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Comment From the soldier's mouth: (Score 5, Interesting) 619

I'm a soldier. 25B, to be exact. Those of you serving will instantly recognize that nomenclature as an MOS designator. In sum: my job. I run networks and computer systems for the Army. Being a soldier means that sometimes I get to maintain networks and networked systems while being shot at or blown up. I use the same equipment you use, I just use it a little harder than you do. Dell, Cisco, Windows XP, Sandisk, etc. Yes, we even use Solaris (and yes, it still sucks. 6 minutes to boot a combat system that soldier's lives' depend on is, how should I put it, a really *BAD* design). No, this isn't an endorsement. My feelings towards the brands are irrelevant. If I get back from a convoy or a patrol alive (and I've done plenty of both in Iraq), then my gear did it's job. If my gear keeps me from maintaining control of a situation, I die. You might get a reprimand at your job for failing, I get shot full of holes in mine. I can tell you that the Army did the same thing with the FCS program as it did with other, equally worthless combat systems: Spent years catering to and blowing defense contractors, who are all too happy to hoover up every dollar they can get their filthy hands on. With projects running 5-10 years, it's not hard to see why the top-of-the-line solution (you reading this, BFT programmer? I will CHOKE YOU OUT you if I ever see you in RL) becomes a flaming sack of crap by the time it gets to the soldiers. Seen it quite a few times, and I'm not looking forward to all the hand-jobs my chain of command will be giving the embedded defense contractors when they finally come to my unit with all that shiny new junk. Just give me my M4 with an M203 (oh, by the way, can I PLEASE get some rounds for that 203? It's eight pounds of deadweight without them) and a PLGR and I am good. I've been in some very, very tight spots on the streets of Baghdad, and I can tell you firsthand that the *LAST* thing you will do when you are getting shot at is looking at a Gameboy-sized screen to see where your buddies are. You'll have eyes on them, believe me. You won't let them out of your sight.

The Armed Forces don't need all this gadetry. If they really want to attract the Nintendo generation soldiers we have these days (while getting, ahem, the most bang for their buck), they'll build Robotech style Mechs and a bunch of remote controlled dronebots and send them in to the slaughter. The days of the individual soldier are coming to an end. Too bad the "romance" of Point Du Hoc and Hamburger Hill combined with squad-based infantry tactics (everybody loved Saving Private Ryan, right? Right!) keeps the old men who run the whole thing from just accepting reality, getting an AOL account so they can see what the world is really like these days and cutting off the leeching defense contractors who take a million bucks to duct tape a thirty dollar Logitech webcam to the front of an outdated semi-automatic rifle. Iron Thunder.

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Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards. -- Aldous Huxley