Category Archives: Military

SOCNET discussion on miltary and ethics (2 polls)

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Filed under ethics, higher education, Military, Research, Scholars, Social Networks

Meanwhile, war in Pakistan

Great.

Pakistani Troops, Tribesmen Fire On US Helicopters
Pakistani troops and tribesmen opened fire on two U.S. helicopters that crossed into the country from neighboring Afghanistan, intelligence officials said Monday.

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Filed under Military, Politics, Power, Activism, Terrorism

Amazing Adam Smith Quotation

Glenn Greenwald digs up this real gem from Adam Smith.

 In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them, scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies . . . .

They are commonly dissatisfied with the return of peace, which puts an end to their amusement, and to a thousand visionary hopes of conquest and national glory from a longer continuance of the war.

I joke with friends about what its like to be living during the apex and fall of the empire.   Especially when you consider how much our army looks like a mercenary army between private contractors and the growth of citizen-seeking legal aliens.  Machaivelli had something to say about what happens to the prince who relies on mercenaries.

This also happens to remind me of the admonishments the younger Holmes had for his father in their civil war correspondence.  Been reading that in Louis Menand’s the Metaphysical Club. The younger one basically keeps telling Pa to lay off about how the war should be fought and that poorly fought wars, even for a good cause, are still major cluster fucks.  Well, I’m paraphrasing.

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Filed under Great Quotations, Military, Politics, Power, Activism, Scholars

Army Social Scientists Calm Afghanistan, Make Enemies at Home

Tanks again to Valdis Krebs for pushing this out to SOCNET.

Army Social Scientists Calm Afghanistan, Make Enemies at Home
Each team is getting a half-dozen laptops, a satellite dish and software for social network analysis, so they can diagram how all of the important players in an area are connected. Digital timelines will mark key cultural and political events. Mapmaking programs will plot out the economic, ethnic and tribal landscape.

I wonder what this history of the US military is in terms of using social scientists.  I remember one of my grad school professors, Steve Nock, talked about how some of the early advance in statistics and social surveys grew out of studies of morale in WWII.  What happened in Viet Nam?  Were their cultural or social scientists there?  Why is the military resistant to this kind of expertise?  Because it may humanize potential enemies?  But don’t effective commanders at the ground level become amateur social scientists anyway?

What are the ethical concerns about using this technology for war making?  I recall the American Psychological Associations’s controversy over the role of psychologists in detainees, interrogation, and torture.  For story, here.  For APA controversy, here.

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Filed under ethics, Military, national security, policy, Social Networks, Torture

Isaeli Army frowns on Dungeons and Dragons

I guess geeks and dorks can’t be trusted with state secrets.   Do they ask them if they read novels, do musical theater, or attend religious services that suppose a mystical and intangible diety with the ability to control weather and make planets?

Army frowns on Dungeons and Dragons – Israel News, Ynetnews
Does the Israel Defense Forces believe incoming recruits and soldiers who play Dungeons and Dragons are unfit for elite units? Ynet has learned that 18-year-olds who tell recruiters they play the popular fantasy game are automatically given low security clearance.

“They’re detached from reality and suscepitble to influence,” the army says.

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Filed under Gaming, intelligence-services, Military, policy, Politics, Power, Activism

Divide and rule – America’s plan for Baghdad and the role of integration

An editorial piece in the left-leaning Independent in the UK documents a new plan for security in Baghdad that will have at least 9 of the 30 districts walled off, gated, with US-Iraqi joint forces controlling security within and between them. ID cards will be issued for each resident, and will be necessary to enter or leave. One of the possibilities within these gated communities is organizational integration of military and civiilan activities. The argument is based on a a reading of the new army Field Manual on counter-insurgency which:

While not specifically advocating the “gated communities” campaign, one of its principles is the unification of civilian and military activities, citing “civil operations and revolutionary development support teams” in South Vietnam, assistance to Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq in 1991 and the “provincial reconstruction teams” in Afghanistan –

This is a cross-fuctional integration. Why would it be a good design? If the task needs of these units or teams require the sharing of tacit infomration, if they have to jointly solve problems with uncertain or unknown solutions, if innovation is a priority. What are other reasons to pursue cross-functional structure?

Why would it be a poor design? Will the effectiveness of both be compromised by being joined? The author suggests that it is not as similar organizational designs failed for the French in Algeria and the Americans in Vietnam. I don’t know the specific history of these, but it is easy to see how the desire to be open and engage with people for civilian projects would be a t odds with the security and fighting concerns of the military.

There is a larger question, hard to divorce from our own domestic politics, of whether the larger gated community idea would work. But, it represents a kind of differentiation of civilian authority and space. Would this also decentralize decision-making for military adn police forces? For various insurgent groups?


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Filed under Iraq, Military, Org Design