On Oct. 19, NATO troops on patrol in Afghanistan’s Helmand province fired a warning shot to stop a civilian vehicle that had come too close to the soldiers’ convoy. The round ricocheted, killing a two-year-old girl outside her home, according to Agence France-Presse. It’s an old problem in Iraq and Afghanistan, where occupying troops find themselves targeted by suicide bombers in chaotic urban environments where it’s impossible to tell the good guys from the bad. Most soldiers have no peaceful way of communicating with civilian drivers other than with vague hand gestures — and few means short of a rifle [...]
WASHINGTON — The Army’s $200-billion Future Combat Systems — the centerpiece of the service’s “network-centric” modernization — has been buffeted by cash shortages, insurmountable engineering obstacles and criticism that lighter, smarter, sensor-laden vehicles are not what the Army needs to fight tomorrow’s wars. The program aims to equip 15 of the Army’s roughly 70 combat brigades with new robots and hybrid diesel-electric manned vehicles connected by a secure radio network and equipped with high-tech sensors. After a difficult 2006 that saw four of FCS’ robot designs axed due to budget constraints, this year the decade-old program achieved several milestones, wrapping [...]
It is difficult today to recall the anxiety that shook America when, fifty years ago, Sputnik pierced the atmosphere. “No event since Pearl Harbor set off such repercussions in public life,” University of Pennsylvania historian Walter A. McDougall has observed. Sputnik was the starting gun for a desperate, urgent race between the United States and the Soviet Union for space superiority — and the military advantages it might confer — which would consume billions while leaving neither nation safer. These days, the phrase “space race” seems antiquated, an almost quaint relic of a bygone era. But behind the competition to [...]
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