Information Warfare: An Inconvenient Truth

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October 27, 2015: The U.S. Army is seeking to educate American politicians in general and Congress in particular about the mechanics of 21st century warfare. To a lesser extent (because it is much more difficult) the media and the general public are also being addressed as well because the army sees this as a matter of vital importance. It is all about keeping the Army capable of doing what it has been doing since the 1980s,

All this began after the Vietnam War when the army embraced the concept of a highly select and professional peacetime army. That was possible because the end of conscription enabled the army to be more selective in who they let join. Better quality recruits (who wanted to be in the army) and new attitudes towards training (more realistic and intense) paid off in spectacular fashion during the 1991 Hundred Day Campaign to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait. A decade later there were more of the same in Afghanistan and Iraq. While the War On Terror dragged on (as the military predicted in 2001 and many politicians repeated that to the public) there was more media efforts criticizing the military than recognizing what was going on. Some very unusual events were taking place. For example, the combat death rates were a third of that they were in Vietnam, Korea and World War II. The troops were a lot more imaginative, innovative and effective than in any previous war. All this got buried under the growing anti-war criticism. But many in government know that the new army is a lot more effective and army leadership is trying to use that to get enough money to maintain the regular (and expensive) training required to obtain this kind of performance in any future emergency. This is not easy because the usual drill in peacetime is for the defense budget to become more of a slush fund for politicians looking for projects that will create jobs and votes to get them reelected. That sort of thing becomes less of an issue when there is a war going on but when peace comes selfless patriotism sort of disappears.

Politicians prefer spending money on procurement. That makes it easier to offer contracts (and the jobs and profits that accompany them) where they are needed. Training is much less portable. More training means more money for wherever the troops are based and is not as sexy as new weapons and equipment. But, as the generals are seeking to make clear, the key to victory is the training. It not only takes money, it takes time. It takes three years or more to create effective combat brigades from scratch and you have to have two troops training or getting ready to go overseas for every trooper in the combat zone.

 

 

 

 


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