zenpundit.com » Blog Archive » Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

Top Billing! Global Guerrillas –Drones and Operational Maneuverability 

….Drones are currently in the process of being outfitted with insect mobility — bees to ants to fleas.  However, that mobility is of diminished use given the limitations on decision making complexity (beyond what’s required mobility).  

That decision making limitation will be fixed in the next decade, as inexpensive computing horsepower and bio-mimicry allows us to outfit drones with more complex mammalian behaviors (think rat).   

In fact, given that this decision making capacity will become merely a function of inexpensive hardware/software, it will become a throw away feature.  You can turn it up or down depending on need without any thought the expense involved.  

This implies a pretty efficient combo of dumbed down drones operating as part of a swarm, reacting to stigmergic signalling, and more rodent like behavior when operating as individuals. 

The Glittering Eye – Alien vs. Predator 

When I read this comment:

I don’t see it that way. I don’t think it’s about race, I think it’s about his status as a member of the Ivy League elite. He doesn’t understand “typical white people” but then neither does Mitt Romney.

my immediate reaction was “Yeah. 100% of blacks in America were raised by white people in Indonesia and Hawaii.”

Carl Prine –General Discontent


 The emails began circulating yesterday, all extolling the brilliance of retired U.S. Army LTG David Melcher as a good example of the “disruptive thinker,” his Ranger-honed brain sculpted by the best of the Army and unleashed now as a titan of entrepreneurship, his eyes burning as green as sawbucks in the jungle of Wall Street’s night.

Well, can you blame them?  I know I can’t.  Their applause for Melcher’s bio arrives at a historical moment, one that finds too many current and former soldiers intoxicated with a bit of maverick humbuggery championed by Lt. Benjamin Kohlmann on Small Wars Journal  – an argument so clumsy that he, no joke, suggests that the best way to shake up the stifling complacency of the military bureaucracies is to send junior officers to business school, most especially the one at Harvard. 

….To sell the innovative fusion that apparently occurs whenever we link – again, no joke – “cryogeneticists with F/A-18 pilots,” Kohlmann rambles on about fripperies as diverse as the iPhone, its godfather with deep pockets Steve Jobs, science fiction writer Orson Scott Card, dead USAF Col. John Boyd, the Myspace of living USN Adm. James Stavridis, three-named mediocrity Joshua Cooper Ramo, then some jumbled half-thoughts about crowdsourcing, terrorists and swarming drones all designed to answer a question he doesn’t really ask:   Why do it?  Who already benefits from today’s hidebound bureaucracy? 

Granted, I don’t think that even one of Kohlmann’s examples of Harvard’s entrepreneurial spirit ever attended HBS, but perhaps their accountants and personal wealth managers did. 

SWJ (Peter J. Munson) –Disruptive Thinkers: Defining the Problem


Benjamin Kohlmann’s essay, “The Military Needs More Disruptive Thinkers,” struck a chord like no other essay published recently in the Small Wars Journal.  In brutal honesty, I have to say that the many sniping comments struck exposed flesh.  While an ardent fan of Kohlmann’s essay, I have to agree that his argument was more akin to birdshot at maximum range than a mailed fist to the throat of the problem.  Perhaps a better analogy is that his was a marking round lobbed in the general vicinity of the problematic enemy fire.  Whatever it was, it was a wildly popular read.  For all the comments on the article, the one that rang truest with me came from commener “Null Hypothesis” and asked, “What problem are we trying to solve again?”  This was absolutely the right question.

Kohlmann called for disruptive thinkers, but the real question is why?  And what are we disrupting?  We cannot waste time with harassment and interdiction fires.  We must define what targets we are servicing….

Infinity Journal (Frank Hoffman)– The Myth of the Post-Power Projection Era

CTOvision (Alex Olesker) –Fighting Cyber Crime with Transparency 

Wilson Quarterly – Pakistan’s Most Dangerous Place 


Recommended Viewing:

3 Responses to “Recommended Reading”

  1. J. Scott Shipman Says:

    Hi Zen,
    The Prine piece is quite good—and reasoned. I’ve watched, and considered a post on Kohlmann’s piece—and still might. Fred Leland and I went back and forth at FB only to agree we were in violent agreement—sort of …
    That said, those who call for change should lead by example (much like Boyd). To be sure, Boyd complained of the bureaucracy and inept leadership, but he did something more: he did stuff. If these young men persist on active duty, I hope they carry the fire of reform. In my experience, I’ve seen the fire dim as one progresses up the hierarchy—after all, the system railed against is the system that rewards with promotions, etc.

  2. zen Says:

    Hey Scott
    I agree. People get worn down. They feel the weight of familial responsibilities to “go along to get along”. They give up hope of effecting positive change after seeing poor performance rewarded and promoted and look for the exits when a toxic leadership climate of “ruling by fear” is in place. Boyd was a strategist and a tactician and it showed in how he outmaneuvered his bureaucratic opponents. Most dissenters know only one move: open, futile, opposition

  3. larrydunbar Says:

    “suggests that the best way to shake up the stifling complacency of the military bureaucracies is to send junior officers to business school, most especially the one at Harvard.”

    Bush had a MBA and he used it to almost destroy our country, by opening up the US treasury to contractors, in a global economy. War is fought over economic considerations by people with little economic considerations. Perhaps it’s best to keep it that way.
    Read more: http://www.lineofdeparture.com/2012/04/09/general-discontent/#ixzz1s9LeMGpi

Switch to our mobile site