Beaming The Battlefield Home

from the micromanaging-a-war dept

William Knowles writes “During fighting this month between U.S. troops and al Qaeda forces, Predator drone aircraft gave generals and civilian leaders back in Washington something they had never seen before: a continuous live view of Americans in ground combat in the mountains of Afghanistan, 10 time zones away. Cameras on the 27-foot drones beamed back dramatic scenes from the heat of battle in the Shahikot region, notably the killing of a Navy SEAL commando. Never before had an extended battle by U.S. forces been piped into U.S. command centers around the globe in hour after hour of real-time video that made distant officials feel unusually close to the battlefield. And that was one of the problems, according to U.S. commanders here. In a review of the Predator’s role in the biggest U.S. ground assault in a decade, soldiers involved in the battle said the live video links gave them little useful information and were sometimes a distraction, encouraging higher-level military staffs to try to micromanage the fighting.”

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