Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the United States has not had good intelligence on the whereabouts of terrorist Osama bin Laden in years. Gates made the comment in an interview to be aired Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“April 2004 in Iraq is when the lightbulb really went off for me,” Dempsey, now the four-star commander of the Training and Doctrine Command, said in an interview. “Here we were, an Army that prided itself on being on the absolute leading edge of technology, of being able to see first, understand first, and if necessary shoot first; and suddenly we were facing these simultaneous uprisings that none of us saw coming!
We all had this moment like, ‘Wow, I just didn’t see that coming!’ That didn’t mean we should abandon our constant search for new technology to enable us, but it did suggest that relying too heavily on technology in this era was dangerous. In April 2004 in Iraq, technology was less important than understanding anthropology and sociology and what was on the minds of Iraqis on the street.”
This degree of enthusiasm for RMA did not long survive the first flush of triumph. After several years of grueling guerrilla warfare in the Middle East, US strategists are now re-learning the fundamental lessons of Vietnam: that guerilla war is a political, not merely a military, struggle; that technology, no matter how sophisticated or lethal, cannot defeat a determined popular resistance; that resistance fighters draw their power from the sympathies and co-operation of the people.
REVOLUTIONS NOTORIOUSLY IMPRISON THEIR MOST committed supporters. Intellectually, influential elements within our military are locked inside the cells of the Revolution in Military Affairs–the doctrinal cult of the past decade that preaches that technological leaps will transcend millennia-old realities of warfare.
But what if the optimistic projections are wrong? For a start, as some authors have noted, the technologies in question are likely to be of, at best, very limited use in situations like Haiti, Somalia, or Chechenya, which are the most likely type of conflict we will face for at least the immediate future . Further, these new technologies are likely to be of limited use in urban scenarios, such as Beirut.
Phi Beta Iota: One has to wonder why we are paying $75 billion a year for a national intelligence community that cannot do battlespace monitoring, battlespace management, and least of all, sense-making (past, current, future). Worse yet, national intelligence has been AWOL on the issues that really matter to the White House: restoring financial integrity; unemployment, health care, infrastructure intervention points…the list is not long–the short version of the list is ten threats, twelve policies, eight challengers. The White House has no intelligence (decision support) worthy of the name, the budget, the secrecy, or the angst. What is to be done?