Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It’s Muggy Out Thar…

or~ The War on Fog

The ‘Fog of War’ is the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations. The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding one's own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign.”…

This is becoming a thing with me… I start a comment in response to someone’s post and a few hours later I find I have written a post… sheesh. So, this is where I responds in a very tl;dr way to Mabrick’s latest, “Getting Round to Make Eve more Real”…

OK, I “basically” agree with the ‘FoW’ (Fog of War) basis, as Intel is THE KEY in all battles, numerical & firepower superiority are always second to Intel and FoW is very, very  real…  Mab says, “Those FCs with the skills to parse this spreadsheet quickly and efficiently do best. But this isn't really warfighting. It's list management.

Whomsoever sits in Kirk’s Favorite Chair, be ye Captain or Admiral, warfighting (FCing) boils down to Asset & Intel Management, period. This is known as ‘C3’, Command, Control & Communications. The whole basis of C3 is Intel. Without Intel you are just guessing your fleet to a quick death…  A good a definition of the value of Intel in C3 is as follows from an archive from Old Earth at the beginning of the 21st century:

Information management and distribution provide the backbone infrastructure to allow near-perfect, real-time knowledge of the enemy and the ability to automatically disseminate that information to dispersed forces and command centers. Technical challenges relate to heterogeneous distributed computing environments, distributed database management, multilevel information security, advanced human-computer interfaces (HCIs), and automated information distribution.

In this Mab is absolutely correct, in New Eden, approx 22,000 years after the above was written down we have achieved the desired for ‘near-perfect’ Intel… We in New Eden have highly advanced (far above 2012 Earth standards) Information Collection and Sharing Systems, IE: Computer Networks, IE: the NEOCOM (I mean it’s WAYYYY in the FUTURE right?). The technological basis for New Eden’s “Local” is:

(1) NEOCOM (FTL - Faster Than Light) communications combined with;
(3) all Stargates are networked via NEOCOM and real time update each other on ship movements;
(2) no ship can enter or leave an Empire system without using a Stargate OR a ‘Jump Bridge’ or ‘Cyno Jump’ the last two of which are readily detected and updated to the NEOCOM Systems AND;
(4) ALL of this information is accessible to all ships via the NEOCOM network.

The basis for the HUD (OV – Over View) is:
A ‘Tried and True’ human-computer interface (HCI) methodology for C3… the spreadsheet, or orderable/searchable data table. This was invented long ago on Old Earth, which has been refined and database input and updating are all now AI controlled, but it is still the ‘man in the chair’ who ‘uses’ this data to exercise C3, and the ‘spreadsheet’ data format is the best HCI methodology found so far.

In other words, a “good” General, Admiral, etc. (FC) actually IS “…a better accountant.” His ability to parse, understand and USE the data provided are still human qualities that no AI has been able to truly successfully recreate and none of this reduces or alleviates the uncertainty regarding one's own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent (ref FoW definition at the top).

Case in point:
HBHI lives in a C3 wormhole, last night we were running  a “Forgotten Frontier Quarantine Outpost”. We are up against the third class of the toughest AI in EVE. In C3’s the Sleepers Web, Neut and Scram. All of us were online and in fleet. Our CEO had setup multiple on grid Tactical BMs. Before going in we went over tactics, primaries, secondaries and operational goals. Our CEO was over all FC and our Fleet Cmdr was Exec. The majority of us are highly experienced wormholers, we are well shipped and fitted, we had solid and clear comms AND we had PERFECT Intel… and even with all that, we still lost a Tengu.

We were fighting and maneuvering and he got scrammed and went down before we could get enough ships in close enough to save him. No one “failed”, no one was to “blame” it was the Fog of War. In the best possible engagement scenario in EVE, PvE, against the 3rd best AI, the FoW still exists… in PvP it is very much alive and well and assisting in ship and pod kills every day… you die and learn. The upside was we pulled Eleventy One Million ISK from just that one site alone.

You discuss how, “…perfect intelligence about who you are fighting is terribly unrealistic.” Again, “basically” true… but what about Cloakies? Alts? Neutral spais & scouts? Corp Infiltrators? Logoff/Logon Tactics? AFK Cynos? There are still many unknowns in New Eden… we just have vastly more advanced technology is all… better ‘tools’.

You cannot equate the Pearl Harbor attack with warfare in New Eden, any more than ANY such ‘surprise attack’ would have been possible just 50 years later. The advances in technology between the late 20th and the start of the 21st century were sufficient to bring the advent of SOSUS, the rudimentary beginnings of what they called “Smart Weapons” and the earliest beginnings of Combat AI systems such as the Predator MAE UAV, and Tomahawk Cruise Missiles. You cannot begin to compare the Technology available on Old Earth in AD 1940 with the Technology of New Eden in the year YC 113 (AD 23,349) [no matter how new the system you play EVE on is…].    =]

In re:  “CCP has already said Dust Bunnies will be able to take down local for brief periods.” HURRAH!! THIS is Virtual REALITY at its very finest. I have several friends who will NOT play in W-space ever due mainly to ‘no local’… the loss of NEOCOM Intel makes applying C3 VASTLY more difficult as we who live on the other side of the sky know only too well every day. Keep in mind also I am sure CCP will have counters for this… Hire and send in a DUST Team to take out the other team and re-establish Local Comms… Fun to be had for ALL!!!  =]

I do have one concern though… you say, “…and the Overview was gone?” Where do you read that the Over View was going to be removed? I read ALL the Dev blogs while the recent patch was loading and that was not what I read. The UI is mentioned in “Stay On Target!” but there is no statement that the Over View will be removed. Do you know something we don’t? My understanding is the OV will probably have icon changes to match on screen icons, but basically remain as is. And while the screenshots don’t show the Over View, they also don’t show any Chat, Selected Object or any other windows either… It was a screen cap with extraneous data removed to show just the onscreen icons.

As re: “Blob Tactics”… please see the US M4 Sherman main battle tank of WWII. And I quote:
Shermans were often outmatched by the 45 ton Panther tank and wholly inadequate against the 56 ton Tiger I and later 72 ton Tiger II heavy tanks, suffering high casualties against their heavier armor and more powerful 88 mm L/56 and L/71 cannons. Mobility, mechanical reliability and sheer numbers, supported by growing superiority in supporting fighter-bombers and artillery, helped offset these disadvantages strategically. The relative ease of production allowed huge numbers of the Sherman to be produced. This allowed many divisions, even many infantry divisions, their own organic Sherman assets. Some infantry divisions had more tanks than German panzer divisions did. This was a huge advantage for the Americans.

What this amounted to was a defacto US Armed Forces BLOB tactic against smaller although technically far superior tank forces. It worked in AD 1944 just as it works as well today in YC 113. I bet the Germans whined and moaned quite a bit too as the survivors jumped from their wrecked Tigers and Panthers and fled from ‘blobs’ of Sherman tanks and ‘hordes’ of American troops. ANY successful tactic is not a thoughtless tactic, just ask the winners.

If the Germans had access to something equivalent to New Eden’s  ‘local’ and been able to know, instantly, the type and number of the forces deploying against them, yes they would have used different tactics… but that would have been (and is in EVE) a two edged sword as the opposing force probably would have had access to the very same intel.

I also strongly feel that ‘theory crafting’, IE what ships and fits work best in fleet formations also gives rise to an element of ‘FoW’ in EVE, hence as you said, “…that is less a statement about the capabilities of the outnumbered pilots, than it is a statement about the poor fitting prowess of the other side.

Remember, and I cannot stress this strongly enough, the Fog of War is not about technology… it is about the human factor. It is, the uncertainty regarding one's own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign.

A man armed with an assault rifle he does not know how to use will lose to the man skilled with a knife.

I am very interested in how things will go once the DUSTers start to get really involved… as the Chinese saying goes, “May you live in interesting times.” CCP is keeping things in New Eden interesting indeed…   =]

Fly Safe and see you in the Sky  =/|)=


  1. Hmmm, I'm gonna have to mostly disagree with you on this one Tur. I could write a 10,000 word rebuttal to support the position that FoW is just as much about technology as the human factor - but I'll try and keep it to 100 words. Typically technology is used to cut through the FoW like the British did with RADAR in the Battle of Britain. But commanders can create FoW with technology too. Perhaps the simplest example is deploying smoke with artillery to conceal troop movements. And as for the WWII tank example, we followed one school of thought on the use of armor and the Germans used the other school. Tanks are great offensive weapons in mass but they cannot hold ground. Infantry takes and holds terrain and do so even better when they have heavy weapons. In WWII we used tanks as mobile pill boxes. The Germans used them like battering rams. The point is, there was NO american blob warfare with tanks. They were too dispersed throughout the force structure. The tank blob was at Kursk! *wink* And lastly, the knife expert had better not forget that no skill is required to wield a club.

  2. I am very intrigued and generally in agreement with your position.

    The sole use of technology advances are indeed a huge reduction in fog of war, so much so that tactical engagements are fought with near clarity, however strategically big picture SA often suffers from information asymmetry and mis-communication.

    Therefore my belief as it always has been that local is the biggest issue with EVE. You have a scout that's following a fleet, more power to you, you should have that information advantage.

    The overview, d-scan, these tools are point information, going into a stage of an engagement, where strategic information moves towards tactical, where you can see information with your own eyes, using technology to help interpret and sort this information. In this instance the D-scan can be thought of as a Radar on an F-15 or Euro fighter where the local is the AWACS/JSTARS, and the overview the FCR and Mk1 Eyeball, fighter pilots call this the merge when two flights move into one grid in the air, and it is roughly analogous to Eve today, the first few seconds often decide the fight and those that control the information and position themselves better, maybe get a stroke of luck are often the successful side. The sorting of targets begins even before the fleet has arrived on grid with each other.

    Local doesn't have to be removed necessarily, just weakened of made less reliable, it can be given to the players to be able to mess with, to disseminate false information regarding fleet size, ghosts, phantoms, call it what you like, one guy lighting a module on his ship that makes him appear 4 times in local, local jamming super capitals, stuff like that.

    Regarding blob's, this is an inevitable escalation part of warfare, that bringing more is considered the best. Still technology alone should not be good enough to win a war, the US admirably demonstrated this concept in Vietnam. Air power cannot win by itself, without combined arms you should not hope to win, you do not send your queen into a battle undefended unless you feel like losing your queen, I would like very much to do away with solo formation blobs rather than the blobs in general. A doctrine where 400 of one type or even class of ship (I'm just gonna say it as we are all thinking it. drakes, but it was maelstroms/abaddon's before them) beats a well balanced ship types of 300-400 should not be possible without taking into account errors and pilot skill from this fleet.

  3. I am very flattered and generally in agreement with your comment… =]

    Your point re “…strategically big picture SA often suffers from information asymmetry and miss-communication.” Is spot on as regards my position that the FoW is not technological issue it is a human perception/ communication /decision making issue. All the technology, whether it was the advent of the telescope which led to binoculars which were quickly adopted for military use in the 1700s or the advent of Sleeper tech based (IE Jovian) ‘quantum entanglement’[1] technology used in fluid routers that provides the basis for the instantaneous FTL communication of the NEOCOM network across the length and breadth of New Eden… (see “EVE: Templar One” by Tony Gonzales pg 176 [2])(…and not to be confused with these guys ‘Quantum Entanglement’ [3]) <-- see, confusion is EVErywhere!!


    I have no issue with ‘local’ as such… the basis for it is well documented and based on sound principles inside the lore of the EVE ‘verse… however, the ability to ‘fuk with local’, IE using DUSTers to take it down, even if for a limited time, brings with it some very VERY interesting possibilities… at least for them as live in Empire space, wormholers probably won’t notice if local has been removed or not as they almost never look at it… (and those of us who live in holes full time, it is actually a shock to see local flashing). We would just pop out of our holes for a store run and go about our business as usual while everyone around us was freaking completely out… LOL.

    Complete agreement on your statements re overview & dscan.
    Quoted for truth: (and I may outright steal these for future whine & moan sessions…)

    “D-scan can be thought of as a Radar on an F-15 or Euro fighter where the local is the AWACS/JSTARS, and the overview the FCR and Mk1 Eyeball…” “…those that control the information and position themselves better, maybe get a stroke of luck…”

    Really like your ideas on spoofing local, and the DUSTers ability to take down local I believe may be the start of something along those lines. We have Electronic Warfare [4] or EW as in ECM, ECCM, etc., and such, now we need Information Warfare, [5] Infowar or IW capabilities.


    Agree on blobs…
    Since the dawn of time bringing more guys to the fight has always been a standard tactic and may possibly be the first real warfighting methodology that deserves the label ‘warfare tactic’. Boys gonna blob, no one ‘wants’ to be on the losing side of a fight. But, to counter your Vietnam analogy, keep in mind that just 30 years later vastly improved technological and information systems, used by well trained troops, gave us the severe difference in casualties in the Iraq war [6].

    This demonstrates that technology and information supremacy, well applied by combined arms, can weigh heavily on the outcome. The US and its allies didn’t ‘blob’ the Iraq army, in comparison to Vietnam, WWII and all prior wars, we surgically defeated them. (KEEP in mind this statement is made only in comparison to prior wars.)


    Even with the massive tech and Infowar capabilities that we had there were many deadly mistakes, friendly fire incidents, and miscommunication… the FoW has not been alleviated, repealed or totally by technology…

    Because The Fog of War still exists where it has always been, in the mind of man.

    1. Well, I find the discussion deeply fascinating.

      Quantum entanglement has many applications and is truly an exciting area of Physics and computing (as it is the basis of a quantum computer), I can honestly say most people just can't wrap there heads around what entanglement is, trying to explain it to someone, they start to lose the plot when you mention Heisenberg uncertainty principles, and by the time you get to Einstein locality challenges, Bell inequalities, Fourier transforms and EPR pairs they are positively catatonic.

      Anyway, I won't rehash your comment where we agree, but will discuss the differences for brevity.

      Basically I agree with your premise and your argument in principle, however my analogy was not meant to illustrate the difference time and information/technology advances make to warfare, but one of combined arms, where air force can not win a war alone, not without the combined arms of the army and marines. Another example, when the first Iraq war was fought, the bombing campaign did very little to weaken Sadam's resolve, yes the surgical strikes, crippled many CCC infrastructure and AAA capabilities likely saved many lives on both sides of the conflict, but to start off with when the UN security council didn't want to authorise a ground assault, the lesson had not been learned that they couldn't hope to win until the ground advance was sanctioned. Basically the point, 400 T1 BC's shouldn't win without having HACS/Battleships etc and a more balanced ship profile.

      Another comment I would like to make, and this is more to get you thinking than anything else.

      I put it to you that the reduced casualties you speak of in the last Iraq war are NOT due directly to the advances in technology and information warfare or even better training, less blue on blue strikes and skill (although I'm sure they do not hurt), but is more attributable to the difference between technological states of the two sides, this would of course be more exacerbated the greater the gulf in technology (forgive the poor choice of words).

      A Medieval army, couldn't hope to deal with a B52 for instance, nor even by the time the advent of gunpowder arose. Nor no doubt the current human race with an enemy capable of interstellar travel (despite what the movies would have us believe ;o))

      The really interesting question, is at what point does the technological gap outweigh the combined arms issue we speak of above, clearly if you wiped out an entire army which in medieval times were separated by around a kilometre with one B52 carpet bomb, you may not break their will, but then you wouldn't have to the enemy could not win, the ruler would yield as soon as the losses became unacceptable and at the very least change his tactics, no doubt citing a magic dragon destroyed his army as a reason, where as we both know today the power of a 500lb dumb bomb, and that isn't even the most fearsome weapon on the planet. No way they could stand up to that sort of attrition rate. We could actually use EVE as a basis of this study, take PL against EUNI... EUNI is made primarily of younger new eden pilots, while PL is primarily old guard, high SP etc. a black bird fleet or even the best battleship heavy fleet ENUI can bring to bare couldn't hope to out match 1 HIC pilot that happens to have a cyno on it that has the entire PL Super Cap navy the otherside, it would be a massacrer, it wouldn't be fun for either side no doubt, but even so fact remains what is the point where EUNI cracks... At this point hopefully you are quite thankful there are no Capital ships in hisec about now. :)


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