The article Heavy & Agile by Maj. Daniel L. Davis in Armed Forces Journal makes a number of great points about the direction our military, particularly our land forces, are going and where they really should be headed. He points out that there is a lot that networked technology can do to aid the warfighter.
But given the current state of technology, the probability of future development in nations across the globe, and a historical perspective on the performance of new and emerging technologies in the past, does this theory stand up to rigorous examination? I argue that it does not. Aside from a near-faith-based, unsubstantiated belief in the efficacy of technology to do anything and everything imaginable, one of the primary factors upon which this assessment is based is its failure to give proper consideration to the capabilities of the future enemy force.
He is concerned that relying on text messaging and satellite communications to replace heavy armor protection is asking for trouble, not only because technology has a habit of failing at critical junctures and because nothing can really take the place of heavy weapons and strong armor, but also because our enemies not only will have their own technological capabilities, they will be working hard to neutralize ours.
The world has not stood passively by since Desert Storm. It has studied American performance in extraordinary detail and spent billions of dollars and years of research focused on the desire to defeat the most prominent capabilities we have now and those we are projected to have in the future. We, therefore, must be sober and aware of what capabilities the world is producing, expend considerable mental power trying to devise counteractions and, perhaps above all, shed the hubris endemic throughout our force that would have us believe we cannot possibly be challenged on a conventional battlefield. The facts argue persuasively against such belief.
It is critical that with eyes wide open, we educate ourselves as to global military developments, analyze those capabilities in light of our platforms and systems, ascertain our areas of potential vulnerability — and then constantly seek ways to mitigate those vulnerabilities, acknowledge that our opponent will score some victories, and with that understanding, seek solutions that will allow us to win anyway. If we always prepare ourselves to face the best capabilities a potential enemy might throw at us, we will have a chance to win every time.
Here are the nine steps outlined in the article:
1. Improve the armored protection of our armored fighting platforms.
2. Increase the ability of reconnaissance forces to fight for information in a degraded mode.
3. Implement a counter-UAV and space-defense program.
4. Return air defense to the tactical formation in recognition of improving threat capabilities.
5. Expand our air transport fleet to enable rapid strategic and operational movement and maneuver.
6. Improve the ability of land forces to engage in operations worldwide via fast sealift and sea basing.
7. Field significant numbers of advanced fighter aircraft to ensure air superiority.
8. Strengthen missile defense.
9. Place an increased emphasis on training the force in light of emerging capabilities with a focus on the realities of ground combat.
The techno gadgets are great. GPS, for example, has changed the way we fight. But that doesn’t mean that we should discard maps and eyeball navigation skills.