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View Full Version : NFT: How Technology failed in the Iraqi War


KC Jones
10-23-2004, 06:44 AM
Found this interesting article disucssing the use of technology in our military and how it sometimes failed to deliver enough information to troops on the ground. BTW, it's still amazing to read how 1 American Battalion held off 3 Iraqi brigades. We really do kick ass - even when the tech stuff doesn't work like it should.

http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/04/11/talbot1104.asp

It's a big article so you'll have to click the link to read the rest.

How Technology Failed in Iraq
The Iraq War was supposed to be a preview of the new U.S. military: a light, swift force that relies as much on sensors and communications networks as on heavy armor and huge numbers. But once the shooting started, technology fell far short of expectations.

The largest counterattack of the Iraq War unfolded in the early-morning hours of April 3, 2003, near a key Euphrates River bridge about 30 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, code-named Objective Peach. The battle was a fairly conventional fight between tanks and other armored vehicles—almost a throwback to an earlier era of war fighting, especially when viewed against the bloody chaos of the subsequent insurgency. Its scale made it the single biggest test to date of the Pentagon’s initial attempts to transform the military into a smaller, smarter, sensor-dependent, networked force.

In theory, the size of the Iraqi attack should have been clear well in advance. U.S. troops were supported by unprecedented technology deployment. During the war, hundreds of aircraft- and satellite-mounted motion sensors, heat detectors, and image and communications eavesdroppers hovered above Iraq. The four armed services coordinated their actions as never before. U.S. commanders in Qatar and Kuwait enjoyed 42 times the bandwidth available to their counterparts in the first Gulf War. High-bandwidth links were set up for intelligence units in the field. A new vehicle-tracking system marked the location of key U.S. fighting units and even allowed text e-mails to reach front-line tanks. This digital firepower convinced many in the Pentagon that the war could be fought with a far smaller force than the one it expected to encounter.

Yet at Objective Peach, Lt. Col. Ernest “Rock” Marcone, a battalion commander with the 69th Armor of the Third Infantry Division, was almost devoid of information about Iraqi strength or position. “I would argue that I was the intelligence-gathering device for my higher headquarters,” Marcone says. His unit was at the very tip of the U.S. Army’s final lunge north toward Baghdad; the marines advanced on a parallel front. Objective Peach offered a direct approach to the Saddam International Airport (since rechristened Baghdad International Airport). “Next to the fall of Baghdad,” says Marcone, “that bridge was the most important piece of terrain in the theater, and no one can tell me what’s defending it. Not how many troops, what units, what tanks, anything. There is zero information getting to me. Someone may have known above me, but the information didn’t get to me on the ground.” Marcone’s men were ambushed repeatedly on the approach to the bridge. But the scale of the intelligence deficit was clear after Marcone took the bridge on April 2.

KC Jones
10-23-2004, 10:05 AM
Had no idea even mentioning Iraq on the main forum was political.

weird - this is just about how we're using technology and how it sometimes isn't working.

Oh well :shrug:

WilliamTheIrish
10-23-2004, 10:22 AM
1,000 troops hels off between 5 and 10k Iraqi troops?

That's unheard of.

WilliamTheIrish
10-23-2004, 10:29 AM
I think the thing to remember is these integrated systems of war are pretty much in their infancy. They'll get much much better as result of these think tanks pulling together this info.

Still, after reading the entire article there is no substitute for training and equipping soldiers so they improvise.

Great article btw.

MadProphetMargin
10-23-2004, 05:22 PM
1,000 troops hels off between 5 and 10k Iraqi troops?

That's unheard of.


No, there is plenty of precedent for this.

MadProphetMargin
10-23-2004, 05:23 PM
I think the thing to remember is these integrated systems of war are pretty much in their infancy. They'll get much much better as result of these think tanks pulling together this info.

Still, after reading the entire article there is no substitute for training and equipping soldiers so they improvise.

Great article btw.


Of course, all the equipment in the world won't do you much good without proper intel, or if it is used incorrectly (as the apaches were in the opening days of the war).

This is what happens when you let the SecDef play general.