Turns out that Iraq insurgents were able to watch live feeds from American drone aircraft. Reminds me of Japanese hubris about their codes during World War II.
If anything, I think the enemy, being smaller and less bureaucratic, tends to be more technologically agile than us. I remember after the Anaconda battle in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001 seeing solar collectors in an al Qaeda command and control bunker high atop "Roberts Ridge." From the wires I could see it looked to me like they used it to power their communications. (I didn't want to climb down into it because I was worried it was boobytrapped, and also because there were unused RPGs and all sorts of other stuff cluttering the ground.) Anyway, solar power sure beats carry hauling batteries up the pathways along those 10,000-foot-high razorback ridges.
Deb Smith/U.S. Air Force/Getty Images
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.