These are worth reading:
Top Billing! GrEaT sAtAn”s gIrLfRiEnD – COIN Passé?
“…Courtney, FM 3-24 was born out of necessity. GEN Petraeus brought together a team of experts to provide the US military some desperately needed help while Iraq was spiraling out of control. The majority of the text covers the wisdom of David Galula, the godfather of population-centric counterinsurgency. It was a good start. Galula was smart, had a lot of experience, and could write, but, it was only a start.” (GsGf Editorial note -Italics bis mein)
“Bottom line: keep FM 3-24–updated as necessary–on the bookshelves. While the book is not without its flaws, it does have a number of good lessons applicable from everything from counterinsurgency, to hybrid-style wars, to disaster relief.“Secondly, COIN is an operational framework, not a strategic one. Furthermore, FM 3-24 was written in a specific context, when America was good at offensive operations, but poor at human intelligence gathering and population security.”….
The intrepid Fraulein Messerschmidt was kind enough to solicit a jeremiad from me prior to posting and, knowing that her blog is a favorite read among the COINdinista set, I rode that hobby horse at a gallop. 🙂
Swedish Meatballs Confidential(p.NSFW) –The Intel Biz Is Changing As Never Before (Or Should Be)
Good observations here re: wikileaks, authoritarian states and institutions of manipulative antics.
The New Criterion/Arma Virumque (Bruce Kesler) – Jawohl Mein Professor!
…The stereotype of ruler-wielding, dogma-enforcing Catholic nuns has nothing on the parody-proofing self-image being created by the AAUP of college professors as academic thugs.
In its latest draft document to define academic freedom, the American Association of University Professors has gone abroad to authoritarian regimes and overboard to try to suck the air out of critiques of academia.
The US-Pakistani alliance increasingly resembles a bad shotgun marriage between a white-knuckle drunkard and a hysterical mental patient.
….Building off that theme, a second book, Steven Johnson’s The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution and The Birth of America, examines the life and work of Joseph Priestley, and his deep friendships with Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and his influence on those two Founding Fathers as well as John Adams.Priestley began as one of the leading and first modern chemists, whose main contemporary scientific rival was Antoine Lavoisier. Priestley had numerous discoveries, including providing key evidence for the existence of oxygen and its role in combustion and life itself, but what was new for me was his deep friendship with Benjamin Franklin. Franklin and Priestley met and corresponded with each other about science for many years prior to the American Revolution, and influenced each other greatly as far as the development of experiments, analysis and interpretation of data. Their letters show how they were onto the conceptual understanding of the cycling of oxygen and carbon dioxide for all of life, and how ecosystems work in terms of the flow and transformation of different energy types from one to another. These concepts were decades ahead of their time….
Shrinkwrapped – Fully Immersive Virtual Reality May Be Closer Than We Think
Don Vandergriff– Petraeus’s Last Stand?
Out of my tattered Lands End attaché bag this week came Hew Strachan‘s article titled “Strategy or Alibi? Obama, McChrystal and the Operational Level of War,” which appeared last September in Survival….So far, so good. But then I think Strachan goes off the tracks a bit. Like a doctor whose diagnosis is spot on but who errs in prescribing the remedy, he argues that this sort of operational approach became problematic because it assumed the existence of strategy. But what, he says, if “strategy has been absent throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan”? (166)
I actually think that may have been true in Iraq until late 2006 or early 2007, because until then, American generals tended to offer up aspirations rather than strategy. But I do think we had a strategy under the Petraeus/Odierno/Crocker team. What may have thrown Professor Strachan off the scent is that the strategy couldn’t be stated explicitly. I don’t think I really understood this clearly when I was writing The Gamble, and Strachan’s paper helped me think it through…
I understand Ricks’ point re: Iraq and find it reasonable, but I think there really is an “operational level” of war….at least in the institutional culture of some armies in some historical periods, including today’s US Army. I’ve previously argued similarly to Strachan here, albeit not as authoritatively or persuasively and – FWIW – I think China’s PLA is moving in that direction as well (though I’m willing to be corrected by Sinologists out there).
Information Dissemination – US Naval Institute Official Announcement on Mission Change and The Mission of the U.S. Naval Institute by Rear Admiral Tom Marfiak (ret)
Campaign War Room – The dynamic nature of public opinion
Eide Neurolearning Blog –Made to Stick Learning
SEED – Humans, Version 3.0
….Neuronal recycling exploits this wellspring of potent powers. If one wants to get a human brain to do task Y despite it not having evolved to efficiently carry out task Y, then a key point is not to forcefully twist the brain to do Y. Like all animal brains, human brains are not general-purpose universal learning machines, but, instead, are intricately structured suites of instincts optimized for the environments in which they evolved. To harness our brains, we want to let the brain’s brilliant mechanisms run as intended-i.e., not to be twisted. Rather, the strategy is to twist Y into a shape that the brain does know how to process.
American Scientist – Refuting a Myth About Human Origins
…Premodern humans-often described as “archaic Homo sapiens“-were thought to have lived in small, vulnerable groups of closely related individuals. They were believed to have been equipped only with simple tools and were likely heavily dependent on hunting large game. Individuals in such groups would have been much less insulated from environmental stresses than are modern humans. In Thomas Hobbes’s words, their lives were “solitary, nasty, brutish and short.” If you need a mental image here, close your eyes and conjure a picture of a stereotypical caveman. But archaeological evidence now shows that some of the behaviors associated with modern humans, most importantly our capacity for wide behavioral variability, actually did occur among people who lived very long ago, particularly in Africa. And a conviction is growing among some archaeologists that there was no sweeping transformation to “behavioral modernity” in our species’ recent past.
….The idea of an archaic-to-modern human transition in Homo sapiens arises, in part, from this narrative tradition. All this makes for a satisfying story, but it is not a realistic framework for understanding the actual, complex and contingent course of human evolution. Most evolutionary changes are relatively minor things whose consequences play out incrementally over thousands of generations.
Conversations with History – Ian Morris on Why the West Rules for Now