Big Iron Won’t Win Wars Anymore

Technology changes things, sure. The question is, how do you recognize the early signs of change before they become catastrophic? I spend most of my days working on that question in academia, but what about our armed forces? Noah Shachtman regularly covers that issue in DefenseTech:

Like a lot of other sage observers, Naval Postgraduate School professor John Arquilla isn’t nuts about the idea of spending a ton on Cold War-style weapons systems when we’re supposed to be fighting terrorists and insurgents. But Arquilla is one of the first military analysts I’ve heard say that “the Pentagon’s big platforms [aren’t] merely the wrong weapon systems to fight present and future wars, but [are] actually likely to bring defeat.”

The superiority of aircraft made huge battleships a liability just before World War II. The climax of Top Gun pretty much centered on the vulnerability of our all our ships — including aircraft carriers — to missile attack (BTW, those Exocet missiles now sport ranges as high as 180km). But these are just a few examples of the general problem. Of course, the Navy isn’t the only force with big, Cold-War iron. There’s more, including some good quotes at DefenseTech.

Things Go To Hell

DefenseTech’s Noah Shachtman writes:

Organizing thousands and thousands of people, in hellish conditions and in a hurry, is tough work. Let’s take that as a given. But still: We’re now a work week into a natural disaster that had been forecast for years, and New Orleans “is being run by thugs,” the city’s emergency preparedness director tells the Times. “Some people there have not eaten or drunk water for three or four days, which is inexcusable.”

In another post, Shactman asks how the DHS could fail its job so badly?

Meanwhile, Pravda declares George W. Bush has abandoned Americans and it turns out that FEMA is directing donations to Rev. Pat Robertson, yes, that same Pat Robertson who put a fatwa on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and is now wanted as an international terrorist.

Extra: Earl Hutchinson explores How to Create a Crisis.

Network Effects on Violence

Some time ago I pointed to John Robb’s discussion of the potential for the network to amplify the threat of violence from otherwise un-connected and un-organized individuals. Now Noah Shachtman at DefenseTech is writing about “open source insurgents.” It used to be that a small group of ideological-driven guerilla leaders would spread information, tactics, training, […] » about 300 words

Point ‘N Shoot

DefenseTech reported on the FireFly, a disposable camera that can be shot from the M203 grenade launchers used by US land forces. The cameras fly 600 meters in eight seconds, wirelessly sending pictures back to the soldier’s PDA. Now they’ll know what’s over that hill or around that corner. Not that soldiers don’t need this […] » about 200 words

Nuclear Family Vacation

Via Defense Tech: Slate did a series last week titled A Nuclear Family Vacation that visited the Nevada Test Site; Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia National Labs; and Trinity. Extra: a slideshow accompanies the text and the authors interviewed{#4755708} on NPR’s Day to Day{#4755708}.

Related: previous nuclear stories at MaisonBisson.