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Army Asks Its Personnel to Wikify Field Manuals

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the now-adding-wikify-to-the-spellchecker-and-sighing dept.

The Military 143

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that the Army began encouraging its personnel — from the privates to the generals — to go online and collaboratively rewrite seven of the field manuals that give instructions on all aspects of Army life, using the same software behind Wikipedia. The goal, say the officers behind the effort, is to tap more experience and advice from battle-tested soldiers rather than relying on the specialists within the Army's array of colleges and research centers, who have traditionally written the manuals. 'For a couple hundred years, the Army has been writing doctrine in a particular way, and for a couple months, we have been doing it online in this wiki,' said Col. Charles J. Burnett, the director of the Army's Battle Command Knowledge System. 'The only ones who could write doctrine were the select few. Now, imagine the challenge in accepting that anybody can go on the wiki and make a change — that is a big challenge, culturally.' Under the three-month pilot program, the current version of each guide can be edited by anyone around the world who has been issued an ID card that allows access to the Army Internet system. Reaction so far from the rank and file has been tepid, but the brass is optimistic; even in an open-source world, soldiers still know how to take an order."

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143 comments

This is a good idea (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072615)

This is a good idea. Even though I haven't read any field manuals I have read numerous instruction booklets, documentation and books about programs and often times what the official documentation says and what you need to do are totally different. Many times even though the "official" way to do something is doable, it might be awkward or slow, and you can do an "unofficial" way and save time and get 95% or more of the same results. I expect that army field manuals are no different.

Re:This is a good idea (5, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072695)

Yeah but there may be compelling reasons why they want it done the official way that your common foot soldier doesn't know about. The trick is to make the more-efficient unofficial policy official wherever possible, not to encourage everyone to do their own thing and get it done faster.

If grunts serendipitously discover that moist towelettes are great for cleaning guns, then the right people should be informed. They should not just use tons of moist towelettes at the cost of hygiene and the unit's general health.

Hurry up and mod me down biatch! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072779)

Favorite NIGGER joke - What do you call a bunch of niggers hanging around a farm? Antique farm equipment!
Favorite JEW joke - How was copper wiring invented? Two jews fighting over a penny!
Favorite DEAD BABY joke - What's black and bubbly and taps on glass? A dead baby in the microwave!
Favorite BEANER joke - Have you heard of the Mexican car races? Yeah, the first one to get the car started wins!
Favorite FAGGOT joke - Four fags walk into a gay bar but the bartender has just one stool. He turns the stool upside down!
Favorite BITCH joke - What do you say to a woman with two black eyes? Nothing, you already told her twice!
Favorite DUNE COON joke - why did the Muslim go apeshit and singlehandedly destroy a whole enemy army? He heard they were drawing cartoons of Mohammed.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Extra nigger joke story!

A Chinese dude walks into a bar. The bar has a black bartender. The Chinese dude sits down and says "Hey, gimme a jigger, nigger!" The black guy didn't like that one bit. He says to the Chinese dude, "hey, that's not fair. how would you like it if somebody did that to you?!" The Chinese guy says "I wouldn't give a damn if they did." So the black guy wants to prove his point. He gets the Chinese guy to sit behind the bar so he can be the bartender. Then he leaves and comes back in. The black guy sits down and says "Hey, gimme a drink, chink!" The Chinese dude just smiles and says "we don't serve no niggers here."

Now wait for the stupid easily offended mods with no sense of humor. They're jokes, get over it. I can laugh at a nigger joke but if I ever saw someone harassing a black man because he was black I would come to the black man's defense. I bet you fucks wouldn't understand that. You see, it's easy to separete the reality of racism from the fantasy of a joke, unless you're a moron. The reality of racism is a horrible thing that must be resisted but the jokes are quite entertaining. I bet you dumb fucks think violent video games are anything other than a non-issue too, for all of the same reasons. Now go pat yourselves on the back for sitting in your computer chair and wasting a mod point and thinking that you're doing a god damned thing to further the cause of human equality. Or just admit you'll mod this down too because the truth hurts when it exposes how shallow and stupid and conformist you are. Quick, go serve the media by defending the hypersensitivity and political correctness they have tried so hard to instill in you, like a good little orthodox citizen.

Meanwhile, I CHALLENGE ANYONE to come up with a GOOD and FUNNY white joke. I've never ever heard one. I want to. May wanna post it anonymously because the frothing-at-the-mouth easily offended politically correct droids will probably mod down even a white joke. So much for tolerance and free speech. Oh they say they are for those things then they only support speech they like because they are hypocritical little bastards who should have been blowjobs.

Re:Hurry up and mod me down biatch! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072843)

what's white and 14 inches long?

nothing.

what do you call a gathering of white people south of the mason/dixon?

a lynching

what do you call a group of crackers burning down detroit?

stanley cup victory

what do you say when you see a white man carrying a TV?

excuse me sir did you drop your reciept?

  What do you call a bunch of white guys sitting on a bench?
The NBA

What did the white guy see when looking at his family tree?
A straight line

Re:Hurry up and mod me down biatch! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072853)

None of these are particularly funny...
I had high hopes too.

Re:Hurry up and mod me down biatch! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072889)

what do you call a whiet man in a ghetto? a victim

what's the flattest surface to iron your jeans on? white girl's ass

a black kid is helping his mom in the kitchen with the baking, when he gets a handful of flour and dusts it all over his face and body. "mama mama i'm a white boy" he giggles. mom throws her shoe at him WHAM and says "go show yo gramma"

"grama gramma look i'm a cracker" and SLAP granny slaps him in the kisser and runs the kid ouf othe room back to his mama.

"did you learn anything from that?" mama asks

"sure did. i've only been white for 5 minutes and i already hate all you black people!"

Re:Hurry up and mod me down biatch! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072981)

Is it my imagination or have there been far more racist trolls on /. since Obama got elected?

Re:Hurry up and mod me down biatch! (3, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073581)

Is it my imagination or have there been far more racist trolls on /. since Obama got elected?

No, it's actually Obama posting these things to try to make racists look bad.

VLAD FARTED IN MARTICOCK'S MOUTH (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073205)

and reza peed on his poop

Re:This is a good idea (2, Interesting)

imamac (1083405) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072863)

The "right" people are 40 links up and around and back down the chain of command. The chances of suggestions actually making it to those people is slim. This just cuts out a few steps. I would be seriously surprised if the technical experts did not review the material just like moderators at wikipedia.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072883)

Yeah but there may be compelling reasons why they want it done the official way that your common foot soldier doesn't know about.

Then it will sure be great that the people writing the stuff will see the entry on how soldiers do something in real life, so the material can be compiled in a way that infuses practice with theory...

Re:This is a good idea (3, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073929)

I wonder how far they'll go along the "no original research" route?

"Guns fire bullets.[citation needed]"

Re:This is a good idea (4, Interesting)

Carrion Creeper (673888) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073025)

As a former soldier, the most successful part of this program will probably be getting new ideas into the hands of the people who write field manuals. Decisions about official policy still must be researched to find out if particular circumstances the soldiers mention are as frequent as they claim, and checked against reality, reason, and military law. Cleaning your weapon with moist towelettes may be great, but it may also corrode the weapon over time. On the other hand, it will help get a wider variety of information in the hands of someone who can put that out to everyone else, because maybe moist towelettes do a great job and nobody was willing to mention it in any official capacity.

The other great thing about this is that it will tell the policy makers all the brain dead stupid shit people are doing, so they can mention a few extra pertinent negatives in the next version of the manual.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073275)

Just wait till they discover that the best material for cleaning your weapon isn't moist towlettes but "feminine hygiene products".

Re:This is a good idea (1)

Carrion Creeper (673888) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073427)

I actually found that new kitchen cling wrap stuff quite useful for keeping sand out of my grenade launcher. Perfect wiki material.

Yes, but (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073875)

this is actually how things get done. For example, Condoms were ORIGINALLY handed out PURELY for sex. Some soldiers figured it out that they were also nice for closing muzzles and keeping the barrel clean. Ultimately, that info made its way up the chain and then it became a standard. There are lots of tricks that guys in the field will do. If this information can be disseminated QUICKLY, it may help more. Also, if as you say, perhaps there are reasons to NOT do something, this will get it stopped quickly. The DOD is finally back on track.

Re:This is a good idea (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073113)

Or use Simple Green to Clean Helicopters. It corrodes the Aluminum.
For certain Maintainance tasks there is no unofficial way. There is only the way listed in the manual.
with a form to fix the typos in the back.

Added benefit (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073229)

The added benefit should be, that doctrine is more understandable. Back in my day, I read a LOT of manuals, and completed the correspondence courses associated with many of them. There were times that I questioned my own understanding of the English language! Worse, sometimes the questions in the course were apparently targeted at an earlier revision, because NONE of the multiple choice answers agreed with the current revision!

Given even 10,000 soldiers (or sailors, or airmen) are willing to participate in such a project, the end product HAS to be more intelligible than some manuals that I read. Had there been an internet back in my day, I would certainly have gone online to help correct errors. (I should note that such shoddy manuals were the exception, rather than the rule - most manuals were pretty straight forward, assuming prerequisites have been met.)

Re:This is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073355)

On this topic ive found that 4"x4" gauze pads (the kind that dont break up and arent stringy) make great cleaning patches. Also extra long q-tips (easiest to get from medical suppliers) work great for cleaning the forcing cone in a shotgun barrel because they are long enough.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072819)

This is a good idea.

Says you. I suggest you ponder the following phrase:

Global Thermonuclear Edit War

Re:This is a good idea (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072821)

I would have prefered not to write this anonymously, but because what I have to say is not very "pro soldiers". Its not anti-soldier either, its an observation from having been in the armed forces myself.

I have worked on a deployment as an intelligence analyst in the Balkans. My job was to read "patrol reports" squad leaders / platoon leaders would write up after their patrols. I can say this with experience that most of the grunts I have worked with have a reading / writing level of less an 8th grade student. Their ability to translate experience into the written word is often very poor, and hard to translate. A lot of the work was shoddy at best, and required additional "questioning" of the patrol leader and its members in order to find out any information of value. Probably 20% of the time, the additional questioning yielded actual useful information.

This lack of literacy does not entail that these individuals are stupid or incapable. That is a very dangerous assumption to make, and is often not true at all. Its very simple, most of the infantrymen learn by doing, and not by reading. They are experts at executing breaches and urban combat operations once instructed, and can adapt very well. But I wouldnt trust them to write a document I'm going to hand to fresh recruits. Thats work best left for the officers.

For some of the listed field manuals (in particular Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations) this will probably work, for others, it will probably end up being white washed by field experienced officers. I expect most soldiers will also expect the white wash to occur, but I think this is a very good compromise and positive adaptation of technology to shape doctrine and benefit from collective experiences.

My question for the slashdot crowd is this: Is there better technology than a wiki to organize collective experience?

Re:This is a good idea (1)

imamac (1083405) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072907)

Perhaps still using a wiki article for any given topic. Then Allow a time period for edits--say 3-6 months or so. Finally the article is locked and the technical experts review it and publish an official manual.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072991)

That'd be nice, but things change so fast there's no way that would work alone. Imagine if a particular maneuver were compromised by the enemy, and the soldiers were baited into executing it. If they can change it, that happens once, or for a short period of time. If it's locked, it happens over and over until the article gets through a review team, unlocked, etc.

Maybe have a locked version at the top and notes at the bottom that were still editable.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073245)

Misinformation is the best compromised information. It wouldn't take long to see that something was compromised, especially if they were monitoring access well enough to know it happened. Issuing new orders in the field and changing battle plans is something the military is relatively good at. Compromised information may actually be an objective here.

Also, an objective could be a new types of field reediness evaluation. I can't imagine this not being followed up with strict access controls and knowing who is posting changes, perhaps deliberate changes, could effectivly evaluate the quality of training and point to any particular trouble spots before a combat situation ensues. Imagine a platoon looking at obviously wrong information several months after training but also several months before a combat rotation. You would know where and what to fine tune in addition to normal mission preparedness. A lot of potential issues or problems could be addresses before they happen.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072961)

Oh yeah, bash soldiers for not being good writers. You know, if they could write, they probably wouldn't have taken up soldiering. But I forget, this is the year 2009, and we all need to be warned not to hire ex-soldiers.

Re:This is a good idea (2, Insightful)

internettoughguy (1478741) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073411)

I think he was very careful in his wording not to bash them, but it's just a fact of life that serving in the lower ranks of the military requires the lowest standards of education out of almost any job. (the police are the same here too) Although i would say that most of the soldiers here (NZ) would have a standard of literacy high enough to provide each other with useful written intelligence.

Re:This is a good idea (2, Insightful)

haystor (102186) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073495)

He went and said that useful information came out of the poorly written patrol reports and then says a wiki won't work. Someone doesn't understand how wiki does work. It's not like someone comes along and writes a pristine document. It's a give and take.

If a soldier comes in and writes that a lubricant used in maintenance, "fucking freezes when it's cold", they can ask him when and where and find out of if that corresponds with doctrine.

A soldier with a beef about how the manual is wrong will quite likely want to be heard. And the way I would see it working (through personal experience in the military) is they would pester the guy in their platoon who can write to submit it. Or if this sort of thing is getting tracked, the Lt's will be all over this, soliciting ideas from the troops.

Re:This is a good idea (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073703)

You know, if they could write, they probably wouldn't have taken up soldiering.

I don't think you realize how many great writers were once soldiers. Norman Mailer and Tim O'Brien come to mind, but there are many many more. Joe Haldeman was a grunt in Viet Nam. John Steinbeck was in the Army in WWII with a commando unit but was denied a commission because of his left-wing politics. If I wasn't half-drunk, I'd go look in my literary biographies and list a bunch more. When I was fresh out of grad school, I taught a writing class at a land-grant college not far from a very large military base. I remember one retired staff sergeant who'd been in Saigon around the time of the fall and he could write the birds out of the trees. He was writing a novel when I got an appointment to a tonier school and I heard he died before it was finished, from illnesses probably related to Agent Orange.

All kinds of people enlist in the service, for lots of different reasons. There was a time in this country when most young men faced the possibility of wearing a uniform, including yours truly. It was only a lucky pick in a lottery that kept me over here smoking weed and playing student. Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that they're all stupid just because they might have fought in a stupid war.

Re:This is a good idea (4, Insightful)

ParticleGirl (197721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072963)

I can say this with experience that most of the grunts I have worked with have a reading / writing level of less an 8th grade student. Their ability to translate experience into the written word is often very poor, and hard to translate. (...) I wouldnt trust them to write a document I'm going to hand to fresh recruits. Thats work best left for the.

I am sure you know what you are talking about, and I have no military experience... but it appears that the reports you were reading were required of the squad and patrol readers.

One thing that wikis in general have going for them (and I would assume that the same principle applies here) is that contributors are self-selected. People tend to write if/when they have something they feel needs to be said, and people who choose to write often (not always, of course!) tend to be better equipped to do so than those who would rather not. Sometimes they're even concise. Hopefully this applies here, to the benefit of the military. Maybe people with something useful to say will have an easy way to make it heard.

Re:This is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073101)

Just wanted to say thanks for replying with exactly what I wanted to say.
AC because I'm not adding anything useful...

Re:This is a good idea (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073135)

Well, it's no surprise that there are lots of people in the Army who didn't like education much and wanted out after highschool.
I don't condemn them, I'm glad they are willing to serve, and I'm glad they're doing something instead of sitting around collecting welfare.

Anyways, a solution would be to have a field engineer tagging along at all times, and task him with the documentation. Pay better and I'll sign up; touring the world would be fun.

Re:This is a good idea (3, Interesting)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072979)

> most of the grunts I have worked with have a
> reading / writing level of less an 8th grade student.

Check out the Army reading list [militarypr...glists.com] section for cadets, soldiers, and NCOs. Some good stuff there... especially Keegan's "Face of Battle". On the other hand, I have no idea how many folks in those ranks have read any of those.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073713)

Don't you find it amusing that web page is headed with this quote:

"The nation that will insist upon drawing a broad line of distinction between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking by cowards" -- Sir William Francis Butler

Then goes on to divide the reading list based on the rank of the reader?

Re:This is a good idea (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073773)

> Then goes on to divide the reading list based on the rank of the reader?

Some truth to that... but I don't know. Seems to me that the senior officer books are more around strategy (see the Navy reading list 'Senior Leaders' section [militarypr...glists.com] ) while the junior folks' books are more general stuff and easy reads. For example, look where Ender's Game [militarypr...glists.com] shows up on several lists...

Re:This is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073181)

Is there better technology than a wiki to organize collective experience?

Having run static web sites with "how tos" AND document management systems AND wikis, I've found that if anything catches on, you'll spend more time editing out off-topic comments than getting anything useful. Wikis are fantastic, but only once a dedicated core group is engaged AND recognized for the extra effort authoring wiki articles requires.

I'm still hoping some better method will be found. Even trivial wiki-text is too complex for my users. Getting anyone to modify an article they didn't start has been impossible too.

Re:This is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073209)

Simple. Two ways:

A simulation that can be watched like a football game with commentators.

An interactive simulation that can be played like a video game.

Both of these ways are familiar with soldiers.

The input will be gathered by drones in the field.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073215)

A wiki has it's advantages for certain jobs and personality types, but so does the X-Prize foundation's approach. I can see the X-Prize method being great for not only improving various practices, but also being good for troop morale. The main thing is they keep trying different techniques rather than just throwing money at a situation. A little bit of fun and well placed change can be the best way to improve things.

Re:This is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073221)

The quality of the intelligence reports generated by squad and platoon leaders is directly related to the emphasis placed on it by their immediate command. The last thing you feel like doing after returning from a patrol is writing up a report for some self-important REMF asshat back at headquarters. If your command doesnt force you to do it correctly then you whip up something quick and hand it off so you can get back to what is being emphasized, ie. making sure weapons get cleaned, everyone is fed, all the equipment is accounted for, etc so you are ready for the next patrol or whatever.

Besides, if you leave your troops alone too long while you are off writing reports they will invariably start doing something stupid like making a still, lighting their farts or running with scissors. Then you have to do more paperwork explaining how someone in your platoon got second degree burns on his ahole. I mean you can only invoke the dont ask dont tell policy so many times.

Re:This is a good idea (4, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073407)

"I can say this with experience that most of the grunts I have worked with have a reading / writing level of less an 8th grade student. "

I served, and I think you're full of it. "Most" is a rather definite word, that's a majority, more than half, and from my experience I would strongly disagree with that assessment. They weren't all wonderful writers like your average programmer (lol) but they could write up a patrol report that made sense.

And what was the point of your little soldier bashing post? That they shouldn't have a wiki because they suck at writing? That those that want to write shouldn't be allowed, that only the technical writers should have the ability and the grunts should just shut up and get shot at? I'm even more pissed mods marked it Score:5, Insightful. Shame I used all my mod points up yesterday, I had mod points good until tomorrow.

I think a wiki is a fantastic idea and I'm shocked the Army would even consider it, very un-Army like, to give the grunts a voice. This is not the Army I remember, only good can come of this, and developing the wiki and similar programs should be encouraged.

Re:This is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073531)

What Army were you in? I started in the Infantry, went to Ft. Huachuca to the Intel school and served on a high level Intel Staff. I finished as a recruiter. I think with such a varied career I have a good notion of what the army looks like.

The average enlisted soldier is better educated than his civilian counterpart. In a 2004 article Fred Kaplan wrote" More than that, the aptitude of U.S. military personnel now exceeds that of American civilians.Scores are divided into five categories. Categories I and II score in the 65th to 99th percentiles. Category IIIs score in the 31st to 64th percentiles, Category IVs in the 10th to 30th percentiles, Category Vs in the bottom 10th percentile. Here's how the scores break down, for recent recruits and for civilians:

  Recruits
  Civilians

Category I & II
(65th to 99th percentiles)
  41 percent
  36 percent

Category III
(31st to 64th percentiles) 58 percent
  34 percent

Category IV
(10th to 30th percentiles) 1 percent
  21 percent

Category V
(bottom 10th percentile)
  0 percent
  9 percent

On balance, by this measure, those who volunteer for the military are smarter than those who don't."

Your contention that soldiers in the enlisted ranks do not posess the requisite writing skills is pedestrian nonsense. You MUST have been an officer.

Re:This is a good idea (2, Informative)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072995)

I see two major issues with this

  1. A lot of people in the military are not that well educated and the idea of them trying to write manuals sounds horrendous.
  2. With Wikipedia, items posted by random people usually require a source. What source is there going to be here? This is mostly going to be mostly opinion, not tried, tested, and true facts.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073141)

A lot of people in the military are not that well educated and the idea of them trying to write manuals sounds horrendous.

No one is forcing anyone to edit anything... as someone noted above, wiki editors are self selecting, my bet is the more educated would contribute>

With Wikipedia, items posted by random people usually require a source. What source is there going to be here? This is mostly going to be mostly opinion, not tried, tested, and true facts.

Ah, the mantra of /. ... RTFA.

Under the three-month pilot program, the current version of each guide can be edited by anyone around the world who has been issued the ID card that allows access to the Army Internet system. About 200 other highly practical field manuals that will be renamed Army Tactics, Techniques and Procedures, or A.T.T.P., will be candidates for wikification.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073175)

The problem is precisely that the editors are self selecting! I'm certain you've met numerous ignorant people that think they know everything. Those people that think they're smart that aren't really are the ones that worry me

I didn't read the article but I did at least read the summary which does mention that. Regardless, there's no way they can do something to verify claims posted by soldiers. When i say "tried, tested, and true facts", that means it being tested by way more than just one person or even one platoon of people. Just because something might work in Iraq doesn't mean it'll work in Afghanistan.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073279)

The problem is precisely that the editors are self selecting!

No, no it's not.
Pick any really popular wikipedia article. Invariably morons or kids will add stupid edits, but they never stay long. The more intelligent entries always win out because enough people care to fix them.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073305)

Ok, you're right about the other wiki's. But what happens when you couple problem 1 i mentioned with problem 2? If you have someone posting stuff that can't be verified and the guy posting is a complete bonehead, how do you know what to keep and what not to keep?

Re:This is a good idea (1)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073311)

Sorry, I should probably clarify that what this bonehead is posting sounds very correct when in fact its completely utterly wrong once you go out in the field and apply what he says.

Re:This is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073485)

A lot of people in the world aren't educated, yet Wikipedia is does fine.

Re:This is a good idea (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073565)

This is a good idea.

I'm surprised that there's not an outcry that "Wiki's are Socialism". After all, it's the opposite of privatized, profit-driven approach that America is supposed to be about.

Next thing, we'll hear that Obama wants to kill our excellent free-market military by making it government-run and use our taxes to pay for it.

It's time to get the government out of our fine US military. Or something.

Re:This is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073879)

They should use something like WikiServer on the iPhone. Http://www.mobilewikiserver.com

Check please (2, Funny)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072621)

Wiki entry:

In case you come under attack, shoot back. [clarification needed]

Re:Check please (1)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072637)

Don't you mean [citation needed]? Seems pretty clear to me already... :)

Re:Check please (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072685)

Don't you mean [citation needed]? Seems pretty clear to me already... :)

Wiki entry:

In case you come under attack, shoot back. [clarification needed]

I read those instructions as a free pass to be a team-killing bastard.

Re:Check please (5, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072691)

If you check back later, you'll find the following edit:

"... unless in a peace keeping mission where you were ordered to walk around with your weapon unloaded and ammo stored back at base."

with the history showing the name of some bureaucrat who's never served in the military.

Re:Check please (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072711)

...Not at all a good idea if you're vastly outnumbered and opening fire just draws attention to your retreating team.

Jews (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072623)

This is exactly what happened to the Jews.

Wow (2, Funny)

wb8wsf (106309) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072659)

That is absolutely one of the most intelligent things I have ever heard
of the US armed forces doing.

Well, that and letting Haynes design T-shirts, and letting go of the 20+
page specifications for fruitcakes.

Re:Wow (2, Interesting)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072903)

This is an incredibly good idea. This may sound weird, but I'm going to compare this to my experience with Internet spaceships.

My corporation in EVE has a wiki where we dump ship fittings and tactics. That alone is a huge benefit, but what really makes it shine is that combined with a killboard, which tracks all of our combat statistics, and a forum where we can discuss the entries there. Everybody can see who is actually successful, and obviously when the highly successful people speak, others listen. The end result is that we have a central database of battle-tested equipment loadouts, that are collaborated on and refined through discussion, and backed up by an objective reputation system.

That exact setup is fully within the Army's grasp, and they should pursue it wholeheartedly. What seems intuitive in battle is rarely the most effective choice, and resources like this can drastically reduce the time it takes to becoming a veteran, as well as increase odds of survival until they reach that level of expertise.

Queue nerds flaming about how real war isn't a videogame.

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073213)

Queue nerds flaming about how real war isn't a videogame.

I would say modern warfare is quite often exactly like a video game... (e.g. drones that can be piloted from thousands of miles away.)

Re:Wow (2, Interesting)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073225)

That exact setup is fully within the Army's grasp, and they should pursue it wholeheartedly. What seems intuitive in battle is rarely the most effective choice, and resources like this can drastically reduce the time it takes to becoming a veteran, as well as increase odds of survival until they reach that level of expertise.

It's a good idea, but you are wrong. First of all, it is significantly harder to perform statistical analysis on combat procedures in real life. It's easy to record data off a computer program, you already have a large amount of the information in the correct form stored electronically, and even if you have to write something down or take a screenshot you're already sitting at a computer connected to the internet. GI's in a firefight aren't going to have perfect comprehension or recollection of specific details (especially regarding things like enemy troop placement, movement, etc.) and they can't really be expected to.

The armed forces already do a ton of statistical analysis on various things, but gathering good data about specific encounters is much more difficult in wartime than you seem to understand. As I understand it, most analysis they do is at a higher level.

Second, the armed forces are extremely conservative about experimenting with combat tactics, for obvious reasons. While you might consider trying some different configurations and tactics risky in EVE, the risk of losing some ISK over losing a squad of men aren't really comparable.

Real war isn't a videogame :)

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073383)

I'm not original poster, but I believe he was referring to (amongst other things) the natural hierarchy that exists in the military. If you have a little stats menu with basic details (rank, unit/field, time spent in army, etc), it would be quite effective in weeding out Private Too Many Video Games from Major Buff Hardthrust. Of course, there's room for an inexperienced person to look experienced (or visa versa), but by in large, it would be an effective tool (think of it like /.'s karma moderation - clearly subject to abuse, but still provides more good than harm).

We don't read field manuals (3, Insightful)

cenobyte40k (831687) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072683)

The problem with american military doctrine is that the American military does not read it's field manuals, and even when it does it doesn't follow them.

Re:We don't read field manuals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072793)

I think that is the precise problem this is meant to address.

Re:We don't read field manuals (2, Insightful)

cpghost (719344) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073111)

and even when it does it doesn't follow them.

and even when it does it doesn't understand them. There, fixed for you.

Re:We don't read field manuals (2, Insightful)

Dravik (699631) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073613)

No, they understand them perfectly. They just happen to be years out of date and not applicable to the current equipment and/or enemy.

Perhaps the Key Difference (4, Interesting)

kevinatilusa (620125) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072689)

between this and Wikipedia is that each edit will be linked to an ID which in turn is linked to a known service(wo)man.

Combine this with the way that the final manual will be the product of review teams rather than the wiki-style entries themselves, and this seems as much a very efficient public feedback/comment system (using wiki software and formatting) as a true wiki.

Re:Perhaps the Key Difference (1)

cybrpnk2 (579066) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073067)

Actually, the edits are not limted to just soldiers. There are lots of civilian contractors (like me) who have CACs. Guess I need to go over to Army Knowledge Online and check this out - they've been hassling me to change my password there anyway....

Shouldn't it be like this already? (2, Interesting)

Turzyx (1462339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072709)

tap more experience and advice from battle-tested soldiers rather than relying on the specialists within the Army's array of colleges and research centers

Forgive my ignorance, but by definition a field manual should be exactly that - a tool relevant to experience in the field of combat.

I fail to see how some "researcher" no doubt with a worthless degree in "Ancient Medievil History" or the like is more qualified that some who's, gasp, actually been in the field?

By open-sourcing information, they have basically allowed for a large influx of new, refreshing and indeed relevant ideas and ideology.

Re:Shouldn't it be like this already? (1)

infinitelink (963279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073037)

[quote]I fail to see how some "researcher" no doubt with a worthless degree in "Ancient Medievil History" or the like is more qualified that some who's, gasp, actually been in the field? [/quote] Large battles have been won by officer who know that kind of history, because of that history, even from accounts recorded in the Hebrew Bible. I wouldn't be so brash as to discount battle history: often much is very applicable; oftentimes such knowledge is a harbor of tactics which, if recalled, are redeployable even in modern arenas.

RTFM (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073159)

I fail to see how some "researcher" no doubt with a worthless degree in "Ancient Medievil History" or the like is more qualified that some who's, gasp, actually been in the field?

To view the active list of Army Field Manuals - excluding engineering and medical: Doctrine and Training Publications [army.mil]

You won't be able to access the files.

But it might just buy you a clue to what an Army college is all about.

Here is a sampling of Army field manuals in the public domain: Army Field Manuals [globalsecurity.org]

 

Re:Shouldn't it be like this already? (3, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073345)

Because in many cases the person experienced in the field has only his or her own limited, personal experience to go by, whereas the researcher is able to draw on a large number of examples in a wide variety of situations, which gives him or her a better picture of what is really going on. The person experienced in the field may indeed have valuable information and insights, but at the same time, he or she may have a narrow perspective or limited information. And of course researchers are usually people with special aptitude, training, skills, and resources for doing research, which is not true of the person in the field.

In the past... (4, Insightful)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073637)

In the past, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) looked at the threat, defined and acquired the means of dealing with the threat and then trained the people at the sharp end how to use what TRADOC or the other commands had acquired to dispatch the threat. Since everything but the threat was theoretical, the only way to do things was to have the FM written by TRADOC. No one had any real experience on which to base a FM. This made a lot of sense when the overall threat was assumed to be the Warsaw Pact armies rolling through the Fulda Gap with their latest collection of toys.

Fast forward to the 21st century and both the overall threat and the specific means of implementing the threat aren't as clearly defined. On the other hand, we have people in the field getting real experience dealing with the current threat. It just makes sense to get the people with the experience to data dump into a FM that represents how things really work. Conversely, no one but the analysts and people at TRADOC had any idea of how to deal with the cold war threats. Asking the people at the sharp end back then to write the FM wouldn't have made any sense either.

Cheers,
Dave

CAC Card (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072715)

The Common Access Card (CAC Card. yes, it's redundant) is not unique to the Army, the entirety of the U.S. Armed Forces uses them to varying degrees because it's integrated into the Military ID (which is a Smart Card)

General sockpuppet disagrees too (3, Interesting)

ring-eldest (866342) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072749)

This just in: the military command structure has decided to put ARPANET to use as originally intended a scant 40 years after development!

On a (slightly) more serious note, the rank and file and upper brass have differing views on how their opinions are going to be received by the other side. Of course they do! The higher level officers have always expected their suggestions to be taken seriously and responded to with a prompt, "Yes, sir!" They see no problem here. The grunts have a long history of learning exactly how much their input is both required and appreciated by those men, especially when it comes unsolicited. This is one of those rare situations in the military where both sides' reactions are perfectly understandable and even... rational.

infotopia (3, Informative)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072807)

there's a book called Infotopia (http://www.amazon.com/Infotopia-Many-Minds-Produce-Knowledge/dp/0195189280), about how information is generated and shared in an increasingly tech advanced society, and this is one of the things it mentions in its "vision for the future" in the intro. interesting book. quite optimistic.

Re:infotopia (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073161)

The efficiency gained from the information age is the only thing that will save us from an increasingly inefficient and spend-happy bureaucracy.

To be honest, Clinton did little to balance the budget. IMO, our GDP grew so fast as we replaced typewriters and recordbooks with MS Word and Excel that the government couldn't help but run a balanced book. They may not have caught up just yet, but as we saw, fear not, they certainly do not struggle with spending more than they take in...and I used to think Bush was good at spending...

In other new. (2, Funny)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072839)

Standard SOP for solid waste burning is SERGEANT MAJOR IS A COCK SUCKER!

Re:In other new. (5, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072867)

Standard SOP for solid waste burning is SERGEANT MAJOR IS A COCK SUCKER!

[citation needed]

Re:In other new. (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073043)

Standard SOP for solid waste burning is SERGEANT MAJOR IS A COCK SUCKER!

[citation needed]

Alright, Sergeant Major will also receive a citation for not standing at attention as ordered.

Re:In other new. (2, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073373)

Standard SOP for solid waste burning is SERGEANT MAJOR IS A COCK SUCKER!

[citation needed]

That sounds like original research to me. Umm... How was it?

Such a good idea. Maybe they SHOULDN'T do it? (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072861)

This is a supremely excellent idea.

Only problem is that it will provide a supremely excellent manual for OPFOR.

Re:Such a good idea. Maybe they SHOULDN'T do it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072917)

OPFOR already has access to US Military doctrine. A great many documents are not classified in any way. For exampe, if you are OPFOR in Iraq and want to know how Petraeus thinks he is going to beat you, read FM 3-24. http://usacac.army.mil/cac/repository/materials/coin-fm3-24.pdf

Later,
Jason

Re:Such a good idea. Maybe they SHOULDN'T do it? (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073739)

If all it took to run an army was a decent book, anyone with The Art of War could have rolled over Western Europe by now.

Wikiality (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29072875)

In other news, Stephen Colbert is now commander-in-chief of US forces in the middle east, and the number of elephant attacks has tripled in the last 6 months.

Who to believe? (3, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 4 years ago | (#29072975)

This would seem to pose a problem when there are conflicting viewpoints - esspecially among higher ups. Wikipedia has this problem too, but wikipedia articles on controversial topics aren't really actionable (and you can't plead your case that oh, you read this on wikipedia it must have been true! when something is wrong that you did act on wikipedia from). Army doctrine is.

If you take a look at the current US army and marine corps counterinsurgency field manual Chapter 2is titled "Unity of Effort: Integrating Civilian and Military Activities". I bet with 200k troops or so active at any given time on recolonization (I term I would prefer to counter insurgency), there are going to be at least a dozen different high level officers with different ideas on how to get things done, and some with contradictory ideas both seeing success (or failure). Figuring out which goes in the manual, which doesn't, and why is the sort of thing that requires people at the top to act as editors, pick sides and end up essentially censoring one group of people is likely to build dissent - and public dissent. It's different when they're silenced in a research lab, the only people who've know they've been shut up are immediate colleagues, but when you make opinions widely public (or in the case of an army wide wiki, mostly public), even wildly wrong ones, you're giving the people who dissent a voice to end up on faux news touting how their solution to 'counter insurgency' would have been to gas the lot of them! It even made it into the field manual before it was pulled! The government isn't supporting our commanders who want to use more/less/different whatever.

Certainly a military wiki has its place, but I'm betting there are going to be some kinks to be worked out yet. One of the virtues of the military structure is deffering responsibility for being wrong. If I'm colonel A and General B tells me to do something I know to be wildly misguided (but not illegal), I go and do it, and when questioned about it, can say with honesty, and possibly with written orders to squarely place the blame on General B. On the other hand with the wiki system if Generals C, D, E and F all say things on a topic, not all of which is consistent, and the one I happened to see was General E's opinion which happens to be wrong who's fault is it now? Colonel A for not researching enough Gen. E for being wrong, or the Lt who was moderating the discussion for not blocking the wrongness of E that was agreed upon by C, D and F.

end-run around accountability (2, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073123)

1) define legal rules for prisoner treatment as "use only techniques listed in the Field Manual"

2) wikify the Field Manual

3) ...

4) oppress it!

too broad. (2, Insightful)

TechnoVooDooDaddy (470187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073263)

as a consultant that has such CAC card (no, it's not repetitive)

I believe the access too broad for this to be effective.. Although there does exist STRONG accountability within the credentialed system, no anonymous access or anything allowed on the network. This will probably work ok, but there will be much more overhead in the moderation and administration than exists even in wikipedia out publicly.

It used to be editable without an ID (0)

ryanisflyboy (202507) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073673)

...then they started getting entries like this:

"this is your gun dont point hat ur face lol"
"ponies shoot the poniesll!LL!Lol"
"oh gawd they took my liver"
"dis is f'd up yo no one reads da stoopid books"
"tak ur POGEY BAIT and ASRAAM it up ur HOOCH! lol"

After they added the ID requirement they realized the person making all the edits was Dick Cheney.

First Aid and Field Medicine (3, Interesting)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073705)

A while back I was reading a survival page from a practicing guide and Park Ranger working in the Texas desert. He had made a point about the standard "suck out the poison" from a snakebite advice still being in the army field manual long after anyone in the medical community, or desert survival park ranger community had given up the practice.

http://ridgerunnersurvival.tripod.com/da1.htm [tripod.com]

Now the page is from 2000 and he's quoting the various field manuals up to 1992. There's also advice on why water rationing as described in the manuals is a bad idea. Digging a condensation trap will cost you more sweat than it will gather in drinking water, etc.

So I wonder what other areas it might be better to enlist some subject matter experts in, the idea of opening it up to more voices outside the war colleges is good, maybe they should open it up even more.

And like a good wiki-citizen he cites the books he references and his credentials.

The best soldiers have initiative. (3, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073771)

This isn't really new, per se, but it is a reassertion of one of the best values of American soldiery - the guy on the ground should have some room to make some decisions for himself or herself. Good commanders have always encouraged their subordinates to lead, and given them tools to do so. Bad commanders don't.

ID REQUIRED (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073907)

Watch the ID card issue.

I believe that the military ID system is the early test for a coming soon new US passport/drivers license/health care card.

positive biometric that can be validated against central database, trackable, and required for internet access.

So there will be NO anonymous cowards in the future.

And no I don't think I am being overly paranoid or own a tinfoil hat.

Although after seeing "Enemy of the State" anyone have links for the RF isolation cage plan?

Effective? Nay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073941)

Can we really write effective military doctrines through collaborative effort?

I beg to differ.

While I'm no expert per se, there are simply way too many differing opinions when it comes to military strategies. A field manual is only good as a guide, but not as a bible. No two platoons are the same, and every commander will have their own ideas on how to run their own men.

Having trained under numerous platoon commanders, I have seen various methodologies in action and from my pov, it is simply impossible to say if one is better than the other. Heck! Even methods of building a tent is sure to garner varied opinions. But no man's claim can truly be correct unless it has been tested and proven on the field.

To build a wiki based on topics that sits on a great array of beliefs is not going to be easy. Such tasks are better suited in a message forum or perhaps at the discussion table. That said, a wiki is best suited for factual information, not so for subjective opinions.

2LT Anonymous Coward

Aurthor Dent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073949)

The answer is 42. dont forget your towl.

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