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The Pentagon May Retire "Yoda," Its 92-Year-Old Futurist 254

Posted by timothy
from the as-he-himself-foresaw dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Of all the weapons the Pentagon relies on to defend the United States, one of the strangest and most secretive is Andrew Marshall, a 92-year-old man who's spent the last 40 years staring into the future trying to predict the next big threat to America. Known fondly as "Yoda" to his many fans in Washington, Marshall heads up the Office of Net Assessment—the Defense Department's think tank tasked with taking a long view, out-of-the-box approach to defense strategy. In his role as the Pentagon's visionary sage, Marshall is credited with predicting the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of China's global prominence, the role of autonomous weapons and robots in warfare, and even helping end the Cold War. Now, facing budget cuts, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is considering reorganizing or possibly even shuttering the futurist think tank, Defense News recently reported."
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The Pentagon May Retire "Yoda," Its 92-Year-Old Futurist

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  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Arker (91948) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @01:56PM (#45271449) Homepage

    It's not that great. He's credited with foreseeing the demise of the soviet union in the blurb, I have no idea how accurate that is, but it's no great feat as the libertarian/austrian thinkers did as well, but that would still be somewhat to his credit if he escaped the beltway groupthink enough to anticipate that. Otherwise he seems mostly to be focused on selling a much larger and more expensive military as necessary to win the future war he fantasizes about with China. Considering the size of the relative expenditures currently, his pitch of drastic increases in spending required in order to hold off a distant, relatively low tech enemy seem alarmist at best.

    But what do I know, I have only read a few articles on him. Research him yourself and post what you find out.

  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @02:16PM (#45271643)

    Octopi can predict world cup game winners; not the winner of the world cup. Ask any German or Dutch person about that.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Solandri (704621) on Tuesday October 29, 2013 @04:43PM (#45272989)

    Air-Sea had been a Navy concept since before world war 2. They believed it so much they built carriers, and coordinated land based planes with carrier based planes very effectively, even when the land based planes belonged to the army. Read about Midway.

    Coordination within a single branch of the military is trivial. Coordination between the different branches is a nightmare. Each branch likes to do their own thing, and doesn't want to bother with or be bothered by the needs and wants of the other branches. e.g. The Air Force has been trying to kill off the A-10 ground attack aircraft [wikipedia.org] for almost 20 years even though it's the best ground support asset in their arsenal. The Army would love to take over operating the A-10, but federal law limits them to rotary winged aircraft in combat roles. (Ironic considering the Air Force began as the Army Air Corps.)

    The divide and interservice rivalry is so deep and entrenched that when I was working on a project for the Army, the higher-ups had mandated that an Air Force officer ride along with them in the Humvee to force the two branches to coordinate.

    China was not weak back in the 80s. China was not weak in the 60s. They were an economic powerhouse even then. Douglas MacArther warned Never fight a land war in Asia".

    China was an economic footnote in the 1960s and 1970s [wikipedia.org]. They were in the midst of the Cultural Revolution [wikipedia.org] and were busy lynching anyone who could potentially have contributed to the country's economic development. Their economy took 30 years to double from 1950-1980. From 1980 to 2000 it doubled every 10 years. They didn't become notable on the world stage until (1) Deng Xiaoping began adopting capitalism [wikipedia.org] in the 1980s, and (2) the Soviet Union fell allowing China to emerge from its shadow.

    And MacArthur wanted to nuke several Chinese cities to discourage China from entering the Korean War.

    Everyone but weapons system planners knew that the Soviet Union was going down as early as the 70s, because economists had predicted it even earlier, just by looking at empty shelves in soviet super markets and the drastic cut back in Soviet aid to its over-extended empire. They hung Castro out to dry, in the late 60s.

    As someone who grew up during that time, nobody believed the Iron Curtain was going to come down during our lifetime. It was like the stars in the night sky - always there, always had been there, and always would be there. The Soviets were so secretive that even if they hung Castro out to dry, you couldn't be sure if it was because they were having economic problems, or if it was because Castro had insulted the Soviet Premier's wife about her cooking at a state dinner. The events of 1989 remain one of the most shocking and indelible in my memory - right up there with Challenger and 9/11. Like the millions of people who now claim to have attended Woodstock, plenty of people now claim to have predicted the fall of the Soviet Union in hindsight. But believe me, even in the early 1980s if you had predicted on TV that the Soviet Union would crumble within a decade, you would've been laughed out of the studio.

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre

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