The USS Vincennes (CG-49) was among the most technologically advanced and capable guided-missile cruisers in the world in 1988, and her captain, like much of the crew, was a seasoned warrior with years of experience. Yet, when she shot down a civilian airliner on 3 July 1988, killing 256 people, the human-machine system built to increase lethality while providing advanced situational awareness failed under the stress of combat—catastrophically. As the complexity of modern warfare increases and the quest for information superiority drives militaries toward greater technology-assisted decision-making, the Vincennes incident provides a unique perspective on the confluence of technology and human decision-making. The incident begs the question: Why did the pairing of such advanced technology with a seasoned crew fail so badly?
The Human-Machine Team Failed Vincennes
By Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Tingle, U.S. Army