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Recommended Reading & Viewing

Top Billing! Michael Yon – America’s Dumbest War, Ever 

If we had a real media, they might ask President Obama and Governor Romney about this. Or our Secretaries of Defense and State. However it seems that the goal of the MSM is to not let nasty foreign news interrupt the scripted rhythm of the presidential campaign, even if, you know, an embassy gets sacked and burned and our ambassador murdered by a terrorist-led mob.

Yesterday a concerned father forwarded to me a letter from his son in Afghanistan. I confirmed authenticity, and republish with permission:


I am fed up. I cannot believe the lack of attention the recent changes in this war is receiving by the media or the country. I think I saw one thing on CNN about the following subject, but I had to dig extensively to find it. The purpose of this letter is to let you know of the garbage that our soldiers are going through right now. With this knowledge, I hope that you take action by writing your congressmen.

First, because of the recent green on blue incidents or “insider threats” as the new buzz phrase dictates, all coalition forces in Afghanistan have completely stopped partnering with the ANA, AUP, and ALP in order to prevent the death of anymore CF casualties by ANSF or Taliban disguised as them. This is also greatly spurred by President Karzi’s indifferent attitude and lack of action to take measures to prevent further insider attacks.

….To the second point: I don’t think that the American citizens would be happy if they knew that their soldiers were being prohibited from defending themselves in any way because of politically driven orders, but that is precisely what is happening in this war right now even as I write this letter. The soldiers of the U.S. never engage the enemy unless we know that we have will always have the tactical advantage in defending ourselves, that advantage is the use of close air support and air weapons team. To take those weapons away from us is to level the playing field for the enemy and thus exposing our soldiers to more danger. In the school house they teach us that the minimum ratio that we are to engage the enemy with, is a 3:1 ratio. In other words, we have the highest probability of winning because we don’t fight fair. The sound tactical principles behind this teaching have saved lives. The very presence of aircraft over our foot patrols has also saved lives and now our chain of command is being told by our political leadership that this is now not allowed.  If we are not partnering with the ANSF and we are not actively patrolling to prevent our enemies from massing their attacks on our COP and we can’t drop a bomb on the enemy that we have positively identified, than what the hell are we doing here? 

What indeed?

It seems the same physically safe DC political insiders who made the call for no security for our diplomats in Libya are now writing ROE that turns American soldiers and Marines into Taliban target practice.

Why? And more importantly…..Who?

Dr. Steve Metz– Strategic Horizons: The Future of Roboticized Warfare 

….Revolutionary military concepts like armored warfare and strategic bombing were created in the 1920s, a time of limited defense budgets, small militaries and a less frenetic operational pace that gave military theorists time to think and experiment. The United States appears to be entering a similar time, opening the door for revolutionary ideas. This may free military robots from their supporting role, as theoretical revolutionaries invent radically new ways to use them in innovative, robot-centric formations.

It’s not hard to imagine the advantages of robot-centric military formations, particularly for conflict on land. A roboticized Army or Marine unit could have as much or more capability than a current one, with significantly fewer humans. This would both lower the chances of U.S. casualties and save some of the massive costs represented by recruiting, training, educating, housing and feeding troops, as well as providing medical care and post-service benefits to members of the military. It also could ease a potential recruiting crisis as the annual cohorts of 18-year-olds get smaller.

Milpub (Seydlitz89) – Grand Strategy: Inherent Tensions 

Let’s start with a recap of Fuller’s concept of grand strategy. This is laid out in Fuller’s own detailed style in his The Reformation of Warfrom 1923. Fuller starts with a pyramid of military forces comprising land, sea and air forces which together constitute “a very complex and unstable organization”, in all force results from the integration of all three, so a political community could still extert force without air or naval forces, although this application of force would be of a more limited scope. The base of this pyramid rests on “the moral of the civil population and the commercial and industrial resources at their disposal”. Fuller likens this base to “fire” with the military forces being “earth”, the naval forces “water” and the air forces “air”. These four elements together produce a fifth which Fuller describes as the “national will to exist” and “the driving force of all military activities”. This “national will to exist” includes an ideological componentincluding the soldierly virtues present in society (“integrity, honour, justice and courage”). I would include with this something that Fuller assumes, that being best described as the German termOpferbereitschaft, or the willingness of the individual to sacrifice themselves in the interest of the political community. Fuller concludes, “This control and direction of the will to win and all the means whereby this will may be expressed I will call grand strategy.”Before getting to what Hew Strachan has to say, let me point out one more very important point – for Fuller, this grand strategy is contingent. The totality of moral and material elements exerts force which is then resisted by the enemy, who have in turn their own totality of elements that resist. It is the interaction of force and resistance which characterizes the war in question, making each war unique.

Steven Pressfield – Thinking in Blocks of Time 

….When we think in terms of blocks of time, it takes pressure off the need for immediate production. We don’t mind going slowly the first few days because we know we’ll hit our stride in a week or two.

Starting slow does something else that is not often appreciated. It sends a message. A low-pressure Day One tells the muscles, “Wake up, work is coming.” It doesn’t make the muscles panic. It just gets them in the mood. When we up the pace on Day Two, the muscles get the picture. They start to prepare.

Our imaginary colt does not dread running. He wants to gallop. The trick, for us the trainer, is not to give him his head too soon.

So we zoom out. We push the horizon back. We think in blocks of time.

Week One, we accomplish X.

Month One, we accomplish X+Y.

By New Year’s, we have nailed X, Y, and Z.

I recognize that what I do for a living—writing long-form pieces—is not analagous to what many people do. But the long-run mindset is a valuable one to master, even if you’re in the business of git-’er-done-now.

IVN – (John Sullivan) –Barbarization in Mexico Punctuated by Hyper Violence 

….As a result of the narco-violence refugees and internally displaced persons are also reported in contested areas with some estimates suggesting as many as 230,000 persons have fled the cartels’ ‘social cleansing.’ Journalists, police, and mayors are often targeted with assassination. In the case of journalists, the death toll ranges from 45-67 killed during the drug war; some estimates are higher. The goal of much of this violence is to remove opposition from rival gangsters and the state. Persons interfering with cartel operations are at risk. Again accurate numbers are hard to find.

….Barbarization and narcocultura go hand in handNarcocultura is a social phenomena that glorifies narcotrafficking. The narcos become heros worthy of emulation for the many “ninis” or youths without jobs or education. Think of it as Mexican gangsta rap on steroids. Two threads emerge: 1) the narco as hero; and 2) narco-folk saints like Jesus Malverde and Santa Muerte to bond narcos into a cohesive social structure that provides justification for their actions and spiritual protection for their deeds. Narcomantas (banners), corpse-messaging (leaving a message on a corpse), narcomensajes (messages or communiqués), and narcopintas (graffiti) accompany acts of violence and brutality to extend the cartels’ message in a form of narco-information operations. Such imagery can be a powerful social bond.

SWJ – An Enduring Argument Against Counterinsurgency and Primitivization of War and Prospects for Peace

Abu Muqawama – (Elkus) Targeted Killings and Pakistan: Focus on the Policy and (Trombly) The Logic and Risks of Capture Operations 

Ribbonfarm –Money as Pain Relief 

Fast Transients – The pivot point 

Adaptive Leader –Learning the Hard Way Gets Easier 

LESC Blog – Latest P1 Column: The anatomy of victory (part two): Victory at minimal cost  

USNI Blog – Guest Post by Robert Kozloski: Future Wars: US Homeland at Risk? , Guest Post by RDML James Foggo: Fostering Innovation in the United States Navy and Guest Post by LCDR Rachael Gosnell: Can We Really Afford to Pivot?



One Response to “Recommended Reading & Viewing”

  1. Fred Leland Says:

    Thanks for the mention Zen, just read Seydlitz89, piece very good.

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