Monday, June 22, 2009

Mattis on C2

Let's set some foundational truths. General Mattis, USMC is one if not the premier military minds of his generation. I count as an honor that I have worked with him.

He is also the most senior antitransformationalists we have. Here is what I ask of you. Look at your calendar today. Find an hour - if you don't have one eat your lunch at your desk. If that doesn't work, wait until you get home and the 'lil ones are in bed and the honey-do list is done. Get a cup of coffee or tumbler of good single malt, and then watch the video below.

Be in awe. I am. If you are running short of time, go to the 35:00 point.

Before we get to that though, get the Executive Summary about what he will speak of. Once again, General Mattis, USMC finds the right point of vulnerability.
US Marine Corps General James Mattis, head of US Joint Forces Command, cautioned against the military becoming too reliant on technology and command-and-control (C2) systems, which he believes could increase vulnerability.

During a 1 June speech in Washington, Gen Mattis, who also serves as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, called for moderating "our idea that technology is going to solve this human problem called war".
I really wish I could find a full transcript of this speech. Here is the meat of the article behind the firewall;
"War, he said, is primarily "a human endeavor [and] a social problem", so the US military should be careful in assuming what solutions technology might provide because its enemies have a history of avoiding their foe's strengths and exploiting weaknesses.

Overly relying on technical C2 systems and centralized decision making woudl cause the US military to become the "single most vulnerable military in the world", Gen. Mattis warned. Data and communications networks represent a 'single point of failure' that could be attacked, resulting in disabled command structures.
Exactly, hitting on a theme we touch on here on a regular basis, over reliance on technology is a false economy when you actually have to go to war. If you rely too much on the electronic spectrum and don't have a back-up ready to go - you will be defeated.

Here is the CSIS speech. In a word, awe.

Gen. Mattis is a national treasure. There, I said it.

We literally put our nation at Strategic and National risk by putting all our eggs in transformationalist ideas. Fact trumps theory. Lead and steel trump PPT. I cannot think of a person who understands this better, or makes a better argument about this subject, than Gen. Mattis.

On a larger scale, if you want to know the worst case scenario, out on the tail end of the bell curve, where our arrogant faith in non-robust technology and blinkered view about our critical vulnerabilities can go, check out what I am listening to now, William R. Forstchen's One Second After.

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