The military isn't everything. However, we do live in an age where advanced research in prototype upgrades are followed by their mainstream approved versions, and we also use network-centric interfaces that allow for our information eyes to see what some once believed only God could see. And now we run the security risk of insurgencies acquiring similar systems to counteract this omnipotence, which we thought was just ours. It's like were playing a game we know we can win, but the storyline lets the final boss live to fight again. Insurgencies increasingly outmaneuver and find alternate ways to disseminate new advances in technological threats. They regroup and recruit and in their spite they find a way to stay alive and win small victories-- and we ask for more troops to tip that balance.
We may never defeat existing transnational insurgencies, and there's the likelihood that more are coming. But the question still remains: Will this embodiment of our enemy, a social network of transnational actors with momentum -- strengthened by a reactionary and asymmetric form of power -- inevitably subvert our military might in the end? Or, has the US and its allies formed the final shield that cannot be penetrated, and a might that cannot be moved? In a letter to P. W. Singer, which considered the level technology and conflict have reached today, Sina Kashefipour and I raised the common question: Is this the case were an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? He did not reply....
Consider first some of the more recent developments made by the US DoD, which have enhance the superiority of our team. Every day the DoD signs contracts which broaden our technological superiority into additional battlespaces of war. Second, consider these advancements in a big picture, connecting the dots. Recently in July 2009, the DoD purchased advanced technology contracts in virtual modeling and simulation environment (Northrop Grumman), cybersecurity (Booz Allen Hamilton), and robotics (iRobot Corp.). Even more recently, in August 2009, the DoD purchased upgrade advancements in shooter detection systems.
An August 12, 2009 press release of a DoD contract reads: "BBN Technologies Corp., Cambridge, Mass., was awarded on August 10, 2009 a $22,460,000 firm-fixed-priced contract for the procurement of 1,095 Boomerang Generation III Systems and 2,195 vehicle installation kits. Work is to be performed in Cambridge, Mass., with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2010. 1 bid solicited with one bid received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-09-C-M410)." BBN's Booomerang Generation III is part of a shooter detection system that "immediately alerts US Forces to incoming hostile fire and pinpoints the location of the enemy shooter." On September 8, there were "over 6000 Boomerang systems deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, many mounted on Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles." By September, the Boomerang system became more widespread. "BBN has adapted the Boomerang shooter detection technology for soldier-wearable and helicopter applications. The wearable system, Boomerang Warrior, has already been delivered to the US Army though the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, and field testing for the helicopter system is successfully underway."
While browsing through August 7, 2009 DoD contracts on publicintelligence.net, I came across an Alion Science and Technology Corp. "$32,678,765 contract that will provide research to expand technological developments, integration, validation, and program deployment in the areas of intelligent ground system, force protection technology, vehicle electronics and architectures, ground vehicles power&mobility, and ground system survivability." On Alion's website there's a "success story" that briefly describes the training of space warfighters: "Space Air Expeditionary Force students are trained on the actual systems and checklists they will be using in theater to develop tasking orders for satellites, space systems and other mission essential tools. Attendees are exposed to scenario-based, high-fidelity wargame exercises to gain an understanding of war planning, execution and the integration of overall space capabilities." This story about Alion Science signifies the US DoD's interest in fighting future, Ender's Game-like battles (battles fought on a game, where the game's enemy is actually in space and is attacked by your controls. This might be the fifth battlespace in war. Even Admiral McMullen explains a similar story. P. W. Singer, on page 151 in his book Wired For War, wrote, "Admiral Michael McMullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (that is, the man in charge of the entire U.S. military), proudly described how the navy's "Professional Reading" program, which he helped develop to guide his sailors, includes the science fiction novels Starship Troopers and Ender's Game." Though McMullen doesn't say there will be another battlespace in war, it seems obvious and inevitable. Call it what you will, but these two Ender's Game-like coincidences illustrate that our military really wants "to boldly go where no man has gone before." But who doesn't want that? Okay, they're out there. But others it would be cool.
Again, will the game between COINs and insurgencies forever live on, or will it stop? Peace, no peace? Winner, loser, or forever?
Consider from Walter Benjamin's “Theses on the Philosophy of History” that "while facing the past, the Angel is subsequently being driven ‘irresistibly into the future’ by a vicious 'storm'.... [and that] while our society has had objective insight into the past, it is the 'storm' of subjectivity that has 'blown' us beyond the proper understandings of these objective facts." The objective facts are what help us move beyond the problems of our past. The state system is eroding. Private entities are gaining power. Perhaps we need to consider the shifting of paradigms in war. "War is the defining characteristic of the international system. Thus as the state changes war changes, in this case from industrial war to the war amongst the people." Or as this blog illustrates, as war and technological advancement change the state changes.
But, is the case where an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?