The Disaggregation of Strategic Victory

By Major Matt Cavanaugh Image created by Matt Cavanaugh. Where do we direct our blows?  How do we most effectively and efficiently achieve victory?  What does “victory” even mean anymore?  These are hard questions a...

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The GoPro Soldier: Coming Soon to a War Near You

By Major Matt Cavanaugh

If a soldier gets hit in a war and no one is around to film it, does it really matter?

Following two highly publicized police encounters – one in Ferguson, Missouri and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York City – the New York Times carried a story that raised the issue of police body cameras.  Technologically (and economically), it is now feasible for the average “beat” cop to wear a camera integrated into body armor and clothing while on duty. President Obama has pledged to “request $75 million in federal funds to distribute 50,000 body cameras to police departments nationwide.”

To quickly run the math:

$75 million/50,000 body cameras = $1,500 each

Now let’s look to what it costs to outfit an American military soldier.  According to a 2007 estimate, it was roughly $17,500 to outfit a US soldier (*worth noting that at the time it cost the Chinese People’s Liberation Army roughly $1,500!).  By now, it is reasonable to extrapolate that US figure to $20,000.  If my raw math is accurate, and this is in fact the actual ratio, then body cameras would represent an additional expenditure on the order of a 7-8% which is roughly the equivalent cost of a latte flavor shot at Starbucks.  But do we want this “flavor shot?” Should we want body cameras?

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An Ebola Manifesto for the Military Profession

By Major Matt Cavanaugh

There are three conclusions for the military profession to be drawn from the present Ebola outbreak: the threat is enormous, but ultimately manageable; the desired ends are currently vastly under resourced; and the profession’s lack of intellectual focus on the outbreak may result in the nation bumbling towards unnecessary, potentially catastrophic, strategic shock. 

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A selection, on the threat Ebola poses:

There is also a major qualitative factor that makes Ebola much more threatening than nearly any other contemporary threat.  ISIS may do some pretty horrible things on video, but ISIS can’t stop you from showing affection to other human beings.  It’s been remarked that Ebola’s “cultural casualty” has been human contact. One journalist posed the seemingly impossible, but very real scenario in West Africa: “imagine trying not to touch your 2-year-old daughter when she is feverish, vomiting blood and in pain.” We often curse terror groups that use children as human shields; Ebola similarly uses human decency against us by preying on our need for human contact and comfort. Consider that in Sierra Leone, people now tap their chests in place of a handshake.  This is part of the government’s “A-B-C” public health campaign there – “Avoid Bodily Contact.”  Ebola poisons relationships just as much as it does bodies; we might come to a point where “STD” means Socially Transmitted Disease. 

ISIS may strike but does not have the ability to impact our way of life like Ebola.

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