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How Tech Almost Lost the War

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the just-point-and-shoot dept.

The Military 679

An anonymous reader writes "Blame the geeks for the mess in Iraq? Wired says so. Networked troops were supposed to be so efficient, it'd take just a few of 'em to wipe out their enemies. But the Pentagon got their network theory all wrong, with too few nodes and a closed architecture. Besides, a more efficient killing machine is the last thing you want in an insurgency like Iraq."

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679 comments

Actually.... (5, Funny)

cyberon22 (456844) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514395)

The Republicans are to blame for this one.

Re:Actually.... (3, Funny)

OECD (639690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514523)

It's more banal than that. I see this every day. We have to design a newsletter? Use Excel, it works great in accounting!

Only difference is that lives aren't at stake ( but how I wish they were...)

Re:Actually.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514947)

If it happens that often, you should start tracking it in an Excel spreadsheet. Then you can present all the data to management and suggest those people are fired.

Re:Actually.... (5, Funny)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21515023)

When the only tool you have is Excel, every problem starts looking like a spreadsheet.

Re:Actually.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514719)

I would agree with you although it is really a symptom of bigger problems. Namely where you can have an incompetent leadership to start this sort of nonsense and an apathetic population that won't do anything about it.

Geeks are to blame. (3, Funny)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514805)

Going by the same logic that says geeks are at fault for this...

I say let's outsource these jobs to Iran.

Blame the Geeks? (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514429)

Blame the geeks for the mess in Iraq?

More like blame the generals who shot spreadsheet "simulations" back and forth instead of large scale wargames to shake-out the technology. The networked battlefield went out untested with an expectation that it would work as promised. Which is a really dumb assumption for military hardware.

Besides, a more efficient killing machine is the last thing you want in an insurgency like Iraq.

'Scuse me? If you've got insurgents setting up an ambush, blasting the frak out of them sounds like a good solution to me. Fire a DU round from a tank down the road, all the IEDs go "boom" and the insurgents waiting on the side go "slwooop" as the massive air pressure changes suck them inside out.

Efficient killing machine == Good when there are bad guys trying to kill you.

One might argue that the insurgents are not terrorists and are thus not our enemy. A reasonable argument, save for one missing piece of logic. If the insurgents would wait we'd already be out of Iraq and they could be dealing with the local, underpowered government. Instead, they decide to take on the most powerful military in the world. Even on our bad days, that's not such a good idea.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

timberwork (1179859) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514529)

More like blame the generals who shot spreadsheet "simulations" back and forth instead of large scale wargames to shake-out the technology
Ah yes, they were using smarphones with built-in Excel viewers, except they forgot to scroll to the side where it said, "just kidding!"

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514583)

This whole article doesn't make much sense to me. Even if you want to say we are "losing" the war, it has basically nothing to do with our inability to kill people. Maybe our inability to kill the right people and only the right people, but thats not really a technological issue for the most part.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (3, Informative)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514611)

Efficient killing machine == Good when there are bad guys trying to kill you.

== Bad when you create 2x more insurgents because of all the civvies you just collaterally damaged.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514655)

#1 - There's a reason for a propaganda machine in any war. If the locals are blaming us for deaths, then the propaganda machine is not doing its job.

#2 - "A more efficient killing machine" in modern military parlance is a machine that strikes more of the right targets and fewer of the wrong targets. We already have the military might to simply wipe Iraq off the map. That would solve the problem, real quick. But it's not the goal. Ergo, more efficient killing machine == good.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1, Troll)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514765)

"A more efficient killing machine" in modern military parlance is a machine that strikes more of the right targets and fewer of the wrong targets.

Firing a tank round down the street in an urban area (as the parent post suggested) doesn't strike me as efficient in that regard.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (0, Flamebait)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514923)

Who said anything about firing in an urban area? That would indeed be stupid. We have Apaches with precision machine guns and low-yield missiles for those situations. (EVIL GRIN)

Seriously, what's with placing words in my mouth? I know it's a Slashdot tradition, but there are a lot better things to argue about without setting up a strawman.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (5, Insightful)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514871)

#1 - There's a reason for a propaganda machine in any war. If the locals are blaming us for deaths, then the propaganda machine is not doing its job.
Rove, is that you? If the Iraqis are blaming us for the people we are killing due to the war, we could try and do a better job of convincing them that it isn't our fault.

Or maybe we could stop killing them.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1, Flamebait)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514973)

Or maybe we could stop killing them.

Think they'd reciprocate? Honestly?

No one had to die after Baghdad was captured. The government was toppled and Saddam was on the run. We didn't continue shooting and bombing people because we wanted to install a hyperspace bypass and they were in the way. They were shooting at us. We shot back. That pretty much sums things up.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514981)

Heh, that's a great mentality. If we're ever accused of doing anything wrong, it must be enemy propaganda.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (4, Insightful)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514627)

Instead, they decide to take on the most powerful military in the world. Even on our bad days, that's not such a good idea.
Really? Because unfortunately it looks like they are doing pretty good so far.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514731)

As usual, Wikipedia is way ahead of us: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Insurgents_killed_in_Iraq [wikipedia.org]

Through September 22, 2007 approximately 19,429 insurgents/militia were reported to have been killed according to the U.S. military, including 1,309 bombers

In addition as of November 21, 2007 approximately 1,357 suicide-bombers have also been reported killed

Grand total: 14,393-20,697 insurgent dead

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-09-26-insurgents_N.htm [usatoday.com]

U.S. armed forces. 3,800 dead.

Source: http://icasualties.org/oif/US_chart.aspx [icasualties.org]

As I said, even on a bad day, attacking the most powerful military in the world is a dumb idea.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514791)

Yeah but those 20,000 insurgent deaths have only served to solidify opposition to American occupation in Iraq, 3800 American deaths has really only polarized opinions at home at best, and at worst swung a large chunk of the nation against the occupation.

That fact is that with every tragic death, no matter which side, Americas job gets harder.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (0, Troll)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514941)

Which is why Iraq is rapidly stabilizing, the local government and police are the main source of identifying the terrorists, people are moving back to Iraq by the millions, and the casualty rate of coalition forces is at an all time low?

Yeah, I guess we're losing, huh...

Re:Blame the Geeks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514795)

Maybe you should take the psyops data (US Military bodycounts of insurgents and soldiers -- WTF?) with a grain of salt.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

Carbon016 (1129067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514821)

The total Iraqi casualties number somewhere from 500,000 to 1.3 million, depending on what studies you use. I'd say it's more like 'having the most powerful military in the world decide to bomb your country is a bad idea'.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (3, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514881)

By your logic, we decisively won the war in Vietnam.

The Iraqi insurgents don't look so dumb when the US will have had to spend upwards of $1 Trillion to kill those 20,000. That's $50 million per dead insurgent.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (5, Insightful)

statusbar (314703) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514921)

hmm.. Wouldn't it be more cost effective just to pay each of the insurgents half that and convert them to like us?

--jeffk++

Re:Blame the Geeks? (3, Insightful)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514955)

Militarily, yes, we were winning. The Tet offensive was a massive failure for the NVA. The only reason South Vietnam collapsed was the US Congress decided to stop funding the war.

Add in the fact that the politicians in DC decided they could run the war better than the generals, and a lot of the setbacks were easily avoided. When you go to war, RELEASE the dogs of war.

Patton had it right - the object of war is not to die for your country, but to make sure the other bastard dies for his.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21515017)

The only reason South Vietnam collapsed was the US Congress decided to stop funding the war.

There's no question at all that we could easily have "won" the war at any time. The only problem is that overunning North Vietnam would have likely triggered WWIII. Since that would have been a bad idea, congress wisely pulled the plug rather than continue the pointless pissing contest in the south.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514919)

Now lets compare the financial losses of both sides. We've lost half a trillion dollars so far, how about them?

That fact is that Bin Laden wanted us to be mired in an unsustainable gorilla war and we gave him exactly that. Mission accomplished.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514967)

Yeah, but your $1Trillion is not counting the massive benefits we reap-- 1. Complete control of oil fields 2. Eradication of four generations of Arab economic progress in Iraq 3. Elimination of Israel's largest regional threat 4. Real-life testing of our latest weapons 5. Elimination of hope in the Arab world 6. Pretext to torture and eliminate most of the Bill of Rights

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514747)

'Scuse me? If you've got insurgents setting up an ambush, blasting the frak out of them sounds like a good solution to me. Fire a DU round from a tank down the road, all the IEDs go "boom" and the insurgents waiting on the side go "slwooop" as the massive air pressure changes suck them inside out.


True, but with the modern US Army soldier almost on the level of something from an old science fiction movie in terms of his ability to do massive amounts of killing, the "virtue" of striking terror in the hearts of everybody can become of a huge drawback. It makes it relatively easy to demonise the U.S soldiers, and use the results of that "slwoop" on a recruiting poster to attract another round of insurgents to try and take out the tank.

One rather wonders what would have happened if in 2003 we hadn't sent an Army but just airdropped a few million pacifists into Iraq to sing songs and cuddle with everybody. They probably would have all been killed, but you still have to wonder...

Re:Blame the Geeks? (5, Informative)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514957)

One rather wonders what would have happened if in 2003 we hadn't sent an Army but just airdropped a few million pacifists into Iraq to sing songs and cuddle with everybody.

We should've sent the guys who said we were going to be greeted with candy and flowers.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21515029)

One rather wonders what would have happened if in 2003 we hadn't sent an Army but just airdropped a few million pacifists into Iraq to sing songs and cuddle with everybody.


I fully support this idea.

Wait, what do you mean parachutes? Nevermind...

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514843)

Efficient killing machine == Good when there are bad guys trying to kill you.
you know.. you're right, we so should just nuke the place... You might want to consider the fact that not all those that die in a war like this are enemy combatants, some just might be children and innocents that were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514849)

'Scuse me? If you've got insurgents setting up an ambush, blasting the frak out of them sounds like a good solution to me. Fire a DU round from a tank down the road, all the IEDs go "boom" and the insurgents waiting on the side go "slwooop" as the massive air pressure changes suck them inside out.


Not only have you just deomonstratoed

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514925)

Allow me to start again, not only have you just demonstrated that you know nothing about military strategy you have also demonstrated that you have a complete lack of knowledge about military technology and physics.

A tank shell is probably the worst weapon for clearing out explosives, let alone concealed explosives. tank shells are designed to penetrate armor, delivering incredible force to a very small area thus forcing its way through the armor of a tank and pouring molten metal into the cabin (or fuel/ammo storage area, which is better). The reason booby traps (so called IED's) are so effective is that they are a small and cheap package that is very easy to conceal, I.E. they are not able to be found to be shot at. Now to clear a road in the fashion that you have suggested you would need to carpet bomb it but that would only get rid of 40% at best. Now as for the insurgents, they will be long gone before an armored column shows up to run over their carefully laid booby traps so unless you are carpet bombing 24/7 (minus the time the road is being patrolled). don't get me wrong, I support Australia's armed forces, so much so I would like them to come home so I can support them even more, but Iraq has been one giant demonstration that the US military machine has not learned anything since WW2. Battles are won with firepower, wars are lost by attrition, the US is suffering from worse economic attrition than the Iraqi's (who have nothing left to lose), the US's creditability with the Iraqi's was shot the day you invalided. the only means of victory is to completely annihilate every Iraqi in the world and I'm sure that some Americans think this is a good idea, I remind them that it is genocide and its what we vilify Hitler and Staling for.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514861)

I think you are missing the point. You don't win a war by killing all of your enemies any more than you need to win chess by capturing all of the enemy pieces. You *could* do it that way, but it isn't very efficient. As far as this occupation is concerned, the #1 flaw is the lack of troop presence. Realistically three times as many troops would be needed to pacify a hostile country of 25 million than what are currently deployed--unless Draconian measures were implemented. It was expected 1 million troops would be needed to occupy a hostile Japan in 1945. Even when they surrendered and all levels of the military and government accepted a pacifistic attitude, 350,000 troops were still used to occupy a country of 70 million people. The occupation of Germany had similar proportions (until the escalation of the Soviet threat). The US occupation forces are currently set up for a transition of power for a peaceful occupied country. Unfortunately Iraq is not a peaceful occupied country. Even Afghanistan should have at least 100,000 troops for occupation (if you consider Afghanistan peaceful). Iraq should have 400,000 troops deployed.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514893)

Besides, a more efficient killing machine is the last thing you want in an insurgency like Iraq.
'Scuse me? If you've got insurgents setting up an ambush, blasting the frak out of them sounds like a good solution to me.

I think the GP was referring to the problem of having "efficient killing machines" when you are having difficulty telling the enemy apart from the people you are supposed to be protecting. There are good historically-demonstrated reasons why using soldiers as law-enforcement agents tends to alienate the general population, even with the best of intentions.

If the insurgents would wait we'd already be out of Iraq and they could be dealing with the local, underpowered government.

You are implying that the U.S. intends to leave Iraq once "peace" has been established. Based on both public statements and actions by quite a few government representatives, I think you are incorrect in this assumption.

The people who started this war intend for the U.S. to maintain a strong, permanent military presence in the Middle East.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (5, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514951)

Actually, I thought the IEEE's take on this (the Open Source Warfare article) was more insightful. A different issue that you point out, however, is that of clueless generals.

The basic problem is that the problem is not the insurgency-- it is the lack of law and order in Iraq. The insurgency is one manifestation of that, but the lack of law and order allowed them to grow and consolidate from a few hundred tiny groups to several larger networks (see the International Crisis Group's works on the insurgency). We are in a situation in Iraq where the US military is very good at killing people but not very good at fighting the insurgency because we can't do what we need to in terms of controlling the situation on the ground.

You don't want a smaller number of more deadly soldiers. You need a larger number of policemen. We can't do it and we don't train our army to do it. So yes, one has to blame the generals.

However, the issue from the IEEE article was that the insurgent groups are able to use methods that look an similar to those found in the open source community to adapt their tactics much faster than the US military can (the US military is at least an order of magnitude slower in this regard due to standardization, procurement practices, etc). By the time new tactics are underway, the insurgent groups quickly adapt and those tactics are less useful.

The second issue is that for every expensive weapon, there is a cheap and easily available countermeasure. Note that HARM's aren't used much since Kosovo because it is now common knowledge that there are sub-$100 countermeasures using commercial off-the-shelf parts for them (cheap microwave ovens have the same RF as the anti-aircraft radar and HARMS cannot distinguish between them). The Serbians may have lost but I wonder how much damage they caused US military R&D with that one.... Smart bombs also could be conceivably confused using inexpensive jamming devices. In the end, unless you are willing to commit the people to the ground

In short, I personally do not believe that the war in Iraq is winnable under the conditions that W has set out. We will lose that one unless we can make some very difficult choices before the patience of the American people wears out.

In short one needs lots of police on the ground relying less on military weapons technology. We need to stop using American mercenaries (like Blackwater) because they have an inherent conflict of interest. And we need to be willing to withhold our support for the Iraqi government if certain basic measures are not met. These things are not going to happen so we are not going to win.

Re:Blame the Geeks? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21515035)

More like blame the generals who shot spreadsheet "simulations" back and forth instead of large scale wargames to shake-out the technology. The networked battlefield went out untested with an expectation that it would work as promised. Which is a really dumb assumption for military hardware.

Consider it tested now.

I hate to sound so cold about the whole thing, but regardless of your opinion of the Iraq war, you have to admit that it is on hell of test bed for new tech and an excellent training opportunity. Nothing beats the real thing for hardening soldiers. As a soldier myself, I can tell you that no amount of training, no simulation in the world can compare to the real thing. All the training money can buy does not compare to having live rounds shot at you by someone who wants you dead. Trust me when I say that our soldiers are much better prepared by the lessons learned from Iraq. Even though this is still one of the most efficient campaigns in history, mistakes have been made in this war. Those same mistakes won't be made again.

'Scuse me? If you've got insurgents setting up an ambush, blasting the frak out of them sounds like a good solution to me. Fire a DU round from a tank down the road, all the IEDs go "boom" and the insurgents waiting on the side go "slwooop" as the massive air pressure changes suck them inside out.

If you want to "suck down" a target, a HEAT round is a better choice. Even though the DU Sabot round moves extremely fast, it is quite aerodynamic and does not have a lot of drag behind it. A HEAT round relies on explosive rather than kinetic energy to get the job done so it doesn't have to move as fast and is therefor not as aerodynamic. It will also make a nice "boom" when it does finally hit a target.

Of course, if you want to kill a tank or punch through a few feet of cinder block, the DU Sabot is the way to go.

One might argue that the insurgents are not terrorists and are thus not our enemy.

Insurgents live there and target an invading military force. Terrorists moved in from other countries and/or target civilians. Most of what we see over there are attacks in neighborhoods, crowded marketplaces and mosques. These guys are terrorists. There is no reasonable argument against it.

!! JESUS! HELP ME KILL MORE PEOPLE FASTER!!! (0, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514469)

JESUS! Help me KILL more people FASTER!!!

This is the answer to my prayer! KILL MORE! Kill FAST!

God, this give me a boner! Thank you, Jesus, for my fast, fast, fast killing machines!

This is the American f*cking dream! I can SMELL the baby corpses this thing makes FASTER than EVER! I worship this killing SPEED machine!

Killing in War = Good Soldier and Good Equipment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514535)

See First, Shoot First, Kill First... It is to bad this motto is reserved for the F22. It should be for everything with the capacity to kill on the battle field.

Re:Killing in War = Good Soldier and Good Equipmen (0, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514637)

KILL! KILL! KILL!

I am good man! God loves the kill! Baby guts!

Re:Killing in War = Good Soldier and Good Equipmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514811)

You're a fucking idiot.

Re:!! JESUS! HELP ME KILL MORE PEOPLE FASTER!!! (0, Troll)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514573)

In response, one of the YouTube videos that was aired on the Repblican National Debate: here [youtube.com].

Re:!! JESUS! HELP ME KILL MORE PEOPLE FASTER!!! (0, Troll)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514665)

OK, you lieberals seem to think two things are funny. One, making fun of Jesus, the only enlightened philosopher. Two, undermining our troops. And you seem to be unable to make a point without foul language. And this gets moderated insightful?

Re:!! JESUS! HELP ME KILL MORE PEOPLE FASTER!!! (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514687)

Religion is a crutch for people who can't handle God.

Re:!! JESUS! HELP ME KILL MORE PEOPLE FASTER!!! (1)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514743)

Funny, atheism is a crutch for people who can't handle God. But you'll find that out for yourself some day. You are Profane. Profane I say.

Re:!! JESUS! HELP ME KILL MORE PEOPLE FASTER!!! (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514905)

I can't tell if you're joking or not (you seem to be almost a Republican caricature, but I know real Republicans who appear as such), but you do know there are other religions in this world other than yours, and all of them have the same amount of proof backing them up and legions of followers just as devoted and convinced they're right as you are. No, I don't expect this to change anyone's opinion, but have you actually ever considered that before--and NOT just wrote them off as sinners, heretics, or charlatans who shouldn't be listened to? I know a very kind hearted Buddhist who's a loving father and an overall caring and decent human being, is he going to hell too?

Notice how I treated you, a complete stranger, with respect and I used no profanities or insults to make my point.

Re:!! JESUS! HELP ME KILL MORE PEOPLE FASTER!!! (1)

Double_Duo_Decimal (1104907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514709)

"Jesus, the only enlightened philosopher." Excuse me? Bit of a hyperbole there don't ya think?

Re:!! JESUS! HELP ME KILL MORE PEOPLE FASTER!!! (0, Flamebait)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514769)

Just a little. I'd put Solomon and the other authors of the Holy Bible on the list too. Thanks for the correction.

Re:!! JESUS! HELP ME KILL MORE PEOPLE FASTER!!! (2, Funny)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514961)

Wow. Spoken like someone who's never read another book. I know that's probably not true and that only makes it sadder.

Re:!! JESUS! HELP ME KILL MORE PEOPLE FASTER!!! (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514753)

Hey! We think conservative nutjobs are funny too.

So that is three things, thank you very much.

Re:!! JESUS! HELP ME KILL MORE PEOPLE FASTER!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514779)

JESUS! Help me KILL more people FASTER!!! This is the answer to my prayer! KILL MORE! Kill FAST! God, this give me a boner! Thank you, Jesus, for my fast, fast, fast killing machines! This is the American f*cking dream! I can SMELL the baby corpses this thing makes FASTER than EVER! I worship this killing SPEED machine!

switches to Peter Griffin voice

Ut Oh, you're getting added to the naughty bad person watch list.

Just kidding, dude. You've probably been headlining that list for half a decade.

AH64s are efficient killing machines (3, Informative)

astrotek (132325) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514489)

Our military doesn't have efficient networked killing machines? Go to liveleak.com and look for some AH64 Apache videos from Iraq or Afghanistan. They are killing people from 1-2 miles away with very accurate 30mm cannon fire all while communicating with the guys on the ground.

Re:AH64s are efficient killing machines (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514965)

And boy those AH64s sure sorted out all the problems in Afghanistan and Iraq didn't they?

Oh. Wait.

Catch-22 (2, Insightful)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514511)

Wait...

So tech is bad because it didn't work and so the troops weren't efficient killing machines...

But tech is bad because we don't want the troops to be efficient killing machines.

Is that about the gist of it?

Tech didn't lose the war (5, Insightful)

SkinnyKid63 (1104787) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514525)

A president and Secretary of Defense who were concerned with creating popular support for a war are responsible. They ignored reports from military and civilian groups assigned to study the problems with a post-invasion Iraq, that the administration had themselves created, that a larger force would be needed to prevent the destruction of critical infrastructure. Even then, better deployment of available troops could have prevented much of the immediate post-war chaos. However, the current situation is more a creation of a corrupt system of bidding on construction contracts. Many of these contracts are wildly over budget and half-completed. I seriously doubt that you can blame a highly networked military for that.

Re:Tech didn't lose the war (4, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514971)

Note also that you have companies like Blackwater which need the Iraq war to continue since that is the source of their contracts. So what if a few Iraqis (or a few dozen) get shot? If it prolongs the war it helps the company. No conflict of interest there.

Blame the geeks? (1)

VistaBoy (570995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514547)

Blaming the geeks is unacceptable, even if the technology was faulty. Generals get to those high positions by accepting responsibility for their decisions, and they decided to go into war with unproven technology, so it follows that it's their fault. If you're going to be a leader, you have to accept both the accolades on success and responsibility on failure.

Don't be silly (3, Funny)

Leuf (918654) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514799)

Being a leader means never having to take responsibility for anything until someone further up than you tosses you to the lions to cover their own ass.

They hired the wrong geeks... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514561)

Hire those geeks from South Korea, preferably their last WCG Starcraft champion, and you would see how network centric warfare should be...

Or we could blame pre-emption (5, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514577)

Blame the geeks for the mess in Iraq

How about we blame Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the other "Hawks" for single-mindedly pushing a US foreign policy doctrine of preemption, which led to a war based on falsified "evidence" of a laughable "threat" to the US?

Networked troops were supposed to be so efficient, it'd take just a few of 'em to wipe out their enemies.

We did beat the "enemy"; only Saddam's core Republican Guard put up any sort of fight. The major fuck-up in the initial "war" was Rumsfeld repeatedly cutting supply lines and over-extending troops.

Then we failed to fill the power vacuum in a country with a history of sectarian violence even under a brutal dictator. Worse, we failed to keep the power, lights, and water going which left the door open for opportunists. Iraq fell head-first into a sectarian civil war, with both sides, most of the world, and half of the United States population agreeing on one thing: we need to get the fuck out of their country.

It's hard to "wipe out" your enemy when every day you create more just by your mere meddling presence. It's like standing in a bathtub holding a garden hose, wondering why the water's rising.

Re:Or we could blame pre-emption (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514671)

How about we blame Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the other "Hawks" for single-mindedly pushing a US foreign policy doctrine of preemption, which led to a war based on falsified "evidence" of a laughable "threat" to the US?
No, I blame Curveball for his dishonesty.
lol j/k, I blame Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Cheney.

Re:Or we could blame pre-emption (5, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514845)

The military were insanely successful in just wiping out the entire defense of Iraq almost overnight. They took full control of a country in less than a month.

However, in the the void of a government of Iraq, and undefended borders, you get the rise of insurgents. Military solutions don't really work there. You need diplomatic solutions to convince the local political and religious leaders to stop insurgents, fundamentalists, and terrorists. You need to convince them via ideology to lay down weapons and rebuild their homes.

It has taken 3 years to hunt down a couple thousand insurgents, and how many more are waiting in the wings, waiting to die in the name of their beliefs? We're not just talking about from the possible pool of 30 million Iraqis, but the entire Mid East. (Note, I'm not saying all Arabs are fundamentalist, but rather we're fighting insurgents from several nations right now. Fundamentalists are almost always a minority in any group, but often the most visible).

We can't fight this war forever, and that isn't the fault of the military or technology, but rather the fault of diplomats and politicians to not finish what they started, and I'm not pointing my finger at any one party. Both parties voted to go in, both parties continue to fund this, and both parties blame the other party as a means to make their party look better, while neither party are presenting solutions to actually finish the conflict. That is a travesty that no one speaks of.

Re:Or we could blame pre-emption (2, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21515019)

The major fuckup was going, but if the US was going to go, the second major fuckup was firing all members of the Bath party from their positions, even the ones who only became a member to get the job, and barring them from serving in the government. These were people with lots of experience in keeping things running in shitty conditions. It also let the Sunnis know we were there for petty, petty revenge and the Sunni insurgents interpreted that accordingly.

    Whats even funnier is how Bush keeps on comparing Iraq to Japan and Germany after WWII, but in those places most of the government infrastructure was left by the military administrations. Leaving these people in place probably helped stave off even larger amounts of starvation, kept the police running etc. But Bush has never, ever been an empiricist. To him, the ONLY thing that matters is ideology. If something they did turns south, that simply means that the ideology wasn't pure enough, since to them the ideology is never wrong. This is why nobody likes Bush today, he refuses to ever admit that maybe his ideology isn't perfect, and instead of stopping bad ideas, he just delves into them further.

Sure, blame the geeks... (3, Insightful)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514585)

...that way you don't have to admit the galacticly stupid decision to invade in the first place.

Honest question (3, Interesting)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514601)

I have a honest question, and I haven't been able to find a decent answer anywhere. Why, exactly, are our countries armies over there fighting in Iraq? Why did American even start this war?

I have yet to hear a politician actually say why, and I really can't seem to get a straight answer out of anyone.

Honest Answer #2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514873)

I think it was personal. Saddam Hussein laughed after the 9/11 attacks and Bush went ballistic.

When all you have is a screwdriver (2, Insightful)

xant (99438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514607)

everything gets screwed. Even when it's a high-tech efficient screwdriver.

Diplomacy FTW. Literally.

Re:When all you have is a screwdriver (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514935)

First: Diplomacy almost never works. Sure, you can try it over and over again. But eventually, war is the answer between factions of irreconcilable differences. In such instances, peace can only be obtained when one side wins and/or the other side surrenders unconditionally.

Words mean things. Please re-read the above statement if your still confused.

Second: The US and the rest of the world have been very diplomatic regarding both Iraq (UN resolutions) and Iran. We know what happed with Iraq, given the current situation; it's a no-brainer as to what's going to happen with Iran. Question to ask yourself; who's going to lay down the hardware?

Just like Nixon, Clinton, and now Bush, the whole peace process between Israel and Palestine will go no where. It'll just prolong the inevitable bouts of warfare between the two nations. Personally, I'd say we arm them all and let them have at it. Duke it out, winner takes all. If Israel loses...tough shit. If Palestine loses...tough shit again. Just stop the endless constipation and get it over with already. The world is waiting.

FYI, I do hope I'm wrong about the new peace process. I'm just stating the historical fact, that's all.

Look! A three-headed monkey! (2, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514629)

Oh dear, all that "it wasn't my fault" crap just to avoid saying "you were right, we screwed up. It was another Vietnam, after all".

Story moderation (3, Funny)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514631)

Can we moderate this story "Troll"?

Re:Story moderation (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514733)

Can we moderate this story "Troll"?

Definitely, this summary screams "Say it's all George Bush's fault please!". And you guys just go for it, arguing and stuff. It's sickening.

Re:Story moderation (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514879)

Actually there is a real point here. The idea of "transformation" - smaller, faster, higher-tech forces that require fewer troops, inflict less collateral damage, and ultimately cost less money - is likely to die with Rumsfeld's career. Now we are investing in putting more boots on the ground, and mammoth pig-iron siege machines optimized for driving over IED's. I think it's a real shame. The whole point of the Powell Doctrine was that we weren't going to fight this kind of war again. Had we stuck to defense, we could have protected ourselves just as well with a much more efficient and nimble forces. Now we are reshaping our armed forces for occupation. Is that really a business we want to be in?

So, the question of where to place blame for the Iraq war is a very pertinent one.

Re:Story moderation (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21515013)

The Powell Doctrine was overwhelming force. You go in hard and fast, with more than you need to get the job done so that there is no possible chance for the enemy. It's the only way to win a war. If he had orchestrated the second gulf war, there would have been 300,000 more troops on the ground after the government fell, enough to stop the insurgency from forming and provide security for the fledgling government. We'd already be out, victorious. The "Rumsfeld Doctrine" of lighter leaner fighting units turned out to be just enough to lose. The historical numbers to win insurgencies and have an effective occupation (as effective as one could be) is 1 soldier for every 12 civilians in the WHOLE country. The Iraq numbers are an order of magnitude worse than that. If anyone wants to support the war, that's their right to do so, but you can't support half a war, or one quarter of war. You either go all in or you don't go. This administration thought they could have their war on a shoestring budget with minimal human resources; reality disagreed.

Re:Story moderation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514863)

Nah.. It's clearly flamebait.

Bad summary (3, Interesting)

Thornae (53316) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514639)

If you actually RTFA, it says that geeks came up with a solution to a particular problem, i.e. traditional warfare, which was then applied to a different problem (non-traditional warfare / insurgency, etc) and it didn't work so well.

But now a different set of geeks are coming up with new solutions that do work, whilst building on the previous solution.

IOW, Don't Blame The Geeks. Or the tech, for that matter.

Efficient does not imply prolific... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514663)

I would consider a good measure of 'efficiency' to be: killing the people you want to kill, with the exclusion of others. I fail to see how it could be considered a bad thing in a war zone.

goals and roles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514667)

The problem is that they have lost sight of one of, if not the, most critical role of the infantry - to take and hold ground.

Locating and identifying an opponent, killing them more swiftly, relaying this information to a command structure and recieving guidance in return may assist this, but when pursued as goals themselves lead to the sorts of problems currently being experienced.

Overcoming organised resistence was never a problem and is now even less so. Garrisoning a conquered nation, rebuilding its infrastructure while trying to provide some kind of interim support, dealing with an increasingly hostile population are all problems that the tech-centric focus has failed to address.

Reducing resources and underestimating the time needed to accomplish the goals (vague as they are/were) on what seems to be an over-reliance on technological superiority has compounded the problem.

At the end of the day, unless you want to kill everyone, you have to deal with people. That requires communication, understanding and building trust.

FIGHTING LAST WAR! (1)

MilesNaismith (951682) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514681)

Militaries and generals are always very well geared up to fight the LAST WAR!

All those veteran soldiers of Gulf War I had seen a well-fought desert war between regular army units, and learned how to do it better. Problem is they had no idea how to fight in what came after that, a war of occupation.

Insurgency? (5, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514711)

From Dictionary.com

1. the state or condition of being insurgent.
2. insurrection against an existing government, usually one's own, by a group not recognized as having the status of a belligerent.
3. rebellion within a group, as by members against leaders.

Funny, the partisans in Iraq are rebelling against a foreign occupier, not their own government. However in the US the word "insurgent" has become the same as "terrorist"...

Oh mod me offtopic, but Iraq has had me sick for the past 4 years. How long did WW2 last again?

Re:Insurgency? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514953)

actually, in America the word has no meaning at all because something like 80% of Americans refuse to do what you just did, look it up. So they kind of sound it out. In - must be going in somewhere. Surge - they must be surging in! ency - it's like "ization", we just put that on the end of words to make them sound cool. So clearly, insurgency means "cool word for referring to people who are surging into a country" and so you get the kind of usage that you see in the summary.. it's also why Fox News spends a lot of time asking where these insurgents are coming from.. they're surging into the country from somewhere! Let's just find the hole and plug it up! Maybe they're surging in from Iran, yeah, that makes sense, let's bomb Iran!

Re:Insurgency? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 6 years ago | (#21515033)

Funny, the partisans in Iraq are rebelling against a foreign occupier, not their own government.
Back in the olden day's we's used to call them's freedom fighters. I remember when some upstarts from the colonies were called "insurgents" and "terrorists" by their rightful British masters (thats sarcasm for anyone who doesn't recognize it).

Oh mod me offtopic, but Iraq has had me sick for the past 4 years. How long did WW2 last again?
Well, most of the world fought it for the better part of 6 years, the yanks decided to join the party about half way through and fought for nearly 3 years. The big difference between WW2 and Iraq is that the US tried everything it could to stay out of WW2 but jumped gung ho into Iraq with the same overconfidence they had in SE Asia around 1965.

What to Blame (3, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514717)

We're being slowly bleed dry in Iraq right now because this administration can't see the difference between actual terrorists who have a grudge against America and insurgents who just want us out of their country. Blaming equipment or protocol would be laughable if it wasn't so shameful and arrogant. The blame for this on going catastrophe rests squarely on the shoulders of one very stubborn man who believes completely and sincerely that he is on the side of justice and that his every action is not only righteous, but indeed endorsed and guided by God himself.

You can't call these people we are fighting terrorists when WE are the foreign troops on their home soil occupying their country. The only justification Bush hasn't abandoned for this war (WMD was a criminal fraud, ousting Saddam already happened), the ludicrous idea that fighting the enemy "over there" makes us safer at home is so mind numbingly flawed at the most basic level that even a C student should be able to see there can be no victory the way the war is being prosecuted. The terrorists who would "follow us home" are doing so anyway, Iraq is diverting precious man power and resources away from stopping them. They are probably already here in fact. The 9/11 hijackers lived in the country for an extended amount of time before they carried out their attacks. Every dollar we spend on Bush's crusade is a dollar that could have went to pay more police officers, increase border security, inspect more cargo. The current plan we're on to get out of this hole is to keep digging until we get to the other side when the first thing you should do when you find yourself in a hole is STOP making it deeper! Violence, even when justified, against religious extremists only begets more violence. It's such an un-American concept to accept, there's no pride in it, no feeling of success but the only way to win is not to continue fighting. Every insurgent you kill insures his sons will be your next generation of enemies. There is a point, and we have long passed it, when someone strong has to stand up and say "Enough." accept the consequences to their reputation, and walk away.

This is a very trying time for the USA, and I fear that we will not long survive the ruinous path we are currently following. Our leader, and calling him that brings me an almost physical pain, will not change our path. He is too stubborn to admit defeat, even if that means dragging an entire country down with him. History will count him among the worst of our Presidents.

Re:What to Blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514803)

Saying that it was all Bush's fault kind of lets all the other people who were responsible off the hook. I know ultimately the President is responsible, but this administration is full of horrible people that are also partially responsible too, a lot of the bad policies Bush implemented were their ideas not his. I'm talking about Cheney and Rumsfeld et al.

An enlisted perspective. (5, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514737)

DISCLAIMER: This post is not intended to serve as any sort of official statement on the part of the U.S. Navy; it is solely a personal appraisal of how technology affects certain aspects of warfare. Take my thoughts for what you think they're worth, since nothing here is endorsed by anyone working for the D.O.D.

After reading the article, I had to go have a smoke and really collect my thoughts before replying here. I hope my perspective offers a bit of insight into "one man's view" of technology's role in modern combat. First a little bit of background information is in order...

I'm a 26 year old male, active duty enlisted in the Navy. I joined about 14 months ago, leaving a career in computing to serve in the submarine force. Prior to the Navy, I did several years of programming, database development, web application dev/support, and networking on Win32 and Linux/UNIX systems. Needing a change of pace, and generally feeling burned out after working full-time in I.T. since age 18, I woke up one day and enlisted in the service. My family and friends were a bit surprised, to say the least :).

Having been in long enough to form my own (albeit limited) opinion of computing/information technology's role in military systems, I have these thoughts:

(1) The military is mostly comprised of enlisted personnel. Enlisted men and women are, fundamentally, operators. This means they are trained to do a specific set of jobs according to a very specific set of guidelines. We don't make tactical decisions; our job is to inform officers in command of the status of whatever evolution is in progress, and obey orders handed back in response. This means we are trained on specific pieces of equipment, which is increasingly networked to allow for more efficient operations.

(2) It's no secret that the military (and government organizations in general) is a big fan of basing systems on "tried and true" technologies. We use what works, not what the industry is pumping out as the latest, greatest info-tech marvel.

(3) Our reliance on these systems means that we always have to be trained on multiple contingencies, i.e. "if doohickey X is broken, switch over to doohickey Y and proceed." Single points of failure are as much the enemy of fighting units as they are of networks in the civilian world. The human element is therefore still critical in avoiding situational breakdowns, hence the need for constant drilling to ensure proper performance under hostile or stressful conditions.

(4) Monday morning quarterbacking is an inevitable consequence of any large-scale conflict. It's always easy to look back and say "Wow, if only they'd done things this way, it's so obvious that things would have gone better." The military does make a concerted effort to learn from its mistakes; we have a saying that every rule we follow is written in blood, and we take that idea very seriously.

(5) In the final analysis, no amount of technology can prevent loss of human life in war. It's ugly, nasty, sad, but inevitable. Human beings will always defend whatever interests they consider crucial to the survival of their way of life. It's just our nature, the product of an evolutionary process that made us what we are today as a species. Since the dawn of time, we've been constantly incorporating new technologies into both civilian and military operations, with mixed results at every stage of innovation. Again, we learn from our mistakes and move forward.

I hope these thoughts can spark some dialog, and that my views might bring some new perspective to conversations on this topic. Thanks.

Re:An enlisted perspective. (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21515041)

THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENTS! This really needs to be modded up... Point 4 is especially salient; you can make plans for the start, but your opponent adapts, and you have to change strategy on the fly. This is true in war or sports. Adaptation is the key.

Point 5 is also highly relevant; the actual war was over in a matter of three weeks, with amazingly low bloodshed on both sides (extremely low on the coalition side). The police action afterwards has been problematic, but when you consider we are losing soldiers in the ENTIRE US military at a LOWER rate than we did in the "peaceful" 80s, well, we have become extremely efficient at the job at hand, and adapt well.

I think the technology used - like in the other thread, about bombs released at supersonic speed, and the rapid transfer of situation information - is a key to this. It allows for quick adaptation to situations, and is working very well.

Anyway, thank you for your service, and if you ever get around some big fish, give them a pat for me (I worked on the acquisition and guidance systems for the Mk 48 and Mk 50 fish back in the day).

An unconventional war with conventional means (2, Interesting)

Hackie_Chan (678203) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514819)

It's not the fault of the network-centric warfare, it is the fault of trying to fight an unconventional war with conventional tactics and strategies. In fact, the big irony of General Petraeus Iraqi assessment [wikipedia.org] was that military counter-terrorism operations requires the opposite of network-centric warfare: the United States should be willing to have a lot of servicemen who are up to the notion of trading their own lives in turn for regional stability. Reemphasis on "a lot", because that is what will be needed. Tactics such as bombing targets are out of the question due to the collateral damage. And collateral damage is something that must be minimized as much as possible in order to build a trustworthy relationship with the local populace.
 
Properly curbing terrorism activity in a war zone scenario such as Iraq has an excruciatingly high servicemen casualty in return for stability rate.

Re:An unconventional war with conventional means (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21515001)

This is exactly right, in my opinion. It's the reason we have huge numbers of active duty Navy personnel serving on the ground as members of Marine Corp and Army units as Individual Augmentees. The requirement for a large number of highly trained boots on the ground is absolute.
 

Wrong premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21514841)

The pentagon didn't get it wrong - their jobs is to destroy the enemy's military force, and they did it well.

The problem is the REASON FOR THE WAR. We didn't go there to kick Iraq's butt, did we?! We went there to "neutralize" nuclear threat that didn't exist, and then shove down democracy on the populace who didn't even understand what that means and how it supposed to work (hell, it seems we don't even know how it works), and secure oil production that went to clusterfuck.

Military strategy was the least of our problem. There is a reason why we have State Department separate from Defense Department.

This reminds me the bumpber sticker I saw: "Bush makes miss Nixon."

Technology (Transformation) Worked ... (1)

HW_Hack (1031622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514887)

but the war is lost as we lost control of the country - and then lost the hearts and minds of the people.

Rummy and the Pentagon wanted to test out Transformation --- that being total information integration between all the military branches right down to the soldier on the ground. And it actually worked pretty good ---- even though the total resistance to the invasion was light ---- the country was over thrown by a moderate military force.

Unfortunately - once all existing civil authorities are gone ... you need about 300,000 to 400,000 troops spread across the country to enforce military law until a new civil government is running. This is especially true in a country where factional populations live that were being held in check by a strongman ---- once unshackled anything can happen.

Bush and Rummy were warned by several Generals that they needed "a lot of boots" on the ground. Apparently they thought that was "old school".

Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21515039)

This war was executed with razor-sharp effectiveness. Not a single mistake was made, especially by our glorious leaders. Move along, nothing to see here.
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