At this week’s USMC IT Day, I once again had the honor of being in the company of a great American hero. General Al Gray, the 29th Commandant of the US Marine Corps and the guest luncheon speaker. I was a young navy lieutenant in 1982 when I first met the general on a Unitas cruise and saw his determined leadership (contact me for the Rio story). In 1985-1986, I was a member of the Commander, Amphibious Group Two staff, and my admiral, Rear Admiral Bob Rogers worked closely with Al Gray on the first Navy/USMC war games, changing the culture of amphibious warfare (going head on with 2nd Fleet commander, VADM Hank Mustin) and using a CVBG to support the CATF).
Fast forward 26 years and the topic of the day was “knowledge dominance”, which ironically was a spin of the Navy slogan of “Information Dominance”. Since my tagline of iGouge is “turning information into knowledge”, the views of this great man were extremely interesting and relevant. His first comment was (paraphrasing) that ‘we should not think that we can dominate anything” and that most of the “taglines” that come of Washington’s beltway are not reality from the soldier in the fight (remembering such things as “Copernicus, Joint Vision 2010, ForceNet, Network Centric Warfare.
It is important that we understand the difference from information (all those packets of data that people want to send around) and knowledge. Knowledge is gained from repeated processes (doing the same thing over and over) and from correlation of bits of information. I am reminded that we need to fully understand what is going on with new technologies and applications like facebook and twitter. More specific, what ardvark (vark.com) was doing before being acquired by Google and even the focus of friendfeed (social knowledge). Are we moving to a generation that only acts on snipits of information and fails to disseminate, correlate and process these bits of information to create knowledge?
Back to General Gray’s comments, these are in no order, but make us all think harder…..
- All we need to make sure the marine knows is:
- What to do
- When to start
- Who can help him
-We have to understand that a legacy hierarchical C4I infrastructure of several layers is old school. Remembering the book, Pyramids to Pancakes (that great chapter in the book by Michael Lewis),
We need to see how the Taliban are organized in cells and each cell is small enough to operate (without much overhead) and each cell communicates to each cell in a peer to peer way.
Really let your young people (in this case – young marines) loose and give them the environment to do great things. Do not burden them down with old legacy tools, products, or culture).
Don’t get too dependent on GPS. Our sailors and marines still need to do their job when technology is not there (i.e. “Denied Environment). I am worried that we do not have enough patience, funding, or leadership to make sure we can plan these contingency operations. We may not have to teach the new generation how to use a slide rule, but we must make them aware of an environment where they can do their job without the luxury of the internet, power, etc.
Enough for this post. I have to speak into my new Thunderbolt to get to my next meeting using the Google Maps/Navigation app!
I will be attending this year”s USMC C4I dinner which always is a very patriotic event to honor our fallen marines.