What the Navy Can Study From ‘Dune’

What the Military Can Learn From 'Dune'

Carl von Clausewitz and Frank Herbert each understood the ability of schwerpunkt. A Nineteenth-century theorist revered amongst navy geeks the way in which Paul Brown is revered amongst soccer coaches, Clausewitz wrote that every battle has a middle of gravity—which is how schwerpunkt is normally translated—and that victory usually flows to the strategist who identifies and seizes it. Relying on the kind of battle, the middle of gravity is likely to be an enemy’s logistics base or subject military, a nation’s capital, and even a person (see: Osama bin Laden within the battle with al Qaeda). No matter type it takes, a schwerpunkt is “the hub of all energy and motion, on which every part relies upon,” Clausewitz wrote.

In Dune, it’s the spice.

In a world the place computer systems and synthetic intelligence have been banned, the spice, or “melange,” permits pilots to fold house, traversing galaxies and time. The drug comes solely from the planet Arrakis, and when Duke Leto Atreides ventures there to safe it, he’s rapidly overthrown by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. The Baron, although, understands spice solely as a commodity. In a traditional case of colonial shortsightedness, he exploits it to fund his empire, upsetting the Fremen locals within the course of. However Paul Atreides, the Duke’s exiled son, is aware of a schwerpunkt when he sees it. Following his father’s ouster, he befriends the Fremen, turns into their messiah, positive aspects management of spice manufacturing, reclaims Arrakis, and turns into emperor of the recognized universe.

Navy heads don’t seek the advice of Herbert practically as usually as they do Clausewitz, however sci-fi nonetheless influences these within the navy. Within the 2000s, cadets who picked up Dune may’ve discovered perception into wars within the Center East; in 2021, the e book warns them to not rely an excessive amount of on expertise.

Within the age of digital warfare, combatants with the proper devices can virtually fold house. However when every part from GPS to energy grids to comms techniques is topic to being jammed, spoofed, hacked, or blacked out, counting on tech will get your ass blown up. This has prompted the US navy to undertake back-to-basics strategies, relearning, as Paul did, easy methods to combat analog. Sustaining log books. Utilizing runners and subject telephones. Combating off of handwritten orders moderately than electronically transmitted ones. It’s a painful course of for a lot of, but it surely’s mandatory. As a result of right now, the schwerpunkt in most conflicts—the spice—is digital data itself. 

Jonathan Bratten is a navy historian and an officer within the US Military.

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