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Three DoubleQuotes via Paradoxes of War MOOC

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- there's actionable intel, and then there's the chewable kind -- guess where my own interest is focused ]
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There’s a cognitive style that’s embedded in the concept of actionable intelligence, and in the software and trainings that serve it, Palantir being among the most notable. And there’s a cognitive style that’s embedded in the concept of “inactionable” intelligence, and in any software and trainings that serve it, the HipBone/Sembl/DoubleQuotes combo fitting into the way of things under that “uncomfortable” rubric.

So let’s give those cognitive modes other names, and call them, for simplicity: act-on mode and chew-on mode. Some people need to act on the intelligence they receive, some need to chew on it.

The three DoubleQuotes that follow are the byproduct of today’s discussions on Princeton’s Paradoxes of War MOOC, and to mmy mind they’re worth chewing on.

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Brilliant! These two quotes are juxtaposed as epigraphs to James Der Derian‘s paper, War as Game. Given my interest in both war and games, that was a natural DoubleQuote to borrow..

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The thing about Thomas Friedman‘s quote — which became a semi-tongue-in-cheek theory after he wove it into his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, under the name “The Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention” — is that it traces back so directly to Immanuel Kant, thus demonstrating the theorem, applicable to both waterways and spiritual utterances, that matters whose beginnings are pure tend to accrue contaminants as they move away from source — an effect for whose religious variant Max Weber coined the phrase, “the routinization of charisma”.

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Lastly, here’s one for the Zenmaster, knowing his appreciation both for ancient history as it relates to military matters, and for the art and science of education:

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Sources:

  • Der Derian, Epigraphs from War as Game

  • Friedman, Big Mac
  • Kant, Perpetual Peace

  • Mead, Military Recruiters
  • Deligiannis, The Spartan ‘Agoge’
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    Lexington Green on the Army War College National Security Seminar

    Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

    [by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. "zen"]

    Michael Lotus, a,k.a. “Lexington Green” of Chicago Boyz blog and co-author of America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century gives his review of the 2014 National Security Seminar at the US Army War College:

    Mike Lotus at the U.S. Army War College 2014 National Security Strategy Seminar 

    I had the great good fortune to attend the U.S. Army War College 2014 National Security Strategy Seminar, which ran from June 2-6, 2014.

    The War College runse an annual course for colonels and lieutenant colonels, personnel from the other branches, as well as officers from foreign armies. According to the Army War College website the resident class of 2014 included 385 students including: (1) 216 Army officers: Active, Reserve, Guard, (2) 64 Navy, Marine, Air Force and Coast Guard officers, all components, (3) 77 international officers/ fellows, and (4) 28 senior national security civilian professionals.

    The final week of the year, civilians are invited to attend the National Security Strategy Seminar, which consists of lectures and participation in seminar discussions. The NSS very well organized and professionally run.

    The seminar I participated in is depicted in this photo:

    MJL NSS Photo

    Military officers who reach these ranks are, in my limited experience, an extremely impressive group. The participants in this seminar were no exception, with most having served multiple tours in Iraq or Afghanistan. The opportunity to listen to them in the seminars, and to talk to them informally, was the most rewarding part of the event, for me. I also had fascinating conversations with officers from foreign militaries.

    The seminar discussions touched on many subjects related to the security of the nation and the future of the U.S. military. Some recurring themes in the discussion were (1) the impact of shrinking military budgets on the capabilities of the US military, (2) concern about losing the corporate knowledge gained in over a decade of fighting and non-combat activities gained in over a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, (3) concern about a disconnect between the military and the civilian population, (4) the over-sue of the military, as the only part of the government that works, to solve all problems, to “hit the M button” instead of using the other DIME elements (diplomacy, information and economics) (5) discerning what the main threats in the future will be, and how to prepare for them, (6) making the professional transition from being executors of strategy and policy to originators of strategy and policy. [....]

    Read the rest here.

    The National Security Seminar Mike describes is a wonderful program that brings future US Army leaders together with their counterparts in civilian society for a week of discussion about strategy, national security, international relations and future conflict. I attended in 2011 thanks to the kind offices of Steve Metz and can attest to its value.

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    Quick Link: Manea interviews General John Allen

    Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

    [by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. "zen"]


    Octavian Manea, the David Frost of SWJ, interviews General John Allen, USMC on the lessons learned on the Post-9/11 military campaigns.

    Lessons from the Post 9-11 Campaigns

    Octavian Manea

    General John R. Allen, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) is a distinguished fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, working within the Center on 21st Century Security and Intelligence. Prior to joining Brookings, Allen commanded the NATO International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces in Afghanistan from July 2011 to February 2013.

    “The outcome in Afghanistan was not going to be decided by military operations alone. It was to create the security platform operating in the hard end of the hard-power spectrum that then permitted us to leverage those outcomes in governance, economic development and civil society, which was going to deliver the knockout blow to the Taliban.”

    SWJ: In the past, the US military trained for high-end maneuver warfare and intensive firepower – historical key ingredients of the American way of war. Since 9/11 we’ve seen a totally different approach. What has changed, in your experience, in the nature and the character of war, in how you wage war?

    General John R. Allen: War is fundamentally a human endeavor; the character of war may change, but not its nature. Conflict may be characterized by high intensity firepower and maneuver dominated operations and campaigns or we may find that the character of war is dominated by counterinsurgency operations, or even cyber operations. But the nature of war still continues to remain the same, a human endeavor. What was unique about Iraq and Afghanistan was what we undertook after the decisive phase of the campaign, because both of them were seen as part of a paradigm that emphasized the traditional application of the American way of war. In the aftermath of those campaigns we ultimately undertook the kind of capacity building and nation-building that would be necessary for that state to endure. We wanted to make sure that what emerged after the destruction of both central governments is something that we could live with. That required and caused us fundamentally to change the manner in which we conduct operations in both theaters.

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    Sunday surprise 18, for sufferers from Jihadi Obsessive Disorder

    Sunday, March 9th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- who is admittedly more of a mental treadmill kind of a guy ]
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    I have no, no, no idea whether this is, as it claims, video of an Al-Qaeda training camp fitness test or just — okay, way way more likely — a silly prank video —

    — but we’ve all seen videos of actual muj trainings in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Somalia and elsewhere in which aspirant or actual jihadists demonstrate that they can play leapfrog, make their way across simple obstacles, and do mild acrobatics — sometimes with some martial arts or weapons training thrown in.

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    What I want to know is: how do those clips compare, think you, with the formal training offered by the Georgian National Ballet

    — or the sweet-flowing informality of parkour

    ??

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    Education: on Engineers, the Navy — and excuse me, Jihad

    Sunday, March 9th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- a minor contribution to the discussion about STEM-to-stern education ]
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    Adm Grace Murray Hopper

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    I really don’t want to put too much weight on this — for one thing, John Boyd was, if Wiki is not mistaken, the possessor of a Batchelor’s in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech — but I do think it’s a bit foolish for the Navy to put most all of its eggs in the engineering basket.

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    Food to chew on…

    Lt. Alexander P. Smith, USN, Navy Needs Intellectual Diversity:

    To me, diversity is more than gender, race, religion and sexual orientation; it also includes the intellectual background each officer brings to the force. Starting in 2014, however, the vast majority of all NROTC graduates will be STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) majors with minimal studies in humanities. Our Navy is about to go through unprecedented compartmentalization, but not many officers seem to realize it. [ … ]

    Few metrics are considered when determining who gets an interview in the nuclear-reactor community. Most midshipmen certainly have strong grade-point averages, but the principal criterion was how they performed in calculus and physics, not their major.

    This begs the question: Does the tier system produce better submariners or more proficient naval officers? If less than 35 percent of our Unrestricted Line Officers possess the unique quality of comprehensive thinking through critical reading and reflection, what will the force look like in 20 years?

    These are questions to consider when discerning the benefits and disadvantages of STEM graduates. We should not forget the value of future officers developing a keen interest of foreign affairs, history or language.

    LCDR Benjamin “BJ” Armstrong, Engineering and the Humanities: The View from Patna’s Bridge

    :Cultural understanding, emotional intelligence and empathy are fundamental parts of good leadership, and also a part of modern naval concepts like international partnerships. They come from experience. It is my great hope, however, that I will never have to experience all of the trials and challenges my fellow sailors face in life in order to help them. What a tragic life that could be. Instead, I’d rather read my share of Shakespeare, Hemingway, or O’Brian, which might help me learn a thing or two about emotion and about the way people face different challenges in their lives, even at sea. Reading the biographies of great leaders, the histories of battles both large and small, and the classics of strategy, helps me learn from the mistakes and successes of others rather than have to learn only from my own multitude of mistakes.

    Oh, and to throw some high-grade jalapeño into the stew…

    Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, in their hugely contested paper Engineers of Jihad:

    The only other case in which we find a trace of engineers’ prominence outside of
    Islamic violent groups is, consistently with the mindset hypothesis, among the most
    extreme right-wing movements, especially in the US and in Germany, where it is all
    the more striking again given the general low level of education of the members of
    such groups. Here we have perhaps the only other case in which the mindset alone has
    activated engineers into resorting to violent action – their absolute number is tiny, but
    disproportionate relative to other types of graduates.

    Oops — too much pepper, pehaps?

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    Look, I come from the arts side of the house.

    In Education: a call for actors, directors, composers, conductors, I’ll get as deep into why arts and humanities training might be important — particularly for analysts and decision-makers — as the two naval writers cited above suggest it might be for the future of the Navy.

    And no offence to engineers, please. It’s thought I’m hoping to stir up, not trouble.

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    Pictured atop this post:

  • Admiral Grace Hopper, USN, was among other things the first person to write a compiler for a computer programming language.
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