The American military had found the Internet to be a tremendous boost
to developing professionalism among the troops. Moreover, military personnel
are spending a lot of their own tome to acquire more, and better, skills. How
can this be? No mystery, civilian firms are encountering the same phenomenon.
How to explain it? Simple, the Internet contains such vast amounts of data,
stuff that is so easy to get to, that many users find themselves learning and
exploring for the pure pleasure of it. "Surfing the web" is not seen
as work, but an entertaining adventure. You never know what will pop up next.
Moreover, there's the prospect of finding people like yourself, no matter how
unique you may be. Anyone who has a profession, and that means anything from
brick layers to fighter pilots to brain surgeons, can find like minded people
on the Internet. Not only can you find out what others in your profession are
doing (and they are often doing it in ways, better ways, that you did not know
about), but you can communicate with them.
military has always encouraged the troops to talk to each other, and exchange
tips and experiences. And for a long time that was done at bars, social events,
or anytime the troops were together and able to talk. That was good as far as
it went, but it didn't go that far. Now, the Internet provides access to
a lot more information, and an easier form of communication. Moreover, the
Internet put everyone in front of a computer, with far fewer distractions.
People could concentrate, and really get into ways to do their job better. For
combat troops, all this was a real lifesaver. Literally.
World Wide Web showed up in the mid 1990s, and by the time September 11, 2001
rolled around, most troops were on the Internet, and enthusiastic users of the
web. Officers were finding much valuable advice from their peers, and from
older officers who could dispense their valuable experience widely, and little
effort, and often without even disclosing who they were. Troops actually
preferred to do a lot of this schmoozing at home, where they could hide behind
civilian email accounts. Their military email accounts came with restrictions
on what one could say, or how they could sat it. Moreover, the military email
accounts were monitored by the Department of Defense. It was much more
comfortable asking, sometimes delicate, questions from your home
the troops were overseas, in combat zones, one thing they clamored for was
Internet access. And mainly they wanted to keep in touch with their peers, as
well as their families. Net savvy commanders were not surprised at how quickly
their troops picked up new combat tips from soldiers all over the world. That's
because the platoon, company and battalion commanders were comparing notes as
well. Much was made in the mass media about how the terrorists were using the
Internet to stay in touch. But the terrorists were lightweights compared to how
American troops used the net to stay up to date and on top of things. When your
life depends on it, you don't mind doing all this on your own time.