The Military's Enemy Within: PowerPoint

It 'makes us stupid' one general charges

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 27, 2010 11:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – There's an enemy lurking inside the US military, and it's called PowerPoint. The presentation software has become more and more central to military procedure in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pentagon, the New York Times reports and the effect has not been salutary. Junior officers are often referred to as “PowerPoint Rangers” because they spend so much time with the software. When asked last year how he spent most of his time, one platoon leader replied, “Making PowerPoint slides.” When pressed, he insisted he was serious.

“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” the Joint Forces commander declares. Another general says he's banned it altogether. “It's dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding," he says, "Some things are not bullet-izable.” While PowerPoint is widely derided—the slide at left depicting American strategy in Afghanistan as a virtual bowl of spaghetti has been widely circulated on the Internet—the presentations are probably embedded forever in the military culture, notes the Times. “There's a lot of PowerPoint backlash,” said one operations officer, “but I don't see it going away anytime soon.”

This image, taken from a military PowerPoint presentation and since spread virally around the internet, was designed to demonstrate the complexity of the war in Afghanistan.
This image, taken from a military PowerPoint presentation and since spread virally around the internet, was designed to demonstrate the complexity of the war in Afghanistan.
US Army General Frank Helmick gestures at a press conference on the Dal Molin base expansion project, in this file photo.
US Army General Frank Helmick gestures at a press conference on the Dal Molin base expansion project, in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Francesco Dalla Pozza)
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Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession. - The New York Times

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