This blog has, for years, trumpeted the warning that we are critically overdependent on navigational technology, principally GPS, that will be unavailable or only sporadically available in a peer war. Our navigational technology addiction has crippled and all but eliminated our fundamental navigational skills. Our soldiers and sailors no longer know how to read a map, use a compass or sextant, or execute dead reckoning with a stopwatch.
Once upon a time, we had mastered basic non-technological navigation skills. The Marine Corps LAVs in Desert Storm navigated the featureless deserts with nothing but dead reckoning. For years, pilots mastered the ability to achieve precise time-on-target with nothing more than a plotting board and a stopwatch. Sailors were able to establish their position with a sextant. All soldiers used to have to master map reading and overland navigation with a map, compass, and stride length.
Now, our Navy is lost without GPS and even has trouble navigating with radar fixes. Ships are running aground in known waters. The riverine boat crews that were captured by
were completely lost. Iran
We have an addict’s dependency on technology that is not going to be available in a peer war. What’s our response? How are we planning to address this vulnerability? What will we do to eliminate our dependency on technology?
You guessed it! We’re going to create new technology. Why go back to mastering fundamentals when you can create expensive and unreliable new technology?
Seriously, I’m not making this up. Our solution to our technology dependency is to create new technology. From a Defense News website article,
“In the quest to provide positioning, navigation and timing to troops deprived of GPS, Army planners are developing an open-architecture system of plug-and-play sensors that could deliver such a capability.
… The potential PNT [positioning, navigation, timing] solution would use modular hardware and software on a tactical computer.
“It will be a sensor fusion filter that will allow us to hook up any sensor to the filter, and the filter will understand what the sensor is, what the data is and how to integrate that into a single PNT solution,” said Adam Schofield, the chief at the Emerging Technologies Branch of the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC.” (1)
So, rather than teach basic navigation, we’re going to develop a gazillion dollar technological solution that is, supposedly, omniscient, able to take any sensor, integrate it on the fly, and provide a totally flexible and instantly adaptable synthesized navigation solution. I can’t see anything that could go wrong with that!
Best of all, it can fit and run on a standard laptop computer. I can see it now – our soldiers leaping into battle, clutching their rifle in one hand and their laptop in the other. Plus, we all know how reliable laptops inherently are. I can’t see the dirt, mud, water, shock, vibration, and electromagnetic jamming on the battlefield having any negative effect on the laptop!
What’s more, we’re basing the whole thing on an open architecture scheme. That’s great! It offers complete flexibility and adaptability. Of course, it also offers complete access to an enemy’s cyber attacks and hacking!
The Department of Defense must have a group whose job is to come up with idiotic ideas that the rest of us would just reject out of hand.
(1)Defense News website, “Army wants constant PNT capability for troops without GPS”, Adam Stone,