Sunday, April 10, 2016

"Ghost Fleet": An Old Soldier's Perspective

After finishing “Ghost Fleet” by P.W. Singer and August Cole, I started thinking about war. As a former soldier I think about war a lot, but mostly in the past. This book got me looking into the future and what war would look like in 15 to 20 years from now.  The trends in the book point to a more technology-driven way of war but it also subtlety pointed to a more primitive way of war.  Like the old saying goes, “the more things change the more they stay the same.”
                Robots, drones and computers are what the future is about but what happens when those assets stop working or are taken out by the enemy. The mission still has to be completed and the objective still has to be taken. These are the questions I kept asking myself as I read the book. I was wondering if the Army still teaches land navigation by map, compass and pace count. Or does the Navy still teach ship commanders how to navigate by the stars? I hope they do even if it is just for Murphy’s Law.
                 Murphy’s Law, as it has been expressed to me, is anything that can go wrong will go wrong at the most inopportune time. Now everyone knows about Murphy’s Law but not everyone knows it as intimately as soldier, sailor, airman or marine.  Every piece of equipment breaks, every battery dies and nothing, and I mean nothing, is waterproof. Things get left behind, misplaced, stolen and lost. As I was reading, I kept picturing some of the characters with all this special equipment dummy corded to them to the point that they can’t walk through the bush without catching on something.  I was glad I would be too old to fight for the next war. It’s called “light Infantry” but with each new war the light infantryman has to carry more and more.  Who knows how much they will have to carry in the next war.
                Murphy’s Law did play a small part in the book but they improvised and overcame just a good marines will do. Sometimes you have to go low tech to beat high tech. Al Qaeda taught us that lesson on 9/11, attacking us with our own aircraft by using box cutters. So I guess the moral of this story is that you have to keep up with both the new ways and the old ways. I just hope they invest more time and energy into miniaturization. That way my future brothers will walk a little bit lighter.  

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