When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

20 May 2006

Winning—and Losing—the First Wired War - Popular Science

Every war becomes a proving ground for new tactics and new technologies. Battleships rose to prominence in World War I; tanks and bombers determined the course of World War II; Vietnam brought air power definitively into the Jet Age. The current conflict is no different. The Pentagon began this war believing its new, networked technologies would help make U.S. ground forces practically unstoppable in Iraq. Slow-moving, unwired armies like Saddam Hussein’s were the kind of foe network-centric warriors were designed to carve up quickly. During the invasion in March 2003, that proved to be largely the case—despite most of the soldiers not being wired up at all. It was enough that their commanders had systems like BFT, which let them march to Baghdad faster than anyone imagined possible, with half the troops it took to fight the Gulf War in 1991. But now, more than three years into sectarian conflict and a violent insurgency that has cost nearly 2,400 American lives, an investigation of the current state of network-centric warfare reveals that frontline troops have a critical need for networked gear—gear that hasn’t come yet. “There is a connectivity gap,” states a recent Army War College report. “Information is not reaching the lowest levels.

This is a dangerous problem, because the insurgents are stitching together their own communications network. Using cellphones and e-mail accounts, these guerrillas rely on a loose web of connections rather than a top-down command structure. And they don’t fight in large groups that can be easily tracked by high-tech command posts. They have to be hunted down in dark neighborhoods, amid thousands of civilians, and taken out one by one.
Winning—and Losing—the First Wired War - Popular Science

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