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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What Churchill Can Teach Us About the Coming Era of Lasers, Cyborgs, and Killer Drones

By P.W. Singer:
There's a famous (though, as with all great quotes, perhaps apocryphal) line attributed to Mark Twain that is often quoted as a guide to world leaders: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

With that quote in mind, for the last year I've been taking an informal poll of the joint chiefs who lead the U.S. military, asking each of them what period in history they think provides the most apt parallel to today. Interestingly, every single one of them has answered the same: the early 1990s, when the United States sharply pared back its military spending and drew down the personnel size of its armed forces following the collapse of the Soviet Union. These experiences were both painful for the military of that time (side note: most of the joint chiefs were midcareer officers at that time) and in many ways haunted the military a decade later in Iraq and Afghanistan, when the force had to be re-expanded as well as regain many skills and technologies that had atrophied in a procurement holiday.

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