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Using Technology Against Us

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 28 Jan 2006 8:00    Onderwerp: Using Technology Against Us Reageer met quote

Contrary to popular perception, the machine gun did not doom the Horse Cavalry in World War One. For years after the "war to end all wars" and up until WW2, mounted forces were still a vital part of most world militaries. It was mechanization that finally superseded them, first in the British Army and in America after the outbreak of war. The automobile finally did what the longbow, musket, and rifle failed to do. Yet in more remote regions of the planet where roads are sparse, the horse is still a vital part of warfare, as proven recently in Afghanistan.

Though the airplane relegated the battleship to 2nd rank after Pearl Harbor, its big guns were still needed. Actually there were more battleships vs. battleship encounters than carrier fights during the fight against the Axis. America produced 10 new fast battleships after December 7, 1941, though 7 were cancelled in 1943. Most were eventually discarded after the war, though the excellent Iowas were brought out occasionally during Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars for the still vital role of shore bombardment. All were decommissioned again by the early 90s, probably for the last time, not because they weren't needed, but because of excessive cost and crew requirements.

Occasionally a super-weapon comes along that seems unstoppable. The longbow that defeated the French knights at the Battle of Crecy in 1346 was one, and later the machine gun, which mowed down infantry in the tens of thousands during the Great War of 1914-1918 and imposed a grueling battle of attrition. Yet the tank easily swarmed over the trenches and bypassed the guns, restoring mobility to the battlefield. Later, anti-tank guns and aircraft countered the tank. Then came the A-bomb, the ultimate super-weapon that seemed to doom all navies and armies. Yet war is still with us.

The unstoppable weapon of today is the stealth bomber, as proved in Desert Storm and afterwards, which can pierce heavily defended air space and unleash its destructive payload. Stealth technology has made America the world's last super-power, yet one of the worlds most savage and unsophisticated powers has managed to challenge us. Terrorists, who have no country to invade or cities to bomb, or navies to sink has still managed to overcome our most sophisticated arms, causing us to adapt to their strategy.

Terrorists use our technology against us by turning an automobile, an airliner, or a seemingly innocent pedestrian as a weapon of mass destruction. It is the old tactic of the kamikaze, the suicide bomber; usually a last act of desperation. Nevertheless our Al Qaeda enemy, boosted by religious fervor, has turned it into an effective weapon of war.

With the dramatic decline of manufacturing in the US since 1980, our military may have little choice but to depend on high-tech armaments for our defense. More often, though, technology is becoming accessible to our enemies, especially through the internet where even satellite maps can be downloaded. A better strategy for the future may be combining high-tech with easy to build and off-the-shelf platforms. This has been successfully applied to such vehicles as the Stryker LAV, used effectively in Iraq, as well as the venerable B-52 bomber, soon to be 60 years old.

Using this plan as a rule and with a nod to our enemies, wheeled vehicles become tanks and infantry carriers, commercially built jets could become precision bombers, reconnaissance planes, troop transports and so on. A merchant vessel design, like the Liberty Ships off Word War 2 fame, could be mass produced as aircraft carriers, missile launchers, amphibious ships, and supply vessels.

America should continue to embrace new ideas to stay one step ahead of our enemies, but always with the understanding that the Principles of War remain the same. Just because some technology may be old, doesnt mean it's out of date, or can't be updated for a new era of warfare.'

Mike Burleson is a regular columnist with Sea Classics magazine and an advocate of Military Reform. He resides in historic Charleston, SC.
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