That’s the number of folks the U.S. Army has working on lessons learned activities and the amount of time it takes for those lessons to be learned and disseminated, according to David Axe of DefenseTech.org and Military.com.  In a recent article, he explained

"CALL [Center for Army Lessons Learned] captures contemporary, current, near-real-time observations, insights and lessons from the Global War on Terror," says Col. Larry Saul, a Vietnam veteran and CALL director.

CALL’s collection "mechanism", Saul says, is threefold:

It has eight deployed liaison officers serving six-month tours that report back lessons from the front: two in Afghanistan and six in Iraq. Saul says he’s looking to add another two to Iraq as well as two to Kuwait.

Collections and Analysis Teams consisting of as many as a dozen officers deploy for six weeks to study particular problems — "say, Improvised Explosive Devices or aviation operations or management of a command post," Saul says. CALL can support four teams at a time and is budgeted for around 20 deployments per year.

Finally, Army units send their After-Action Reports to CALL for analysis and dissemination, "particularly after a significant operation," Saul says.

"After collection, initially we do a hasty analysis looking at those things that might provide solutions to a life-threatening situation, looking for a gold nugget. Then we develop and determine the best proactice [to address the problem]. Later on, we do a more deliberate analysis of the problem."

"Flash to bang, it could be as short as a three-month period" from conceptualizing the problem to sending out a team to publishing results, Saul says.

CALL publishes its findings in pamphlets, handbooks, newsletters and large bound volumes. But its most important outlet is its website at http://call.army.mil,  which has a secure-access section for classified lessons.  {Axe, Army Center Captures Combat Experience, 2006}

Now, it could be that Axe just gets it wrong here, but if this really is the way it works, then I’m left a little dazed and confused.  We’ve only got 18 guys working on collecting and analyzing lessons learned?  It takes them 3 months–and "it could be as short as" indicates usually longer–to disseminate the lessons?  Everyday we hear reports of terrorists using the Internet, including forums, blogs, wikis, email and the whole gamut of online social networking applications to share information and tactics, to plan and coordinate operations.

Of course, I did argue in a recent post, Networked-IT and the myth of guerrilla invincibility, that these technologies are not wonder weapons, that they do not confer invincibility upon the terrorists, and that the U.S. has been successful in exploiting terrorist use of these technologies.  That said, however, it is ridiculous that the U.S. Army cannot come up with some sort of secure system of blogs, forums, etc. which would allow U.S. soldiers to develop and share lessons learned while in the field.

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