Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Right Click to Destroy

When the dominant form of warfare matches your society's general knowledge base, you will have an advantage in warfare over enemies without that kind of society to support their soldiers.

In World War II, the internal combustion engine war, American troops had an advantage over their allies and enemies because in any given squad somebody was probably a grease monkey who could fix the engine if their truck broke down. Troops of other countries who did not come from a car culture would sit by the side of the road waiting for the motor pool guys to come fix their broken vehicles.

Today, in the computer culture, the guys who played Doom all day in the basement have the edge in modern warfare:

American troops appear to have a considerable advantage because most of them grew up playing video games and using PCs. More and more military equipment uses computers, or are basically electronic gadgets. American troops require a lot less time to learn how to use this stuff, and tend to be very good with it. This extends from fire control systems in armored vehicles, to new radios, electronic rifle sights and training systems (which are very similar to those video games.) Many other countries have to spend a lot more time training their troops to use this stuff, and the proficiency of the troops is never particularly good. This effect is often seen when this high tech American equipment is provided to foreign troops who didn’t have such an electronic childhood.
We'll have this advantage until others catch up with our Game Boy generation.

Or until our own society moves beyond the technology it shares with our tools of war. Then there will be a lag until our military again catches up with society in how it fights and our troops are familiar with the tools of war before their first head shave in basic training.

So how does our military predict the technologies of our future society and design weapons of war based on that prediction in time to tap that natural knowledge?

We probably can't, so we'd best be prepared to adapt our military as fast as possible to match society's dominant theme.

But we can count our blessings that our soldiers have grown up playing with the tools of war in time for the current war against a savage and determined enemy that dreams of slaughtering us in the tens of millions.

Control-Alt-Delete, boys. Control-Alt-Delete.