Sunday, May 27, 2018

Prophecy of Warfare: Theme Seven

This is a really good article on planning for future wars by a talented retired Army major general.

Let me review, at his challenge, the ten themes Scales set forth about future war in 1999. Mind you, it speaks well of him to predict the future and then stand by them when the future approaches. As he notes, predictions about future war shouldn't be about getting the future right, it is about not getting it too wrong to win.

I'll do them one at a time in separate posts. This is the seventh post. Let me preface this effort with my warning from my 2002 Military Review article (starting on p. 28) about the projected FCS that was the primary weapons system envisioned by those planning efforts:

Barring successfully fielding exotic technologies to make the FCS work, the Army must consider how it will defeat future heavy systems if fighting actual enemies and not merely suppressing disorder becomes its mission once again. The tentative assumptions of 2001 will change by 2025. When they do, the Army will rue its failure today to accept that the wonder tank will not be built.

The seventh theme from 1999 is:

7.Supplement Manned with Unmanned Reconnaissance
Information- and precision-age technologies offer considerable promise as a means for producing unmanned aerial and ground vehicles capable of performing effectively as surrogates for manned tactical reconnaissance.

This theme has definitely come to pass, perhaps faster than expected under the pressure of the needs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While unmanned systems have long been subjects of my blogging, I can't say I have really focused on this theme. But I have kind of assumed it. I won't link to my posts about unmanned systems because they are tangential to the theme of recon.

One aspect that I've put more focus on is a manned/unmanned blending rather than a pairing of separate manned and unmanned systems. That pairing is definitely a thing. But blending via "reachback" technology the two systems in single fighting platforms is a path to consider, too.

There is one aspect of this type of persistent reconnaissance that does disturb me, however:

How do we get our military to win when human rights groups might get a hold of tapes [NOTE: "recordings" rather than literal "tapes"] that show fatal mistakes and even isolated crimes?

We want our troops to fight clean but when even a good war like World War II would be flyspecked in our day, how do we deal with all this recorded material and how do we bring our troops home with their heads held high over a war well fought and won?

I don't have any answers at the moment, but we need to think about how we will treat our soldiers when their every step in an inherently chaotic environment is scrutinized for errors or wrongdoing. Perhaps years after the events.

If we don't, our military won't fight for us. It will kill--such as in Kosovo when we face inferior enemies unable to strain our capabilities--but will it fight and struggle in a tough fight?

That isn't all that clear to me.

It still isn't clear to me. But the combination of manned and unmanned surveillance has certainly arrived, making it important to consider how we treat all that data about how our troops are fighting the battles we send them to win.

Theme six is here.