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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Benedict (Arnold?)

I surrender?

Hope all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I have been in Florida, not thinking about wifi or blogging at all for a week. Now, however...

The Bishop of Rome is in Turkey right now, trying to "mend things" with our muslim brethren:

Pope Benedict XVI began his first visit to a Muslim country Tuesday with a message of dialogue and "brotherhood" between faiths, and Turkey's chief Islamic cleric said at a joint appearance that growing "Islamophobia" hurts all Muslims.

Benedict, seeking to ease anger over his perceived criticism of Islam, met with Ali Bardakoglu, chief of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directories.

Admittedly, he's there primarily to mend things with out Orthodox brethren, which I commend. I only hope he makes no more apologies on behalf of his portion of the Visible Church. He should insist that there be no more apologies from Christianity until every imam and Friday prayer leader apologizes for calling Jews and Christians "pigs and dogs" and advocating their deaths.


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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Much Later Saturday

Yea, Bucks! War Eagle! Congratulations to both teams.


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Friday, November 17, 2006


GO BUCKS! Beat those communist Arabs from Michiganistan!

WAR EAGLE! Beat them rednecks from Tuscaloosa!


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Dump Pelosi?

She looks worried, doesn't she? Why? Because the Democrats may be ready to dump Pelosi before she's even taken over. Slate says,

I'll admit my timing could be better, since the incoming House Democrats, on a unanimous voice vote, just made Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaker of the House. But I think her party should give serious thought to dumping her.

The New York Times in its editorial, "Speaker Pelosi Tempts Disaster," says,

Nancy Pelosi has managed to severely scar her leadership even before taking up the gavel as the new speaker of the House.

Guess the honeymoon's over before it began. Understandable, all things considered.


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Thursday, November 16, 2006

There's Reason

Here's a great little essay on evolutionary microbiology in National Review's Corner. I agree with the following paragraph:

There is a reason why devout Christians are easier to find in the hard sciences than in the humanities and social sciences. Many of the great discoveries in evolutionary biology—the theory of molecular co-evolution, for example—were made by scientists who see no contradiction in simultaneously exalting the ethical doctrines of their faith, and discovering the mechanistic contribution that population genetics makes to the development of those doctrines. They see God's design in the wonders of the universe — everywhere and in everything.



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Free To Choose

Milton Friedman died today. Instapundit has appropriate words, as well as links to several good interviews:

MILTON FRIEDMAN HAS DIED. It's hard to say that someone has been plucked untimely at the age of 94, but it feels that way. His Free to Choose won over many people to the cause of liberty -- as did his Capitalism and Freedom. So, for that matter, did his Free to Choose documentary.

I was one of his converts. I first read Free to Choose in college and even got to meet the Grand Old Man (he was old even then -- in his early seventies) at a George Mason function.

"Political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men"

Rest in peace (and freedom).


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Mizz Facelift Suffers Defeat

The House Democrats voted Steny Hoyer in as House Majority Leader today, which is good news for the country, but bad news for Nancy Pelosi. As SFGate reports, the House Democrats, "spurning [her] handpicked choice," elected Hoyer 149-86.

Mother Hippy said, after her unanimous election to be Speaker of the House (Kos Kidz: only two bullets away from the White House!), "We will not be dazzled by money and special interests."'s hard to be dazzled by something you've been swimming in for a hundred years.

So much for Pelosi's political clout and adroitness. I guess this makes my Option 2 more likely: Hippy Heaven in the Halls of Congress. Maybe Hoyer can keep her in check. But then, maybe not...


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

We Suck

This comment on Free Repuplic today summed up conservative consensus on the Republipork Party and its ardent political death wish. The party has made Mel "Open the Borders and Let 'Em Pour In" Martinez the RNC Chairman and is considering bringing Trent "Lotta Loot" Lott back from the dead to be Minority Whip.

This party needs to get back to its conservative roots or it will be out of power for twenty years. Instead, the party hierarchy is bringing in more of the type that got us where we are today into leadership positions.

Michelle Malkin has a good summary, taken from around the web:

John Hawkins: Make no mistake about it, the GOP base is upset, demoralized and disappointed in the performance of the Republican Party, and if the columns, blog posts and comments I'm seeing around the net are any indication, a lot of conservatives still aren't convinced that anyone in Washington is listening to them. That's understandable because conservatives were pointing out many of the problems that cost the GOP the election in 2006 for YEARS without anyone on Capitol Hill, including the President, seeming to pick up on it or care.

The American Pundit: We really needed someone who is quoted on Porkbusters’ front page as saying “I’ll just say this about the so-called porkbusters. I’m getting damn tired of hearing from them. They have been nothing but trouble ever since Katrina”.

Right Voices: Between this and Mel Martinez, we’re really on a roll.

PostWatch: Combined with other inspiring actions like the Sen. Mel Amnesty Martinez becoming the head of the Republican National Committee, it appears the GOP has decided it needs some time to recover from the burdens of leadership. Say, ten or fifteen years.

Captain’s Quarters: We sent Republicans to clean up Congress, not to clean up for themselves in porkfests that rival anything that came before them. Trent Lott represents the worst of that class, and the mere idea that he remains in consideration for a leadership position after his commentary this year proves that the GOP hasn’t listened hard enough.

The Bidinotto Blog: Trent Lott, just elected Senate minority whip by his GOP colleagues, represents the worst of the old-boy network in the Republican Party: an aphilosophical, wheeler-dealer, pork-peddling pragmatist with a long, ugly record of compromises, sell-outs, and “me-too’ing” in the face of liberal Democrat intiatives. Lott wouldn’t know a moral principle if it walked up and spit in his face.

None sum it up better than the Freeper post, however. The American public would never -- and should never -- vote for this crowd. We need a third party now more than ever.


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True Colors

By backing Rep John "Cut & Run" el-Murtha for majority leader, and by refusing a vote on the excellent John Bolton for continued service as UN ambassador, House speaker-to-be Nancy "Killer Chihuahua" Pelosi has shown her true leftist colors.

I agree with the WaPo's Ruth Marcus -- hardly a conservative -- that Murtha is unfit to be majority leader. She cites Abscam, but I think his other anti-American and pro-islamist behavior -- his prescription for US defeat and islamist victory in the "War on Terror" -- disqualifies him to be called an American, much less to be House majority leader.

John Bolton has been the most impressive UN ambassador since Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Like Moynihan, Bolton has taken no krepp from the UN's collection of tinhorns and barbarians, but has hammered out some tough agreements (which are meaningless, since the UN refuses to act on them).

I think we can expect more of the same from Pelosi, meaning that my previous Option 2 looks as if it will be her most likely course of action: Hippy Heaven for one and all in the political boiler room (with apologies to Tom Wolfe). The next two years should be most amusing.


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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Advice for the GOP

I missed this a couple days ago because my internet access has been down, but here is some very good advice to the Republican Party from the Examiner:

The GOP majority’s electoral fate was sealed by the corrupt political culture embodied in the Bridge to Nowhere and the congressional leadership’s inability or unwillingness to put a stop to anonymous earmarking.

So what now? The first order of business is fresh leadership. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., has announced for House Minority Leader. Pence is a charismatic Reaganaut who has often led the conservative majority of the GOP in opposition to the Bush administration’s Big Government Republicanism on issues like spending and entitlements.

Pence clearly understands the GOP’s problem. . . .

On the Senate side, nothing would better demonstrate a new GOP commitment to its conservative principles than the promotion of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who more than anybody else in the Senate in recent years demonstrated an unswerving devotion to advancing conservative principles and programs.

Coburn particularly makes sense when it is understood that the Senate minority leader is not so much a legislative position as it is first and foremost a bully pulpit for articulating the case for reducing federal spending and intrusiveness, shining more light in the dark corners of Washington’s entrenched bureaucratic corruption and projecting creative ways of expanding individual choice and freedom for all Americans. Coburn has some rough edges, to be sure, and Old Bulls like Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Trent Lott, R-Mo., have fought him at every turn. But listening to Old Bulls in great part is what got the GOP in its present straits.

Yep. Need to get back to basics, folks. Political death concentrates the mind wonderfully. (via Instapundit.)


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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rummy, We Hardly Knew Ya

Victor Davis Hanson sums up my own feelings about Rumsfeld better than I could:

Vaya Con Dios, Rummy!

Here is the record of Donald Rumsfeld. (1) Tried to take a top-heavy Pentagon and prepare it for the wars of the postmodern world, in which on a minute’s notice thousands of American soldiers, with air and sea support, would have to be sent to some god-awful place to fight some savagery—and then be trashed live on CNN for doing it; (2) less than a month after 9/11 he organized the retaliation against al Qaeda in the heart of primordial Afghanistan that removed the Taliban in 7 weeks, when we were all warned that the U.S., like the British and Russians of old, would fail; (3) oversaw the removal of Saddam in 3 weeks—after the 1991 Gulf War and the 12-years of 350,000 sorties in the no-fly-zones, and various bombing strikes, had failed. (4) Ah, you say, then there is the disastrous 3-year insurgency—too few troops, Iraqi army let go, underestimated “dead-enders” etc.?

But Rumsfeld knew that in a counterinsurgency (cf. Vietnam 1965-71) massive deployments only ensure complacency, breed dependency, and create resentment, and that, in contrast, training indigenous forces, ensuring political autonomy, and providing air and commando support (e.g., Vietnam circa 1972-4) is the only answer—although that is a long process that can work only if political support at home allows the military to finish the job (cf. the turn-of-the-century Philippines, and the British in Malaysia). He was a good man, and we were lucky to have him in our hour of need.


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We All Saw It Coming...

Scott Ott has the details:

November 9, 2006
Pelosi Calls Talk of Bush, Cheney Pardons Premature
by Scott Ott

(2006-11-09) — At a post-luncheon news conference outside the White House today, Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, said talk of pardoning President George Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney was “premature.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” said Rep. Pelosi, who as House Speaker would stand third in the presidential succession line. “There are no specific charges or articles of impeachment at this point, and so it’s silly to speak of pardoning them.”

“Let’s not be too hasty for emotional closure,” the California Democrat added. “Our long national nightmare has only just begun.”


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

After the Elections

The Belmont Club agrees with the sentiment I expressed in Vox Populi this morning:

Now that the Democratic Party has taken the House and has an extremely good prospect of taking the Senate it's possible to speculate about its consequences. The Israeli experience probbly provides a good comparison. Faced with the difficulty of a security threat they retreated, some would say, into pacifist fantasy. But the enemy eventually brought parts of Israel under threat and the response, when it came, was still half-hearted. Olmert temporized and another war in Lebanon is expected presently. Is this the fate that awaits America?

Maybe. Not in particulars but in structure. There is now a much smaller chance that the terrorist problem can be resolved at a low level of conflict. There is a greater likelihood that it will be allowed by neglect or paralysis to metastize into a canker which will develop into a catastrophic confrontation in five or ten years time. A likelihood, but not a certainty.

If America is lucky then a bipartisan national security consensus can be rebuilt before any catastrophe overtakes. But America's lucky streak has just run out. Two things now have to happen. The Democrats have to start responding to the threats that they will face now that they are in legislative power and they have to resolve the tensions between their left and right wings. In that respect, the election of Lieberman is some kind of proof that not everyone in the Democratic party is a Pelosi-ite. But a whole lot are.

At any rate, it's a new political game. With North Korea, Iran, Iraq on the burner and Nancy Pelosi running the House there will be enormous challenges to simply hold against the threat. The time of easy security is past. Nothing is assured.

Incidentally, Rummy stepped (and was pushed) down today. Big mistake. He wasn't done with his job of pissing off every general in the Army (not a bad thing, in the balance...) This would have made sense if Dubya had done it a week ago.

The Tosser

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My First Hostile Comment!

Yea!! I just got my first (but hopfully not my last) hostile comment! I reacted instinctively and moderated it as "reject" when it first came up, but them I thought about it and decided that this put me in the same class as Glenn Raynolds and Charles at lgf. I'm on the road to fame and flame now!

The comment, from the ever-brave "Anonymous," read "are you a complete tosser or have you just had lots of practice?"

I assume the chap or chapette is a Brit, since its unlikely a 'Murcan would use the term "tosser" insultingly (unless referring to an enemy quaterback). (Note to Mons. Tosser: Quarterback: that's a term from football. Football: that's the Fascist Imerialist Jackbooted kind, not soccer.)

Anyway...I really have no response to that comment, so here's a picture of a man with a bicycle through his face...


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Vox Populi

Why is this woman smiling?

Well, you know why. And I wish her joy of yesterday's conquest.

Contrary to what most of my conservative friends may think, this is not an unalloyed Bad Thing. When Pelosi becomes speaker, one of three things will happen:

1) Her savvy as a politician will belie her apparent goggle-eyed stupidity and she will exercise her first real power with moderation -- that is, she will grow into the job. That is essentially what she promised yesterday as she took her victory lap. (She also promised "change," as all the Demo's have been throughout the campaign season. What change she didn't say, nor has any Democrat so far.) This is a real possibility, since, contrary to chihuahua-like appearances, she seems to be an adept political maneuverer. She helped engineer yesterday's victory, after all.

2) She will return to her San Frangerbilist nutroots and it will become hippie-freak heaven for one and all in the halls of the Capitol. This will be alarming, but ultimately harmless (assuming the terrorists don't realize their Esalen encounter-group window of opportunity and strike us big during this time), since she will thus ruin the chance for the Democrats to hold any real sort of power for the next generation. The only people who will vote for them will be the Daily Kos crowd. They assume this will happen, since they are really crowing now.

3) She will become a vindictive, obstructionist bitch and attempt to investigate everything Dubya W. Chimpler has "lied" about over the last six years, as well to impeach him. This is the best possible situation, since the government will be able to get nothing else done, the military will be left relatively alone (except, perhaps, to be made to provide Comfy Chairs to every detainee in Gitmo), and the people will thus be safe.

I give each of these about a 1/3 chance. All in all, it will soon be business as usual. Heck, this blow might even shock Dubya into being fiscally responsible. Unlikely, but who knows?

In any case, the Democrats will probably try to insist on some kind of timetable for defeat in Iraq -- a phased withdrawal. The President will be able to hold this off for the next two years, but the Demo's will eventualy prevail. I assume they won't try anything as draconian as cutting off funding -- that would never make past any president's desk.

Once we withdraw, our enemies the islamofascists will rightly see it as a victory and plan further advances and mayhem. Eventually, they will get to the point of so pissing off the American people that we turn cities to glass parking lots and people to shadows on the pavement. It will hasten the inevitable war we must fight. We are fighting it in a civilized manner now, just as Rome did Carthage in the First Punic War. I urge you, however, to look to the end of the Third Punic War...

In the meantime....

"I, for one, welcome our new Democratic overlords"

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Next Two Years

James Lileks sums up his expectations:

I expect the next two years to go poorly, I’m afraid. Then again, I’m often wrong; perhaps it’s possible for a country to win a war with apologies and investigations. Perhaps we’re not at war at all; perhaps Iran and the jihadists are merely an illusion conjured up by the puppetmasters, just as they turned Iraq – the veritable Monaco of Mesopotamia – into a Threat, and just as they defended Israel against the brave Defenders of the Apartment Buildings in Lebanon. I really should relax. I mean, if you’re driving down the road and you see a car coming towards you head on in your lane, there’s no reason to worry. You’re in the right. What else matters?


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Responsible Policy

Nancy Pelosi has announced a responsible policy concerning redeoployment. Scott Ott has the details:

If Votes Fall Short, Dems to Redeploy from Congress
by Scott Ott

(2006-11-07) — As Americans went to the polls this morning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, announced that if Democrats don’t achieve a “clear, immediate, overwhelming victory” in the House and the Senate, she will lead them in a “responsible redeployment” from Congress.

“We don’t want to get tied up here for years in a sectarian battle that we can’t win,” Rep. Pelosi said. “Either we get what we want now, or we cut our losses and return to our home states.”

The woman who would be Speaker of the House if Democrats win the majority today, rejected critics who said her remarks were “just another example of cut and run from the Democrats.”

“When you’re in a quagmire,” she said, “with a long history of bitter partisan tensions, it’s foolish to think that if you stay just a little longer you can fix it. The smart and brave thing to do is get out of there”

A White House spokesman said President George W. Bush today offered the same advice to Rep. Pelosi and her colleagues that he’s offered about their strategy all year: “Stay the course.”


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The Honourable Muslim from Minnesota

Keith Ellison, occaisionally known as Kieth Ellison Mohammed, is "poised to become the first muslim in Congresss."

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Here's a little bit about the guy.

And here's what the predictably Bluestate Norm Coleman has to say (the liberals' Keith Ellison talking points):

I am tired of being whipped into a froth by floggers and bloggers who want me to worry how bad my life will be if fanatic taxi drivers make me walk home with my wine, or if Sharia law should force women to veil their faces (a proposal that has some appeal to it, depending upon the face). And I am tired of how Fifth District candidate Keith Ellison, poised to become the first Muslim in Congress, is being ripped for the intifada when his only concrete bad was not paying his parking tickets. In this Congress, that makes him a Boy Scout. After Tuesday, you can stop calling him Muslim. And start calling him The Honorable Muslim from Minnesota.


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Monday, November 06, 2006

This Pretty Much Says It All...

From Cox & Forkum


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Global Incident Map

Here is a very useful little item. It is a constantly updated (at least, every 300 seconds) Google Earth-based map and crawl of terrorism-related incidents around the world. It shows, for instance, the placement of listening devices in the Memphis TN homeland security offices. Each incident has accompanying detail. Here's the detail on the Memphis find.

On another, but related, topic, James Q. Wilson has a brilliant article in the WSJ Opinion Journal. It examines The Press at War:

The mainstream media's adversarial stance, both here and abroad, means that whenever a foreign enemy challenges us, he will know that his objective will be to win the battle not on some faraway bit of land but among the people who determine what we read and watch. We won the Second World War in Europe and Japan, but we lost in Vietnam and are in danger of losing in Iraq and Lebanon in the newspapers, magazines and television programs we enjoy.

The article includes a very detailed account of how the US government and military were stabbed in the back by the press during Vietnam, and why we lost because of this. Read it.


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Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow... the day. The day this woman...

...sorry, this woman...

...will either be very happy or very sad.

It will also be a day that will make this man...

...sorry, this man...

...very happy or sad, for the same reasons.

Or should I say, "treasons?"


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Blue Dart 1

A number of those in my profession have been requested to produce "think pieces" for the Air Force on any topic that might provoke further thought, research, etc., in the field of military affairs and/or the theory of conflict. I have produced one so far and am working on two more, but this one is unlikely to see the light of day in its current form (my boss has already said, "it needs to be more closely tied to operations and/or planners" -- so much for free thought), I will publish it and its like here, so at least they are recorded somewhere besides my hard drive and backup. So here goes:

Cause and Effect – Implications for Operations

For centuries, Western science has assumed for the sake of logic and convenience in performing experiments, that cause and effect are easily separable things: that “independent variables” represent those items outside the experiment that don’t change and that “dependent” variable are the items changed by the experiment. We have assumed for the sake of experimental ease that variables are easily separable and mutually independent, giving us the ability to clearly and neatly determine cause and effect relationships. This phenomenon affects social sciences like economics every bit as much as physical sciences like meteorology.

Unfortunately, this is not how cause and effect work in the real world. A generation of new scientific thinking has revealed much more clearly how systems change over time and how “independence” and “dependence” among variables in experiments are mutually dependent – that is, how changes in “dependent” variables often change macro-level behaviors of “independent” variables, and how interactions of the two create emergent behaviors that the variables would not have produced if isolated and that are not always easily predictable.

This new scientific approach has become known by a variety of names: catastrophe, chaos (perhaps the lease enlightening), complexity, emergence, and complex adaptive systems theories, among others. Each of these deals with a slightly different aspect of system behavior, but all contain important insights and all have several crucial aspects in common:

They all focus on the macro level of systems as a whole – how they interact with surrounding systems, rather than on the reductionist behavior of system components themselves

They all focus on non-linear aspects of system behaviors and their components, which have pronounced implications for how systems behave

All agree that both within and among systems, that the behavior of the whole system or system-of-systems far exceeds the sum of the component parts functioning in isolation (“the whole is grater than the sum of the parts”).

All agree that new behaviors emerge from the interactions of systems, many of which are hard to predict, but which may replicate structures or behaviors present at lower levels

So…what are practical implications for commanders and other war practitioners today? Plenty, since many of our officers are still educated in the traditions of the physical sciences and engineering of the last four centuries. Here as some of the biggest implications:

First, that cause and effect are non-linear, not proportional. Proportionality assumes small input equals small output, and vice versa

Implication: In reality, very small inputs can yield very big macro emergent behaviors as time passes.

Example: Doolittle’s raid did insignificant tactical damage, but had huge operational and strategic consequences; four years of WW I’s industrial meat-grinder produced millions of casualties for a few miles of ground

Second, that the whole equals the sum of the parts, In systems theory, the whole always exceed the sum of its parts.

Example: A disciplined unit is always better than a mob

Third, that, as in a lab experiment, a given input always yields the same output. Due to the non-linear nature of many system behaviors, no form of analysis is “predictive (claims to the contrary); they are at best anticipatory and estimative. They can give statistical probabilities that a given COA will perform as intended, but not eliminate risk

Implication: “Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t” – Chief Dan George

Fourth, it is easy to ignore the effect of time. Many effects take an unpredictable amount of time to work their way through a targeted system. Anticipated effects may not happen on schedule, because system effects are non-linear.

Implication: Commanders and their staffs must counsel patience to superiors to allow time for effects to work their way through targeted systems

Fifth, as a corollary of four, there may not be good, objective or quantifiable assessment measures of effectiveness available as one awaits a desired emergent behavior.

Example: No one knew Milosevic was about to give up until he did so.

Sixth, and perhaps most important, one’s adversary, friends, neutrals, and all actors in a given operation are all complex adaptive systems. They respond adaptively to our actions and force changes of COA and continuous re-examination of strategy

Implication: Robust wargaming of blue, gray, and red COAs should start iteratively in planning and continue throughout operations

Armed with a more sophisticated understanding of what emerging scientific thought is bringing to many disciplines and how indeterminate cause and effect can be may aid commanders in making operational decisions based on more realistic expectations, thus saving valuable lives, resources, time, and opportunities


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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Aim Points

I don't generally like to toot my own horn, but I received an unexpected complement today, in the form of an Air Force Magazine op-ed that was picked up as a Heaquarters Air Force Public Affairs "Aim Point":

It's the effect, stupid (Op/Ed)
BY: Robert S. Dudney, Air Force Magazine

For much of US history, the American way of war was simple: destroy the enemy's forces, occupy his territory, and then accept his surrender. It worked, but it produced, inevitably, horrific battle casualties, burned-out cities, and massive costs.

Things began changing after the 1991 Gulf War, which introduced stealth, precision strike, and advanced information systems. Meat-grinder-type battles, it was said, no longer were inevitable. US forces could win, in some cases, by creating highly targeted battlefield "effects."

The idea was to bypass a foe's main strength and attack pressure points that would influence his power or willingness to keep fighting.

The concept is, to put it mildly, still very much in dispute. While the Air Force and much of the Joint establishment embraces these so-called "effects-based operations" or "EBO," others -- mostly advocates of land forces -- still vigorously oppose the idea.

Retired Army Col. Ralph Peters, a prominent critic, warns that EBO is just "a sales pitch" and that the only effects that matter "are those that destroy the enemy's military, the opposing leadership, and the population's collective will." Lt. Gen. Paul K. Van Riper, retired former head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, calls EBO confusing and overly restrictive. "It's a damn virus," he told reporter Elaine Grossman of Inside the Pentagon.

To be sure, the EBO concept was largely shaped by Air Force officers and is seen by many as favoring airpower. USAF leaders, in fact, are often called on to defend or explain the effects-based approach to wider audiences.

As it happens, the Air Force recently produced its fullest thinking yet about the subject, a 12,000-word exposition contained in the new Air Force Doctrine Document 2, Operations and Organization. The service uses it to lay out its EBO principles and planning considerations.

It is a strong presentation. The document shows that Air Force thinking about the concept has deepened and matured in the past few years, and it makes several key doctrinal points.

Among the most important, AFDD 2 declares the "ultimate aim in war" is not to destroy a foe, but to make him bend to our will. As a result, EBOs "focus on [enemy] behavior, not just physical changes." USAF does not rule out the use of attrition warfare, which it says "can still be valuable," but it emphasizes that better and less costly routes to victory usually can be found.

In the Air Force view, mission success comes first, and considerations of efficiency come second. Commanders should plan operations at the lowest possible cost -- in lives, money, time, or opportunities" -- but these commanders "must accomplish their assigned missions," period.

Far from being inflexibly mechanistic, EBO doctrine sees war as "a clash of complex adaptive systems" that is, "a collision of living forces that creatively adapt" to new situations. Planners must be flexible and seek to know how the enemy will respond to planned actions, and incorporate this information in operations.

A corollary, says the doctrine paper, is that success comes "at a price," which is a need for "comprehensive knowledge" of the battle space and its actors. US knowledge must go "well beyond" just the enemy order of battle and include enemy thinking, influences, and tendencies. USAF notes that, in Vietnam, the US failed to detect the "implacability" of Hanoi's leaders, with lamentable results.

While new analytical tools can help, warfare "can never be a perfect science in a world of complex systems," and planners need to prepare for the unexpected.

Under EBO, says the Air Force, planning, execution, and assessment of operations must be integrated, because "doing one inevitably involves the others." Remove one of the three pieces and military forces will start "blindly servicing a list of targets." With integration, however, each combat action will have a purpose.

According to AFDD 2, planners must take into consideration "all possible types of effects," unintended as well as intended, indirect as well as direct, negative as well as positive. Bombing a bridge might inhibit movement of an enemy force, but it could also enrage local citizens, with unpredictable consequences. A commander must weigh the competing courses of action.

Effects-based planning is not prescriptive when it come to weaponeering or tactical planning. It produces standard mission-type orders, and leaves choices of platforms and weapons to the lowest appropriate level.

According to the document, operators must not forget that "the law of unintended consequences is always in effect." Long-term consequences of certain actions cannot be reliably predicted, and "effects cannot be easily anticipated or quantified." Planning and execution, as a result, "must be flexible and adaptive."

In truth, says the Air Force, the effects-based approach is not really new; figures as different as Sun Tzu and Napoleon have thought in similar terms. However, modern military systems—especially those of air and space power—produce an unprecedented array of effects, with utility greater than mere attrition.

What emerges from a review of the new document is a sense of greater realism about the possibilities and problems of effects-based operations.

No one presents EBO as a magic-bullet solution for all US military challenges. Nor does anyone contend that we have seen the end of major conventional war, with its bloody, force-on-force clashes.

Moreover, the document clearly evinces a healthy regard for the sheer unpredictability of events and of the actions of potential military foes.

In the end, its major contribution may be to draw attention to the obvious.

In Bill Clinton's 1992 Presidential race, campaign aide James Carville posted in his office a written note, usually phrased as, "It's the economy, stupid." It was a constant spur to Carville to focus on what was truly important. Defense planners occasionally could use such a reminder, because, in most cases, the important thing about any military action isn't its degree of destructiveness. The important thing is its effect on the enemy.

I'm happy because I wrote those 12,000 words. As for Peters and Van Riper, I say only, "the machine gun will never stop a determined cavalry charge" and "contrary to popular opinion, a battleship has never been sunk by an aerial bomb."


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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Troops Respond

The MSM may be trying (on page two) to suppress Mr Kerrys gaff, but it will not soon be forgoten by our men and women in uniform, nor should it be. This election, in which both houses may stay in Republican hands, well may come to be called the "stuck in Iraq" campaign.

They may be stuck in Iraq, Mr Kerry, but you're stuck on stupid.

Thanks, you arrogant supercilious preppy richy-rich jackass. You've done us a big favor!


Update 1 Nov 06
: Victor Davis Hanson is brilliant, as usual:

The Democrats should use this occasion to have an autopsy of Kerryism, or this strange new tony liberalism, that has turned noblisse oblige on its head. It used to be that millionaire FDRs and JFKs felt sympathy for those of the lower classes and wished to ensure that the hoi polloi had some shot at the American dream. But today's elite liberals-a Howard Dean, Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, George Soros, Ted Turner-love the high life and playact at being leftists simply because they are already insulated from the effects of their own nostrums that always come at someone poorer's expense while providing them some sort of psychological relief from guilt.

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