|About the Book|
This collection of articles from The Economist was first published in 2011. The content is drawn over the few years previous so is heavily influenced by terrorism and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Overall, it is fulsome review of the current workings and future capabilities in warfare and intelligence. If anything has permeated the publics consciousness regarding modern warfare it is the use of drones and cyber warfare. The news is replete with mentions of these but there is so much more going on, including:- wearable systems within combat uniforms that gather intelligence- actual ray guns that detonate unexploded ordnance- military bases on the ocean that fit together and come apart based on need- liquid armour that arranges itself at point of impact- using rubber that steel tracks on military vehicles to reduce wear and tear- smaller and more accurate munitionsWhat makes the investment in these technologies so amazing is they are a responses to unsophisticated enemy tactics. RPGs, IEDs, and AK47s have inflicted the most casualties on Western nation forces in past 15 years, yet the response resembles the fodder of Buck Rogers, Star Trek and Star Wars.Still it is the ground pounders that turn the tide in most battles and they need help. That is why the topic of camouflage resonates. Software now designs patterns that incorporates neuroscientists understanding of human vision. These take into account reflective and light-absorbing properties for most conditions. The Canadian Armed Forces Canadian Temperate Weight digital camouflage pattern, or CADPAT was first introduced in 1996, this pattern is often called relish. It employs small squares of colour or pixels deemed harder to see. This did not stop the critique of Canadas initial deployment of troops to Afghanistan in this highly green battle dress given the beige environment they fought in. Since that time, Canada has improved the pattern so that observers must be 40% closer than they would have to have been in 2000.The subjects within Munitions of the mind or psychological warfare has the goal of getting the enemy to surrender and reduce casualties. Von Clausewitz put this as, compel our enemy to do our will. This leads the book to military intelligence and the desire to make every soldier a sensor that not only kills and conquers but gathers information at every turn. Then this work turns to spy craft. As the book states, The net is closing around old-fashioned secret-service methods.Historians have pointed out that so many of the technological advances society enjoys are due to wars. Military conflicts result in significant investments. One of the more instructive articles in the book covers how militaries are now learning from and employing technologies from business. What we call social media has lessons for how terrorist cells are organized and operate.For centuries, military theorists and professionals have pursued more brain, less brawn. History shows that even the smartest plays can be trumped by passion and persistence (remember Vietnam). Even with all of this neat gadgetry, there is vulnerability that the most modern nations cannot overcome and it has proven itself in the committed suicide bomber, the ubiquitous AK-47, and the sinister improvised explosive device.