Ran into a fraternity brother last week - hadn't seen him in 39 years. I went Infantry and he went Armor. He told me some things about the Army I left that blew my mind. The key thing - and this is current doctrine that I read up on afterward - is that everything must go through the network and reside on the network.
Thou shalt have no knowledge except that it reside on network.
When he and I were young, we moved companies, battalions and brigades using innacurate maps, compasses, ridiculously crappy radios, code books, and verbose orders. I was proud of my map reading and marksmanship. I was lousy at radio and encryption/decryption. I could give a good order. I enjoyed entrenching and laying down fields of fire. Looking back, I recall we avoided radio communication as inherently insecure. Take away the radios and we infantry were a Civil War army in terms of skills. We had to know stuff. Couldn't outsource that to machines.
In Korea, the mortar section of my weapons platoon resorted to an archaic artifact printed in a thick book - firing tables. Firing tables told us how much charge (gunpowder) we needed to put the round a certain distance downrange. Robust and yet delightfully primitive, I'm sure our ACW predecessors had the same for direct fire cannons.
My predecessor in C-1/17 did not read his firing tables correctly and put rounds on Republic of Korea troops at one point. But his boss, an accomplished schmoozer (and another fraternity brother of mine) got himself awarded a Korean medal after the fact anyway. No network could have produced that outcome.
The point is all that info needed for warfighting now resides on the blessed network. If the network is down, then...
- No maneuver. Online maps not available; GPS kaput
- No coordinated fires on enemy targets
- No lateral communication - lost the IM and email
- No upward communication - lost PowerPoint
- No downward commo - email and IM out
- No resupply - online forms not accessible.
I have a sense that the radio persists in some form or other. So let me be wrong about the network, spectacularly wrong. Write me and cuss me out. But if this is true, then my fraternity brother and I are in a continuum with the armies of the ACW. The modern soldier is something else altogether.
My fraternity brother says that today's junior officer is helpless in calling on indirect fires without a GPS or a laser. That would be amazing except for the story from Benghazi, where an ex-Seal was killed painting a mortar crew with laser (at immense risk to himself) instead of radioing in their coordinates (at no risk to himself).
Whoever gave primacy to the network, lasers, GPS, databased firing tables and other shortcuts has and will have an immense amount of blood on his hands. One wonders how today's army could survive in a non-networked war.