-scale non-nuclear devastation pretty much anywhere at any time. I'll repeat that; NON-nuclear explosives which have the range and effect of nuclear devices. Small warheads a single warrior can carry and deploy. And that's just the brute force crap.

    This stupid, evil, fake production of a pre-fab war could be won in under a month with little or no loss on the side of the tech-advanced nations.

    And that's using tech from nearly ten years ago. (And you wonder why ZPE is dead in the civilian realm. Use your damned brains!)

    However. . . You are not going to see a quick resolution because the power brokers don't want that. They plan to put on a good show which will establish all of the right dramatic tensions thus preparing and programming the world for the further steps of their master plan, (which if the world survives long enough, I am sure we will get to watch unfolding with all the melodramatic glory of a bad Hollywood film, written, of course, for the average 14 year old intelligence, because anything less would appear confusing and thereby deflate its core audience.)

    Pass the popcorn. Erg. And the Tumms. (Lame writing gives me gas.)


    -Fantastic Lad

  • War, especially this kind of "feel good" unwinnable war, consumes Gross National Product without the benefit of raising the standard of living. That is, every effort put to the war is effort that could have been put to feed, salve or teach our own citizens or to aid other citizens.

    Unwinnable? Yes. Just as in the Gulf War, America claims victory because we've hit all the known military objectives, while Saddam claims victory because we've not hit all the unknown military objectives and he remained in power. A war without losers is a war without winners. And that's exactly what we're facing with this newest "whack-a-mole" war in Afghanistan.

    • The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of
    • doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. [...] From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent for human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, overwork, dirt, illiteracy, and disease could be eliminated within a few generations. [...] But it was also clear that an all-around increase in wealth threatened the destruction--indeed in some sense was the destruction--of a hierarchical society. [...] The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. Goods must be produced, but they need not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.

      --"Emanuel Goldstein", 1984, by George Orwell

    Endless war just stratifies the society into a more crisp and more maintainable hierarchy of the Power Elite, the Party sheep, and the proletariat masses.

  • Not sure why you say that most people expect to do this with little to no losses, and no footwork by US soldiers. Where I work, 90% of the employees have no college education. About 25% have family either currently in the armed forces, or very recently out.

    Overwhelmingly, they expect that their sons, daughters, brothers, will be put in danger. They have accepted what Bush and others have said: it's gonna take soldiers on foot.

    Perhaps they are more savvy than the average citizen. But even those rather far removed from those in the military accept it. What they do seem to want is for us to use as many smart bombs and other technological means prior to putting troops on the ground.

  • by jd (1658) <imipak@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @11:39AM (#2406575) Homepage Journal
    So far, the US/UK forces have blown up some
    airports, which were unlikely to be used in this
    conflict, anyway, and which the US & UK will now
    have to pay Afghanistan to rebuild, once the war
    is over. See Sun Tzu's excellent paper on warfare
    on why this is an incredibly stupid tactic.


    The "minimal loss of life" has included UN
    volunteer workers, when those carefully guided
    missiles slammed into a UN-sponsored facility.
    IIRC, this is not the first time "smart bombs"
    have been fired by less-than-smart humans. The US
    really should update its maps. I'm sure the
    Chinese would help pay for some. Iraq and Libya
    would probably chip in some cash, too, given the
    number of civilians killed by "stray" missiles,
    fired in anger by US pilots, in both countries.


    The first problem is that the military are
    unbelievably dumb. Giving them "smart" technology
    doesn't make them any smarter. (Laptops and the
    UK's MOD don't mix. Well, they do, and then they
    seperate, with said laptops carrying information
    MOD officials damn well aught to know better
    should not be put on unsecure machines.)


    The second problem is that even the "smart"
    technology is far from "smart". The guidance
    systems (camera-based, laser-guided, GPS, etc) are
    all prone to error, and there seems to be very
    little in the way of verification done. (If there
    were, we wouldn't get stray missiles! The system
    would be able to detect there was a problem, and
    correct it.)


    The third problem is that this kind of war
    depersonalises it. Death and destruction at the
    push of a button, with no understanding or
    compassion. Reminds me a lot of Davros, from the
    television series "Doctor Who", or the Cybermen.
    In both cases, fictional descriptions of what
    happens when you destroy the "human element", and
    replace it with passionless machinary. How, then,
    should we challange those things which -are- evil?
    Again, the good Doctor answered this, in the story
    "Evil of the Daleks" - cooperation, caring and
    compassion are more powerful than brute-force and
    power-plays.

  • PREINT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gnovos (447128) <gnovos AT chipped DOT net> on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @12:19PM (#2406860) Homepage Journal
    One thing it looks like many people forget about is technology's role in the new world of Predictive Intelligence, something that only exists in it's infancy now, but has vast potential for this new kind of war.

    A few years ago, I was working at a dot-com on some really fascinating "intelligent" software. It would pull out abstract information from unrelated data and form n-dimensional "clouds" where related entities would become grouped toegther. It would then proceede to "find faces" in the clouds. In other words, it would try to extrapolate out new information based on what information it was given, no matter how much or how little.

    It was a simply amazing tool for data analysis, for pulling out the relevant information from a sea of data, for making educated guesses that actually give you results... But like all dot-coms, we frittered our money away and now I don't know if more than three people in the world even have copies of this once multi-million dollar software.

    My point is, if we as a no-nothing dot-com can come up with a really fantastic data mining/information extrapolation engine (of course, we used it solely for short-sighted evil-marketing purposes, thus our demise), then the government could certianly be able to build a system fifty times as complex, and use it for vastly more important purposes than correlating CDs with clothing purchases.

    The next step for military technology isn't going to be the next biggest bomb or the pair of night-vision goggles that will let you do macramé in a cave during a new moon. Instead the next advance will be predictive and learning software that can make "good guesses" as to when and where the enemy will strike next. It will be able to profile everyone in the world based on thier credit-card purchases corelated with thier taste in web-sites, thier shoe size, and how many hours of bowling they watch a year, and be able to spot the "sleeper" terrorists with a 99.982% degree of accuracy. It will be able to analyse battlefield data and predict troop movement, ambushes, and caculate the plan of action that would lead to the biggest victory with the smallest loss of life.

    Don't get me wrong, though, high-tech gadgetry will play a role in the war, of course, but to delude ourselves into thinking that all we need is Rambo and night vision will just lead us straight back into Vietnam, or if you're a Russian, Afganistan...
  • by bwt (68845) on Tuesday October 09, 2001 @12:41PM (#2406989) Homepage
    First of all, forget all the doomsday scenarios. The US could conquer the bunker bound Taliban pretty easily with direct ground forces. The closest military precedent for this is the battle of Okinawa in WWII. The US defeated 100,000 Japanese troops who had hunkered down in the mountains in caves, tunnels and bunkers that they had taken a very long time to reinforce. The Japs were more fanatical (yes, more) than the Taliban in terms of their willingness to die for their cause. The total cost to US lives was 12,000 dead.

    With this as a benchmark, 40,000 Taliban/Al Qaeda troops can be defeated by conventional direct ground troup assualt with approximately 4800 US troops lost. The goal of all the technology is to reduce that 4800 number. It will do this dramatically. The ways technology will help us are:
    1. Precision bombing of air defenses to establish complete airspace dominance enabling rapid strike helicopter based special operations
    2. Satelite, drone, and "webcam" style recon to identify tactical targets and track troop and operative movements
    3. Precision heavy munitions: large 5,000 "bunker buster" bombs
    4. Precision tactical light munitions: smaller payloads such as precision mortar used tactically against troops
    5. "Painting" targets for aerial bombing by ground based forces allows attack without giving up position
    6. Night vision gives a decisive tactical superiority in guerilla fighting
    7. Communication monitoring, jamming, and even psych ops style transmitting & disinformation
    In the end, it WILL still come down to special forces breaking down doors suddenly and killing at close range. Techology will assure that this is done against weaker immobilized opponents, that it comes rapidly with less warning, and that it occurs under conditions highly favorable to our troops.

"It's when they say 2 + 2 = 5 that I begin to argue." -- Eric Pepke

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