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How Technology Failed in Iraq (23 Oct 2004)
Sometimes, intelligence was passed along verbally, over FM radio. But at other times vehicles outran even their radio connections. This left just one means of communication: e-mail. (In addition to tracking vehicles, Blue Force Tracker, somewhat quaintly, enabled text-only e-mail.) At times, the e-mail system was used for issuing basic orders to units that were otherwise out of contact. “It was intended as a supplement, but it wound up as the primary method of control,” says Owen Cote, associate director of the Security Studies Program at MIT. “The units did outrun their main lines of communications and networking with each other and with higher command. But there was this very thin pipe of information via satellite communications that allowed the high command to see where units were.”
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