July 07, 2004

Technologizing the Sys Admin Force

Thomas Barnett's blog is back but comments are not enabled (their reworking the thing on the fly). I have a great deal of respect for his work on rule sets and the Core/Gap but sometimes I just flat out disagree with him. A recent article on military reform is a case in point.

He's right that big changes are coming in the military in order to enhance the ability of the US military to do occupations. It's pretty clear that nobody is happy with our current abilities. Where he goes wrong is in saying that "you cannot technologize your way out of that problem set: it simply requires significant numbers of well-trained troops." It is not an either/or situation. In fact, the problem of occupation is, to a great extent, a problem of information. Who are the bad guys, who are the good guys, who are the waverers, the persuadable who have to be both courted and monitored? These are all questions that need answers in any occupation. They are also questions that can be answered better/quicker/cheaper with better technology.

More boots on the ground also don't necessarily mean american boots. Cheap technology also enhances the ability to interoperate by enabling foreign soldiers to be on the same systems, whether they buy them before they come to the operation or they are loaned them and learn them on the fly. The PRC has made an art form of substituting men for machines. But men and machines are better still and Moore's law keeps grinding down the entry price to equip even huge amounts of soldiers with effective, efficient technology.

Technology won't do everything but it's a false dichotomy to set it in opposition to boots on the ground as if the two cannot go hand in hand.

Update: nevermind Whether he wrote it wrong or I misunderstood what he wrote, I'll leave to the grammer nazis. Consider the above message, not reflective of Dr. Barnett's ideas and follow the update link for more details.

Posted by TMLutas at July 7, 2004 12:04 PM