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4GW or applying the OODA Loop?

Dave Schuler, a longtime blogfriend, had a post up the other day at The Glittering Eye that examined some commentary on the War on Terror by The New York Times and Dan Drezner, whom I have not read much lately.

Developments in U. S. Strategy in War on Terror

Contra Drezner the best description of the tactic is neither deterrence nor containment but fourth generation warfare. We’re attempting to get into the enemy’s decision-making loop and the NYT article is a very interesting description of that process….The methods described are all excellent method of getting into the enemy’s decision-making process and it’s about damned time. More, please.

It is indeed about damned time. Dave is undoubtedly correct that Drezner is getting it as wrong with his “containment” analogy as the NYT ( which did not even recognize the tactic used by the NYPD in the article was swarming) was with “deterrence”. Neither is really an adequate descriptor of what the NYT reporter is attempting to articulate.

As I read the original article, I see institutions (finally) experimenting with applying a variety of tactics – swarming, psychological warfare, IO, soft power – to create disorientation in our adversaries and a mismatch between their perceptions and their response. By intent or

by default, we seem to be moving, however tentatively, to getting on the good side of John Boyd’s OODA Loop dynamic rather than being hammered on the receiving end. As the article also points to a concern with the moral level of warfare, in undermining Islamist terrorist’s reputation for piety and impugning them with shame, Dave is correct in seeing progress toward the state adapting to 4GW.

This would be a rare good piece of news because it would mean that our security and law enforcement bureaucracies are starting to overcome years of inertia and are taking some baby steps toward becoming adaptive, learning, organizations that act from forethought rather than from “going by the book”.  When they internalize that “the book” isn’t really a book but a process of continuous creative destruction, we’ll be halfway home.


HG’s World and Asia Logistic Wrap are also posting on the OODA Loop.  Thanks HistoryGuy99!

6 Responses to “4GW or applying the OODA Loop?”

  1. historyguy99 Says:


    Your observation is dead on. The OODA Loop dynamic seems to be catching on in a big way in areas outside the original design. Thanks to the efforts of John Boyd, Frans Osinga, Chet Richards,and recently you and the Chicagoboyz for raising the bar of discussion on your sites.

    It is even being introduced by Shawn at Asia Logistics Wrap as a Global IT roll-out template.

    People have said that John Boyd never published an important paper or wrote a book. Neither did any of the great prophets come to think of it, but their words and message was carried forward by others to influence generations.

  2. Dave Schuler Says:

    Thanks, Mark.  I know you’d read the code as did I.

  3. zen Says:

    Hi Dave,
    You’re welcome! It just took me a couple of days to get to it – I feel like I’m swimming against an information/email/PDF current these days and steadily falling further and further behind!

  4. Jay Says:

    The OODA comes on little cat feet…
    Embracing Boydian theory and the essence of 4GW without even knowing it. Good start. I’m still scratching my head a bit about the correlation to the Cold War.

  5. Shawn in Tokyo Says:

    Hi Mark, thanks for the mention. I really like the new site and hope all is well!

  6. zen Says:

    Hi Shawn,

    Thanks! The site needed a retooling and wordpress is a more versatile platform, IMHO. Hope everything is going well on your end too – things are good here.

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