TatukGIS: 3rd Generation Warfare in the GIS World

I recently read a fascinating book called "America's Defense Meltdown", edited by Winslow T. Wheeler, and was struck by the similarities between the state of the US's defense and the state of GIS today.

In the book, Lt. Col John Sayen (US Marine Corps, ret.) describes several generations of warfare that have evolved since the mid-1600's (the end of medieval warfare).

"First Generation War (1GW) reflected the era before firearms became technically mature, when close order drill and shock action still had a place on the battlefield. Military ranks, uniforms, saluting, and ceremonial drill are all 1GW holdovers."

With Second Generation Warfare (2GW) "the emphasis was on firepower and material superiority with victory invariably going to the 'big battalions.'" "The US military is still a 2GW force that relies heavily on its closely coordinated fires and it's numerical, material, and technical advantages for its success."

Third Generation Warfare (3GW) "also known as 'maneuver warfare', emphasizes maneuver over firepower. Armies using 3GW can defeat stronger 2GW forces by being able to react to situational changes more quickly." If a combatant can observe a situation, orient himself, and based on this orientation decide what to do and do it faster than his opponent, then his opponent's "actions become outdated and disconnected to the true situation" and "his advantage increases geometrically."

"The US Army never adopted 3GW and remains a 2GW force." "A 2GW doctrine was comfortable, conceptually simple, and easily taught to the hastily trained 'shake and bake' officers who have staffed most of our forces."

The story is the same with GIS.

First Generation GIS appeared with the dawn of computers. The new technology of the time was CAD and relational databases.

Second Generation GIS is the industry standard GIS software of today. Take a second look at the paragraph above that describes Second Generation Warefare. I will change a few words and use that paragraph to describe Second Generation GIS.

Second Generation GIS relies heavily on its closely coordinated components and its numerical, material, and technical advantages for its success. However, all of this comes at a cost. The cost being actual funds required to purchase software, training, and hardware to implement second generation GIS, as well as the extra time required to implement the solution due to the added complexity.

Third Generation GIS is TatukGIS.

TatukGIS software (www.tatukgis.com) is fast, easy-to-use, easy to acquire, powerful, embraces open standards, and does not rely on a cadre of other expensive technologies to be implemented.

TatukGIS even makes the source-code of their software available for purchase -- how's that for lowering your GIS risk-profile? TatukGIS software has a small footprint and allows for the creation of simple or complex applications.

TatukGIS software can be implemented by an organization's existing IT staff. TatukGIS software does not require an organization to hire an entirely new GIS division.

Lt. Col. John Sayen goes on to describe 2GW procurement processes that closely mimic Second Generation GIS procurement processes, especially as they relate to hidden costs and complexity. I've made some slight modifications to the text to make the GIS connection more obvious.

"Front-loading is the practice of getting a program accepted by downplaying costs and/or exaggerating benefits. Political engineering is the art of quickly building a support network of vested interests to lock in a front-loaded decision before its true costs or performance become apparent. Together, these gaming strategies work like a bait-and-switch operation, creating a pattern of chronic over-commitment."

"The front-loading and political-engineering gaming strategies have several pernicious consequences. First, they pack the defense GIS budget with weapons GIS programs more appropriate to the economic needs of the contractors than to the military GIS needs of the nation organization. Second, they have subtle biases designed to increase weaponGIS-system cost and complexity."

"It follows that increasing the complexity of anything makes it less comprehensible. Therefore, the more complex a system is, the easier it becomes to front-load a decision to build it. The greater variety of parts that complex systems require increases the need for subcontractors, thereby making it easier to set up political-engineering operations. Finally, the inward focus of these gaming strategies corrupts decision-making by debasing intellectual rigor and increasing cynicism among those involved."

If you are an organization just delving into GIS, please consider the paragraphs above carefully before you steer your ship into the Second Generation GIS black hole of hidden costs, complexity, and time.

If you are an organization already caught in the quagmire of Second Generation GIS, it's time to evolve to Third Generation GIS.

TatukGIS makes it easier for an organization to 'maneuver' quickly in the ever-changing GIS/IT landscape.

And for your viewing pleasure, I present to you a video I found that is related to the topics covered in this article: GIS, the military, and complexity: