Friday, August 10, 2018

Armadillocon 40, part 2

After a bit of lunch on Sunday, I went to "Once and Future Military SF" at 1300 hours. Moderator William Ledbetter has experience in the defense industry. Panelist David Afsharirad edits the military SF annual from Baen Books.  Lawrence Person writes the Battleswarm blog which is offers more right wing political commentary than military news. Several veterans sat in the audience. All in all, the panel opened doors to further thought and research. I asked them where they get their military news, citing Task & Purpose for myself, but they all agreed that they get their military news from mass media news stories. 

“Take and hold territory is a questionable axiom of military thinking.”

Military themes have long been a staple within science fiction. Autonomous robots for warfare followed stories about airplanes and tanks.  Lawrence Person pointed to a double misunderstanding in how we think about new technology: either it is not in the right place or it is in all places. In other words, for example, he said that an early recommendation for airplanes was to drop shipments of oats for the cavalry. But then came flying cars, and airplanes were everywhere. All technology goes through this, Person said. 

The panelists tossed ideas back and forth. David mentioned autonomous remote drones amd remote control and Lawrence said that the Predator from Kosovo has been retired and replaced by the Reaper. David suggested that we have the right to prevent the future.  Turning to asymmetrical warfare with non-state actors, David recommended The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata.

Ledbetter recommended Jerry Pournelle’s The Strategy of Technology. (Originally written together by Jerry Pournelle and Stefan Thomas Possony, this book has defined the evolution of modern warfare and laid the foundation to US military domination in the late 20th and early 21st century. Formerly required reading at the US War College, the book explains the necessity of technological innovation for the control of strategical and tactical operations since the dawn of war. Like the Art of War this text can be applied to general human systems including the business environment. Application of its principles has led to American hegemony in both the military and economic spheres of influence in our transnational world. It also explains the rise and fall of empires due to the increasing cost of military budgets through technological development and deployment. An issue as critical today as it was in its use during and through the end of the Cold War.” -- Gregory Alan Wingo, Amazon review.)

Everyone agreed that the last war remains the next war in the minds of planners. The fact is that the new targets will be – or are now – the financial sector, satellites, and the power grid.

A question from the audience suggested that we will have even more boots on the ground because autonomous automated support groups can carry supplies to troops. But that is what "Air Cavalry" was invented for and how it was deployed in Vietnam. (See We Were Soldiers Once... and Young  reviewed here.)

The name “Coyote Smith” came up and I found Dr. M.V. “Coyote” Smith on The Space Show website “… a professor of strategic studies at the Air University's eSchool of Graduate Professional Military Education. He retired from active duty in August 2016 while serving as professor of strategic space studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies. Prior to this, he served as the Director of the Center for Strategy and Technology where he led PROJECT BLUE HORIZONS for the Air Force Chief of Staff.  Earlier, he served at the Pentagon as the Chief of “Dream Works,” which was the Future Concepts division of the National Security Space Office where he led the Defense Science Board and directed the Space-Based Solar Power Study.”

“Technology” is a broad word and it led to Ledbetter's mention of NineFox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, the first book in the Machineries of Empire triology. “... The trilogy follows the young infantry captain Kel Cheris and the traitorous general Shuos Jedao in a war among factions of a despotic interstellar empire, whose technology and power is based on the population's faith in the imperial calendar.”

1 comment:

  1. I like to think the very concept of warring nation states is obsolete because value in the modern world, the would-be spoils of war, are hard to steal by armed conflict and because geographic boundaries don't separate groups' interests anymore. It seems like we need to move more toward international policing with rules that spell out how we arrest and try people suspected of organized crime, whether for profit or motivated by extremism.