This is the tagline of a summit being held in Arlington next week, “Sensor to Shooter.” It promises that, “[a] tight sensor to shooter timeline ensures the rapid identification and capture or kill of the enemy.” The meeting is sponsored by the ominously titled Institute for Defense and Government Advancement. Guess they’re not fans of Hayek.

From the point of view of a soldier or a commander in the field, this kind of “process improvement” must be welcome. To a civilian it’s a reminder that the sharp end of our foreign policy is sharp for the purpose of killing men. And it should be a little disturbing to find the killing of men reduced to optimized processes like something out of an MBA course.

On a different although slightly related note, this reminded me of Lazare Ponticelli’s obituary in the Economist. Ponticelli was the last of the French World War I veterans.

His Italian Alpine regiment had once stopped firing for three weeks on the Austrians, whose language many of them spoke; they had swapped loaves of bread for tobacco and taken pictures of each other. To the end of his life, Mr Ponticelli showed no interest in labelling anyone his enemy. He said he did not understand why on earth he, or they, had been fighting.

That’s been said enough of World War I. Presumably now we know precisely who our enemies are, and why… and while most Americans probably wouldn’t flinch at the thought of engineering better battlefield communication processes, they’d probably rather not talk about the killing itself.