The iSoldier

The iSoldier

How the Army Can Capitalize on Technologically Savvy Troops

by Nick M. Masellis, Small Wars Journal

The iSoldier (Full PDF Article)

Upon arriving in Iraq as a stout 18 year old in March 2003, I was well-versed in the tactics associated with being a Military Police (MP) soldier. I knew how to respond to ambushes and perform evasive maneuvers if caught in a skirmish. I could instantaneously react to any potential nuclear, biological, or chemical attack. And I knew the Rules of Engagement directed by the Army through and through.

Yet, I had no knowledge of Islam nor understood the difference between Shi'a, Sunnis and Kurds. I couldn't explain the significance of the twin mosques in Karbala. I had no idea that showing the heel of your shoe is considered to be very offensive in the Arab culture. The culture shock was indescribable. This not only made the task of providing local security and training to Iraqi police more difficult, but also inadvertently added to the growing resentment of the American presence. By now, the service men and women of the US military are privy to being on the ground. In lieu of the shifting strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, I wonder how better prepared and culturally competent the average soldier marine and sailor is today, than when I was on the ground nearly six years ago?

The iSoldier (Full PDF Article)

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Enough of the smartphones and technology. Seriously. Just more crap to put on property books, maintain accountability for, and more headaches for leaders. And let's be real, it's only being thrown out there so the Army can use it as a recruiting tool.
Instead of going through battle drills, vehicle identification, or weapons maintenance, PSGs and SLs will soon be lining up their Soldiers to verify the latest update has been installed with the latest apps on their Army-issued smartphones. And, since this will be pushed down from the highest levels, PLs, Co Cdrs, BN S-3/4s etc will be producing memorandums to certify accountability and software/app status, and they'll have to send it to the PBO, to higher, some project manager, etc. The BN and BDE S-6 is likely to become more unpopular than the S-1 as Soldiers complain about phones and apps not working, or sites and patches not being available.

Add to this that no application will ever replace sitting down and saying the words or living the culture.

As for those saying these phones could go 'tactical' for Soldiers to reference on the street, in the village, and elsewhere so they can capture information, log reports, and so forth: issue this down to Joe and I give it 30 minutes past LD where the first gets lost. It will have OPSEC information on it, and we'll be doing hands across Afghanistan to search for an Evo.

We have so many bigger problems that need to be addressed. Enough with computer training, smartphones, and the like. We need books, people, hard training, and experiences.

I'm glad I saw your article here. My company is currently working on an Army contract to develop a set of cross-cultural training tools, much like the on-demand "correspondence courses" that you mention in your piece.

What's interesting is that the soldiers we're interviewing tell us that while more cultural training would be useful, they don't want it to be computer-based (we haven't asked them about an iTough :-) They don't like technology-based training, don't have time for it, don't find it useful, etc. They want more live role-plays and face-to-face simulations.

Surely some of that reaction is because much of the tech-based training in AKO *is* boring and ineffective. And we're trying to use games and simulations that would be more engaging. But I'm interested in your opinion about whether good training that's technology based would actually get used in the field.