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.
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.