Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Augusy 30, 1999
Scaling linguistic walls of military efficiency
As we edge closer to the new millennium it might be beneficial to again try to scale the linguistic walls of the information age. Acronyms abound.
Not being wired, I only just now figured out what Y2K stands for: Year two thousand (as in kilo). And all this time I thought it had something to do with computer codes and configurations.
No doubt, the invention of the computer has not only changed our language, but also our society. The computer is the product of military R and D (research and development) to help us fight wars more efficiently. Sixty per cent of Western scientists are employed by MIC (military industrial complex).
A successful war is one where one maximizes enemy casualties while virtually eliminating the risk of losing any of our own fighting force (men in uniform, protecting our superior values).
Somewhat less important are the mercenary foreigners who are willing to do the dirty job for us in return for military aid. And although we subscribe in theory to gender equity, our own female soldier frequently becomes a casualty of male bonding before the war has even started.
Females, after all, along with land, cattle and other plunder, have traditionally been the objects of conquest. Since our civilization is essentially based on conquest, the old habit of considering women the fair spoils of just wars is deeply ingrained in the warrior's psyche.
Measurable indicators tell us that the computer has greatly assisted us in achieving unprecedented levels of efficiency in long distance conquest. We are at the point of overcoming the old barriers of time and space.
In this context ground troops are downsized and rape has become an internal issue comparable to friendly fire and spiked coffee. Back in the days of JFK and LBJ, Robert McNamara, the ultimate technocrat, was asked to do for his country what his country had done for him.
He sacrificed his job as CEO (chief executive officer) at FMC (Ford Motor Co.) to become SOD (secretary of defence) and introduced business practices into the ME (military establishment).
This was new. The military is usually the leading edge of innovation, pawning off its inventions with a little PR (public relations) for PCU (peaceful civilian use) to help pay for the R&D.
Our children can now play SW (star wars) in the safety of their own homes. Entire generations are now raised on user-friendly military equipment in our neighbourhood schools.
McNamara set out to upgrade the military with RBM (result-based management) a system of management techniques, complete with LFA (logical framework analysis) flowcharts, stats, diagrams, and indicators of success in which progress was equated with measurement.
Mass production was an old Henry Ford idea to bring down the UC (unit cost) of each vehicle coming off the assembly line. It seemed logical that this might work for the arms industry.
Since this was in the days of MAD (mutually agreed destruction) and DEW (distant early warning) the arms race was essentially a race of efficiency control. The rational solution was to produce larger runs of ever-more sophisticated weapons and sell the surplus abroad to allies and dictatorial client states.
It looked like a win-win scenario: Cost efficient overproduction, standardization of U.S. arms among allies, and reduction of the $3-billion U.S. trade deficit in return for national security and U.S. protection abroad against the necessary illusion of the communist threat.
Then, who would have thought, the mightiest military machinery ever devised was defeated by barefoot Vietnam peasants armed with bamboo sticks. This might explain our apocalyptic fear of Y2K. The peasant is computer illiterate. Immune to the virus. Scary!
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