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In His Own Words – Shaw Pick on the Army’s Wired Generation

            Other than just generally getting peppered with mortars and stuff, it was a pretty uneventful six months. There was only one close call, really close call, for me…

             …in the artillery, my first assignment, I’d be walking through the woods with a spool of wire. [Now,] everything’s gone to satellite….

             He might have been the detonator, I don’t know, but he was a kid. Bottom line is I just couldn’t shoot a kid with no weapon….

             ….anybody who came in the Army after 2002 or ’03, they’ve known nothing but this current global war on terror. That’s all these kids know. It’s the most seasoned combat force that we’ve had since World War II, [but] as I heard one colonel put it, “They’re an inch wide but a mile deep.”

What’s most obviously impressive about the American war machine is its technology. But what makes that technology work is human beings.

Shaw Pick has been wiring the Army since 1997. He started out running telephone cables from one vehicle to the next on exercises. Now he operates computer networks and satellite communications serving Special Forces teams in the war zone. He has both institutional memory and cutting-edge knowledge of how technology is changing the military, from combat operations to calling home. After four tours in Iraq, three of them as a communications officer for Special Forces units, he recently graduated from the elite School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and is now preparing for his first deployment to Afghanistan.

The narrative that follows is excerpted from an interview Major Pick conducted with Learning From Veterans in December, 2010. His words have been edited for length and clarity. Accompanying the narrative is an analysis of Maj. Pick’s insights and experiences, drawing three lessons to be learned for national security policy:

Lesson #1: Bridge the military’s internal generation gap

Lesson #2: We must train to operate without high-tech networks

Lesson #3: Commanders need the authority to hire and fire


Click below for the narrative and the lessons-learned in printable PDF files. Also available is the entire package in a single file:

Pick, Shaw – complete – 2011-06-09 - 12 pages

Pick, Shaw – narrative – 2011-06-09 - 6 pages

Pick, Shaw – lessons – 2011-06-09 - 5 pages

Other narratives and analyses in this series are available here.


Also available online are relevant past articles going into greater depth on some of the issues raised in this feature:

- Wi-fi Infantry: better communications for the battlefield.

- When The Troops Come Home: bringing families back together after deployment.

- Shoot/Don’t Shoot?: rules of engagement.

- Intimate Killing: the psychological shock of face-to-face combat.


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