In a 2015 U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center presentation for his book “Doughboys on the Great War: How American Soldiers Viewed Their Military Experience” (available on YouTube), Dr. Edward Gutierrez included an interesting quotation from author Coningsby Dawson, who had served with the Canadian Field Artillery in the area around the Somme for two years from 1916 to the end of the war.
As Dawson saw the Lost Generation meme begin to take hold in the popular imagination through the writings of Dos Passos, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald in the decade after the war, he attempted to fight a rearguard action by insisting the following:
Men get out of the war what they brought to it… Except in rare instances the war did not recreate men; it only made emphatic in them tendencies that had been latent.
It is an interesting observation that gave me pause. I have turned the proposition over in my head many times, both with regard to those with whom I served and to myself. As much I wanted to deny it, I hedged and came down on the side of mostly true, for all the good and bad that implies.
Repurposing Dawson’s statement as a question makes for an illuminating mental exercise when considering the achievements and fates of both historical personalities and fictional characters. Instead of thinking about what “delight of battle… far on the ringing plains of windy Troy” did to Achilles, Hector, and Odysseus, it may be just as worthwhile to explore what each man brought to the war, and how that affected their actions and destinies. What did Benedict Arnold bring to the American Revolution? What did Pierre Bezuhkov and Prince Andrei bring to Borodino? Alvin York and and Desmond Doss to their respective crucibles in the Argonne Forest and Hacksaw Ridge? What did Lieutenant Calley and Hugh Thompson each bring to My Lai?
Dawson’s proposition may be suitable when dealing with the aftermath of war as well. Maybe it is possible to help veterans who are struggling by not only focusing on what they did in war or what it did to them, but by also helping them work through what they brought to it.
John Throckmorton is a business executive who lives with his family north of Atlanta. He was a U.S. Army officer for 20 years.
A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment "Dark Horse," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are escorted by observer controllers from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command after completing field testing of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) Sept. 24, 2018. (U.S. Army/Maj. Carson Petry)
The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.