High Technology Equipment for Low Technology Countries
The South African National Defence Force "is probing whether a software glitch led to an antiaircraft cannon malfunction that killed nine soldiers and seriously injured 14 others during a shooting exercise on Friday."Wired
SA National Defence Force spokesman brigadier general Kwena Mangope says the cause of the malfunction is not yet known...
Media reports say the shooting exercise, using live ammunition, took place at the SA Army's Combat Training Centre, at Lohatlha, in the Northern Cape, as part of an annual force preparation endeavour.
Mangope told The Star that it “is assumed that there was a mechanical problem, which led to the accident. The gun, which was fully loaded, did not fire as it normally should have," he said. "It appears as though the gun, which is computerised, jammed before there was some sort of explosion, and then it opened fire uncontrollably, killing and injuring the soldiers."
High tech weapons and low tech culture makes for a dangerous combination. Yet, so many third world leaders feel they will have more world-class clout if they possess the most sophisticated and powerful weapons available. It is a "cargo-cult" psychology that will only lead to more tragedy.
The same neglect of maintenance is seen in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The first world can supply many third world nations with the most sophisticated infrastructure for health care, agriculture, transportation, and other means to modern living--but if the machines simply break down for lack of maintenance, what is the use?
Part of the problem is a near-universal aversion to hard and dirty work, even in the third world. Part of the problem is the lack of knowledge skills needed to understand maintenance manuals and proper maintenance procedures. And a large part of the problem is allocation of funds geared toward acquisition of technology, but not maintenance or training.
If you listen to IQ researchers, you may begin to believe that the human capital--the number of people with >90 IQ needed to do rudimentary maintenance, and with >110 IQ needed to do more complex maintenace, is not available. That is a matter of debate.
What is clear, is that this type of weapons catastrophe is likely to happen wherever such sophisticated weapons are sold to third world nations, and entrusted to third world militaries.