It can be stated categorically that over-reliance on any one thing is BAD. This point was reinforced and qualified for me when I heard a story about the military brass in the Pentagon getting report after report about new line officer’s (the combat platoon leaders in the field) when stripped of all “electronic gadgets” could not do the most basic of field skills associated with their jobs. Examples included Infantry officers unable to use a map and compass to get their platoon from point A to point B, when the batteries on their GPS unit dies. Another was about artillery officers unable to calculate firing solutions because they lacked the fundamental math skills when their laptops with the applicable software gets “fried” by an EMP blast. In the words of cold war strategist George Kennan: “It is frightening to think the one thing that could possibly send the world into oblivion is one certain power cord jerked from one certain electrical socket at the precise time….”
As a veteran, of course all of this concerned me. But after some reflection, I came to the conclusion that this was a two-fold issue. The first issue is of balance, or rather, imbalance. You see, Technology CAN be a good thing, if it is assimilated within a society or organization (like the military) with a degree of understanding. That understanding being, that TECHNOLOGY is just another TOOL to help us, it is not a replacement for anything, most especially the skill in which you are using the tool for. Example: We use calculators everyday to do math problems quickly. That long multiplication or division or finding the square root of a number is time-consuming if done with pencil and paper, so the TOOL (calculator) helps us with that. It would be idiotic for math teachers to just hand out calculators to their students, explain how to operate them and send them out into the world without first teaching MATH, correct? If that was the case, the student would only be as good as his TOOL! Take that away, and you destroy the usefulness of the students capacity to effect his environment. The same analogy goes for the soldier, but in the soldiers case, it is a much more serious issue, because now we are talking about issues of life and death, both for the individual and for the country in which he is fighting to defend.
The second issue is that of mindset. The fact that fundamental skill’s are not being taught as just that: FUNDAMENTAL but rather as a CONTINGENCY in the event the TOOL breaks down is a prime example of putting “the cart before the horse”. Using the example of being able to use a map and compass properly to navigate should not be an afterthought simple because we live in the era of the $100 GPS unit! This backwards way of thinking has to be done away with if things are to move forward.
This is a wake up call for the CO. “Over reliance” on any type of technology is a weakness, period. Notice I did not say “Reliance” on any kind of technology. As CO’s, Using technology to our advantage for self-defense and survival is a no-brainer. It is when we get to the point that we forget the skill that the technology is helping us with that we get into trouble!
A short list of examples would include:
- Relying too heavily on rangefinders, without knowing how to calculate distance by old fashioned methods.
- Letting “smart scopes” do all the work without knowing how to use Mil’s to calculate holds
- Over-reliance on a GPS without knowing how to use a map and compass
- Not teaching fundamental marksmanship skills with iron sights because of over use of red dot sights
- Not knowing how to make a fire without a lighter. This may seem a bit far fetched, but when you think about it, this is the most basic of ALL survival skills!
The only way that we don’t forget those skills is that we keep them alive and teach them to the next generation, and they repeat the cycle, etc.
Our goal, as the Goal of all of America, must be to never allow our enemies to say about us:
“They are Technology Dependent and as Useless as the Tits on a Boar Hog……..”
Stay Armed, Teach the Fundamentals and Stay Dangerous!