Information Warfare: March 24, 2001


The U.S. Army is sending 7,500 troops from the 4th Infantry Division to the National Training Center to test new digitalization technologies. These techniques depend on digital communications gear to instantly pass video, voice and data between armored vehicles, artillery, aircraft, infantry and headquarters. The result is a combat force that can react more rapidly. But bringing firepower on targets more quickly, the enemy is put at an enormous disadvantage. For as long as soldiers have been fighting, getting information about the enemy to your commander has always been a problem. The digitalized force solves that. The commander always knows where his own troops are and obtains better information about the enemy faster. The impact will be similar to what happened when police cars got radios some fifty years ago. All of a sudden, crimes like bank robbery got a whole lot more dangerous. Once the word got out, the police could rapidly use radio to reply their people, and rapidly receive information from witnesses or, say, police on foot who saw the robbers speed by. Radio alone did not revolutionize warfare as much because battles are a much more complex and chaotic process. Digitialization and the use of computers, plus soldiers who have years of internet experience, will make a big difference. But another reason the army is eager to test digitalized units under combat conditions is to discover those things they haven't through of yet. New forms of warfare tend create opportunities, and pitfalls, no one foresaw. Just as many armies stumbled into "blitzkrieg" warfare in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the same is expected to happen again.


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