Long have been the attempts to reduce or delay inhibitors to combat effectiveness. Militaries have sought to extend and prolong combat effectiveness through pharmacology to simple selection processes to wash out those unable to be minimally functional in physically challenging situations, including sleep deprivation and environmental extremes.
The discussion on a Defense Tech posting on ‘bizarro’ programs from the ‘Pentagon’s mad science division’ focused on an ‘evolution’ of a warrior class in a Darwinian sense. This
evolution is most certainly not genetic, but emotional or cultural. The
military society in the US, and most other Western industrialize states
with an entrenched and effective civil-military relationship as
described by Huntington in the Soldier and the State, is becoming more ‘internalized’ and less drawn from the larger citizenry which they protect. The military society that had been a faithful servant of the civil society is becoming restless in its chair.
technology, including pharmaceuticals and sensors, facilitate deep
investigations into increasing combat effectiveness with minimal sleep.
Programs like DARPA’s Preventing Sleep Deprivation have the unintended consequence of distancing the military society from the civil society.
Specialization of soldiers through stress and sleep mitigation and weather tolerance, to name three examples mentioned in the Defense Tech posting, is in part based on physical selection and society’s technological aptitude, but it mostly a result of willingness of the warrior class. Jared Diamond, in Guns, Germs and Steel, demonstrates peoples do not become extinct because of a failure to shift from
hunting to agriculture but that they are overmatched by those that do.
This transition allowed for and led to specialization and subsequent the creation of the
‘warrior-class’ (and the ruling class, the bureacracy class, and technology, etc). This
allowed for a segment of the population to become specialists in war
(i.e. knights, samurai, etc).
So, fast forward and we have this warrior class, this professional soldier seperated from the rest of society. Many of these soldiers are mercenaries working for sovereigns to perform various functions from offense to defense. These include privateers like Sir Francis Drake to the Hessians to the Pope’s personal security force, the Swiss Guards.
Around two hundred years ago, a revolution in military affairs
started. Napoleon leveraged budding nationalism to put forth huge
armies (levee en mass), but remember that was not the only factor
behind this size increase. Technology (easier to operate rifles, better
artillery), logistics, and c2 (professional officer corps, strategy,
loyal soldiers) all helped. The important point here is simpler
technology of war + nationalism to make the cause of war for the group
and not the game of sovereigns created the citizen soldier. Thus
bringing the fight "home". (Churchill quipped about the phenomena of rallying the masses and the inability to stop a democracy from war once it started moving in that direction.)
The recent (and current) RMA, coupled with contemporary globalization and its causes and effects, is
reversing the nascent trend of the citizen soldier and is returning to the
professional soldier model (e.g. Hessians, Swiss Guards, knights,
samurai). This professional soldier is moving outside of the general
population through seperate support systems (divisions in an
increasingly diverse population, commercial seperation with base PXs,
VA) and increasing specialization in the field of warfare. Conscript armies are relics of the past, largely because conscripts are not as motivated nor have the time to become professional and effective soldiers (NATO and the EU strongly discourage conscription; Israel is excluded from this discussion because the military is not subjugated under the civilian authority). The modern
US military, most notably, is creating its own increasingly unique culture through
differentation with the general population. This is necessitated by an
increasingly "complex battlespace", increasing demands on
professionalism, and a deepening of the civil-military divide, all
Darwinian in their application.
That "Military…has a roll in society and…will demand to be at
the table along with Wall Street and the political interest groups" is
a troubling example of the weakening of the civil-military relationship
successfully entrenched in our society and other Western, industrial
societies. The subjugation of the military to their civilian overseers
is of course furthered by the training of an elite officer corps,
indoctrination of troops in general, etc.
This progression is encouraged by the civilian ‘masters’ through both implicit and explicit means. The ossified relationship continues to breakdown when generals speak out directly to the press, increasing their
own profile and not of their civilian masters. The profile of the military as an independent wing is also amplified when sending the generals to speak to Congress on military matters in which the executive branch should instead be effectively responding.
The natural evolution is leading to the "Mark MacGuires" in Skinners
argument. Whether it is through gene doping or plain old doping, we
have a civilian leadership increasingly disengaged from the realities
of combat. How many current Congressmen have served? How many of their
family members are in the service? and were Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz
really knowing best when they ignored the advice of professional
soldiers? This is not an issue of understanding the "horrors
of war" but of understanding the realities on the ground, the nuts and
bolts of winning that go beyond powerpoint presentations.
The age in which we live is not geologic nor does it provide enough
time for genetic selection. However, through changes in society
(diasporas, CNN Effect, interests in XBox instead of the London Tube,
etc) there is selection happening more and more. Where do our soldiers,
airmen, and sailors came from these days? I’d be curious to know how
many do not come from families with some kind of military tradition or
have some other steeply patriotic urge or simply have no where else to
In the end, we cannot allow the civil-military relationship to devolve. It is already under pressure from sociatal pressures of modern globalization limiting the autonomy of states. The insertion of ‘society’ into the civil-military relationship, therefore becoming a civil-society-military relationship, has the futher potential to disengage absolute control over the armed forces by the civilian leadership.