Human ingenuity

English: Michigan's Upper Peninsula

English: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human ingenuity will defeat high-tech every time, well almost every time. Joseph Heywood, author of The Snowfly and several crime novels set in Michigan‘s upper peninsula was a tanker pilot during the Vietnam war. In his autobiography entitled Covered Waters, Tempests of a Nomadic Trouter, he has this to say about the ingenuity of the Viet Cong enemy:

“I talked to a Forward Air Controller (FAC) about interdiction packages. Usually the package consists of a huge mine, but to keep the enemy from exploding it prematurely, they seed the area with tiny antipersonnel mines. The enemy uses a rock tied to a string, throwing it ahead of him, then dragging it back to explode the CBUs. After he cleans a path, he pulls an ox in front of the main mine. With a rope the ox then pulls a plow or metal object like a garbage can lid by the big one, exploding it. The process, which takes us a day to put in place, and many thousands of dollars, is cleared by the enemy in 2-4 hours with a rock, a string, an ox, and a piece of metal. Simplicity can always best complexity.”

And then there is the home field advantage which applies in knowledge of the war zone as well as in sports. We lost in Vietnam, did poorly in Iraq and are losing in Afghanistan, at least in part, because the enemy knows the country better than we do. In our war for independence from Great Britain, the greatest military power of the time, we won in part because we had the home field advantage. And we might still be part of the British Commonwealth if we had not had the help of France.

Donald Rumsfeld believed that the US could and should rely on high tech to allow us to field a small military. The enemy responded with IEDs, improvised explosive devices, and suicide bombers. Rather than relying so much on high tech, I believe that we should out-think and out-improvise our enemies. Let’s start encouraging Yankee know-how to win hearts and minds rather than firepower to kill.