• War

    American Intelligence Community Horror Story #4786

    For a change of pace, instead of hammering on State, we’ll hammer on the bureaucracy. Go to Afghanistanica and read American Intelligence Community Horror Story #4786: Not enough experts, hmm? Nobody can speak the languages? The government needs people with area knowledge? Well, of course they do. And there is of course a shortage of available people with the required skill set. So why are so many experts being turned down for employment? You can find this debate discussed ad nauseum elsewhere. Instead I will share a little story about an acquaintance who was turned away by the bureaucracy of the United States government.

  • War

    SIGMA follow-up

    Long over-due post following up on SIGMA, the science fiction writers group started by Arlan Andrews to consult to the government previously blogged about here. I had the opportunity to chat with Arlan Andrews about SIGMA. Here’s what he had to say.  MountainRunner: What’s the story behind the missing SIGMA website? Some bloggers have questioned why it doesn’t exist. Arlan Andrews: The main reason SIGMA has no website is that I haven’t gotten around to it, though I am the owner of eight or ten different domains, and have owned probably thirty over the past ten years (and sold a few at a profit!). Fact is, I never saw the…

  • Counterinsurgency,  War

    Being Knowledgeable

    There are two good stories in the Primary Sources section of this month’s Atlantic (subscription required). The first is a summary of a recent Pew survey that indicates most knowledgeable Americans were those who got their news from the Web sites of major papers and those who watched programs like The Colbert Report or The Daily Show; they correctly answered 54 percent of the questions about current affairs, while regular viewers of local TV news and network morning shows got only about 35 percent right…. And while it’s hard to know which sources provide the best information, the report notes that well-informed people gather their news from an average of 7.0 sources—more…

  • War

    Monday Mash-Up for June 18

    General Jay Garner is interviewed by the Guardian about the early days of the occupation.  Mr Garner also admitted he did not see several of the plans prepared by the Bush administration and does not know why. He also revealed that he rang Mr Rumsfeld to tell him to stop reducing the US troop deployment and warned him that the consequent power vacuums were filling up with ” fundamentalists”. ZenPundit posts on a response to Steve DeAngelis’s Tension post The Tension Between Creativity and Efficiency. I agree with Zen and Steve, having worked in the environment where analysis by committee is done until the technology is no longer new. The lost…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Public Diplomacy,  War

    Counterinsurgency guidance

    Reading at the Small Wars Council that speaks for itself, from Lieutenant General Ray Odierno. Note numbers 8, 9 and 10 and consider how we engage foreign audiences and the difference between tactics, strategy and motivations (and here, and a quote from Kathleen Meilahn here). 

  • Counterinsurgency,  Terrorism,  War

    On the “money/fantasy machine”

    Last night it occurred to me that I actually did know what John Robb was talking about when he lumped me in with the “counter-terrorism money/fantasy” in Washington, and it isn’t the creature Dan and Curtis think it is. Talking with the “conference crowd”, or reading their work, on terrorism, there are certain themes that remain constant despite evidence to the contrary, that conform to popular thinking in Washington. This ideologically insular world is the “money/fantasy” machine, repeating nearly the same mantra over and over, that contributes to the stalled, to put it mildly, strategy in the [insert your favorite name for conflict/war/condition here]. Robb and I are alike in that we’re both creating new awareness…

  • War

    Looking at old guides for GI’s in World War II: Iraq and Britain

    Both Noah Schachtman and the PCR Project post on the old guides the War Department issued for cultural awareness of our GI’s. Two years ago I wrote about the GI’s Guide to Britain, but only briefly commented on the Guide to Iraq: Issued by the US War and Navy Departments servicemen…going to Iraq to defend the oil fields. It is amazing how timeless this book is. You can read the whole thing here. In 2005 the book seemed appropriate, and even more so today. Just like the USMC’s Small Wars Manual of 1940, the Guide to Iraq reminds us of the knowledge we forgot (or ignored). Forgetting history will almost…

  • Counterinsurgency,  Public Diplomacy,  War

    Tactics and Strategy: adding to the Brave New War commentary

    There is a difference between tactics and strategy, a point that seems lost on some. John Robb discusses the former in Brave New War: the tactics of the enemy as well as recommendations, implied and explicit, on how to  deal with current and future attacks. These are all very good, and I especially like his bazaar model, which all contribute to the discussion. However, this book has been highlighted as a resource on strategy on how to combat the “enemy”. This book simply does not do that. It does not provide a strategic solution to current or future threats. Matching a threat and attempting to stay ahead of the threat does…

  • Book Reviews,  Counterinsurgency,  War

    Critiquing Brave New War

    Mamma always said I was special. According to John Robb, on his personal blog not Global Guerrillas, I am the only one to criticize Brave New War: Knew it was going to happen. Oh well. To tell you the truth, I kinda expected more push-back to an outsider like me from the “conference crowd” guarding the walls around the counter-terrorism money/fantasy machine in [Washington]. This guy is the only one to do so publicly. Am I trying to protect the “money/fantasy machine”? I don’t really know what he means by that (a little help?). Whatever it is, it sure sounds bad and I would probably agree the “money/fantasy machine” needs to be whacked. Regardless,…