2008/04/16

Modern comm tech on the battlefield - opportunity for rapid learning?

Soldiers need a couple of fights to 'learn' the realities of their war - even after thorough training.
This is well understood - even well-trained troops are inferior to true veterans and are 'green'.

Less well-understood is that this also applies to whole national forces.
The armies of World War One needed months to learned he basics of that war and years to learn enough to overcome the enemy's defensive.
The French army understood what it had to do to stop a German offensive - when the war was already lost and numerical ratios left them no chance anymore.
The Russians took more a whole year to understand how not to become hopeless prey for German operations.
The British took almost three years in World War One and again almost three years in World War Two to finally blunt the German submarine force by improved tactics and procedures.
The U.S.A.A.F. entered the European war early in 1942, but didn't get strategic bombing right till early '44 ("Big Week").

Some armies in history never really understood how they could fight their foes successfully and didn't get favorable entries in our history books.

This learning process can be critical to success in warfare if you aren't lucky enough to have the better ideas right at the beginning.
Don't hope for that we'll have this kind of luck in the next conventional war. Hope is no substitute for preparation. It would be quite unjustified anyway, as successful forces are usually less innovative than previously defeated forces. Successful forces instead keep improving their strengths even when these are already outdated.

Enough introduction; here's the deal:

Imagine a force that has truly perfect communications. No radio silence, no jamming. NCW dreamland.
Now imagine that this force has enough self-control not to use excessive micro-management.
Imagine that instead, the info flows from and to troops in combat is used by advisers.
And these advisers 'attend' not only as much battles as the front-line troops do. These advisers attend many more battles in short time, and accumulate combat experience (sort of) much quicker than the real combat troops do.

That might actually accelerate the rate of learning and provide an efficient channel for quick dispersion of new ideas.
The remote battle adviser idea of science-fiction movies like Aliens might actually be much more than that - it might be the future centerpiece of the force's adaption to unfamiliar challenges.

Sven Ortmann

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