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Now Using the POINT of the Spear….

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

My esteemed colleague, Michael Tanji, goes knuckles over Think Tank 2.0.

Tanji has my 100 % endorsement.

Joining Threatswatch.org

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Thank you to Michael Tanji for welcoming me to the Threatswatch.org team:

Welcome to ThreatsWatch

It is with considerable pleasure that we welcome Adam Elkus, Mark Safranski and Shlok Vaiyda as contributors to ThreatsWatch. Friends of ThreatsWatch will know these gentlemen from their work at Rethinking Security, Zen Pundit and Naxalite Rage, respectively. We are honored that such astute, creative intellectuals find value in collaborating with us in our efforts to build Think Tank 2.0, and we are looking forward to the discussions that will inevitably flow from the analysis and opinions they will be sharing.

This is somewhat different than the blogging relationships I have with other sites like Chicagoboyz or Progressive Historians which is about political, historical or intellectual discussion via blogging or with Pajamas Media, which is business. While I will periodically make tight and focused national security related posts, joining Threatswatch.org is for long term collaboration on more substantive endeavors ( kind of like…this) with the excellent individuals it has on the roster as well as the talent I know they will recruit or partner with in the future.

Think Tank 2.0 and more.

Early Returns

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

On The John Boyd Roundtable:

Shlok Vaidya:

It has the uniqueness of both being able to touch off debate, but still offer a framework with which to talk about the future of warfare (or more appropriately, decision making) – in other words, it demonstrates exactly how to approach Boyd.

Michael Tanji:

The point, made in a side-discussion between myself and the editor, is that this is yet another way in which TT 2.0 works, and perhaps is an indication that the transition to a 2.0 model is well underway:

  • Virtual discussion (Time? Distance? Ha!)
  • Serious discussants (So much for online not being ‘legit’ or ‘real’)
  • Digital delivery (for the digerati)
  • Dead-tree format (for those who like it like that)

Tanji is correct. One objective here was to bridge the gap between symposium, blog and book. One set of ideas, many modalities.


Sam Liles:

As a book about a book it should also be noted that this not much different than the literary critique found in most academic journals. The bonus is that it isn’t nearly as dry. The article penned by Chet Richards discussing “The origins of John Boyd’s A discourse on winning and loosing” is the kind of in depth research that is hard to find. I am fascinated by his discussion of how the specific philosophies were brought into alignment and filled in the gaps of Boyd’s theories.

I have always been interested in how like some Greek philosopher John Boyd effectively portrayed his ideas and communicated them so diligently and never wrote a book. This is antithetical to today’s world where you write the book then get to convey your ideas if the book sells well.  Lexington Green in “Why didn’t Boyd write a book?” discusses the interactive nearing on Socratic method Boyd used with audiences. The points conveyed provide a true insight into what may be the instantiation of John Boyd’s true genius. The reason Boyd likely didn’t write a book may be so that people could continue to discuss and adapt his ideas into the future. A  point Lexington Green discusses and points out eloquently.

Lex’s essay is one of my favorite parts of the book too.


TDAXP  and TDAXP II   HG’s World    DNI


Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Michael Tanji sums up his views on the recent DNI OSINT conference that he and other blogfriends attended in Washington, DC.

Official DNI OSINT blog can also be consulted ( hat tip to Suki Fuller)

A Danger Room Futurism Double Feature!

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Danger Room was most excellent today. Two items here worthy of attention:

Michael Tanji, my CTLab colleague, put in an appearance at Danger Room with How to Fix the Spooks’ New ‘Vision’:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently released their new vision for the future of the spooks and spies community. And, shockingly enough, it’s actually pretty smart — sparking a bit of optimism for those who think serious change is too long in coming. It’s a more far-reaching document than I have seen come out of the IC (Intelligence Community) in the past. The parts about supplying intelligence to everyone from the Departments of Health and Human Services to international organizations to private sector and non-governmental organizations were especially heartening.

That said, it still doesn’t reach far enough. Everyone in the IC likes to say that we’re in a period of unprecedented and extensive change. If that’s the case, I’d expect the response to match the challenge. Some suggestions:

They’re good ones. Go read them!

Next, Noah Shachtman brings us some official Pentagon futurism pried loose by Justin Elliott of Mother Jones magazine with a FOIA request, Military Study Looked to Rome for Lessons:

The Pentagon’s legendary Office of Net Assessment is known for peering into the future of conflict — at subjects like wartime biotech, fighting robots, networked battles, and the military in space. The office’s head, Andrew Marshall, has been called the Pentagon’s “futurist-in-chief.” But for one study, concluded in 2002, Net Assessment-funded researchers looked back, to the empires of Alexander the Great, Imperial Rome, Genghis Khan, and Napoleonic France.

 Military Advantage in History  (PDF) is a fascinating read but very quirky in it’s historical interpretation. I base this assessment on a spot check of the Roman section where some elements are correct but some variables are underplayed – the political dynamics of proconsular authority begetting Roman aggressiveness and adaptiveness in the field or the resilience of the Roman state for example. The rush to try and synthesize such a vast scope of history in a few paragraphs will inevitably create distortions ( Napoleon or Alexander are far more manageable subjects for such abstraction – but they influenced rather than institutionalized in the long run).

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