Tina K. Russell

May 18, 2008

The Splurge is Working

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 8:36 pm

Gates Says New Arms Must Play Role Now – New York Times

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned the military and its contractors on Tuesday that expensive new conventional weapons must prove their value to current conflicts, marked by insurgency and terrorism, if they are to be included in further Pentagon budgets.

Those comments are certain to alarm advocates of the newest generations of high-tech and high-cost weapons programs, in particular the Future Combat Systems program and the F-22, the Air Force’s advanced warplane. Both have come under scrutiny of Pentagon budget officers questioning whether either will be required for missions similar to the current operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Future Combat Systems, an Army initiative entailing a vast combat-gear overhaul whose total cost could exceed $200 billion, “must continue to demonstrate its value for the types of irregular challenges we will face,” as well as for the full-blown land warfare for which it was designed, Mr. Gates said.

About freaking time. I’ve been really sick of us spending bajillions of dollars to get the most advanced warplanes and destroyers to fight imaginary Soviet squadrons. We’ve had the firepower advantage for a long time, and we’re still losing. A smart war policy stops blowing the taxpayer money on high-tech toys.

…Okay, I should be clear that I’m not dismissing military technology projects in general as “high-tech toys.” I’m talking about advanced warplanes being developed to fight people who use shoulder-mounted grenades. We develop weapons of war as though we were still in an arms race with the Soviet Union, when the people we’re fighting today are using improvised weapons in an assymetrical fight. The kind of tech that seems to be helping in Iraq is the kind of tech that allows troops to communicate and coordinate effectively, given the many hats an Army captain must wear, of commander, confidant, spokesman, diplomat, and all-around crisis manager, in order to hold and secure an area. We have a technology advantage, but the enemy has found ways to leverage our brute force against us. When our resources are stretched to the limit, and political will at home to continue this fight is fading fast, we need to work hard to make every last dollar count. That means not sending the fanciest new bombers into a fight for the ideological soul of the Arab world.

Oh, yes, I’m a pacifist, I don’t like war. But, anyone can appreciate a well-fought war from afar. I’ll be facing its very real consequences soon enough.

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March 21, 2008

On the lack of a way to peace, and what peace is

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 3:01 pm

Pakistan to Try New Approach to Militants – New York Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Faced with a sharp escalation of suicide bombing in urban areas, the leaders of Pakistan’s new coalition government say they will negotiate with the militants believed to be orchestrating the attacks, and would use the military only as a last resort.

“We are dealing with our own people,” said Mr. [governing coalition co-leader Nawaz] Sharif, who was twice Prime Minister of Pakistan in the 1990s. “We will deal with them very sensibly. And when you have a problem in your own family, you don’t kill your own family.

“You sit and talk,” he added. “After all, Britain also got the solution of the problem of Ireland. So what’s the harm in conducting negotiations.”

I was a little skeptical of this, at first. After all, extremists are crazy, you can’t negotiate with them! But, I know we have a parallel in the United States: the drug war, where we tried to fight the problem guns blazing and didn’t realize that every dealer and every user was someone’s brother or sister, someone’s son or daughter, someone’s best friend, and when you target too many people (and assume too many are beyond reason) you turn the entire community against you. This is seen in the unfortunate “Stop Snitching” saga, a cancer that is preventing police from doing their jobs.

(more…)

February 29, 2008

The Blog of War

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tina Russell @ 12:48 pm

Air Force Blocks Access to Many Blogs | Danger Room from Wired.com

I’m rather annoyed by the military treating its own soldiers like children, as in this case, when the Air Force decreed that its officers cannot visit sites with “blog” in the URL. They’re also missing out on an incredibly valuable PR tool by not letting soldiers pen blogs for the public.

I hear the same argument about Wikipedia and about the Internet in general, about how it’s unreliable and you can’t trust it, blah blah blah. We ought to give our students, our soldiers, our citizens the measure of respect they deserve and assume they’ll dig deeper and find the facts, and not just trust anything they find on the Internet. But besides that, blogs and the Internet are a valuable tool for terrorists, but they’re just as valuable for the good guys as well. Using modern technology, soldiers can share important and interesting data and highlight things that are a little strange, a little out of place… the kind of data that can help uncover terrorist plots before they happen.

Obviously, nobody ever gave military top brass too many points for adapting to modern times; just look at Iraq, where we had a perfect plan for fighting a different war. But we can’t keep our soldiers handicapped in the information age while the terrorists are adapting easily and swiftly. Besides that, it just makes me angry to see the military treating our soldiers like babies.

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