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Recommended Reading

The Journal/e-zine edition….always gotta change it up ūüėČ

American DiplomacyThe Arab as Insurgent” – Norvell DeAtkine

….In a widely quoted book among senior Arab military professionals, The Qu’ranic Concept of War, Pakistani general, S. K. Malik has written that “war is the cause of God” and not a calamity to be avoided.¬† There is much in this book that would promote unconventional war, including the importance of total war concepts, the use of terror to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy, the use of psychology, using economic tools, and as he wrote, avoiding “the kid gloves” approach to war.¬† For many pages he details the strategy promoted in the Qu’ran, mostly based on the early wars of the Prophet and his followers against the “apostates.” In other passages he extols the early Muslim armies’ ability to fight on favorable terrain, at a time of their choosing, and using deception and intelligence to gain advantage over the enemy.¬† Echoing a theme written by T. E. Lawrence, the principal aim in warfare is to win “bloodless battles” by convincing the enemy of the futility of resistance

SSI¬†“Schools for Strategy: Teaching Strategy for 21st Century Conflict ” –¬†¬†Dr. Colin S. Gray

Because strategic performance must involve the ability to decide, to command, and to lead, as well as the capacity to understand, there are practical limits to what is feasible and useful by way of formal education in strategy. The soldier who best comprehends what Sun-tzu, Clausewitz, and Thucydides intended to say, is not necessarily the soldier best fitted to strategic high command. It is important to distinguish between intellect and character/personality. The superior strategist is ever uniquely a product of nature/biology, personality/psychology, and experience/opportunity. Nonetheless, formal education has its place.

Strategic genius is rare, strategic talent is more common, though still unusual. The latter can be improved by formal education, the former most probably cannot. However, there is merit in the educational aspiration to help educate instinct for a better performance.

Marine Corps Gazette– “Where Is Our Kilcullen?: Professional relevance as a result of education” – LT.Col. Michael D. Grice

That is not to say that the Marine Corps hasn’t produced brilliantly intellectual officers. Pete Ellis, the eccentric but brilliant mastermind who not only predicted war with Japan 20 years before it was fought but had the foresight to provide the operational plans to win it, is one Marine who comes to mind. Victor “Brute” Krulak, an enormously influential Marine whose book, First to Fight, is required reading by every Marine, is another. More recently, the intellectual talents of LtGen P.K. Van Riper and Gen James N. Mattis have had enormous impacts on the Marine Corps. We have brilliance within our ranks; that is inarguable. What we do not have, however, is a systemic way to develop and educate officers to a level consistent with our Army, Navy, Air Force, and coalition counterparts.

Studies in Intelligence – “Thinking About the Business of Intelligence: What the World Economic Crisis Should Teach Us“- Carmen Medina and Rebecca Fisher

Lesson 2: We are overly sanguine about how close our information and intelligence sources approximate reality.

“Our understanding of causality and sequence leaves much to be desired.”

The second lesson from the global financial crisis is that economists thought their limited data accurately reflected reality. Famously, many of the financial houses in New York quantified their risk positions using algorithms that “assumed away” the very conditions that led to the crisis. In addition, as blogger and CNBC commentator Barry Ritholtz has noted, many of the actions that precipitated the crisis were hidden even to the most careful observers; what was in essence a “run” on the world’s largest financial institutions didn’t occur in the physical world-it happened as people pulled the virtual plug on their investments in the privacy of their own homes.

The Wilson Quarterly Robots at War: The New BattlefieldPW Singer

….Lawrence J. Korb is one of the deans of Washington’s defense policy establishment. A former Navy flight officer, he served as assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration. Now he is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a ¬≠left-¬≠leaning think tank. Korb has seen presidential administrations, and their wars, come and go. And, as the author of 20 books and more than 100 articles, and a veteran of more than a thousand TV ¬≠news-¬≠show appearances, he has also helped shape how the American news media and public understand these wars. In 2007, I asked him what he thought was the most important overlooked issue in Washington defense circles. He answered, “Robotics and all this unmanned stuff. What are the effects? Will it make war more likely?”

Korb is a great supporter of unmanned systems for a simple reason: “They save lives.” But he worries about their effect on the perceptions and psychologies of war, not merely among foreign publics and media, but also at home. As more and more unmanned systems are used, he sees change occurring in two ways, both of which he fears will make war more likely. Robotics “will further disconnect the military from society. People are more likely to support the use of force as long as they view it as costless.” Even more worrisome, a new kind of voyeurism enabled by the emerging technologies will make the public more susceptible to attempts to sell the ease of a potential war. “There will be more marketing of wars. More ‚Äėshock and awe’ talk to defray discussion of the costs.”

The Wilson Quarterly – “Rediscovering Central Asia”¬†– S. Frederick Starr

In AD 998, two young men living nearly 200 miles apart, in ­present-­day Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, entered into a correspondence. With verbal jousting that would not sound out of place in a ­21st-­century laboratory, they debated 18 questions, several of which resonate strongly even ­today.

Are there other solar systems out among the stars, they asked, or are we alone in the universe? In Europe, this question was to remain open for another 500 years, but to these two men it seemed clear that we are not alone. They also asked if the earth had been created whole and complete, or if it had evolved over time. Time, they agreed, is a continuum with no beginning or end. In other words, they rejected creationism and anticipated evolutionary geology and even Darwinism by nearly a millennium. This was all as heretical to the Muslim faith they professed as it was to medieval ­Christianity.

Few exchanges in the history of science have so boldly leapt into the future as this one, which occurred a thousand years ago in a region now regarded as a backwater. We know of it because a few copies of it survived in manuscript and were published almost a millennium later. ¬≠Twenty-¬≠six-year-old Abu ¬≠al-¬≠Rayhan al-Biruni, or al-Biruni (973-1048), hailed from near the Aral Sea and went on to distinguish himself in geography, mathematics, trigonometry, comparative religion, astronomy, physics, geology, psychology, mineralogy, and pharmacology. His counterpart, Abu Ali Sina, or Ibn Sina (ca. 980-1037), was from the stately city of Bukhara, the great seat of learning in what is now Uzbekistan. He made his mark in medicine, philosophy, physics, chemistry, astronomy, theology, clinical pharmacology, physiology, ethics, and even music. When eventually Ibn Sina’s great Canon of Medicine¬†was translated into Latin, it triggered the start of modern medicine in the West. Together, the two are regarded as among the greatest scientific minds between antiquity and the Renaissance.

National Defense –¬†Marines Use Simulations To Hone ‚ÄėCritical Thinking’ Skills¬†– Grace V. Jean¬†

Before sending them to war, the Corps puts units through a pre-deployment exercise called “Mojave Viper” at Twentynine Palms, Calif. The simulated battle gives marines a chance to test their cognitive decision-making skills against live actors who role-play tribal leaders, civilians and insurgents. With the digital trainer, “we can better prepare the unit or leader for that live exercise through some of these other tools, and give them an opportunity to rehearse and remediate through numerous repetitions,” said Lt. Col. Dave Lucas, program manager of Combat Hunter.

….The interactive program walks students through a number of scenarios in which they are asked to interpret what is going on and to look for clues that can tip them off to potential threats. For example, if troops are arriving in an area for the first time, they can look at the townspeople’s body language to learn about their attitudes. Details such as whether they are standing in an open or closed posture, exposing the soles of their feet – an insult in many Middle Eastern cultures – or making eye contact are subtle but crucial signs of friendliness or hostility.

ISN Mexican Cartels Recruit Texan Teens РSamuel Logan

Teenage assassin

Rosalio Reta, also known as “Bart,” worked for Miguel Trevi√Īo, the second in command of Los Zetas, one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organizations. Based in Nuevo Laredo, Trive√Īo oversaw the movement of drugs through his city into the Texan city of Laredo and destinations beyond, across the eastern half of the US.

Reta likely never met Trevi√Īo, but did spend enough time in the bars of Nuevo Laredo to meet one of Trevi√Īo’s recruiters, someone on the lookout for young American kids interested in earning a little money on the side. Reta, however, was not hired to work as a mule, the most common job for new recruits. He was hired to kill; and as court documents revealed, he killed for the first time when he was 13, in 2000 or 2001.

As he grew into his assassin role, eliminating targets for Trevi√Īo on both sides of the border, Reta began earning between $5,000 and $50,000 a hit. He sometimes received a bonus – a kilo or two of pure cocaine – and at the very least received a $500 weekly retainer fee just so he was available when his Mexican handlers called.

That’s it!

8 Responses to “Recommended Reading”

  1. Schmedlap Says:

    Norvell De Atkine. There’s a name I haven’t seen lately. I reread "Why Arabs Lose Wars" a few times, a few years back, while training a newly created IA Battalion. It didn’t make things any easier, but it helped to explain them.

  2. zen Says:

    hi Schmedlap,
    Ah, no better praise for an academic (ok…semi-academic, retired practitioner) than a practitioner saying " this helped". Say, BTW, what are doing with all those French "cohabitation" period docs ?

  3. Schmedlap Says:

    My intent is to set fire to them.

  4. Charles Cameron Says:

    I’m glad to see someone recommending Brig. Malik’s book, The Qur’anic Concept of War.  I had to order my copy from India in 2002, but it is now available on Scribd, and there’s at least an excerpt — I haven’t seen it myself, but I doubt it contains the entire text — in Jim Lacey’s The Canons of Jihad: Terrorists’ Strategy for Defeating America.     
    But I’m frankly puzzled by the seeming lack of attention paid to the book — the only reference to it I could find on the CTC site was in an article in the Sentinel by Marisa Urgo and Jack Williams titled Al-Qa`ida’s Medinan Strategy: Targeting Global Energy Infrastructure — so I wonder, have we been studiously ignoring this book, or is there some other reason I have seen so little that draws on it?

  5. zen Says:

    LOL! As someone who was once forced to pore over the records of the Temporary National Economic Committee for the permutations of the Depression-era international trade in rubber, I salute you.

  6. zen Says:

    Hi Charles,
    I have seen Malik referenced 3-4 times in passing in the last month ( inc. this article) so it may just be wandering "on the radar" of the strategy-security types now. Naturally, you were years ahead of the curve but I imagine Pakistan specialists and defense attache types also knew of it.

  7. Charles Cameron Says:

    Now you’ve got me wondering where I came across Brig. Malik’s book, Zen.  Reuven Firestone includes it in the bibliography of his 1999 book, Jihad The Origin of Holy War in Islam, so that’s a possibility.      
    Incidentally, there’s an interesting discussion of its "canonicity" by Raymond Ibrahim among others, on Harvard’s Middle Easter Strategy site, the consensus being that it’s a bit too "noble" to represent guidelines that AQ would follow, but definitely a useful guide to the territory. Ibrahim put together the 2007 collection The Al Qaeda Reader, which was noteworthy for its insistence that theology was relevant to jihad.

  8. Charles Cameron Says:

    Ach: typo — it’s the Middle Eastern Strategy at Harvard (MESH) site, and it is the discussion titled Islam’s war doctrines ignored.

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