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Across the great divide

[ by Charles Cameron — philosophy during a bank heist — and its implications in terms of military doctrine ]



Two screenshots in sequence from the Denzel Washington movie, Inside Man, bring me back to the philosophical fissures and fusions between mind and brain, subjective and objective, quantitative and qualitative, man half-angel and half-beast — in a law enforcement context.


When one side has reached the limits of its material strength, it can always add to its military efforts by mobilizing all possible moral strength.

I often need to talk about this. As material, for Clausewitz, is the counterpart to moral, what for TRADOC is the counterpart to Human Terrain?

3 Responses to “Across the great divide”

  1. Scott Says:

    Note that Boyd says the moral level is the highest level of war.

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    Thanks, Scott:
    A quick Google brought me almost instantly to William S Lind’s John Boyd’s Art of War, with its interesting reference to Goliath:

    To the traditional levels of war—tactical, operational, and strategic—Boyd added three new ones: physical, mental, and moral. It is useful to think of these as forming a nine-box grid, with tactical, operational, and strategic on one axis and physical, mental, and moral on the other. Our armed forces focus on the single box defined by tactical and physical, where we are vastly superior. But non-state forces focus on the strategic and the moral, where they are often stronger, in part because they represent David confronting Goliath. In war, a higher level trumps a lower, so our repeated victories at the tactical, physical level are negated by our enemies’ successes on the strategic and moral levels, and we lose.

    and Fred Leland’s Boyd’s Moral, Mental and Physical Dimensions of Conflict: Interact-Isolate…and Understand!:

    The concept I found to be key developed by Boyd is the OODA Loop also known as the Boyd Cycle. Boyd described conflict as “time competitive observation, orientation, decision and action cycles.” We will discuss the Boyd Cycle in much greater detail later on, but its premise is that of situational awareness and management. It entails understanding of what Boyd called the three dimensions of conflict; the mental, moral and physical and developing a strategy in “a game in which we must be able to diminish an adversary’s ability to communicate or interact with is environment while sustaining or improving ours.”

    The Force is Strong Loop is Tight with this one

  3. Grurray Says:

    Lately it has definitely been the case for America that our great mass and material can only be successfully wielded with an even greater moral purpose and authority. It seems to me that human terrain, at the other end of the spectrum being granular and nuanced, would require some cunning and guile. Certainly more discernment and discrimination.

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