The Best Defense

Rebecca's War Dog of the Week: British Army Unveils New Elite Force (with Dogs)

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent   

The British Army just debuted its new elite fighting force -- the Force Troops Command (FTC). Soldiers from the new wing offered a preview of their specialist capabilities in a series of demonstrations this week at Upavon Airfield which included "infantrymen, divers, medics, artillery units, missile specialists, chefs," and, yes, dog teams.

Handlers like Private Terry Gidzinski and his MWD Cheyenne (pictured above) were there to show off their skills. In this photo, the pair is relaxing, but in the photos below Gidzinski and Cheyenne (along with Corporal Kelly Wolstencroft and her MWD partner Tran) are demonstrating their teams' capabilities -- what I would guess would be combat-ready tactical drills and bite work (though the photo captions don't specify).

According to the British Army website, FTC will be fully operation as of April 1 and will eventually be composed of "nine 'functional' brigades" including:

A new Intelligence and Surveillance Brigade will deliver integrated intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, drawing specifically on lessons from Afghanistan. A new Artillery Brigade will deliver both close support artillery and precision fires, as well as leading Air-Land Integration. 8 Engineer Brigade will expand to command the close support engineer units, as well as Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search, Force Support and Infrastructure Groups.

So, the war-dog takeaway? The British Army appears to be readying itself to put to (perhaps even better) use the lessons of Afghanistan, meaning that it fully anticipates engaging an enemy in asymmetric warfare. Which means IEDs -- as JIEDDO head Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero called them in 2012, the "weapon of choice by threat networks" for decades to come. Which means, of course, explosive-detecting dog teams are going to come in handy.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The Best Defense

An actuary looks at the Future of War (no. 22) -- and sees a nuclear war looming there

By Matt Wilson
Best Defense future of war entry

It's been almost 70 years since a great-power war, and war in general is declining. What does this mean concerning the future of war?

Imagine an area that historically has gotten a large earthquake about every 20 years. However, it hasn't had an earthquake in over 60 years. Should you be worried?

It turns out the basic processes moving societies into the future and the earth's crust into future are similar. The future heavily builds on the past -- a positive feedback loop process. All positive feedback processes that are stabilized (not allowed to crash) will experience a very large crash at some point in time. And if a very large crash is still suppressed, then the system (society or earth) will get stuck in the middle of a phase change. When the system finally undergoes a phase change, then everything will get wiped out. What happens when you put out every forest fire? Forests follow the same positive feedback loop process too. In the meantime, the system will sit at the edge of a cliff, unable to move forward very well. This explains Japan's economy and now the U.S. economy too. It also explains the future of war: the large crash.

Time of stability is the biggest factor in determining when a system is nearing a crash state. After a long period of stability, a big problem in one area implies that big problems are lurking elsewhere. The 9/11 shock in 2001 was our first sign of trouble. The 2008 financial crisis pushed the United States into a pre-collapse state that is being suppressed. Like Japan, the United States will not be able to get going again until it allows another great depression. The next shoe to drop could be a great-power nuclear war. Look at the connection between financial crisis and war:
1. The 1907 U.S. financial crisis was followed by World War I in 1914.
2. The 1929 U.S. financial crisis was followed by World War II in 1939.
3. The 2008 U.S. financial crisis was followed by World War III in 2015-2018?

The same build-up of problems that caused a financial crisis also positioned societies for war. Those problems are a build-up of bad ideas, bad decisions, and corruption. They build up within all sectors of society at about the same rate. So the fact that the financial sector is mostly independent of the military sector is irrelevant. A big crisis in one area just tells us that time is up.

You and everyone else you know think that a great-power nuclear war is just about impossible.

In fact, it just might be the future of war.

Matt Wilson is a retired actuary who blogs on emerging risks. Interested parties can find more information about the concepts discussed in this article: "A System Collapse Framework for Societies." "Controlled instability is your friend." Marinate on that.

Tom note: OK, we're at number 22, but interesting ideas are still pouring in. Got one? Consider submitting an essay. The contest remains open for at least another week. Try to keep it short -- no more than 750 words, if possible. And please! no footnotes or recycled war college papers.