Photo: Ahiya Raved
Accusing. Gal Hirsch
Photo: Ahiya Raved
IDF plasma screens in limbo
Is public discontent over IDF plasma technology justified?
Since the end of the war, the imagery associated with the rift between the senior military command and the troops on the ground keeps reappearing: The plasma screen.


This imagery keeps re-surfing within the context of the conflict between the Commander of the 7th Tank Division, Colonel Amnon Eshel and the Commander of the Galilee Division, Brigadier-General Gal Hirsch - widely covered by the media.


Hirsch said Eshel should be the last person to complain, because he himself had never stepped inside Lebanon but only viewed the battle via his "plasma screen."


Despised symbol

How did this friendly technology of plasma screens become one of this war's most despised symbols? During the war, the media presented the IDF's new technology as assisting the military in gaining a tactical advantage over the enemy.


The commander sits at his headquarters while watching the movement of forces in real time – this is an impossible mission for a commander who decides to accompany his forces in battle. Every tank is marked on the screen; every movement is graphically displayed, creating a rich battle view.


When the technology was displayed, interesting questions were raised by military personnel. On the one hand, a brigade commander's advantage is that he is able to make influential macro decisions, and therefore he must be equipped with maximum data. On the other hand, commanders recognize the importance of being with their troops on the battlefield. So where should they be?


Public shuns technology

Even before the military echelons reached an unequivocal conclusion, public opinion voted against the technology. The technology the army worked so hard to bring to the battlefield suddenly became a burden.


A commander who opted to stay behind with the screens became "disconnected," enjoying life while the troops were groaning in the field. And why was he enjoying himself? Because of the plasma screen, of course.


What do these plasma screens have that they are able to generate so much anger? Perhaps it's the fact the majority of us still don't have such a screen in our living rooms.


Their costly prices (compared to ordinary screens) deter the majority of the public. Plasma screens have turned into a status symbol of sorts. It doesn't take up room, it gives a sharp image, and most importantly, it's flat, oh so flat.


'Troops just pixels on screen'

The fact that the military has opted to present its battle image on a plasma screen has positioned the technology as a luxury; a technology that tears commanders away from the battlefield and makes them treat their troops as though they were mere pixels in a PlayStation game.


The plasma dilemma is even more potent considering the accelerated upgrade in technology the army has been undergoing in recent years. The IDF's tanks are in fact armored computers, not to mention the aircraft.


Even the commanders on the ground are equipped with the best available communication technology and some of them even carry palm computers connected to the military network, which provides them with up-to-the- minute data. Despite this, no other military technology has turned into such a bone of contention.


Could it be that we are witnessing a case whereby technology is shooting itself in the foot, namely in the commander's foot, or could it be that when we all have a plasma screen in our own living rooms the discontent will disappear?


פרסום ראשון: 10.05.06, 13:01
 new comment
See all talkbacks "IDF plasma screens in limbo"
This will delete your current comment