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Is the American Military Too Reliant on Gadgetry?

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  • Is the American Military Too Reliant on Gadgetry?

    "As America is poised to launch into a high-tech war in Iraq, a growing group of military thinkers is questioning the U.S. military's reliance on gadgetry.

    U.S. precision weapons, Predator drones, and the like were less responsible for recent victories in Afghanistan and in the first Gulf War than is generally assumed, they argue. And increasing American dependence on technology leaves U.S. troops dangerously vulnerable to low-tech attacks. "


    The Rest Here

  • #2
    Wars are technologically demanding. Man always strive for a more efficient mean to kill his enemy without exposing himself to death. It's not the first article I've read that seems to point out how digital-reliant our forces are. IMHO, if technology allows you win, exploit it.

    Of course, technology, like any tool, has its limitations. Its imperative for commanders to understand the boundaries that can't be crossed, and not allow those limitiations to effect combat effectiveness. Current US doctrine still places emphasis on individual marksmanship, and small team tactics. If you read the current joint doctrine on urban combat, you will find it to be advanced, yet similar to preceding manuals governing how we train for urban warfare.

    American reliance on technology is greater than most nations. In large part, that is because we can afford to pursue technological advances to greater degree than other nations. I'm certain that any military force with the right amount of funding would take a similar course.

    We will win this war not just by precision weapons. Our victory will come because we are better trained, motivated, and skilled than our opponents. Saddam doesn't understand how we fight urban battles now. We teach our soldiers not to apply blunt power. Instead, they use precision and their brains to hit the enemy where it hurts more, when he is most vulnerable. Commitment alone will not provide victory. Iraqi soldiers will need to collectively out-think American troops. While I don't doubt their intelligence overall, I believe they simply don't know how to fight as an collective force that combines all it's resources to assure victory.

    I believe we are operating in a danger zone in Iraq. The smaller number of troops will likely mean a greater reliance on technology. This could create situations where abuses of our advantages can lead to disaster. Just because the equipment has "made in the USA" stamped on it doesn't mean it will always be loyal. So in a way, the question as whether or not we rely too heavily on technology depends on the decisions of commanders and troops.
    "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

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    • #3
      I believe one of the great advantages the US soldier has over the Iraqi (besides the technology) is his ability to determine and select the correct course of action for the circumstances. The American soldier (like most western soldiers) is not dependent on orders from above. Many Arab armies tend to be molded to the old Soviet pattern; where the soldier in the front lines was lost unless he was told what to do.

      Of course the key to this is the excellent training that most soldiers from western nations receive. Yes, the US does rely on it's technological superiority, but take that away, and he is still better trained, usually better motivated and better able to think for himself. These are what win the battles.
      Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

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      • #4
        I don't believe relying on gadgetry makes the American military at risk or too weak. Technological superiority is similar to the concept of competitive advantage for businesses. The American military has large "competitive advantages" over armies of the Third World or countries in development because of this technology.

        The real weakness of the American military is... political, not military.

        I have some doubts about the home front fortitude, i.e. the capacity of the American public to stand behind the soldiers and the White House if things go unexpectedly wrong in Iraq and casualties start mounting.

        In spite of everything that has been said about the fact that Vietnam syndrome is done and over with, I am not so sure. In the 1991 Gulf War, Bush senior said that the U.S. has kicked that Vietnam syndrome once and for all. Well, I wonder about that. There had been less than 300 casualties for the U.S. in that war. Can we really say the moral fabric of the American nation was tested at that time?

        We will see really if the U.S. has kicked that syndrome when there will be thousands of American casualties and how the public will react to this. Hopefully however, that will never happen since nobody wants to get so many casualties.

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        • #5
          It's not even high tech gadgetry, either.

          Concepts like the IFV have ruined Western armies where good infantry is at a premium.

          One of these days a Western army is going to face off against an opponent like North Korea. Infantry rich battlefields with soldiers who are willing to make the sacrifice and that's going to be a rude wake up call for a lot of people.
          "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

          – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MikeJ
            It's not even high tech gadgetry, either.

            Concepts like the IFV have ruined Western armies where good infantry is at a premium.

            One of these days a Western army is going to face off against an opponent like North Korea. Infantry rich battlefields with soldiers who are willing to make the sacrifice and that's going to be a rude wake up call for a lot of people.
            The most critical advantage Western armies enjoy is tremendous air superiority and power. Because of this, any enemy that cannot fight such an important air superiority is doomed to fail.

            Comment


            • #7
              No system can survive on the battlefield alone. The ideal behind IFVs is to provide infantry with direct fire support, and ensure infantry can keep up with fast moving tanks. During WWII, the mobility of tanks were hampered by the slow speed of infantry, and the thin armor and firepower of their transport vehicles. Commanders sometimes were forced to abandon the main rule of armored warfare; never send tanks into battle without proper infantry support. Tanks would push ahead alone, stop and wait for the infantry to catch-up. Then, and more so now, remaining still on the battlefield is just asking for an CAS strike.

              We fight as a combined arms team. The enemy doesn't just deal with IFVs. He also has to contend with infantry and tank support. These, along with indirect fire and air support unite to overwhelm and destroy opponents.

              The real weakness of the American military is... political, not military.

              I have some doubts about the home front fortitude, i.e. the capacity of the American public to stand behind the soldiers and the White House if things go unexpectedly wrong in Iraq and casualties start mounting.

              In spite of everything that has been said about the fact that Vietnam syndrome is done and over with, I am not so sure. In the 1991 Gulf War, Bush senior said that the U.S. has kicked that Vietnam syndrome once and for all. Well, I wonder about that. There had been less than 300 casualties for the U.S. in that war. Can we really say the moral fabric of the American nation was tested at that time?

              We will see really if the U.S. has kicked that syndrome when there will be thousands of American casualties and how the public will react to this. Hopefully however, that will never happen since nobody wants to get so many casualties.
              Very true. We were tested in Somalia, and failed. What was a military success (considering the circumstances) became a failure as American outrage over the bodies of US soldiers being dragged through the streets influenced foriegn policy. Though I believe an withdrawal was appropriate given the poor political situation. We didn't withdraw. We ran out of Iraq because eighteen soldiers died while fighting a fource of several thousands. We ignored what had been achieved and simply left.

              The United States might have been hardened by 9/11, but I doubt we will remain so committed after a few years, particularly if civil conflict erupts. There lies my only real apprehension about war with Iraq. I seriously question American staying power. If we just remove Saddam and run before Iraq has rebuilt, I fear we will create a problem greater than the current Iraqi dictator.

              Commitment can't just go as far as there is light. We must venture into the darkness to accept and confront serious issues that will ultimately decide the fate of that nation. I have always questioned Bush's nation-building plan. It doesn't appear to be well organized or sensitive to the issues facing the Iraqi people.

              I truly hope we will remain committed until the job is done. That point will be determined by the Iraqi people. If we screw it up, the political ramifactions will be staggering. And we will face an even more deadly foe, with less support than we have now. (If that's possible.)
              "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

              Comment


              • #8
                The most critical advantage Western armies enjoy is tremendous air superiority and power. Because of this, any enemy that cannot fight such an important air superiority is doomed to fail.
                And what does this have to do with what I posted? I'm not suggesting we should all go back to muskets and square blocks.


                No system can survive on the battlefield alone. The ideal behind IFVs is to provide infantry with direct fire support, and ensure infantry can keep up with fast moving tanks. During WWII, the mobility of tanks were hampered by the slow speed of infantry, and the thin armor and firepower of their transport vehicles. Commanders sometimes were forced to abandon the main rule of armored warfare; never send tanks into battle without proper infantry support. Tanks would push ahead alone, stop and wait for the infantry to catch-up. Then, and more so now, remaining still on the battlefield is just asking for an CAS strike.
                You missed my point entirely. When I say IFV, I mean IFVs specifically.
                "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

                – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MikeJ





                  You missed my point entirely. When I say IFV, I mean IFVs specifically.
                  Then why did you say 'concepts like the IFV' ?
                  ...a man that can stand up for a principle and sit down on his own stool.
                  -the Firesign Theatre

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MikeJ
                    It's not even high tech gadgetry, either.

                    Concepts like the IFV have ruined Western armies where good infantry is at a premium.

                    One of these days a Western army is going to face off against an opponent like North Korea. Infantry rich battlefields with soldiers who are willing to make the sacrifice and that's going to be a rude wake up call for a lot of people.
                    So IFV make for a lousy infantry corps ?

                    Sorry, I don't get the connection.
                    Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The concept of the IFV of course - fighting from inside the vehicle.

                      When troops fight from inside IFVs, they are nothing more than weak tank forces.

                      For example, the old Bradley had firing holes for the infantry. After some rather hilariously bad experience, many of the Bradley's in service have the firing holes covered with armor, returning it to the role of an APC, which is great. However, the concept of IFV has taken root and is not going away.

                      Against a force that actively follows this doctrine, armor is not only insufficienctly supported, but the quality of the infantry is typically reduced. Against a nation willing to churn out large numbers of infantry and pay the blood sacrifice, it will quickly be realized what a mistake the concept of the IFV is.
                      "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

                      – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Present military doctrine (in most Western Nations anyway) uses IFV's mostly in an "advance to contact" role. Once contact is established, the troops usually unload and the IFV is used mainly as a fire support platform. Much in the same way as a traditional APC.
                        There are some scenarios in which the troops remain buttoned up however. These would include being under artillery fire and in some defensive situations.

                        The Bradley itself is a good example of the new doctrine in having plated over the firing ports.
                        Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

                        Comment

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