US Army Researching Bot Swarms

The US Army Research Agency is funding research into autonomous bot swarms. From the announcement:

The objective of this CRA is to perform enabling basic and applied research to extend the reach, situational awareness, and operational effectiveness of large heterogeneous teams of intelligent systems and Soldiers against dynamic threats in complex and contested environments and provide technical and operational superiority through fast, intelligent, resilient and collaborative behaviors. To achieve this, ARL is requesting proposals that address three key Research Areas (RAs):

RA1: Distributed Intelligence: Establish the theoretical foundations of multi-faceted distributed networked intelligent systems combining autonomous agents, sensors, tactical super-computing, knowledge bases in the tactical cloud, and human experts to acquire and apply knowledge to affect and inform decisions of the collective team.

RA2: Heterogeneous Group Control: Develop theory and algorithms for control of large autonomous teams with varying levels of heterogeneity and modularity across sensing, computing, platforms, and degree of autonomy.

RA3: Adaptive and Resilient Behaviors: Develop theory and experimental methods for heterogeneous teams to carry out tasks under the dynamic and varying conditions in the physical world.

Slashdot thread.

And while we're on the subject, this is an excellent report on AI and national security.

Posted on July 24, 2017 at 6:39 AM • 63 Comments

Comments

Josh RubinJuly 24, 2017 10:05 AM

I liked the Belfer Center AI report, but it neglects psychological warfare. I wish it discussed a current national security threat: Artificial Propaganda.


albertJuly 24, 2017 11:08 AM

@Josh,

The military have their own PSYOPs divisions, so that's obviously irrelevant to military AI research.

So what is 'artificial propaganda'? Is there a 'real propaganda'?

Or is that a joke?

. .. . .. --- ....

mastmakerJuly 24, 2017 12:22 PM

I was thinking more in the lines of autonomous bot swarms posted at every street corner (think junction boxes) and act as first line of responders - the kind that wouldn't shoot or kill, but can restrain or immobilize a perp or assist a victim. I estimated that these bot/swarms can replace about 80% to 90% of the cops, resulting in huge savings to cities.

I don't like bots in military, because (among other issues) they violate Asimov's first law of robotics.

Ross SniderJuly 24, 2017 12:53 PM

@albert

Not in the least! The military is heavily investing in further and better optimization of automated propaganda. It's costly and also slow to run huge call centers with online astroturfers like they do today, supplemented by some bot software.

The more they can push convincing automation of astroturfing and persona managed commentary the more they can edge out opinions that don't align to their military objectives.

I think the Josh meant "Artificial Intelligence supported Propaganda" by "Artificial Propaganda." I agree there's got to be a better portmanteau.

AnuraJuly 24, 2017 1:47 PM

@mastmaker

I don't like bots in military, because (among other issues) they violate Asimov's first law of robotics.

But if you read Asimov a bit more carefully, you would have realized that his point was that robots are going to rise up and kill humanity no matter what you do, and thus we should treat them as killers to begin with and control their information to condition them so we can make sure they only kill enemies of freedom.

Dean WebbJuly 24, 2017 2:05 PM

Reminds me of an essay by Stanislav Lem, can't remember the title right now, in which he describes how swarms of roach-sized bots could be set up to each carry a miniscule part of a nuclear core and assemble it at a remote location, where it could be detonated. The detonation would wipe out the evidence in the bots, of course, so the explosion would be difficult to attribute with certainty.

SwarmsRUsJuly 24, 2017 2:21 PM

"...to extend the reach, situational awareness, and operational effectiveness of large heterogeneous teams of intelligent systems and Soldiers against dynamic threats in complex and contested environments and provide technical and operational superiority through fast, intelligent, resilient and collaborative behaviors."

In simpler terms, develop swarms of drones that support the controlling soldiers with aerial reconnaissance and flying armaments.

Yes that would give the meatheads and their commanders fast, surgical "smart" tools to kill perceived enemies more effectively.

Interesting that they capitalize "Soldiers" above and never mention their targets in human terms.

It may seem like fantasy now but given what the Military is already doing with drones, it's only a matter of time and money. Your tax dollars at work.

If you gloss over their techno-speak jargon and trust them to never decide to categorize you as a "dynamic threat"... well, then hey ho, down the slippery slope we go.

Clive RobinsonJuly 24, 2017 2:40 PM

@ Dean Webb,

... how swarms of roach-sized bots could be set up to each carry a miniscule part of a nuclear core and assemble it at a remote location, where it could be detonated

There have been many stories about robots / automata / unknowing humans being brought together to form a critical mass and bring about destruction / death / defeat.

One involved an automata replacing a secret agent, that warned about other automata carrying parts of some otherwise undetectable parts of a super weapon. The story revolved around the automata manipulating those listening to it to effectively organise a secret science conferance to discuss finding detection methods. It was only at "the last minute" that a scientist realized that the other automata had replaced low level scientists and that the real plan was to wipe out the nations scientists thus leave them critically vulnerable...

I'm sure if you ask @ Wesley Parish nicely he could come up with a variation, as could a number of other authors who lurk on this blog...

Maybe we should ask our host nicely if he should run such a competition, as a refinement of the annual "Movie Plot" competition ;-)

Lucas LecasJuly 24, 2017 3:20 PM

@Anura

    we should treat them as killers to begin with and control their information to condition them so we can make sure they only kill enemies of freedom

The warring robot however must not have intelligence. Otherwise it may realize "who really is the enemy of freedom" and consequently attack its owner.

Clive RobinsonJuly 24, 2017 3:22 PM

@ SwarmsRUs,

It may seem like fantasy now but given what the Military is already doing with drones, it's only a matter of time and money. Your tax dollars at work.

It's very far from fantasy and has been so since the 1970's.

It's not normaly said but nearly all US military development has been about "overwhelming force". With the hidden reasons of "Reduce our body bag count, whilst maximizing the opponents body bag count" to "Keep the folks at home quiet and broadly supportive of the political not military objectives".

The problem with this as should now be clear to by far the majority of real readers of this blog, is that increasingly the enemy is "The folks at home that don't like the political objectives".

It's why so much military equipment is being put in the hands of "Jo Poldunk" sitting "riding shotgun" in the squad car...

What the doughnut munchers have not yet twigged to is that they are actually modern day "Cannon Fodder" or "Grist to the mill" of the political intention.

The political intention is to slowly escalate the arms war between the civilian guard labour and the civilians such that the doughnut munchers become targets either directly via weapons or via the law courts.

This gives the political imperative to reduce doughnut muncher numbers and replace them with AI type drones. This means that the aggravating of the civilian population can increase whilst limiting any court actions (it was the AI malfunctioning due to unknown civilians doing X, Y, or Z excuse).

In reality this will mean that less and less doughnut munchers on the streets and more and more weaponized drones instead. Thus not having cops having fits of conscience when it comes to killing civilians.

So much is in effect self evident on what we can see happening currently.

But let's think what a little bit of well placed "Plausible Deniability" along with some "software errors" will alow to happen.

On the assumption the drones will of course have a number of quite deliberate Command and Control security issues implanted during production. Such that their threat / attack thresholds can be changed when required by those ultra authoritarian followers. They can then ensure there are not just civilian casualties but a way to have other civilans be blaimed because the drone logs show unauthorised tampering with the thresholds etc...

Think of them as low flying Claymore Mines with a guidence / firing system with current IoT security and you get the general idea...

albertJuly 24, 2017 3:44 PM

@Ross,

Barring any disagreement from Josh, I would tend to agree with your term 'AI Propaganda'.

However, in the case of the US military, it's a fools errand. It's not quantity or technique, it's the quality of the material. When one continues to force untenable policies on various sovereign nations, one can hardly expect success. Turning the entire ME into rubble to "eliminate terrorism" only increases it elsewhere.

Of course the M/I Complex is all too happy to spend money on AI research. That's how war-based economy rolls. Make a mess, then spend billions cleaning it up, at our expense of course.
..

@Dean,
Lem's concept would require a vastly different design compared to what we have now. We must work within the limitations of nuclear physics, but I'm not saying it's impossible. We should spend our time and money -eliminating- nuclear weapons instead of 'improving' them.

I've read science fiction that involves nano-bots. Roach-sized is scary, but nano-bots are terrifying. Isn't that exactly where we're heading?
..

@Clive,
As long as swarms communicate by radio, they are vulnerable to jamming, regardless of their susceptibility to hacking. Jam-bots would be ridiculously easy and cheap to build.

In the New Millennium, Pandoras Box has no lid.

--------
"When new technology is created, it will be abused, and in the shortest possible time." - alberts law.

. .. . .. --- ....

AndrewJuly 24, 2017 4:22 PM

At one point I programmed the behavior of a bot in a game who was part of a bot swarm. Nothing like AI at that time but one of the biggest technical fun I ever had. I made them to attack in packs, to use all kind of tricks, to hide behind obstacles etc. Synchronization, communications, development etc all had to be designed at swarm level from a single individual perspective. I can only imagine the fun the developers programming those robots will have.

The AI report is very interesting, I'll add several things:
- China has huge organized datasets, basically they have one billion records of... virtually anything. And they got an wake up call.
- AI will be easy to trick, at least in the beginning. The response to anomalies will have high tolerance and may require particular handling scenarios.
- There is a major thing missing about AI but most likely everybody will talk about it in several weeks / months.
One of the best / most realistic analysis I've ever read related to AI though.


AnuraJuly 24, 2017 5:43 PM

@Clive Robinson, albert

I'm going to get to work on designs for nanobots that crawl through solid concrete, enter rooms, read computer storage, build audio devices, etc. You'll need to nutronium gap your systems.

WinterJuly 25, 2017 1:58 AM

@Clive
"With the hidden reasons of "Reduce our body bag count, whilst maximizing the opponents body bag count" to "Keep the folks at home quiet and broadly supportive of the political not military objectives"."

Currently, the trend is to reduce body bag counts at all sides. In civilized countries*, there is an uproar even when there are many enemies killed. We now have news stories criticizing Iraqi troops for killing unarmed IS POW and civilians in Mosul.

Obligatory Xkcd link:
The three laws of robotics
https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1613:_The_Three_Laws_of_Robotics


*Which might exclude much of the US.

WinterJuly 25, 2017 2:09 AM

@Albert
"However, in the case of the US military, it's a fools errand. It's not quantity or technique, it's the quality of the material."

I think the US military and politics have an utter lack of understanding of the world.

To reiterate an old anecdote from an Israeli intelligence expert. At a talk he once met the US CIA expert on the Egyptian army. That is, the man who was responsible for all intelligence work related to the ruling force in Egypt. He did neither read nor speak Arabic.

It will take decades to get AI good enough to compensate for this utter ignorance of the world.

Essay on the problems of American ignorance of the world
https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2015/03/23/essay-problems-american-ignorance-world

America's Lacking Language Skills
https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/05/filling-americas-language-education-potholes/392876/

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2017 2:32 AM

@ Anura,

You'll need to nutronium gap your systems.

Err no I won't. Your "Evil Genius" setting must be below "11".

Hint, for something to "crawl" from point A to point B, it needs a "surface" to crawl on...

As HAL said,

    Dave, it's your move

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2017 3:11 AM

@ Winter,

Currently, the trend is to reduce body bag counts at all sides. In civilized countries*, there is an uproar even when there are many enemies killed.

Actually that is not true, you only need look at the Syrian conflict as reported in MSM.

If you portray the protaganists in a less than honourable way, then it give the so call "civilized" civilian onlookers an out, via that basic human emotion of "They got what was comming to them", that evrn the Bible portrayed via "The Wrath of God" and "An eye for an eye".

Back in WWI in England they thought they had the way around the "Conscientious Objector" problem by first establishing if the were "believers in the all mighty" or not (if not it was argued they could have no morals). If they identified themselves as believers then they were asked "Do you believe that the blood of Christ washes away all sin?"... If they said yes then they could kill without sin, if no they were obviously lying...

Similar thinking still applies today especially in those of conservative or authoritarian following outlook on life.

The founding fathers knew about the dangers of letting religion get into the managment of the state. Yet when you look at US politics religion forms a very very strong part of the process and has done so for the past couple of centuries.

In the UK "New Labour" under Tony Blair had fairly strong "Catholic" under tones in the thinking, and the reasoning harked back to WWI thinking...

It's very sad that so many humans believe that morals only come from belief in deities. They don't, morals just like law can be more than adequately explained in terms of logic and weighted harms to property, society and individuals.

Anyway enough said on the issue as has often been observed "Don't discuss religion or politics at the dinner table unless you want the knives to fly".

tyrJuly 25, 2017 3:17 AM


@Anura

Asimov worked from the basis of the only
intelligence he was aware of. The three
Laws were inbuilt to avoid the very real
problems he saw with that intelligence.

This is also every control freaks wet
dream to implant into humans the three
laws in some form. Since most morality
begins with a flawed basis by not being
firmly grounded in survival to begin
with most of the systems can't function
in situations of stress. They are the
first useless baggage discarded at that
time. If you examine the civilian level
of casualties and their rise through the
20th century the real thing to fear from
military AI is automating the trend past
the 90% level we are at now.

It isn't just the CIA who are appallingly
ignorant most of USAs folk have apparently
never seen a map. My own personal experience
with the military officer type led me to
believe they weren't even sure which planet
they were on. That was in the days when the
illiteracy rate was much lower too... : ^ ).

The real danger of nano weapons is the lack
of imagination which means they will be a
complete surprise. Like Hans Moravec said
about AI "We won't even know what hit us."

Think about this nano weapon. It floats on
a water surface and makes alcohol out of
the water and CO2 from the air. Aerosoled
onto a major population centers water store
you would shortly be left with nothing to
drink. All invisible until it is too late
to fix.

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2017 3:35 AM

@ Albert,

As long as swarms communicate by radio, they are vulnerable to jamming, regardless of their susceptibility to hacking.

Err not entirely. The designers of Radio Controled aircraft solved that problem back over half a century ago. Their problem was not Loss Of Signal (LOS) by "jamming" but by being "out of range". The solution was either a "noise gate" or "loss of mark timing gate" which then switched the flight control surfaces to a slowly descending spiral.

Modern military drones have something similar, only it is designed like an auto pilot to fly the drone back to base. And presumably do a couple of other things to protect the secrecy of the mission, the airframe and it's sensors etc.

That is on LOS they go into an "autonomous mode", the only question is what the mode is, and I suspect that will be based on the last mode the drone swarm was in. Thus if in "attack mode" they may well continue as any "cease fire" "break off" or recall signal will be jammed.

This "press home the attack" has been Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) just about since man started warfare. In WWII the American Airforce were more than somewhat disliked because they had a "no counterorder" policy in place. Thus if a pilot had been told to bomb a cross roads at some map location, that is what they would do, irrespective of how the ground battle might have changed since the pilot had been mission briefed. It requires quite a bit of training to be a "Forward Air Controler" and whilst some national armed forces put next to no effort in giving the training others put a lot into it across as many personnel as they can.

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2017 3:56 AM

@ Jarda,

And still no success with GMO soldiers with Borg implants?

When I was a lad, the Institute of Electrical Engineers in Savoy Place London held "Christmass Lectures" for those who were at school or further education.

I was at one given by a professor of engineering who had spent a good chunk of his time working on military electronics as it moved from valves, through transistors into IC's that around that time where MSI level with 8bit CPU chips and early analog telephone chips etc.

He related almost as a throw away line why micro electronics were so important to the millitary with,

    The armed forces needed more and more complexity in their systems, and there was only so much weight a soldier could carry. It was suggested at a high level that maybe they needed to make bigger soldiers... But they quickly found that had major downsides, so they went for the miniaturize the electronics option after a while...

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2017 4:30 AM

@ tyt,

It isn't just the CIA who are appallingly ignorant most of USAs folk have apparently never seen a map.

It depends on what you mean by a map.

I used to be an occasional visitor to the USA mainly up near the Canadian border, as I also occasionaly visited Canada.

I had no difficulty in getting "road maps" and "tourist maps" on either side of the border but when it came to maps you need to navigate away from man made environments, that was a different matter entirely. In Canada getting a decent "Survey" map was not difficult even for areas south of the border. However in the US the usuall places you would expect to find such maps like book, camping and outdoor sports stores did not have them and in more than one place the sales assistants had no idea such maps existed. Even their seniors were supprised when I asked for them and said they would have to order it in specially and it would take a week...

Imagine if you will a conversation between me and a Canadian Imigration official, who asked politely,

"What is the purpose of your visit today?"

To which I said,

"To get a map of Washington State, King County, from a store in Vancover as they don't have them in Seattle."

To give the man his due he did not bat an eyelid and simply asked which store I was going to. When I told him, he actually said there were a couple of other places I could try and gave me their names.

This was back in the 1980's so I guess things might have changed.

I told this story to a Russian friend of mine back in 2000 and he could hardly belive it as he had bought "walking maps" for King County in Moscow a couple of years before. He had to visit Microsoft and decided to take a vacation at the same time.

SpookyJuly 25, 2017 4:43 AM

@ Clive,

Ah yes, the era of IBM's proprietary solid logic packaging and the comparatively inexpensive (and stylish) DEC PDP-8. Somewhere, I have one of those exploded SLD packages in clear lucite, where you can see all of the little components (transisters, diodes, etc) with a hand lense. Quite an amazing journey to the present, really. Cannot recall if they licensed Fairchild's patents...

Been too busy to play here, but I have enjoyed reading the forum comments once or twice per week. The technology I've been studying lately came into common usage around 30,000 years ago; the wonders of microblades. Quite the innovation. Very efficient, minimal waste.


Cheers,
Spooky


Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2017 5:10 AM

@ albert, tyr,

You might both find this little historical item of interest.

It involves the death of a villainous British pig at the hands of an itinerant American potato farmer, that finally required the services of the most senior of Germans to resolve, lest America and Britain start what could well have been the first world war.

http://www.historylink.org/File/9966

It also demonstrates quite clearly why "autonomous action" be it by human or drone is such a bad idea.

Also why there is very high potential for armed conflict in the South China Seas with both China and North Korea putting military effort into desputed islands.

RachelJuly 25, 2017 5:37 AM

Clive

some years ago I was attending an inter agency wildfire incident chatting in the staging area with an ex-military paramedic. he relayed to me of the time his military team was training with the US in a joint-operations endeavour. At one point he was on an exercise with two small groups from each country. The leader of the exercise was of the US and had insisted the US be in command. This chap was leading the groups with a GPS when it ran out of batteries.
My paramedic pal said something along the lines of 'Sir I have a topographical map of the local area and a magnetic compass you can use'
The US leader did not know how to use them. The narrator of the story, despite lesser rank was instructed to be the leader, using his basic Nav skills to lead both groups to the required destination

bearing in mind the US personnel in question were considered sufficiently superior to be sent to another country far away

the paramedic also taught me how to tell the time from the stars to the hour, which readers may enjoy finding more information about online

ab praeceptisJuly 25, 2017 6:25 AM

I'm not at all unhappy about that. "swarm" pretty automatically translates to "complex" and adding "mobile" to the equation doesn't make it any simpler.

Looking at how well (uhum) us of a and nato servants do with relatively simple systems our host certainly will have plenty material for funny security related posts.

Maybe it will even bring us a better javascript.

Dan HJuly 25, 2017 6:38 AM

@Rachel
That is as untrue as anything I've ever seen posted here from the anti-American zealots.

Dan HJuly 25, 2017 6:50 AM

ARPA research played a central role in launching the "information revolution," including developing or furthering much of the conceptual basis for ARPANET, a pioneering network for sharing digital resources among geographically separated computers. Its initial demonstration in 1969 led to the Internet, whose world-changing consequences unfold on a daily basis today. A seminal step in this sequence took place in 1968 when ARPA contracted BBN Technologies to build the first routers, which one year later enabled ARPANET to become operational.

DARPA also provided many of the essential advances that made possible today’s computers and communications systems, including seminal technological achievements that support the speech recognition, touch-screen displays, accelerometers, and wireless capabilities at the core of today’s smartphones and tablets. DARPA has also long been a leader in the development of artificial intelligence, machine intelligence and semi-autonomous systems. DARPA’s efforts in this domain have focused primarily on military operations, including command and control, but the commercial sector has adopted and expanded upon many of the agency’s results to develop wide-spread applications in fields as diverse as manufacturing, entertainment and education.

In a seminal moment in the emergence of today’s Internet, DARPA’s Robert Kahn (who joined the Information Processing Techniques Office as a program manager in 1972) asked Vinton Cerf of Stanford University to collaborate on a project to develop new communications protocols for sending packets of data across the ARPAnet. That query resulted in the creation of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), most often seen together as TCP/IP. These protocols remain a mainstay of the Internet’s unseen technical foundation.

Much of what you have today is because of US military research. You're typing your comments thanks to the US military and US government. You're all welcome.

ab praeceptisJuly 25, 2017 7:28 AM

Dan H

a) That was then and now is now. Yes, quite some decades ago the us of a had great universities and their scientists and engineers came up with great things. But that was then.

b) The result is not just "you have to thank darpa for the internet". It's also that we have to "thank" darpa for the many shortcomings, shortsighted decicions, and flaws and frequent lack of good design.

c) It probably won't reach your mind but: maybe "the anti-American zealots" do *not* dislike, let alone hate, each and every us-american, i.e. the normal people, but rather your ignorant and brutal large corporations and your leadership aka "the washington swamp" and its massive murder and terror sprees.

Dirk PraetJuly 25, 2017 8:55 AM

@ Winter

We now have news stories criticizing Iraqi troops for killing unarmed IS POW and civilians in Mosul.

There is a bit of a debate as to which extent captured Daesh fighters are indeed "privileged combatants" (and thus PoWs) under the 3rd and 4th Geneva Conventions relative to the treatment of prisoners of war.

Under a strict interpretation of the 3rd Geneva Convention (GCIII), the vast majority of Daesh fighters for several reasons are not privileged combatants, one of those being that they are not conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war (e.g. kidnapping, torture and summary execution of regular enemy combatants and civilians alike). In case of doubt, they must be held as a PoW until they have faced a "competent tribunal" (GCIII Art 5) to decide the issue.

Contrary to popular belief, foreign fighters, in so far that they are active combatants and adhere to the rules and customs of war are generally considered privileged combatants too, a principle that was however not upheld by the US during its occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Most unprivileged combatants who do not qualify for protection under GCIII do so under the 4th Geneva Convention (GCIV) which concerns civilians, until they have had a "fair and regular trial". If found guilty at such a trial, they can be punished under the civilian laws of the detaining power, and which may include the death penalty. Mercenaries are always considered unlawful combatants and are never protected under the Geneva Conventions and UN Mercenary Convention, Article 2.

Although some bleeding-heart leftists believe that Daesh combatants (and active supporters) are in fact poor victims of Evil Men themselves, and whom we need to re-socialise through expensive reintegration programs, the prevailing opinion - especially among their victims - is that they are brainwashed monsters beyond repair and should be shot on site.

Although international humanitarian law (IHL) does indeed apply in both the Iraqi and Syrian conflicts, it is highly doubtful that either local or foreign Daesh fighters can expect any clemency from any party in light of their own horrific acts based on a barbaric ideology that itself rejects any notion thereof. I personally consider them dead men walking. Perhaps some leniency will be shown to foreign jihadi brides and their offspring, but that will probably depend on how willing their governments are to take them back.

However much I am a proponent of international law and on general principle against the death penalty, this is one case I leave up to others to champion.

@ Rachel

This chap was leading the groups with a GPS when it ran out of batteries.

Pretty weird he couldn't read a map or use a compass. We learned that during our time at the boy scouts. I even got a refresher training during a three-day team building event a couple of years ago.

RachelJuly 25, 2017 9:07 AM

Dan H

you're still here. Despite being unanimously disqualified - I nonetheless will take a moment to acknowledge you are in need of love and healing, and sincerely wish you can receive what you need.

RachelJuly 25, 2017 9:10 AM

@ Dirk Praet

As far as the US goes, isn't the question of what occasions did they actually conciously complied with the Geneva Convetion to the letter and the spirit?

Dan HJuly 25, 2017 9:56 AM

@Rachel
Reciting third-party hearsay doesn't make you look intelligent. I've been in the US military and it is second to none.

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2017 10:08 AM

@ Dan H,

ARPA research played a central role in launching the "information revolution," including developing or furthering much of the conceptual basis for ARPANET, a pioneering network for sharing digital resources among geographically separated computers.

You seriously need to check your history.

Overly simply because I realy don't have time to educate you yet again, ARPA does not invent things it gives research grants to people who do and likewise contracts to develop the things invented.

Thus if you follow things back you will find that the person who did all the original ground work that gave us what was once called DARPAnet was an Englishman who was responsible for much of the work in Bletchley making Ultra the success it became. As part of that he developed contacts in America and moved across after WWII. It was his ideas on military communications systems --which are still in use today-- that arose from his work on traffic analysis that influanced his thinking and those he communicated with at MIT. Visting MIT at the time was a Welshman Donald Watts Davies who put the ground work into packet switching on a single comms line rather than circuit switching across comms lines. He went on to do leading research into data networks at the UKs National Physics Laboratory in Teddington Surrey at the edge of South West London[1].

Back in the US the work at MIT gave rise to what became known as the DoD protocol / stack, and into what became IP which was given to a MIT spin off company up river from MIT in Cambridge Mass, called Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN).

BBN was originally an acoustic research and consulting company set up by a couple of MIT professors -- Leo Beranek and Richard Bolt-- alnon with one of their former students --Robert Newman-- and were most known for their annalysis of the JFK shooting.

You can go and look all this up as it's now fairly common knowledge, though the UK Gov under Maggie Thatcher did her upmost to keep it secret. But that as they say is a story for another day.

[1] As it happens NPL developed their own networking protocols which.went on to form the basis of the ISO OSI model. They also developed and deploued their own Hypertext system long before anything similar was even thought about ay CERN.

RachelJuly 25, 2017 10:27 AM

Dan H

you are right. Repeating third party heresay doesn't make me look intelligent. Can I ask, what do you wish to accomplish or achieve by frequenting here?

markJuly 25, 2017 11:35 AM

Thanks, Bruce. Seeing this story, I just had an idea for an sf story, with two armies facing each other, and each side with a combat IT group, each trying to protect their swarm, and co-opt the enemies' swarm.

And for some reason, I'm reminded of mercenary companies in the Renaissance period, maneuvering for days or weeks, and then one side deciding they were in an untenable position, and surrendering....

Dirk PraetJuly 25, 2017 12:05 PM

@ Dan H

I've been in the US military and it is second to none.

A couple of years ago, during one of these heated debates along the Belgian linguistic divide, some guy during a Brussels suburb town hall session made a passionate plea about French being the most beautiful language in the world. To which someone of the opposing side calmly replied that it was also the only language he actually knew.

PS Where are we on my Brussels-Tehran ticket?

@ Rachel

... isn't the question of what occasions did they actually conciously complied with the Geneva Convention to the letter and the spirit?

Err, whenever it is not politically expedient to comply with international law, the USG under the doctrine of exceptionalism will generally resort to novel interpretations of conflicting federal law to exempt itself from its obligations. That's for example what the then Bush administration did to re-route Afghan and Iraqi foreign fighters and non-combatant civilians to Guantanamo and secret CIA camps so they could be subjected to enhanced interrogation.

Not that any of the other permanent UNSC members are doing much better. They're just less hypocritical about it.

JG4July 25, 2017 12:28 PM


My comment on the squid post might be appropriate here as an example of serious harm from something near the lower bound of a UAV swarm. It's the first globalguerrillas link.

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/07/friday_squid_bl_585.html#c6756875

The radar mentioned here might be networked to improve detection of aerial threats:

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/02/friday_squid_bl_566.html#c6747092

The 100-kW laser that has been in the news lately will stop most drones quickly:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/a4364/4321422/

I mentioned those lasers two or three years ago, but I don't think that provided a link describing them.


Dan HJuly 25, 2017 12:53 PM

@Rachel

What was your original purpose from relating third party hearsay?

Apparently it was just an anti-US or anti-US military rant which has no basis in truth.

If you would read my second post it was testament to the US founding the Internet and likewise a lot of good has come from her and is based on technological history.

A lot of people have bias or resentment toward the US, but generally she has been good for the world. Can you imagine a world run by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, or Kim?

@Dick Praet

Gee, supposedly I've only worked with others in the US military. Hmm, ever hear of travel and TDY?

WinterJuly 25, 2017 1:37 PM

@Dirk Praet
"In case of doubt, they must be held as a PoW until they have faced a "competent tribunal" (GCIII Art 5) to decide the issue."

Secret mass killings of bound prisoners and dumping them in a river is not considered lawful in modern times.

@Clive
I refered to civilized countries. To my knowledge, Syriah and Iraq are currently not considered civilized.

Gerard van VoorenJuly 25, 2017 2:06 PM

@ albert,

However, in the case of the US military, it's a fools errand. It's not quantity or technique, it's the quality of the material.

I am sorry but you are quite wrong. WW2 showed us that quality of the material is not the decisive factor of success. What is? That depends on the situation. The Germans did have inferior quality equipment compared to the French and Brittish, yet their bold actions and excellent officer corps blew these enemies away. The Russians did only have 3 "good enough quality" weapons, one was their tanks, second their machine pistols and third their war planes. But they could produce them rapidly and in great numbers, which showed that quantity is a quality by itself. The decisive factor however was Hitler himself, and in surprisingly many wars the decisive factor is the leadership that don't overlook everything because they are too occupied with their obsessions.

When one continues to force untenable policies on various sovereign nations, one can hardly expect success. Turning the entire ME into rubble to "eliminate terrorism" only increases it elsewhere.


When one today still believes that it is all about fighting terrorism, one doesn't look good enough.

Of course the M/I Complex is all too happy to spend money on AI research. That's how war-based economy rolls. Make a mess, then spend billions cleaning it up, at our expense of course.

THAT is what it's all about. Except the billions for cleaning up. The US doesn't clean up.

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2017 3:00 PM

@ Dirk Praet,

Although some bleeding-heart leftists believe that Daesh combatants (and active supporters) are in fact poor victims of Evil Men themselves

You do not have to be a bleeding heart leftist to believe that many Daesh combatants / supporters are poor victims of evil men.

You and I both know that many were for various reasons unemployed and subsisting on state aid. Frequently they are not that bright and due to their upbringing have not developed a moral compass and lack self respect let alone direction. Thus are easy pray for certain types of --to be polite-- "preachers" that have been paid for via certain gulf states and US petro dollars (later Chinese Dollars for oil via Turkey).

Is what those preachers do brain washing? I guess that depends on your point of view. But the more relevant question is Can it be corrected? I suspect the honest answer is "not reliably", therefore they will forever be a threat to society.

If you can not reliably turn them into safe citizens, then the next question is how do you stop more people becoming like them?

Thus the question of "cutting off the money supply" at those "evil men", it would no doubt solve many of the problems before they start. But as you are probably aware some if not all these "evil men" have a "protected status" not just with their own governments but that of the US as well as others like the UK.

Whilst I would not condone "shoot on sight" I can see the social and economic logic of it. The simple fact is what ever they may or may not have done whilst abroad does not realy matter. They have in effect had there morals and social norms distorted willingly, beyond any real hope of readjustment to be considered safe to let back into society.

Thus you are in effect looking for the equivalent of a Gitmo in every Western nation to keep them from being used as sleepers etc. Worse the likes of a Gitmo only give those "evil men" more leverage to negatively adjust more morals.

Thus from a home society aspect I can see why many are in favour of making those who originaly claimed to be refugees/migrants, stateless and dumping them in or close to the nations they were born in. In effect just moving the problem out os sight. However that would in effect be a cruel and unusual punishment at the very least, and most likely turn them into the types of criminal we most definitely do not want.

I could go on down a very long list of suggestions, and show that both morals and ethics would not alow the economic or social logic to apply. But eventually you come to realise you have a lost generation that no one wants, including those who paid to make them.

Thus you come back to those evil men who pay to create such people and recognise that cutting them off from what they finance should realy be the first step of the process.

However the reality is they get their money from Western tax payers who want cheap energy. So perhaps we should look at what the price of our energy dependence realy is.

albertJuly 25, 2017 3:31 PM

@Clive,
'Return-To-Base' or 'Continue-Mission' would require operable GPS or inertial navigation systems. Also, just how much EMP protection is provided?

By 'swarms' of bots I take to mean small, cheap (i.e., disposable) air-borne surveillance devices, not flocks of Predators. Bot swarms have the advantage of strength in numbers. They are difficult to take down quickly in sufficient numbers. It only takes one to report back the intelligence. That's why I proposed ECM.
..

@Gerard,
WWII is ancient history. It's certainly not applicable to US present day military actions. One of the goals of the US propaganda effort is to reduce conscription of young Muslims into ISIS, Daesh, etc. That's not a fools errand?
"...and in surprisingly many wars the decisive factor is the leadership that don't overlook everything because they are too occupied with their obsessions..." This might refer to the Bush Administrations handling of the Iraq war, or Clintons in Afghanistan, or Obamas in Libya and Syria!

-I- don't believe that it's "about fighting terrorism", but millions of Americans (and doubtless, Europeans) -do-.

"...The US doesn't clean up...". Correct.
I should restate that. The 'clean up*' refers to the US continued involvement in those countries, fighting 'terrorism' that developed after they were destroyed. Sort of like 'paving the way' for ISIS. I don't know if that was an 'unintended consequence' or not. It doesn't seem like the rise of ISIS was intentional, but it wouldn't surprise me if some folks predicted it before the Iraq war started.

Sometimes US foreign policy is difficult to analyze rationally (not to mention objectively). Even psycho-therapists can't figure out psychopaths.
..

Sorry for being so far OT.

-------
* 'Clean up operations' used to refer to eliminating civilian resistance when the battle/war is over.
. .. . .. --- ....

Dirk PraetJuly 25, 2017 6:22 PM

@ Winter

Secret mass killings of bound prisoners and dumping them in a river is not considered lawful in modern times.

It surely isn't, and although in international law there exists something like the principle of non-refoulement, you cannot possibly expect to be clinically extended the full protection of local and international law when you have yourself published scores of official propaganda videos of medieval slaughters and sickening mass executions of civilians and legitmate PoWs alike. It's like the hoisting of a red pirate flag in the early 18th century, conveying but one message: no quarter given, and none taken.

The concept of a civilised war is a persistent and politically induced myth that only exists in the minds of gullible westerners that have never endured one. Everyone else knows there is no such thing.

@ Clive

You do not have to be a bleeding heart leftist to believe that many Daesh combatants / supporters are poor victims of evil men.

A couple of years ago, a British service man formerly stationed in Iraq showed me some gruesome, non-edited mutilation and beheading video footage that in his platoon had been used as "educational material" to make it very clear to everyone what kind of enemy they were dealing with and that it was not in their best interest to fall into enemy hands.

Whilst I fully concur on the origins of radicalisation, its instigators and the source of all evil that is our fixable dependency on cheap oil, I just don't see how you can possibly reintegrate into society people that for all practical purposes have been turned into the real-life equivalent of zombies, and at the risk of infecting even more. Like you, I am all in favour of solutions based on ethics, morals and the rule of law, but in the end Daesh fighters and active supporters have made certain choices that exclude a return to mainstream society and which not society, but they themselves have to bear the full consequences of, for starters in the countries where they have committed their crimes and according to local rule of law, or the war-time equivalent thereof.

@ Dan H

Hmm, ever hear of travel and TDY?

Do enlighten us.

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2017 10:37 PM

@ Winter,

I refered to civilized countries. To my knowledge, Syriah and Iraq are currently not considered civilized.

What I refered to was how the Mainstream Media (MSM) in --supposadly-- civilized nations reported what was going on in Syria.

In effect for what appears to be politicaly inspired or profiteering of the MIC reasons the MSM in these supposadly civilized nations are demonising various parties involved. The problem with this, is what is politely called "Boxing / Painting yourself into a corner". Whilst few would actually care if the MSM shot it's self in the head rather than it's foot, it has political issues, that spiral downwards [Which as we saw with US election reporting makes for ludicrous "Slap-Stick Comedy" as the MSM try to pretend they were right all along, when they were wrong by a very large margin].

However when it comes to a forign nation who's people the MSM have denegrated it also forces the political hand and a whole swath of options come off the table before anyone has a chance to find where to put the table, especialy with the ludicrous "There can be no Surrender" and other equally as pathetic sound bites. The US in particular is especialy egregious in this respect and have more than obviously been so since the 1940's.

As history shows nations have to try to do the best they can for those within their boarders. This leads to very strange events such as nations swaping sides mid war and even fighting with or for both sides (see Russia, Finland, Yugoslavia and much of the Middle East during WWII). That is the very fluid nature of large scale war in the last century, and it will continue to be so in non asymmetric warfare going onwards for the foreseeable future. Taking options off the table, declairing opposing leaders to be only fit for judicial murder and worse, for what is at the end of the day sound bite jingoistic rhetoric for "Drum banging" with your home audiance or polotical allies is in no way statesmanship, and utter lunacy if it then forces it to become policy going forward. The reality is all it does is prolong the killing, destruction and waste of resources, as well as making those you have to eventially negotiate with less likely to even consider negotiating (WWII Japan being just on example that most should be aware of).

It's this sort of stupidity that only benifits the "War Profiteers" of the MIC etc, and do you realy want such craven individuals setting policy when your loved ones are the cannon fodder that gives their proffits, that they then use to asset strip you and the rest of the civilian population at fire sale prices?

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2017 11:13 PM

@ albert,

By 'swarms' of bots I take to mean small, cheap (i.e., disposable) air-borne surveillance devices, not flocks of Predators.

To be able to "swarm" the drones would need not just inertial navigation, but various types of collision sensors and suitable Soft AI to use them. Such drones are going to be power hungry, which in turn means the likes of high energy fuel burning engines. To also have speed, agility and carry an effective payload they will also require further considerable "horse power" (think to the eighth power on doubling in speed etc). Thus they are not going to be small at all, so would be on the "preditor" or similar scale.

Clive RobinsonJuly 26, 2017 12:14 AM

@ Dirk Praet,

[B]ut in the end Daesh fighters and active supporters have made certain choices that exclude a return to mainstream society and which not society, but they themselves have to bear the full consequences of

Which is in part why I consider them a "lost generation". However many I suspect would not be treated as "mentally fit" to be dealt with by the legislative process in a civilised society. Which is a problem as "justice has to be seen to be fair and impartial" to retain it's legitimacy. Thus the only way to maintain that is to prevent them getting back into societies jurisdiction. Hence make them "stateless".

But as I noted that is of it's self insufficient, as they will inevitably return to the fringes of a society somewhere. Most probably as criminals, who will cause further considerable cost to whichever society they are closest to at the time. But as is the case with drugs, the effects of their actions has a high probability of spreading out internationaly.

Which brings us to your point of,

[B]ut they themselves have to bear the full consequences of for starters in the countries where they have committed their crimes and according to local rule of law, or the war-time equivalent thereof.

If we judge them by the standards they set, then all but a few will be executed or maimed.

Which whilst I do not have an issue with judging them by their own standards, it will unfortunately provide propaganda for the "evil men" to radicalize yet more young and impressionable people.

In a highly intetconected world you have no control over propaganda, you can not stop it being found and used. Once it is out there it is in effect out there for the foreseeable future, hanging there like the malevolent "specter at the feast".

It is thus the radicalisation element we have to control and that in turn means keeping the disseminators of the propaganda out of society. Otherwise the cycle will repeate as long as their is money to fan the flames of what realy is another form of idolatry to personal power. Which history shows us gave rise to lords and their serfs and a lot worse as the perversion of belief by faux religious teachings is involved.

It is this premedieval behaviour that needs to be stopped, and that unfortunatly means society accepting that religious tolerance must have limits long before we get to the point of hate speech. It is not something I think society will find palatable, due to the risks of "Witch hunts". I for one do not want to see a return to the likes of "Un-American trials" and McCarthyism, but that is what is likely to happen if we are not carefull.

There is of course another issue that arises from subjecting them to trial by those they have harmed the most. Which is vengence turning into multi-generational feuds.

What ever we do we are almost certain to end up with a mess, because the "evil men" will not change their beliefs or behavious as long as they have the means to maintain them... Hence my reason for saying it is they that need to be neutralized in some way. As for those who have been radicalized they are with little doubt lost to society in any acceptable form and there is in effect no place for them, anywhere...

WinterJuly 26, 2017 12:31 AM

@Clive
"What I refered to was how the Mainstream Media (MSM) in --supposadly-- civilized nations reported what was going on in Syria."

That is not my experience. I see many reports in the MSM about human rights violation by Iraqi forces in Mosul. Even reports about abuses against Daesh fighters. This includes the evening news over here, and also USA Today and the WP. Most reports also point out that previous abuses of the Iraqi and Syrian forces against Suni Arabs, as well as Kurdish ethnic cleansing, were an important cause of the rapid rise of Daesh.

The current atrocities are feeding the birth of next years uprising.

There is a very old joke about my newspaper having very good reporting, except on subjects I personally know about. However, if you cannot use specialist media and do your own research, the MSM are still your best source. You just have to spread your "risks" over many outlets.

Maybe my news bubble is that I read too many different media and I am out of touch with the "real world" on Facebook. ;-)

RachelJuly 26, 2017 2:50 AM

@ Dirk Praet

'PS Where are we on my Brussels-Tehran ticket?'

oh Dirk Dirk Dirk Dirk Dirk. This is the funniest retort I have had the pleasure of being privy to in a very long time. It has echoed in my mind all morning!

Dave DaveJuly 26, 2017 3:47 AM

Dan H

'If you would read my second post it was testament to the US founding the Internet and likewise a lot of good has come from her and is based on technological history. A lot of people have bias or resentment toward the US, but generally she has been good for the world.'

oh dear. Have you been buying us-american flags from the Adult Store, again?

tyrJuly 26, 2017 2:34 PM

@Rachel

Some day I'll tell you the story of the
USMC (Uncle Sams Misguided Children) and
the officer who thought there were 380
degrees in a full circle while leading
a field exercise.

Patriotic pride should not become the basis
of idiotic behaviors that overlook very
real flaws. That kind of stupidity gets
your people killed for no reason. Like
George Patton said dying for your country
is stupid, the idea is to make the enemy
die for his country.

This isn't confined to military subjects
anyone who believes that their security
arrangements are perfected will get a rude
surprise later. The ugliest part is to
realize that you were warned about some
possibility and failed to act on that
knowledge before it became a disaster.

@Dirk Praet

I'd be willing to bet there are folks here
who can out acronym anyone after a long
career of dealing with DOD initials nuttery.

Every case is individual but anyone who has
gone abroad to fight for a cause is never
going to be model citizen of european or
any other culture. The streets of America
are full of broken and ruined veterans who
have been discarded by their government.
Civilians would like to support them but
have no clue as to how to do it.

I'm with Clive, a rising tide lifts all the
boats and better societies would fix a lot
of the worlds problems. My generation was
promised an opportunity to die on a nuclear
battlefield over ideology. I'm not sure that
a world turned to rubble by bronze age nut
cults is a better way to architect the future.
I imagine like the Catholic protestant clashes
they will finally get tired of smashing things
and try to build something useful again.

Dirk PraetJuly 27, 2017 4:21 AM

@ Clive

What ever we do we are almost certain to end up with a mess

In an interconnected world it is pretty much futile to try and stop the distribution of extremist propaganda, but you can trace down its origin and sponsors. Which are in fact quite well known, be it that our spineless leaders lack the courage to hold accountable those behind it. After all, we need them for their cheap oil and to sell our arms to.

Another common fallacy is that integration and assimilation of millions of immigrants with entirely different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds can just sort itself. Even if by an act of $DEITY racism and intolerance were to disappear overnight and a permanently booming economy would provide the countless billions needed for education, training, employment and integration programs, there will always be a significant part that for a variety of reasons will be unwilling or unable to adapt to their new host society, eventually becoming vulnerable to grooming by radical elements. And that is a best case scenario.

The only logical move for those host societies is thus to make immigration and citizenship status dependent on informed and signed acceptance of its core values, demonstrable rejection of which equals forfeiture of any previously acquired residence rights. Although adoption and strict enforcement of such a policy would indeed prove both a practical and legal mess, it is the prime duty of any state to protect itself and its citizens against enemies both foreign and domestic, especially against those who hide behind the very rights and freedoms they seek to destroy and replace with a pre-medieval society under an untouchable clergy and despotic leaders by the grace of $DEITY.

@ tyr

I imagine like the Catholic protestant clashes they will finally get tired of smashing things and try to build something useful again.

I see nothing useful coming out of a global caliphate under sharia law.

Whilst like you and @Clive, I dream of a better society governed by the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, we shouldn't close our eyes to the nightmare that is the Daesh antithesis to any free and open society, however imperfect it is in its current form.

albertJuly 27, 2017 1:40 PM

@Clive,

I think we're talking past each other. The efficacy of small surveillance drones is well known. Sensors are less than gram weights, and AI is just software. 'Swarms' don't make sense in military situations (too easy to shoot down), but large numbers of small drones do. One needs to distinguish between classes of drones. You'll need big ones for ordnance, but surveillance is easier with small ones. VTOL drones use a lot of power, but airfoil types do not. Drones made with glider-type wings(long, thin, and transparent:) can stay aloft for hours. Autogyros don't even need wings:)*. My favorite would be a LTA drone, or one with helium assisted lift.

Lots of possibilities...
-------
* A good camo technique uses active illumination of the wing that matches the background skylight. If they could pass images through, that would be cool. A flying wing design would work now that we have advanced digital FCS.

. .. . .. --- ....

DanHJuly 27, 2017 6:38 PM

@tyr Another one. LMAO

@dick Not that it is any of your business, but my unit was in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for the first Persian Gulf War.

DanHJuly 27, 2017 7:01 PM

@Dave Dave

You do realize the US is the world leader in science, technology and medical innovation? Not to mention providing food to the world.

People all over the world come to the US for education in our colleges and universities and obtain graduate degrees.

Also, the US provides the most foreign aid of all countries.

The US pays the most to support the United Nations. Speaking of the UN, although many nations were involved in the Korean War, the United States bore the brunt of most of the fighting. In WWII, during the D-Day invasion it was the US landings that bore the most brutal fighting. The US helped the European nations fight Germany while we also fought, almost single handily, the Japanese in the Pacific.

NATO needed US reconnaissance and surveillance during the Libyan campaign foistered by Hillaryous and Barry.

Nobody can see what the world would look like today without the US, but I'd imagine it wouldn't be as good.

Sorry to disappoint you, but America is indeed awesome!

DanHJuly 27, 2017 7:14 PM

@tyr
Go ahead and mock the United States Marine Corps.

Do you know your history?

During WWI the Russians left the war because of their revolution, which allowed Germany to shift men to the western front. Although Belleau Wood was only about 30 miles from Paris it hadn't seen much fighting. That changed.

The French were retreating from the German advance and to the US Marines they should turn back too. They would not, and although it was a great cost to the US and Marines, they beat back the Germans.

ab praeceptisJuly 27, 2017 7:22 PM

Dan H

As you seem to not yet have noticed it, I'll spell it out clearly: This blog is about *security* - not about nationalistic fanatism and certainly not about your utterly unrealistic wet dreams.

If you love your country, do something constructive; there is plenty of tasks. You could, for example, help to make all those high tech weapons systems that are ridiculous failures work. You could help rebuilding widely rotten infrastructure. You could help to resolve the utter divergence between "we are the lighthouse of democracy" and the fact that your countries agencies plainly sh*it on the law and the constitution and spy on anyone and anything.

Alternatively, find a us of a fanclub and apply as trumpet.

*Here* it's about security. Try to grasp and respect that.

DanHJuly 27, 2017 8:35 PM

@ab

You don't seem to reply that way when others like @Rachel spewed nothing but abject nonsense about the US military. Or @tyr who uttered more nonsense of the same thing.

Many times the CIA and NSA are brought up for no reason other than to utter anti-American diatribe.

I believe this site is a honeypot for many, not all, kooks who are just anti-US and the fact the FBI, CIA, and NSA find their way into a large percentage of posts kind of has some truth to it.

Clive RobinsonJuly 27, 2017 11:25 PM

@ albert,

I think we're talking past each other.

In a way. What you say is true and I've said similar in the past and will say similar in the future.

What is different on this occasion is "swarm", the implication of which is the same as "flocking". Which is multiple drones flying very close together but not in a fixed formation.

For swarming / flocking the drones would need to be not just fully autonomous, but also require quiet advanced sensor / AI systems.

Think of it with an analogy. We have had safe robot vehicles following tracks etc for years in factories and warehouses, yet we are not even close to having safe robot cars on the road that will cope with rush hour trafic on major roads.

It's the same difference, our current military drones are safe as individual vehicles but they can not fly in close formation, because of what they lack.

Dirk PraetJuly 28, 2017 6:13 AM

@ DanH

... my unit was in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for the first Persian Gulf War.

I respect that. A friend of mine was also there during that time, serving in a French Foreign Legion unit that was part of the provisional Daguet Division. He was not particularly impressed by his American comrades in arms who despite their material and technological superiority were all but well-versed in desert warfare and to date maintains that it was in fact the Legion's expertise and General Schwarzkopf's acknowledgement thereof that was one of the key elements in the swift and decisive victory of the coalition forces.

He even predicted the hellhole Iraq would eventually turn into as a result of ill-advised and even worse executed later invasions as he was convinced that neither political nor military US leadership had even the foggiest idea what they were doing or how the deliberate destruction of Iraq as a nation state would upset the fragile balance of power in the entire region. History proved him right.

Nobody can see what the world would look like today without the US, but I'd imagine it wouldn't be as good.

It is hard to underestimate the role the US played in delivering Europe from the nazis and keeping the Soviets out, but which was also in their own political and economic interest. The US was an entirely different nation then that was not yet ruled by the MIC, something President Eisenhower explicitly warned for in his farewell speech.

Despite its military might and countless operations all over the globe, the US has "won" precious few wars after WWII. Not because it lacks the budgets, man power or technology, but because it remains utterly clueless about nation (re)building after the military defeat of its opponents, giving rise to never resolved conflicts (Korea) or protracted asymmetrical warfare (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia) over and over again. Neither of which I consider a "victory", and none of which have made the world a better place in any way.

Let's however be clear about one thing: I count quite some active and former service men and women among my friends and acquaintances. I don't disrespect them in any way - quite to the contrary - and neither do I question their capabilities or intentions. Those of their political, economic and military overlords on the other hand is an entirely different issue.

And my name is Dirk, by the way, not Dick.

tyrJuly 28, 2017 10:25 PM

@Dan H

My Great uncle was one of the marines at
Belleau Wood. My reading of history is
weighed in tons. It is all very well to
exhibit knee jerk patriotic propaganda
as a substitute for thinking but rational
behavior wins out in the long run.

Try reading Smedley Butler, he knew a lot
about the Marines and was an unsung hero
of american politics as well. He stopped
the Bush family from overthrowing USA.

Being blind to your own shortcomings is
a sure path to defeat (Afghanistan comes
to mind) no amount of empty rhetoric is
going to make you a winner in a real fight.

You might want to get a copy of Vo Nguyen
Giaps book to help you understand Dirks
point about the leadership failures of
the policy makers of USA. There's a lot
more to leadership than endlessly keeping
wars going to enrich the people who make
bombs. USA isn't alone in this the Brit
MOD has been caught in bed with Pol Pot
as an example of marvellous policies.

So look deeper and be aware that nothing
in this world is what it appears to be on
the surface.

Ask yourself this question 'How many teen
males do you know, who will suddenly decide
to take a rifle to another country to kill
its citizens ?
Governments may be able to project thia as
the only right thing to do but few humans
are that f**ked up in the head if left
alone to decide.

The internal structure of the human mind
evolved in a situation where threat detect
was the most important part of its job.
What was later evolved was the niceties
like thinking and caring etc. The real
task is to curb the threat detection to
the point where it does not ruin your own
life. The first step in that direction is
to stop believing propaganda generated by
people who are not your friends. They are
perfectly happy to use and discard you as
a whim. Security begins by covering your
own bum against the random idiocy of a
actively hostile world.

Lighten up son, no one is getting out of
here alive anyway.


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