Achilles’ Heel – over-Reliance on Technology Essay Example
Achilles’ Heel – over-Reliance on Technology Essay Example

Achilles’ Heel – over-Reliance on Technology Essay Example

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  • Published: December 31, 2017
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The U.S. Military has always played a significant role in conflicts and wars, but it has also been instrumental in driving technological advancements. In the past few decades, the American government has allocated substantial funds towards research and development (R&D) centers to ensure technological superiority, which is crucial for future wars. This commitment to R&D did not diminish even after the Soviet Union dissolved during the Cold War.

In 2008, the USA allocated around 12% of their defense budget ($75 out of $623 billion) to "research, development, testing, and evaluations." In contrast, the combined spending on R&D by China, Russia, France, Israel, and the United Kingdom in 2004 was less than $17. The first Gulf War in 1991 demonstrated the superiority of American military technology compared to that of their Cold War era adversaries. Moreover, this war acted a


s a catalyst for the so-called Revolution in Military Affairs (ARM), which continues to influence the strategy of the American army.

The objective of this essay is to discuss the origin of American military dominance and examine its potential weaknesses through historical case studies. It also investigates if the United States' dependence on technology could pose a vulnerability in the 21st century. Achieving this goal was significant for the U.S. before the ARM emerged.

During Donald Rumbled's term as Secretary of Defense, military thinkers such as retired admirals William Owens and Arthur Casebooks observed that the changing rules of the information age necessitated changes in the military sector. They advocated for applying principles from the modern economy to the military. In 1996, the Joint Chiefs of Staff introduced "Joint Vision 2010", which aimed to achieve "informatio

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prosperity" - continuously collecting, processing, and distributing information while hindering the adversary's ability to do so. Another significant contribution to the military transformation program came in 1999 with David S. Alberta and John J. Garrets' work on "Network Centric Warfare". This system emphasized that victory in war relied on rapidly producing and transporting concentrated army groups to critical points of enemy offense, similar to how success in business depended on swift production and shipment of products.

During the industrial revolution in the 19th century, an example of implementing this strategy can be seen in the Prussian victories over Austria in 1866 and France in 1871. Bismarck's armies defeated their enemies by utilizing a well-developed command structure and efficient railroad system. This allowed them to mobilize and move soldiers faster than their opponents. In today's business world, success depends on the rapid acquisition and dissemination of information influenced by the information revolution. Therefore, the authors of "Network" emphasize its importance.

"Centric Warfare" theory emphasizes the importance of gaining precise knowledge about the enemy in order to achieve victory in post-industrial warfare. With the help of current technology, it is now possible to target crucial points in the enemy's forces from long distances, eliminating the need for large armies. Accumulating such massive forces can be hazardous due to the destructive power of modern weapons. Instead, a fire platform positioned 600 miles away from the enemy can launch precision-guided munitions (PEG) to effectively neutralize their military forces.

During Donald Rumsfeld's tenure as Secretary of Defense, the main goal was to implement the concept of "Network Centric Warfare", which was first showcased in the Second Gulf War in 2003

[6]. The key difference between the First and Second Gulf Wars was the enhancement of real-time communication systems between military units and their commanders. Units like the 111th Signal Brigade played a vital role in connecting soldiers on the ground with higher levels of command, including the White House.

Soldiers of the Brigade were in charge of ensuring that every unit maintained a connection with the central command during the assault on Baghdad's occupying Satellite Park. This camp was located in Kuwait, about 75 miles from the Iraqi border, and had numerous satellite dishes. In 2003, the 1 lath Signal Brigade was responsible for overseeing the flow of communication for the entire Army, which consisted of five networks. The regular practice of checking the status of communication nodes within the fighting units was disrupted whenever one of the icons representing them changed from green to red.

The main task of the unit in these cases was to deliver reserve transmitters to the front line. In the Revolution in Military Affairs, it is important for every soldier to have access to the Global Command and Control System (CSS). Referred to as "Geeks" by common soldiers, this system tracks the position of every friendly soldier, vehicle, plane, or ship worldwide and displays it on a digital map. Additionally, enemy positions can also be viewed on the system.

During the operation "Iraqi Freedom," the CSS infiltrated Spinner, the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network. Spinner consists of 65 servers located in Connect (Central Command) near the capital city of Qatar - Dada. It operates similarly to the public Internet but is not directly connected to the World Wide Web

for security reasons. Using CSS, soldiers were able to access the "Warranting Web" portal, which provides valuable resources such as battle plans, maps, records, and online chats.

The platform unit engaged in a fight with the enemy can now send information about the struggle to intelligence, Pentagon, or even the White House and receive orders back through the nearest Tactical Operations Center. This information network revolutionized military unit movements in Iraq. In the operation "Desert Storm" in 1991, coalition forces formed a wedge that cleared the area ahead of them.

The formation designed for armored divisions before the Second World War allowed units to work closely together and receive help from neighboring divisions. Modern technology enabled units to track each other without visual contact, allowing for a spread "swarm" formation on the battlefield. This formation offers several advantages, including preventing the enemy from predicting American forces' plans and positions, and making it impossible to concentrate their forces at crucial defense points.

Units formed in the "swarm" formation covered a larger area and effectively localized enemy forces. After engaging with the enemy, they would inform the Central Command through the Tactical Operations Center (TCO) or Microsoft Chat of their CSS. Connect or Pentagon experts would then strategize the most effective way to destroy the identified targets. The "swarm" formation allowed units to move faster, eliminating the need for a wedge formation that wastes resources. This style of fighting also reduces war costs. Donald Rumbled, who came from the business community, emphasized cost reduction during his tenure at the Pentagon. Lowering costs became one of the Remorseful goals. The "swarm" tactics allowed for achieving objectives with fewer

troops and less equipment, as units could be strategically deployed against heavily fortified enemy positions. Additionally, investing in precision guided weapons (Pegs) appeared to be a wise choice.

It may be surprising that a "smart" bomb costs more than an ordinary bomb, but it is able to eliminate a target with just one precise hit. In the past, dozens of bombs were needed to achieve a similar level of destruction. While this point may be debatable, "smart bombs" offer many advantages. Firstly, they are a uniquely American weapon. Designed as a killing machine, they are also viewed as a means to save lives or, more accurately, to prevent unnecessary casualties - something that the American public prefers to avoid.

The safety of American pilots and the prevention of widespread destruction are ensured through the use of precise bombing techniques. Unlike the indiscriminate "carpet" bombings seen in World War II, this targeted approach prevents entire cities from disappearing when only specific targets need to be destroyed. Moreover, compared to other countries, the United States holds a significant advantage in its ability to identify and strike multiple targets, thus giving Americans their strongest competitive edge.

According to the Remorseful economical approach, both the army and other enterprises should prioritize excellence and efficiency while avoiding redundancy. The strategy emphasizes the American specialty in identifying and attacking targets from long distances with their Pegs. As a result, Rumbled initiated homogeneities within his services, excluding units that lack this capability. The "Crusader" artillery system was the first casualty of this Remorseful policy.

The Pentagon and the Israel Defense Forces (DID) both concluded that the tasks of ground artillery

can also be performed by the air force. This led to the cancellation of a project. Before 1973, the Israeli command believed that future wars with Arab countries would be similar to past conflicts. The victory in the "Six Days War" of 1967 boosted Israeli confidence and provided them with a recipe for success in future wars.

During the war in 1967, victory was primarily achieved through superior air power. As a result, the DIF prioritized further development of this service over other aspects like field artillery. However, in 1973, Israeli decision makers were surprised to find that their opponents had implemented an extremely effective air defense system. Consequently, the Israeli Air Forces were unable to fulfill their role of providing close air support as a substitute for artillery. This, combined with other factors like underestimating the enemy, brought Israel dangerously close to destruction. There have been other instances in history where relying too heavily on one branch of the military has resulted in disastrous consequences [11].

Considering my country of origin, one prominent example that comes to mind is the battle of Churchill in 1605. While not widely known by military historians, this conflict highlights various situations in which a theoretically superior force became the victim of its own advantages. Located in what is today Assails, Latvia, the battle of Churchill marked a significant turning point in the first war (1600-1611) between Sweden and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for control over the Duchy of Loving (now comprising Latvia, Loving, and Estonia).

The new model Swedish army, which was a typical example of the 17th century West European military, was led by King Charles IX himself.

They were eager to destroy the much smaller Polish forces before their ranks could rise. The Swedish army consisted of 10,800 soldiers and followed the structure of the Renaissance era. Approximately 80% of the army was infantry, with two-thirds armed with muskets and the rest with pikes. The remaining soldiers made up a small cavalry contingent. In contrast, the Polish-Lithuanian army relied mainly on mounted soldiers, and their armored cavalry known as "winged hussars" were still considered the decisive tactical maneuver.

On September 25, 1605, the Swedish forces suffered a devastating defeat against the Polish and Lithuanian forces. In just 20 to 30 minutes, the Swedes were completely wiped out, losing between 50 to 75% of their base strength. Despite being outnumbered three to one, the Polish and Lithuanian armies only had approximately 100 casualties and 200 wounded. The victory was attributed to Karol Chickweed, the skilled Polish commander who effectively exploited the weaknesses of the Swedish army. These weaknesses included disparities in forces, excessive reliance on technology, and overconfidence.
In the16th century, Western European armies transitioned away from heavy armored knights towards infantry units armed with pikes and muskets. This marked the end of an era known as "age of chivalry." Over time, significant battles such as Mortgager (1313), Lapped (1339), Secrecy (1346), Cincture (1415), Raven (1512), and Via (1525) gradually diminished the significance of cavalry. By the early 17th century, mounted soldiers primarily served for reconnaissance purposes and protecting infantry blocks from enemy horsemen.

The task required a typical western cavalryman to ride a heavy, powerful, yet slow horse and depend on pistols as their main weapon. The army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth seemed

outdated to the soldiers and commanders of the Swedish army, which consisted of German, Dutch, and Scottish mercenaries. Two-thirds of this army comprised armored hussars who formed the majority of the cavalry.

Despite their noble background, the soldiers in question differed significantly from medieval knights. Firstly, they were highly skilled and trained soldiers who devoted their lives to honing their military expertise on horseback. Secondly, the Polish "winged" hussars were not relics of the medieval period but rather a modern formation. They derived from Hungarian or Serbian mercenary "hussars," medium cavalry units that specialized in employing the "hit and run" tactic, commonly used during this era.

The European frontier with the Turkish Ottoman Empire required the soldiers to adapt and become uniform in order to face various opponents. Since the 16th century, these opponents included Russians, Western European mercenaries, Mongols, Asiatic nomad tribes, and Cossacks. As a result of these struggles, a universal soldier emerged armed with a lance, sword, saber, pistols, matchlock, and sometimes even a bow and arrows. They were also protected by body armor and rode on specially bred warhorses. Combining the maneuverability of light cavalry with the power of medieval knights, the hussar became a formidable force.

The "Winged" hussars stood out from other units by adorning their horses' saddles with wings made of eagle or ostrich feathers, as well as covering their armor with wild animal furs. This striking appearance, combined with the unique sound produced by the long flags on their lances, instilled fear in the enemy's horses. Perhaps this is why they easily defeated Swedish riders at Churchill.

During the "Thirty Years War," Swedish horsemen, although outnumbered and unable

to effectively fight the enemy, who excelled in close combat rather than firefight, were unable to prevent the Poles from outflanking them. As a result, they struck the Swedish infantry formations from behind, causing panic to spread throughout Charles IX army. This event, referred to as the "Churchill disaster" in Sweden, led to changes in the Swedish military strategy. Gustavo Adolph's forces, which had performed exceptionally well during the war, underwent a transformation that increased the importance of cavalry in the army and altered their utilization tactics.

The second Swedish mistake at Churchill occurred due to their excessive confidence in musket fire tactics. The decline of heavily armored knights in the Western region happened when valor units weakened by gunfire failed to penetrate the wall of infantry pikes. Consequently, the outcome of typical battles in Western Europe was determined by those who could shoot faster, more precisely, and continuously at their opponents before entering into close combat. This led to a rise in the number of musketeers while the number of hand-to-hand fighters decreased.

In 1605, Swedish musketeers were accustomed to the speed of marching infantry. They could only manage to shoot a single volley at fast approaching Polish and Lithuanian riders before taking cover among the advancing cavalry. This was possible mainly because the hussars, despite being highly skilled horsemen, charged in a spread formation and consolidated their ranks just before engaging the enemy. Moreover, the firearms technology of the 17th century was not very reliable, and prior to the battle, their guns were exposed to rain, making wet gunpowder significantly less effective compared to dry gunpowder.

In addition to these factors, the presence

of typical human reactions, such as extreme stress experienced by the shooters facing the charging cavalry, and the low number of casualties among Chickweed's soldiers (with only 13 hussars among the 100 killed), are not surprising. Military men from Western Europe knew how to handle the enemy's cavalry but were unprepared to fight against such a large number of horsemen. This problem, the lack of sufficient countermeasures, could also be a weakness for current American forces.

During the "Millennium Challenge 2002" war game, the American adversary team "Red" sank 16 American ships in the Persian Gulf using their land-to-sea rockets. These rockets had 20,000 men on board. Despite possessing the countermeasure system "Aegis," which was designed to defend against such rockets, the U.S. Navy was overwhelmed by the sheer number of rockets fired by the "Reds." However, even after this defeat, Americans still maintained faith in their system. It is important to note that overconfidence can be extremely dangerous in battle. A similar example occurred at the victory at Churchill when Swedish forces believed in their own superiority and occupied a strong defensive position on a hill. They abandoned this position when Polish-Lithuanian forces began retreating - a feint that led Charles IX to pursue Chickweed's army. Unfortunately for the Swedes, this move exposed them to attacks from Hussars who were able to strike back successfully against an unprotected enemy. This belief in invincibility appears to be one of the main flaws among modern American commanders.

Despite the potential weaknesses in the American war winning strategy, it is crucial to acknowledge the benefits resulting from the Revolution in Military Affairs. The strategy employed by America

demonstrated great success in Iraq, largely due to the advantageous desert landscape that offered expansive flat land and clear weather, effectively showcasing American equipment superiority. However, these favorable conditions may not be applicable in other environments like the Afghan mountains or jungle regions, which have traditionally presented challenges for American forces since the Vietnam war.

The existence of a conventional army with a specific structure and tactics used to be the primary American opponent, making it susceptible to exploitation due to their dominance in the information realm. However, the modern world has revealed that the potential American enemy may not necessarily be another country, but rather an insurgent group or an international crime organization. Such an enemy is extremely hard to trace and their actions are unpredictable. Additionally, the American army heavily relies on information technology, which is highly vulnerable and prone to frequent failures even during times of peace.

The Army's servers could be vulnerable to hacker attacks, as evidenced by the 22,144 attacks on the Department of Defense's unclassified systems reported in 1999. Additionally, these servers can also experience failures due to factors such as network issues, as seen when the National Security Agency headquarters were shut down for three days in January 2000. These critical issues can be remedied using commercial tools that cost less than $4000. The use of public telecommunication networks and commercial software in military operations can also pose similar problems. Microsoft, for instance, provides a significant number of systems that are used, including the mentioned chats.

The main role of the help desk at the Joint Operational Command is to consult with the Microsoft online help in case

of any problems [5]. It is possible that hackers can use this widely accessible knowledge to disrupt the functioning of this software. Even a highly secure network is not immune to human errors and actions of enemies, who can easily blend into the multicultural society of the United States. The current problem in the US is the excessive reliance on technology and specialization in digital-based strategies. Similar to how Swedes in the 17th century believed that their adversaries would follow their rules in battle, American decision makers assume that future enemies will adhere to American strategies. However, problems may arise when adversaries use different, asymmetric methods, such as launching a cavalry charge instead of engaging in a musket fight. Symmetry, in this context, involves avoiding the enemy's strengths and targeting their weaknesses.

Potential enemy countermeasures may not only involve attempting to deprive Americans of support in information technology, but also exploiting institutional impediments within the USA. The American political system, like most democratic regimes, emphasizes the power of civilian government over the military. Consequently, civilians may be more vulnerable targets than military personnel. [16] Notably, two major defeats experienced by the United States in Vietnam and Somalia were not due to military issues, but rather stemmed from a loss of public opinion support for the wars.

Currently, the "CNN effect" can be utilized to undermine public support for war in democratic nations. This was evident during the intervention in Somalia in 1993 when clan leader Mohammed Aided won the information war against the UN. Television broadcasts showing the corpses of killed marines being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu swayed public opinion, resulting in the

withdrawal of the USA from Somalia. Despite suffering significant losses (Aided lost at least 15 men for each killed marine, amounting to one third of his force), the power of public opinion forced the retreat. Historical examples, such as France during the Revolution and Napoleonic period, also demonstrate that countries that introduce new methods of combat often face defeat by enemies that adapt and excel in these methods. France's ability to mobilize vast numbers of society into their Army was a significant advantage but was soon replicated by other nations like Russia, ultimately contributing to Napoleon's downfall.

The key element behind Prussia's triumphs in the 19th century was the advancement of their railroad system and the implementation of mass manipulation techniques. However, both France and Russia quickly adopted these strategies, which prevented the German Empire from achieving a swift victory in 1914. Consequently, Germany struggled with resource and manpower shortages.

The victory of the Soviet Union in the eastern front of the Second World War can be attributed not only to its vast Red Army and resources, even during their defeats in 1941. It was primarily due to substantial investments in Research and Development. Although the USA appears to have outspent other nations on advanced technologies, others benefit from access to commercially available American military technologies, enabling them to bypass similar development and modernization processes.

The military equipment utilized by Americans, including planes like the F-14, 15, 16, HA-18 and stealth bombers F-117 and 8-2, tank destroyer A-10, Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, as well as the M-1 Abrams tank, were designed in the past. These combat machines were developed due to the influence of

a formidable opponent - the Soviet Union.

Due to the potential war with the Soviets, the American military developed weapons that were designed to be comparable to those of Russia. The imminent threat of war made it easy to convince the public to allocate their tax dollars towards military purposes. However, the lack of a clear adversary poses a significant challenge for American commanders today. It is difficult to shape a field army to combat an invisible opponent like Al-Qaeda or insurgent groups. Additionally, opponents such as China possess nuclear weapons, making them incompatible with conventional forces.

The American military faces a threat from rogue countries due to their limited access to resources and technology. These countries may be underestimated, as winning battles does not ensure victory in war. Political and military aspects are both important in armed conflict, and relying solely on technology is not guaranteed for success. Therefore, IT could play a crucial role as the "Managing line" of the 21st century. American adversaries can potentially exploit weaknesses like the lack of public support for war and overcome America's technological advantage.

The initial leadership of France instilled a sense of invincibility in the country, causing them to depend heavily on this aspect in their strategy. Consequently, the French army remained entrenched in their fortified positions and missed the ideal chance to defeat the Third Reich through offensive action in 1939. Conversely, the United States faces a potential problem that is quite the opposite. The military doctrine of the USA highlights the significance of preemptive attack for safeguarding national security. This belief arises from an unwavering trust in their technological dominance, but it has

the potential to result in a harsh failure.

Society cannot view both wars and power solutions as safe games due to their inherent risks. Power solutions should be seen as failures, at times inevitable, rather than effective methods of diplomacy. In summary, the American military holds unparalleled technological superiority globally. Despite the transparency of American methods, potential adversaries lag behind in the digital arms race. It is essential to note that many of the Pentagon's new projects are classified as top secret. The American army can be likened to the Spartan phalanx at Thermopile, overpowering any opposition that dares to confront it directly.

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