TECHNOLOGY

What the military can learn from ‘the dunes’


Carl von Clausewitz And Frank Herbert understand the force main focus. Clausewitz, a nineteenth-century theorist who is respected among military geeks in the way Paul Brown is revered among football coaches, wrote that every war has a center of gravity – which is how Scheuerpunkt is usually translated – and that victory often flows into the strategist who determines Identity and hold it. He. She. Depending on the type of conflict, the center of gravity may be an enemy’s logistical base or a field army, the capital of a country, or even an individual (see: Osama bin Laden at war with al-Qaeda). Whatever form it takes, Clausewitz wrote, the schwerpunkt is “the axis of all force and motion, upon which everything depends.”

in a DuneIt’s the spice.

In a world where computers and artificial intelligence have been banned, the spice, or “mix,” enables pilots to fold space, traverse galaxies and time. The medicine comes only from the planet Arrakis, and when Duke Leto Atreides ventures to secure it, Baron Vladimir Harkonin quickly overthrows him. However, the Baron understands spices only as a commodity. In a classic case of colonial myopia, he exploits it to fund his empire, upsetting the locals in the process. But Paul Atreides, son of the exiled Duke, knows Scheuerpunkt when he sees him. After overthrowing his father, he befriended the Freemen, became their messiah, took control of spice production, reclaimed Arrakis, and became emperor of the known universe.

Military chiefs don’t consult Herbert nearly as well as they do Clausewitz, but science fiction still affects those in the military. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, it was the cadets who got service Dune I may have found an insight into the wars in the Middle East; In 2021, the book warns them not to rely too much on technology.

In the age of digital warfare, fighters with the right tools can virtually fold space. But when everything from GPS to power grids to communication systems is jammed, spoofed, hacked, or obfuscated, relying on technology will blow your ass. This caused the US Army to adopt back-to-basics tactics, re-learning, as Paul did, how to fight the analog. Record bookkeeping. Using runners and field phones. Fight handwritten orders instead of electronically transmitted orders. It is a painful process for many, but it is necessary. Because today, the schwerpunkt in most struggles – the spice – is digital information itself.


Jonathan Bratten is a military historian and US Army officer.




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