cervesaebraciator writes with an excerpt from an analysis of a kind we're likely to see more of as ubiquitous sensors and cheap storage continue to proliferate: "'The Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns are unique in that they were the first wars to be documented electronically. The use of computers to track stabilization efforts produced enormous datasets in which important indicators were tracked, including daily electricity-production rates, georeferenced insurgent attacks, factory employment numbers, military spending on locally sourced goods and services and public opinion. [...] Army Secretary John McHugh recently admitted to members of Congress that thousands of records from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are missing. [...] The problem is that much of the existing data were collected in an ad hoc manner that reflects the lack of planning for stability operations following both invasions. While certain data types were methodically maintained, others were kept by single individuals in more arbitrary ways—in some cases, on a single computer's hard drive, in a personal computer or within an e-mail account. As flash drives are lost, computers reformatted, files erased, and human and magnetic memory degrades, various data types have been and will continue to be destroyed." With apologies to Santayana, those who do not backup data sets of the past are condemned to repeat them."
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