Authors: Kaufmann, Stefan
Title: Land Warrior
Other Titles: The Reconfiguration of the Soldier in the "Age of Information"
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: The U.S. Army is currently working on the development of a new hybrid type of infantryman. Land Warrior is the name for the project which aims at equipping the dismounted soldiers with wearable computers, head-up display, permanent online connection and other technical components. The idea is to link up the dismounted soldier to an information and communications network spanning the whole field of operation. This project sets the stage for the introduction of a completely new type of soldier. It aims not merely at securing a new armament technology, but the complete technical and disciplinary reconfiguration of the soldier. The project transfers to the micro-level of the soldier the whole set of expectations which the military command units and advisers have in mind as a consequence of the epochal changeover to the "Information Age". The change introduced by information technology, so the argument goes, brings with it new kinds of opponents and dangers, but also new opportunities for military strategy. It transforms the entire fabric of geo-political and armament technology. Thus it brings the need for a change of the rationality of organisation of the military: founded on the plan of a "Networkcentric warfare", there is to be a programmatic re-structuring which extends right from the ideas of warfare to the design of the individual soldier. The combination of two research perspectives is used as a heuristical guideline for the empirical presentation. Fundamental assumptions of actor-network theory, and the idea that technical expectations can be seen as far-reaching "prospective structures", lead the gaze to the decisive significance of the main expectation, that of standing at the threshold of the information age. And they bring into sharper focus the idea of network-centric warfare as a programmatic analysis, which translates the technical developments into social demands made on organisational structures, procedures and cultures; and which, conversely, interprets the military definitions of situation, strategic and tactical, as a technological challenge. Drawing on Foucault s analysis of forms of governance and its further extension within governmentality studies, this not only allows a systematic treatment of the reconfiguration of the soldier which this process of change entails, it also shows how thorough-going and farreaching are the transformations of the soldier-subject which are envisioned. And the recourse to the Foucauldian perspective at the same time shows us how a network-type coordination of action, encouraging decentrality and self-organisation, implicitly requires for its precondition a specific kind of subjectivity structured by processes of power.
Issue Date: 2006-11
Provenance: Technische Universität Dortmund
Appears in Collections:Issue 2

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