This is the re-posting of a comment first appeared on the blog internetSERVICE (http://www.internetservice.net/2011/10-ways-the-internet-changed-wars-forever)
We no longer rely on the Pony Express to bring us the news. Nor do we have to huddle around the stationmaster at the train depot while he keys in an interrupted message about a gang of desperadoes that’s headed your way.
With today’s internet, there aren’t many places left on the planet where virtually instantaneous communication, audio and/or video, are not attainable. This, naturally, has changed how battles are won and how wars are fought. No longer can great numbers of troops be moved far, before being detected and reported on by an opponent.
News speed isn’t the only thing about war that the internet has affected. Below are some direct and indirect effects that the internet has had, both on military and civilian personnel.
- Instantaneous – It took more than a month for news of the Boston Tea Party to reach London. Today we can send and receive news worldwide faster than we can brew a cup of tea.
- Civilians – Often, the only coverage or first coverage of many international incidents and events comes via cell phone communications. News teams may not have arrived, or the action may occur in areas banned to the world press.
- Military Operation Communication – Internet gadgetry and programming allow coordinated planning where more information is disseminated instantly to all areas within the entire command. Small units will know where their nearest contacts are, and whether they are likely to be “friendly” or not.
- Remote Control – UAVs, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, have been in use since 1849, when Austrian troops were attacking the Italian city of Venice. Though some balloons dropped payloads of explosives on their intended targets, other balloons blew back over Austrian lines. Today, internet remote control allows precise planning and pinpoint accuracy using predatory drones.
- Gamer Mentality – Even online recruitment ads utilize the gamer approach, because youth will relate to it more easily. GI Joe has been replaced by Call of Duty.
- “Everybody” Has It – It gets harder and harder to secure your own activities from hackers and saboteurs, since the internet makes technology available widely, cheaply and almost instantly.
- Spy Versus Spy – Information and disinformation highway. Strategic “leaks” are common in the intelligence world, and are often used to confuse and disorient opponents and potential threats.
- Surveillance – It’s amazing what can show up via satellite imagery. The reality of today’s techno-wizardry equals or surpasses the science-fiction visions of yesteryear.
- Up Close Means Personal – Thanks to apps like Skype, troops in the field are able to see and hear family members who are thousands of miles away. The emotional aspects of armed conflict are brought into American living rooms every night on the news, and the internet plays a key role in how reporters work in the field.
- Future – With technology advancing at ever-increasing rates, the only certainty is that the wonders of today will soon be no more than historical curiosities. Who remembers when eight-track tapes ruled? (eight-track audio tapes were popular in the 1970s).
The internet is also a valuable tool when conducting the end of any conflict; faster communication can help facilitate a quicker end to the hostilities