Chet Richards on “Who Still Reads Boyd?”
[Mark Safranski / “zen“]
Dr. Chet Richards had an excellent blog post on the continuing relevance of Colonel John Boyd’s strategic concepts:
Apparently the Russians. In “The Moscow School of hard knocks: Key pillars of Russian strategy,” 17 Jan 2017, CNA analyst and former NDU program manager Michael Kofman
offers vivid illustrations of ideas that Boyd developed in his various papers and presentations (all available on our Articles page). He doesn’t cite Boyd, but you’ll recognize the concepts.
I have no idea of how Kofman came across these ideas — Boyd has nine pages of sources at the end of Patterns of Conflict, so he isn’t claiming that he thought most of them up. Regardless of how Kofman discovered them, he establishes that they certainly do work, but unfortunately not for us.
For example, when describing Russia’s overall approach to strategy, he notes that
Russia’s leadership is pursuing an emergent strategy common to business practice and the preferred path of startups, but not appreciated in the field of security studies. The hallmarks of this approach are fail fast, fail cheap, and adjust. It is principally Darwinian, prizing adaptation over a structured strategy.
This should leap out at anyone even casually familiar with Boyd since Patterns of Conflict cites the theory of evolution by natural selection as one of its two foundations (war is the other).
Boyd’s whole approach to strategy was emergent. This is clear not only from how he uses strategy but in how he defines the term, at the end of Strategic Game:
A mental tapestry of changing intentions for harmonizing and focusing our efforts as a basis for realizing some aim or purpose in an unfolding and often unforeseen world of many bewildering events and many contending interests.
In other words, there is an overall objective — it’s not just random actions, even very rapid actions, for action’s sake — and the pattern emerges as our “efforts” interact with the “unfolding and often unforeseen world.” You see a similar philosophy in Kofman’s description of the Russian approach:
This is confusing to follow when Russia’s goals are set, and yet operational objectives change as they run through cycles of adaptation. It is also a method whereby success begets success and failure is indecisive, simply spawning a new approach.
Compare to Patterns 132: “Establish focus of main effort together with other effort and pursue directions that permit many happenings, offer many branches, and threaten alternative objectives. Move along paths of least resistance (to reinforce and exploit success).”
Why take such an approach? Right after his definition of strategy, Boyd suggests an answer:
Read the rest here
February 22nd, 2017 at 7:15 pm
Speaking of Russia- regarding the death of Vitaly Churkin, his last notable errand on the Security Council was back in December with the vote to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. According to Haaretz (who in the past have made no secret of their love for Obama and pre-1967 borders), this is how it went down:
“It is not entirely clear what happened in the conversation between Netanyahu and Putin, but less than an hour before the vote a real drama took place at the UN headquarters in New York. While the Security Council member-states were preparing their speeches ahead of the vote and the public discussion that was held immediately that was to follow, the Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin suddenly asked for a closed consultation.
A Western diplomat said that Churkin shocked the other ambassadors of the 14 Security Council member-states when he proposed postponing the vote until after Christmas. There had not been enough discussion on the wording of the resolution, Churkin claimed, and said he was surprised at the haste of some of the countries to hold a vote as quickly as possible. The deputy Russian ambassador to Israel, Alexy Drobinin, confirmed this in an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday morning.
Drobinin told Army Radio that Russia had objections to the timing of the resolution and that Russia’s representative in New York was the only one who asked to continue discussing it. Drobinin said it should be taken into consideration that a few weeks from now there would be a new administration in the United States, and that Russia was not satisfied with the way the resolution was brought to a vote. He said the problem was not the content, but the timing and the fact that the resolution related only to one out of the many core issues of the conflict.
But Churkin’s remarks fell on deaf ears. Most of the representatives at the meeting rejected them and demanded to move ahead on the vote as planned. A Western diplomat said that the Russian ambassador, who realized that he had not managed to garner support, backed down and summarized the consultation with a typically cynical remark about the proposal abandoned by Egypt – he said that never in his life had he seen so many people wanting to adopt an orphan so quickly.
The meeting ended, the ambassadors entered the Security Council chamber and a few minutes later they passed the resolution.”
Never in his life had he seen it, and that’s why his life had to end. The Deep State is the prime suspect here. They can’t tolerate dissent, especially in the Security Council where one veto can torpedo their agenda. Furthermore, a Russian-Israeli alliance would be a disaster for their plans to incorporate the Middle East into a Greater Arabia and transfer the population to the Schengen Area and beyond.