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The Last Lion, Winston Spenser Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 — finally released!

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

[by J. Scott Shipman]

The Last Lion, Winston Spenser Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, by William Manchester and Paul Reid

In the 1980’s, William Manchester wrote two of three planned volumes on the life of Winston Churchill. He had notes for the final volume but illness prevented him from completing. Instead, he brought in Paul Reid to finish his masterpiece. While it took 25 years, the wait was well worth it; Reid thus far (I’m halfway through) has channelled Manchester’s style and presenting a seamless connection to the first two volumes.

Strongest recommendation.

Cross posted at To Be or To Do.

New Release: Creating a Lean R&D System, by Terry Barnhart—a preliminary review

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

[by J. Scott Shipman]

Creating a Lean R&D System, by Terry Barnhart

Friend of this blog, and friend, Terry Barnhart’s new book is available on Amazon. Terry is one of the leading thinkers among those who admire John Boyd’s work.

Terry has spoken at the last three Boyd and Beyond events, and much of the substance of those talks are reflected in this book. I’ve read most of it, and believe it will have wide applicability outside the “lean” community. His sections on the use of A3’s (the subject of his talks at B&B this year) for problem identification/solution and rapid learning have potential at the personal and the organizational level. At the core, Terry is advocating a culture of innovation and providing tools he has proven in practice.

Recommended.

A version is cross posted at To Be or To Do.

Twenty-Nine Articles

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

SWJ Blog has a new post up with an important and all too timely article on transition operations whose authors include an amigo of mine, Pete Turner, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. Turner will also be one of the featured speakers at the Boyd & Beyond Conference in October at Quantico:

Transition Operations: A Discussion with 29 Articles by Richard LedetJeff Stewart and Pete Turner 

….What is Transition?

Currently, there is no accepted definition for Transition in US Doctrine.  For the purpose of this discussion, we will define Transition simply as the transfer of responsibility from Supporting Nations (SN) to the Host Nation (HN). 

How do we go from full-speed-ahead COIN operations where we call all of the shots to a fully functioning sovereign nation that provides security and services for its population?  Although we have concluded one Transition (Iraq) and are in the midst of another (Afghanistan), we are still literally feeling our way forward, one unit at a time, without a coherent strategy, doctrine, or national policy.  Battalion and Company Commanders want to know, “What comes after build?”

As previously stated, our doctrine is remarkably silent on Transition.  FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency acknowledges the requirement for Transition in the late stage of counterinsurgency:  

“The main goal for this stage is to transition responsibility for COIN operations to HN leadership.  In this stage, the multinational force works with the host nation in an increasingly supporting role, turning over responsibility wherever and whenever appropriate.  Quick reaction forces and fire support capabilities may still be needed in some areas, but more functions along all Logical Lines of Operations are performed by HN forces with the low-key assistance of multinational advisors.  As the security, governing, and economic capacity of the host nation increases, the need for foreign assistance is reduced.  At this stage, the host nation has established or reestablished the systems needed to provide effective and stable government that sustains the rule of law” (paragraph 5-6).

That is the sum total of the guidance given in our counterinsurgency manual.

Transition thus appears to be rather nebulous; it is something we desire and anticipate, but do not necessarily know how to achieve, or even understand.  It may occur quickly, or be drawn out over an extended period of time.  Like other operations in COIN, Transition will also occur differently in different locations, with various requirements and assorted timelines.  Our own relief in place/transfer of authority (RIP/TOA) process even affects Transition.  How do we maximize effects at this point, especially considering that the level of international effort is simultaneously in decline?  What are the requirements for Transition, and what is the glide path to a smooth successful hand-off to the host nation?  Is it a phase that comes after “Hold,” or is it part of the “Build” phase, both of which occur sequentially after “Clear?”  One might also argue that once “Transition” has begun, the COIN fight is over for SN forces and the responsibility shifts to the State Department or the UN.  Or does it?  

There is no simple way of answering these questions, or the others which are raised throughout this paper.  The answers may change with each particular case.  However, without a dialogue on the subject these questions will continue to go unanswered and operations are likely to proceed with uncertain or frustrating results. ….

Read the rest here.   I am a particular fan of points 3,4,5,6 and 9.

And now, we interrupt this post for a…….

Public Service Message:

If you enjoy discussions like this one and think that SWJ and SWJ Blog are an important forum for debate on key defense and strategic issues, they could really use your financial support:

Small Wars Foundation Annual Fundraising Campaign

The Small Wars Foundation / Journal / Council’s annual fundraising campaign is now underway and this is easily the most critical funding effort we have conducted since going hot in 2005. We originally envisioned quarterly campaigns but quickly realized that we were likely over-tapping the hard-core few who have kept our head above water all these years. Well, we are currently on life support in many aspects of our operations to include day to day operating costs, upgrades to the site, and providing at least a meager compensation to those who work 24/7 to keep our humble contribution to our Nation’s security and foreign policy alive and well.

There are many ways to support SWF/SWJ and they can be found here. But what we are most in need of right now is hard cash, the more the better. We have over 200 of our popular Small Wars Journal challenge coins remaining and will get one off to those who donate $50 or more or commit to a $25 a month recurring contribution. Donation options are available at the same link.

And for US contributors – your donation is tax deductible. Last year our goal was to raise approximately $20k but we fell far short of that. Our goal this year, and a very optimistic one at that, is $30k and we will keep you posted on our progress. Thanks in advance in helping keep this effort alive and well.

Recommended Reading: Five Notable Posts

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

[by J. Scott Shipman]

Recently, several notable posts have continued, or amplified the ideas introduced by Lt. Benjamin Kohlman’s post at Small Wars Journal calling on “disruptive thinkers.” I’ll be sharing five posts: three are serialized and offer a historical example of disruptive thinking in the U.S. Navy and the resultant lessons. The fourth is written by LTG Walter F. Ulmer, Jr. (USA, Ret) and defines a major obstacle to the disruptive thinker, namely, “toxic leaders.” The fifth is an current example of a young active duty officer, Richard Allain (USMC) thinking deeply about his profession and offering ideas on adaptability and innovation.

VADM William Sims

Navy Lieutenant Commander Benjamin “BJ” Armstrong wrote a three installment post at the US Naval Institute blog, and his topic was an example of not only disruptive thinking, but of courage, persistence, and what LCDR Armstrong calls (correctly) “grit.” Here is an excerpt from the first installment describing then-Lt. William Sims:

In 1900 he was a Lieutenant, fresh off staff duty in Europe as an intelligence officer.  He had orders to China Station to join the U.S. Navy’s newest and most powerful battleship, the USS KENTUCKY.  He arrived aboard the battleship having studied the early Dreadnaught battleships of Europe and the gunnery practices of both potential allies and potential adversaries alike.

Sims checked onboard and discovered that the Navy’s “newest and most powerful” may have been new, but it certainly wasn’t powerful.  There were a number of problems with the ship.  The hull was armored under the waterline, but the sides and gun turrets were open and un-protected.  The gundecks were so low to the waterline that when the ship was fully loaded and took heavy seas water would pour into the turrets.  And there was no separation of the magazines and the weatherdecks and gundecks, so a hit from an enemy shell could directly access the magazines.

Sims was incensed.  He set about recording the deficiencies.  In a letter to a friend he wrote: “The Kentucky is not a battleship at all.  She is the worst crime in naval construction ever perpetrated by the white race.” 

In the second installment, Lt. Armstrong describes then-Lt. Sims “grit:”

Sims had submitted 13 reports in all, over the span of two years, each one continually improving his method and technique.  When he heard that the Bureau of Ordnance had completed a test and proved that what he claimed was impossible, he finally had enough.  He knew that if the United States Navy went up against a force that was using continuous aim fire it would be decimated.  Destruction of the fleet would open up the U.S. coast to invasion, as the Brits had done in the War of 1812 (a war that was roughly as distant to him as World War I is to us).  He believed that the nation’s security depended on his success.

Lieutenant William Sims did something that he later characterized as “the rankest kind of insubordination.”  He wrote a letter to the President.

Writing the President is is pretty disruptive, and the President read the letter and acted.

LCDR Armstrong, in his final installment called, Voice, Grit, and Listening…A Look at the Possible:

Finally, we all need to learn to listen.  This is especially true as we become more senior.  Today we may be the junior leaders, but that means tomorrow some of us will be the mid-grade leaders, and in the future some of us will be the senior leaders of the Navy.  Sims is proof that when you remember it’s not about you but instead it’s about the idea and about the Service, you can continue to innovate as you are promoted.

These three posts are exceptionally relevant, and highly recommended.

LTG Ulmer’s essay in Army magazine, June 2012 issue, is titled: Toxic Leadership, What Are We Talking About? General Ulmer defines toxic leadership:

Defining toxic leader is the first priority before addressing numbers, impact, cause and solution. Webster’s defines toxic as poisonous, not far from destructive or harmful.

Toxic leaders are a major obstacle, and according to General Ulmer’s essay, make up almost 10% of the Army’s officer corps. General Ulmer goes on to define precisely toxic leaders in the military context, explain how they continue to survive, and offer solutions. His analysis is lucid and spot-on. The other services could learn from the Army’s lesson, and take positive action to separate toxic leaders using indigenous resources—essentially using the personnel system to weed these folks out:

A very good soldier and scientist, LTC Larry Ingraham, now deceased, commented on the dramatic differences among subordinate reputations of senior officers, saying that the personnel system that cannot distinguish between the revered and the despised must have a fundamental flaw.

The final essay comes from today’s Small Wars Journal. The title is Innovation in a Small War, and is truly an exercise in deep thinking on how the Marine Corps plans, adapts, innovates, and fights. On creativity, Allain says:

Current theories of creativity support a process consisting of four key themes.  Creativity results from the invention and bounding of a problem, deconstruction of existing mental concepts, synthesis of these concepts in a new way, and test and development of the novelty to become valuable.

Allain recognizes the institutional obstacles to innovation:

It is clear that we need both innovators and adaptors within the Marine Corps to execute our doctrine.  Without a balance we can stagnate or fluctuate wildly, rapidly finding ourselves unable to cope with structured or unstructured situations.  While Marines are elite, they still have a spread in distribution of natural talents and attributes and exercise a spectrum of adaptive and innovative thought processes.

He concludes:

The field of military innovation studies must expand its orientation and re-examine the interconnectedness of adaptability and innovation, appreciation and leadership, and military effectiveness.  Specific focus should be given to the aforementioned instances of resistance to innovation.  It created stagnation and inhibited learning, a sign of ineffectiveness under this theory, and deserving of analysis.

Allain’s essay, along with the other posts, should be required reading for all are instructive, and all offer examples and solutions—and I would offer, an inspiration to those members on the fence about wading into the debate.

Well done to all!

ADDENDUM to original: Mark Tempest over at EaglesSpeak links to some insightful posts (duplicating a few above), and makes a good point about age (us old guys), illustrating you can teach an old dog new tricks—if the dog is paying attention…

Cross posted at tobeortodo.com

High Ground

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Hat tip to Kanani Fong of Kitchen Dispatch

The award -winning film HIGH GROUND  is due for release in August 2012:

Since 2002, almost 50,000 U.S. soldiers have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan with their lives radically altered by war. With the improvement of battlefield medical treatments, these soldiers return alive yet not whole, and face long painful paths to recovery.

Full integration back into their community and the civilian world is a treacherous road, fraught with obstacles and pitfalls. After initial rehabilitation, these veterans are often left to fend for themselves, and struggle with physical and mental roadblocks, depression, and alienation.

This issue affects every aspect of society, not just families and hometown communities, but our national character and our legacy. How these wounded soldiers transition is one of the most important repercussions of these wars and an adversity with which we will contend for generations.

igh Ground was a showcase expedition bringing together disabled war veterans with world recognized mountain climbers to demonstrate what could be achieved by climbing a Himalayan giant. A key outcome of the expedition was to produce a documentary film that would tell the inspiring stories of these heroes and spread a healing message to a national audience.

This film, featuring stunning cinematography and capturing powerful emotions, will touch the hearts of concerned citizens, military families, outdoor enthusiasts and most of all, soldiers who find themselves wondering how to face the days and months and years ahead. It is an honest and gripping portrayal of our American warriors, telling an action packed story that unfolds in unexpected ways as the team makes their way high into the mountains, through the villages of Nepal, over raging rivers and up terrifying steep terrain risking injury and death for a chance at the summit.

A second and equally important goal is to continue to impact those thousands of injured soldiers in the midst of their own daunting recoveries through the use of the film at veteran’s hospitals and military bases around the United States. In the fall of 2011, a multi-city nationwide tour will be launched to welcome our soldiers home, celebrate their spirit and sacrifice, and to encourage them to pursue their dreams.

Efforts are currently underway to assess the potential of additional expeditions and to create a long-term strategy as a non-profit organization. By getting involved and supporting this project you can participate directly in this vital process and connect your company to the message that our soldiers can indeed… return home to live again.

 


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