Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Military

A Marine's-Eye View of the Networked Battlefield 205

Ian Lamont writes "Tyler Boudreau, a Marine veteran of the war in Iraq and a blogger, has written an interesting analysis of the impact of email, IM, and other digital devices upon 'ground-pounders' and their commanders in the field. These innovations were introduced in hopes of increasing situational awareness, rapidly gathering data, analyzing it, organizing it, and then pushing it back out to operators as actionable intelligence. They also provide commanders with the freshest possible information and aid them in their moment-to-moment decision-making. However, Boudreau found that the technologies can lead to micromanagement and deep frustration, trends that he illustrates by describing a shooting incident in al Anbar and its aftermath. He also warns that soldiers can become too dependent upon headquarters for critical decisions, which can lead to dangerous situations when communications get cut off."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A Marine's-Eye View of the Networked Battlefield

Comments Filter:
  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:04AM (#23949445)
    If higher echelons are indeed taking a deeper role in their subordinates actions then it makes the old "bad apples" denial far less credible, and that is saying something. A government can't claim "we didn't know about this" if they've spent billions developing a system that lets them know everything thats going on everywhere.
    • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:21AM (#23949745) Journal

      Taking things that happen between headquarters "tactical operations centers" or TOCs and individual units, then extrapolating that into the communications that happen between higher echelon headquarters or logistical operations is a stretch at best.

      At a real TOC somwhere like Iraq, you have 7x24 coverage by people whose job is to report upward on events at that locale. Therefore, a small unit action becomes well known to those in the chain of command associated with that unit. However, a random DFAC (mess hall) at Camp Victory isn't reporting up to its chain with anything approaching that frequency. In fact, that might happen once a week or once a month, aside from regular orders for foodstuffs and personnel actions. Moreover, all the tactical systems associated with this reporting are used by actual warfighters. Those engaged in logistical work will never see such a system.

      Same goes for prisons - they have no tactical systems.

      Yes, I just came back from there in late April.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by marnerd ( 3934 )

        Actually, there is a lot of work going on to bring these sorts of systems to logistics. Autonomous Logistics systems on the platforms to report back fuel, ammunition and maintenance requirements; systems to automate the flow of logistics requests both within and between services; software to tie the weapon system maintenance manuals directly to the procurement systems to automate ordering; program to improve visibility to facilitate smarter forward positioning of materiel, etc.

        Some of this is fielded, but a

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        ...are used by actual warfighters...


        Yes, I just came back from there in late April.

        Since you say you have been there, I have a question. Why are soldiers now being referred to as "warfighters"? Is it to have a catch-all phrase that refers to both U.S. soldiers and the mercenaries the U.S. is also using? Or, is it something else?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jockeys ( 753885 )
          it's because "soldier" refers to the Army, and is not inclusive of marines, sailors and airmen. "warfighter" refers to all branches.
          • by Omestes ( 471991 )

            Huh? I refuse to break common semantics [thefreedictionary.com] because of American military jargon. A soldier is someone serving in AN army, not THE army, to the rest of the world. Whatever we term them per specific branch doesn't change the fact that they all are soldiers.

            Its like the PC newspeak thing ("personhole covers", etc...), except for the military.

            • by Zemplar ( 764598 )

              Huh? I refuse to break common semantics [thefreedictionary.com] because of American military jargon. A soldier is someone serving in AN army, not THE army, to the rest of the world. Whatever we term them per specific branch doesn't change the fact that they all are soldiers.

              Its like the PC newspeak thing ("personhole covers", etc...), except for the military.

              Apparently you forgot to lookup WTF Army means [thefreedictionary.com], otherwise you'd know that a Marine IS NOT a soldier!!!

              To throw you a bone, since I'm sure you're still lost: Did you see the key word "land" as pertaining to the Army?

              Semper Fi.

              • by Omestes ( 471991 )

                Er... From your ending "Semper Fi", I'm guessing you were/are a Marine, so can you tell me if you were, or were not trained in land warfare? Most of the Marines I know fought on the ground, actually ALL of them (who saw combat, of course).

                Even the Air Force and Navy has basic land war training, not as much as the Army and Marines, of course, but there still is a degree of it.

                Splitting hairs, ftw!

                I'm sorry, the term "warfighter" doesn't sound right, it sounds rather forced. Firefox's spell checker doesn't

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )

      If higher echelons are indeed taking a deeper role in their subordinates actions then it makes the old "bad apples" denial far less credible, and that is saying something.
      I was thinking more along the lines of:

      If the Generals have enough time to be micromanaging individual operations...
      Maybe there are too many Generals?

      • Its really to keep the brass magnates rich churning out stars and medals....
      • If the Generals have enough time to be micromanaging individual operations... Maybe there are too many Generals?

        Or perhaps the ones that are there are incompetent. After all, you've still got the possibility that these generals are ignoring wider aspects of their in favor or micromanaging the bits that they consider interesting.

  • by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <DesScorpNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:15AM (#23949633) Homepage Journal

    I've always been a little wary of this whole "networked future force warrior" thing. I think it smacks more of hollywood sci-fi than real warfare, sometimes. I can definitely see the advantages of getting more information to your troops, but turning them into walking blackberries may not be the best way to do it in combat. There are some parts of soldiering that just aren't going to change no matter how much technology you throw at it, and the need for your troops on the ground to make quick, independent decisions is a good example. You don't want them constantly emailing/texting/radioing back and forth during a firefight for instructions. That's what unit leadership is for. Too much of this stuff is more bad cyberpunk novel than George Patton.

    • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:58AM (#23950273)

      I've always been a little wary of this whole "networked future force warrior" thing. I think it smacks more of hollywood sci-fi than real warfare, sometimes. I can definitely see the advantages of getting more information to your troops, but turning them into walking blackberries may not be the best way to do it in combat. There are some parts of soldiering that just aren't going to change no matter how much technology you throw at it, and the need for your troops on the ground to make quick, independent decisions is a good example. You don't want them constantly emailing/texting/radioing back and forth during a firefight for instructions. That's what unit leadership is for. Too much of this stuff is more bad cyberpunk novel than George Patton.
      I agree with you with all this networked warrior bs but I'll be the devil's advocate. Look at your WWII dogface. He's a future warrior, at least compared to the WWI doughboy. And he's futuristic compared to what they had in the Crimean War and futuristic to the Roman legionnaire all the way back to the first monkey who hit another monkey with a bone after a visit from the Monolith. And using a bone was pretty high-tech compared to nails and teeth.

      Now if we look back, a lot of tech we take for granted as good, solid, traditional equipment had some serious teething problems. Guns were notoriously fickle and unreliable hundreds of years ago, why not trust in arrows and true steel instead? And you could also complain about the trend towards wearing heavier and heavier armor, it slows a warrior down! Why, without armor I can move fast enough I don't have to worry about taking the hit in the first place. Then there was the matter of the crossbow allowing a rude peasant to have the killing power of a proper archer with a longbow, the kind of fine soldier who had to train his whole life to use the weapon well. What's worse, the man with the crossbow could kill a godly knight with the flick of his finger. Contemptible! Unchristian!

      In more recent times, tanks were belching, breakdown-prone monstrosities as much a danger to their occupants as the enemy. But we saw there was a good idea there and continued to develop them. Airplanes were primitive, crude, and ultimately were seen as having a negligible effect in WWI but gee, they sure were flashy. And they became invaluable by WWII. Then there's the matter of adopting steam propulsion in a naval warship, that's just not the way things were done! A proper seaman fights under sail. And the first steamships did suck a great deal. But gradually the technology was improved to the point that no captain would dream of doing without it.

      The Germans were the first to use radios in their tanks. That was seen as likely to cause great confusion and no other military really considered it until the Germans kicked a whole lot of ass. Then it seemed like a good idea.

      I think that the current land warrior concept is probably an awful, terrible, no good idea. But I also think in twenty or thirty years, we're going to be seeing a lot of stuff on the battlefield that soldiers will consider absolutely valuable, cannot do without but we'll still be able to trace the design lineage back to the useless crap they were twiddling around with today.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Goalie_Ca ( 584234 )
        All we need is an aimbot, a wallhack, and some sort of enemy radar device.
      • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @01:07PM (#23951335) Journal
        You mkae some very good points, but I think there's one detail missing... that is, most of the examples you give are just examples of making it easier to kill someone, or making it harder for them to kill you.

        The "information age" groundwarrior has tools that are slightly different, because we're talking about advances in communication and information. Out of all the examples you mention, probably the second most relevant is that of airplanes, since they were originally invaluable for recon, and eventually important for many other reasons. That is, they greatly increased the information available in near real-time for field commanders. The most relevant would be radios in tanks, since that allowed instant communication.

        Like any organization looking to make use of instant communication tools, the military needs to work out the kinks in its delegation scheme, and determine when the tools are more a hindrance than a harm.

        I may oversee a lot of work in India, but I get annoyed as hell when I get 20 IMs an hour asking for guidance on trivialities... so I delegated some of the authority to local staff. Now we are more efficient, but I still have sufficient oversight.

        In other words, it's more about how it is used than whether the tools are problematic.
      • by kabocox ( 199019 )

        I think that the current land warrior concept is probably an awful, terrible, no good idea. But I also think in twenty or thirty years, we're going to be seeing a lot of stuff on the battlefield that soldiers will consider absolutely valuable, cannot do without but we'll still be able to trace the design lineage back to the useless crap they were twiddling around with today.

        I keep thinking of a cellphone with a visor output to overlay text, graphics, google maps, or what not. It doesn't even have to be a mi

        • I keep thinking of a cellphone with a visor output to overlay text, graphics, google maps, or what not. It doesn't even have to be a military app. I read alittle about google's software plans for cellphones in Wired. What if some one decided to use a cell phone as an interface for a FPS MMO that's GPS enabled and is designed to form flash mobs? If something like that was the next WOW, then maybe in 5-10 years you could have something that the military would find useful.

          Assume you could use blue tooth to tie in your real-life military hardware like guns or some medical monitoring and upload video, and if you suddenly have a medical alert or start shooting your weapon, then everyone on your local team could have a mini clip of what you were looking at/shooting at, and exactly where you were and maybe a mini map so that they could find you in an urban environment that they've never actually visited before.

          In the original Commanche Overkill game, a chopper flight sim, you had a weapon called "artillery." You target a large formation of enemy units and "fire" this weapon, what you actually did was bounce a laser off the target, do some math based on your GPS coordinates, and sent a fire mission off to the local fire-base all with the pull of a trigger.

          So, what would it be like if mortar crews could get fire missions from the field like this? Private Pyle is on patrol, his fire support has already been configu

          • by kabocox ( 199019 )

            But I have to agree with the other poster here who said it was very worrisome that US military scenarios for the near future are anticipating irregular, guerrilla-style warfare with fighters drawn from the local population. To put it another way, "we're in countries where the locals don't want us and we're doing shit they don't want us to do. In other words, we're invaders." Defending democracy my white ass, that's fucking imperialism through and through.

            You could just say that they are practicing on foreig

    • by icegreentea ( 974342 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @12:05PM (#23950385)
      That's almost certainly true. I remember reading books about Vietnam and reading that a lot of commanders on the ground ended up being micromanaged by commanders back at base resulting in some incredibly bone headed moves. Repeating that certainly cannot be a good thing. But to be fair, there are certainly good aspects to this idea. Maximizing the amount of useful intelligence to forces on the ground cannot be a bad thing. The fog of war never really goes away, but this can definitely help. I remember reading somewhere that the future warrior stuff they sent to Iraq to test (laptops, PDAs and the like) proved to be extremely helpful IN SOME SITUATIONS. When troops were out on semi planned raids, the live intel proved to be a big bonus. But the rest of the time (regular patrol), the majority of the gear proved to be useless and just and lot of extra weight. As is the case with most technological advances (in any field, not just the military), it has its good and its bad.
    • However, allowing them to be able to request artillery fire and air support is pretty handy. 'Network-enabled' might seem a little over the top until you remember that your air support is now coming out of Las Vegas regardless of where you are in the world as that's where the UAVs are operated from.

    • I can definitely see the advantages of getting more information to your troops, but turning them into walking blackberries may not be the best way to do it in combat.

      Not to worry—this is the U.S. Army we're talking about. In the U.S. Army, information always flows up, never down. So there's no danger that the "networked soldier of the future" will be awash in too much information. Instead, he'll be deluged with the stuff that does flow down the pipes of command...orders.

      Yes, I realize that's the w

  • Like with a GPS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xgr3gx ( 1068984 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:19AM (#23949703) Homepage Journal
    If I'm running the GPS in my car, I find myself waiting for it to tell me where to go even if I have a good idea of the directions.
    I feel like it cripples my sense of direction when I rely on it too much. I'm sure these combat systems could do the same thing
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Orgasmatron ( 8103 )
      Seriously?

      When I need a laugh, I turn mine on and ask it to give me directions to places around my city, or directions to some of the small towns nearby.

      On the other hand, the GPS box isn't a person, and it certainly isn't higher than me in a military chain of command. The real problem, as the summary mentions, is micromanagement. The guys on the ground need information so that they can make their own decisions, and they need us (yes, us, the people who aren't there) to back them up when they make rea
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by xgr3gx ( 1068984 )
        Yeah, sometimes it's pretty funny what it comes up with for directions.
        You are off route
        Please turn around
        Turn left at the next intersection, then turn left
        Do you wish to recalcuate your route [Y/N]

        GPS devices should have the following phase added:
        Clearly you're not following my directions, so you're on your fscking own
        ...ha :)
      • by kabocox ( 199019 )

        On the other hand, the GPS box isn't a person, and it certainly isn't higher than me in a military chain of command. The real problem, as the summary mentions, is micromanagement. The guys on the ground need information so that they can make their own decisions, and they need us (yes, us, the people who aren't there) to back them up when they make reasonable decisions, even if they are sometimes wrong.

        Actually, we just need to develop the right RTS game interface for generals to actually micromanage their t

    • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

      If I'm running the GPS in my car, I find myself waiting for it to tell me where to go even if I have a good idea of the directions.
      I feel like it cripples my sense of direction when I rely on it too much. I'm sure these combat systems could do the same thing

      Likewise, trying to watch a show in English with French subtitles (I'm French) and trying to read the subtitles at the same time as keeping up with what's being said impairs my understanding of what goes on because I can't be concentrated enough to understand the English and read the French at the same time. Hence why now that my understanding of English has reached such a level that I understand everything I hear under ideal conditions that I try to ignore the subtitles more than anything else.

      Concentrat

      • by Zerth ( 26112 )

        News at 11 generally means PM, it's the last news broadcast for a local station until the morning news.

      • News at 11 (by the way, I've always wondered, does that expression mean 11 AM or PM? I only hear it in shows so I get too little a context to be able to tell).

        PM. At 11 AM, everyone was traditionally at work so they wouldn't be able to watch any 11 AM news.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reapy ( 688651 )

      Excellent point which I think exactly sums up the problem described in the article in a way most of us can relate to.

      I think the solution to the problem is the same I had when first using a GPS. I would miss turns, almost run a red light, turn too early, make turns down streets that I wouldn't normally drive down, all cause the gps was really distracting in its precision. Moreover, I missed lots of roadsigns, didn't have the same focus I did normally when trying to memorize where I'm going or pay attention

  • Vietnam redux? (Score:4, Informative)

    by JThaddeus ( 531998 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:21AM (#23949739)
    This sounds very familiar. I joined Army ROTC in '73, when all instructors had at least one tour in Vietnam. I served in the 82nd Airborne in the late '70s, when every senior NCOs, many captains, and all field grades had been to Vietnam. Micromanagement was was a common complaint, both from them and in the reading I've done then and since. But while the Infantry School would lecture against micromanagement, I can't say that I saw many of my seniors taking a hands off approach.
    • Re:Vietnam redux? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @12:15PM (#23950557) Journal
      But while the Infantry School would lecture against micromanagement, I can't say that I saw many of my seniors taking a hands off approach.


      We have a quote of the week on our agency's intranet page (which sometimes stays up for two weeks). Earlier this month, the quote was:

      If you tell people where to go but not how to get there, you will be amazed at the results. - General George S. Patton, Jr.

      Another version of the quote is:

      Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.

      Regardless, the point still stands. Micromanagement can be a killer both in the private sector as well as the military (though the military version is a bit more serious). Interestingly enough, Erwin Rommel actively pursued the less-is-more command style. He started the process when he first became an officer, wrote about it and refined it over the years. Since Patton was known to read Rommel's books, it is most likely that in addition to his own views on command, Patton learned and applied what Rommel (and others) had written. As any good leader should do.

      Based on your comments, it appears there are officers who should also be reading, and heeding, Rommel's words.

  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:21AM (#23949747)

    On a ship at sea, the captain was God for two reasons. First and foremost, the ship is beyond all the normal structures and civilization. If a majority of the crew decided to ignore the captain, mutiny would be uncontainable. Punishments were so harsh that individual crewmen would be in terror of bringing it upon their heads and the thought of getting enough together that punishment could be defied, victory attained, would seem impossible. And captains absolutely required such authority to be supported once they returned to civilization so the Boards of Admiralty of the various navies would seldom ever overrule or censure them.

    What's also fascinating is that the captains also had great latitude in exercising their orders generally. The last history I read was specifically concerning the British military and the American Revolution. There was a common sentiment of not wanting to second-guess the man in the field thousands of miles away. Now either this is true wisdom or looking for a scapegoat, I'm not entirely sure of which and possibly they weren't either. In hindsight, there's also a bit of making a virtue out of necessity because the tools for micro-management from such a distance had not yet been invented and twats like MacNamara had not yet been born.

    There's a maxim that goes along the lines of "If a person is granted responsibility of accomplishing a great task, by extension he is granted the authority required to make that task happen." When a leader finds himself in such a situation of responsibility with no authority, he should tell his superiors to kindly go fuck themselves and continue to do so until they've worked their heads out of their own asses.

    • by guisar ( 69737 )

      It's an oversight vice insight dilemma. While insight into tactical actions may be valuable for battle planners, their requests for information rapidly degenerate into oversight. Tactical commanders, understanding this, reduce upward information flow to formal language and CYA reports sabotaging the intent of modern battlefield comm.

      • It's an oversight vice insight dilemma. While insight into tactical actions may be valuable for battle planners, their requests for information rapidly degenerate into oversight. Tactical commanders, understanding this, reduce upward information flow to formal language and CYA reports sabotaging the intent of modern battlefield comm.

        The quote of the day appearing below your comment is very appropriate.

        If I can have honesty, it's easier to overlook mistakes. -- Kirk, "Space Seed", stardate 3141.9

    • by kabocox ( 199019 )

      There was a common sentiment of not wanting to second-guess the man in the field thousands of miles away.

      They'd have had todays micromanagement problems if they had radio or any form of communication that is about as speedy as radio. If back home could get local newspaper reports of what their military was doing within 24 hours, then public or government policy might have changed and new orders be issued to the captain the next day. The

      Captain was only god on ship because civilization was far away and the s

    • Even in these days of instant communication, the Navy still has a strong tradition of independent action. "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission" is still the operating phrase (to my knowledge, I retired a year or so ago). But my sense is that this is a much bigger problem for the Army - from the outside looking in, it seems that they are very dependent on guidance from "higher".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      There's been an argument that the British Navy was successful because of mechanisms for monitoring captains [www.sfu.ca]. Lieutenants, for example, kept their own logs which could be reviewed by the captain's superiors.

      Barbara Tuchman's book, _The First Salute_, has lots of anecdotes of captains getting court-martialed for not following orders, even when the orders were internally contradictory.

  • I have an idea, lets put nano machines in all of our soldiers so we can control them even further and make them even better! Squads can work more as a team because they see the same things and if one is hurt that all feel it to lessen the pain. Also, lets repress the acts of violence they commit with these nano machines. Just don't turn them off. I hear war weighs heavily on soldiers hearts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:25AM (#23949809)

    NO WAY!

    My experience with StarCraft, a 'real-time strategy' simulator, taught me that micromanagement was the KEY to winning!!

  • I wonder about the ability of a soldier to effectively multi-task. Not only is he in charge of his safety and that of his buddies, but also facing an enemy trying to kill him, and then having to lug around all this electronic stuff occasionally providing manual input into it. I have a tough enough time handling email/cell phone/my job daily I cannot imagine how difficult it is for the modern warrior.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A good argument in support of women in the military?
  • email? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Botched ( 1314867 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:36AM (#23949979)
    E-mail? Text messages? Anyone running a raid knows that everyone has to install ventrilo.
  • by duplo1 ( 719988 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @11:39AM (#23950017)

    Seriously, with all the recent articles regarding the detrimental effects multitasking has on a person, this sounds like it could do more harm than good. Imagine being in a fire fight and an IM window pops up on your HUD. That would really anger me.

    Situational awareness is certainly a good thing, but there have to be limits, otherwise one's overall awareness will decrease due to input overload. A good example is using Google maps on one's N95 or iPhone while driving. Sure, it increases situational awareness vis-a-vis one's current location, but at the cost of smashing into the car ahead or running over a pedestrian because you didn't notice that the light had turned red.

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      New tools require new skills. People tend to forget that about IT, I am not sure why.
    • A good example is using Google maps on one's N95 or iPhone while driving. Sure, it increases situational awareness vis-a-vis one's current location, but at the cost of smashing into the car ahead or running over a pedestrian because you didn't notice that the light had turned red.
      except of course, that example does NOT actually increase situantional awareness. :P
    • by lelitsch ( 31136 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @12:58PM (#23951155)

      That's where HCI design comes into play. I've been out of the military for over a decade, but a HUD with useful, non-invasive information would have been great for the things I did back there (air assault engineer).

      -map or satellite image of the area I'm in
      -location of my squad members, overlay of fire arches. Even better, an indicator on my HUD that tell me if I'm aiming in the direction of a friendly.
      -IR overlay of body heat or engines
      -ammo left in the magazine
      -Corner-shot
      -compass, GPS coordinates, and laser distance measurements for calling in fire support
      -and, as a special AAE wish: map with blast radius of the charges I just set. Guesstimating how far back to take cover sucks under time pressure.

      Now IM from the commanding general would suck, but that's what small slivers of duct tape are for.

    • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

      Seriously, with all the recent articles regarding the detrimental effects multitasking has on a person, this sounds like it could do more harm than good. Imagine being in a fire fight and an IM window pops up on your HUD.
      On the other hand maybe it would let you unwind by punching the monkey, maybe even win a prize !

  • Kinda reminds me of the "Colonial Marines" in the movie Aliens. The lieutenant stayed in the vehicle with live audio/video feeds in front of him and directed the individual marines in the actual op. Makes you wonder what they needed a sargeant for.
  • ...by this?

    From TFA: The prototypical "enemy" of the twenty-first century is an urban guerilla who is mobile, adaptive, and draws his strength and resources primarily from the indigenous population. (emphasis mine)

    If the prototypical enemy of the US these days is backed by the indigenous population, then the US is not "liberating" anyone.
    • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

      If the prototypical enemy of the US these days is backed by the indigenous population, then the US is not "liberating" anyone.
      They are liberating, um, "valuable assets".

    • To draw resources and strength from a population does not mean that the population backs them (though it can mean that). Pre-Civil War America drew a significant amount of resources (and strength in a way) through the slave trade in Africa. I don't think the majority of people in Africa supported this. For an example closer at home, Scientology draws its resources and strength from the populations of countries, by bringing selected people into the fold (similar to how the fighters in Iraq draw manpower by b
  • by JohnnyComeLately ( 725958 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @12:12PM (#23950503) Homepage Journal

    The level of communications is set to jump even more as networking waveforms are developed and comm systems link up even more. If you look at the CONOPS for some future capabilities, the guy on the original foot patrol could have sent video of the entire firefight to the other patrol, or to an Apache/A-10 overhead and then back to the Battallion. Texting is already in place, but if you listen to any Marine or Army officer talk, voice will always rule supreme. Yeah, you'll have streaming video, IM, texting, etc. But the platoon leader wants to hear voice, and more importantly, the inflection in his voice. I'm sure this article's author backed his man because he heard the sincerity and urgency in his men's voice while on patrol.

    Google JTRS if you want to see where the Marines and Army are headed with comm. These will be small form factor, maritime, manpacks, handhelds, etc. Micromanagement and bad leadership will always happen, regardless, but I think good situational awareness and NCOs it will even out.

    To all the posters saying, "Soldiers don't think". Please STFU. You're just being dumb and either anti-military, biased, or just spouting crap you heard on CNN. I taught new recruits in the Air Force as a special duty assignment at Vandenberg. I have friends who are Marines that leave and go to Iraq more than you go to the dentist. If there's any common thread between all the branches it's this: accountability is much higher, better skills required , and critical thinking never been more demanded. You can point to Abu, but you're ignorant of the thousands of patrols who held back their trigger finger to allow a bad guy get away because of the civilians behind him. The hundreds of additional hours spent planning ATOs (Air Tasking Orders) so that __IF__ a bomb missed it would not hit innocents and that the proper munition is used for the target, building, support, etc. If you're still not convinced, spend at least an hour reading the foot patrols blogged here [michaelyon-online.com] and then click "Next". Spend some time poking through his dispatchs.

  • Locals (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey ( 83763 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @12:18PM (#23950609) Journal

    I see lots of IMing with HQ but not much talking to the local people. That's why the war is being lost.

    • I guess that depends on the definition of "won". If we leave behind a stable, friendly government that can manage it's internal affairs without outside intervention, that's "won". I see small incremental improvements by this definition. Not winning by a landslide, but not losing either.

    • by infolib ( 618234 )
      I think you should reconsider how IMing is being used to communicate with the locals. [scienceblog.com] No reason to be Luddite here ;-)
  • by Carlk ( 165240 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @01:01PM (#23951203)

    The book The Ultra Secret addressed this. Berlin's micro-management was enabled by Radio & the Enigma machine.

    Wehrmacht were hen-pecked, details demanded, encrypted, transmitted. Allan Turing helped decrypt. Allies found it helpful.

  • One of the things that used to distinguish American troops from those of other country's armed forces was the level of decision making that was allowed at the lower ranks. I think the phrase I heard was something like "an American sargeant makes the same kind of decisions that normally requires a colonel in the [fill in country name here] army". The idea being that that sort of delegation (and trust) made for a much flexible and responsive force than the more hierarchical, all-decisions-flow-from-the-top ar

  • A Grain of Salt (Score:2, Insightful)

    by olyar ( 591892 )

    Am I the only one who is wary of jumping to conclusions based on the assessment, and anecdotal evidence of a single soldier?

    I supported a software development lab at one point, and we tightened controls at one point to help the build process. The developers got frustrated, and it stressed them out, but the fact was that after months of failures, nightly builds began to be successful.

    In the same way, I know that I have often complained about changes made by management that make my job more frustrating.

  • It might be helpful for Mr. Boudreau to spend less time 'analyzing' and more time learning the history of the field he is pontificating about - because frankly he really doesn't know what he is talking about. The only difference between his experience in Iraq and past times is that the communications in question (especially between himself and higher echelons) took place via email.

    Particularly galling is his statement "Commanders can no longer grab their men by the collars of their flak jackets and

  • We had commanding officers sitting back in the States looking at overhead imagery, dishing out orders to the troops and that cost us dearly.
    The military spent years trying to get away from that mentality and the Age of Information threatens to raise the head of that specter again.

    Keep in mind that the White House drove most of the air strikes and movements over the phone after looking at hours- or days-old photos. The time differences, and local conditions got a lot of good people killed. This new speed tha

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson

Working...