War is used to test every kind of technology
It's a sad fact of life that war is good for business. Companies that manufacture weapons need to prove their technology works. So small wars are
excellent testing grounds for both the current and new ideas. If everything performs as it should, other governments around the world will buy the
systems for their own armed forces. But wars are not just about the latest guns, armored vehicles, ships or airplanes. They also test the people who
fight. Despite the drive to keep fighters safe by using drones and other systems to kill the enemy from a safe distance, human beings still have to go
face-to-face with the enemy in combat. Once you put people into real fighting situations, they get injured. For a while, this was not a problem but, as
the engagement in both Iraq and Afghanistan has continued, the strain on the volunteer forces has increased. Military personnel are being rotated
more rapidly with less time to recover from injury. As this is being written, President Obama is considering whether to increase the contribution to the
NATO force in Afghanistan. If an increase is authorized, this will put even more strain on the armed services.
The US Government Accountability Office is responsible for monitoring how effectively the Department of Defense uses its resources. Deployment
strategies have seen more rapid rotations of soldiers into combat zones for longer tours of duty. This has led to an increasing chorus of complaints that
there are not enough uninjured personnel to form an effective fighting force. In recent studies, some 15% of the enlisted personnel "resting" in the US
were injured. These were not life-threatening conditions. The people were "walking wounded". But, when their time came to return to the combat zone,
almost three-quarters were sent back even though still injured. Unfortunately, it's not for the GAO to review how commanders in the field use injured
personnel. All that can be said is that all serve their country with honor.
Despite the efforts of t