When low tech works best

Many of the articles written on this blog (and by all our fellow defence specialists) extol the virtues of new technology: the latest vehicle, robot, radar, and even gee-gaw we didn’t even know we needed. But sometimes, when it gets down to real operations in difficult conditions, then smoothed out sand, sticks, stones and bits of ribbon do the job better. No need for electricity, fancy batteries or touch screens to make the map in this photo do the job and once it’s been rubbed out no need to fear that it will be memorised deep in a computer system where a hacker may find it:

 

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The temporary advanced base of Madama, Niger at the end of the day. French and Nigerien (sic) officers use low technology to ensure they all understand how the dawn operation for the next day will unfold (Photo credit: armee2terre)

 

In issue 182 (2010) of the Australian Defence Force Journal there is a very interesting article which begins on p.44 entitled “Lasers or Longbows? A Paradox of Military Technology” which I encourage you to read if you’re interested in how the increased capability of a military force is always accompanied by increased complexity and therefore vulnerability.

 

The photos reproduced here, taken by an unnamed photographer, are part of a series of stunning images of this summer’s operations in the Sahel-Saharan band posted by the French Army on its Facebook page. So on this last day of August we thought we would pay homage to these soldiers who have spent their summer on different types of sand than many of the rest of us and without the parasols, loungers and cool drinks that we might have enjoyed. They did have some remarkable landscapes to enjoy though:

 

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Cavalry units of the 1st Hunter Regiment (régiment de chasseurs) during operation Piana which involved more than 400 soldiers from the FDSM (Mali defence and security forces), the French Army’s Barkhane operation and the MINUSMA. The photos shows the Gourma region, which straddles the Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso border regions reputed for harbouring armed terrorist groups, where they were deployed. (Photo credit: armee2terre)

 

Not quite a traditional safari for these soldiers

Not quite a traditional safari for these soldiers taking part in Operation Piana in the Gourma region (Photo credit: armee2terre)