Starship Troopers


It is quite scary that there are people out there (apparently lots of them too!) who think that Starship Troopers is only a crap movie from the late 90s with a great shower scene…it would be interesting some day to consider the effects of digital media upon the depth of our society’s knowledge…whereas we once read books, we now wait for the movie; once we read the paper over breakfast or at work and got not only the news but insightful commentary, now we scan the headlines on out iPhones in search of the sensational or titillating…

There is a discussion on The Long War, Counterinsurgency Operations, and the Future of the Armed Forces on Sic Semper Tyrannis.  Based upon a short paper of the same name by Adam Silverman, It discusses among other things, the value or not of the draft and of legislative process in going to war (real war with shooting, guns and things, not war on obesity, drugs, poverty or other social ailments). While it is generally accepted that the draft, while nice to talk about, is not a viable option now, it does identify the need for “…A discussion and debate over the nature of service and the nature of what everyone is required to contribute as a citizen in exchange for our rights and responsibilities would be a long overdue public good…” The global  “me, me, me” society of today has forgotten that the relationship between the elements of Clausewitz’s Trinity is symbiotic and NOT geared solely for the pleasure and comfort of ‘the people’.

The discussion also touches upon the tiers of citizenship upon which Heinlein’s Starship Troopers society is built: there are citizens and civilians – to become a citizen with its attendant privileges AND responsibilities, a civilian must volunteer to serve. Although interwined with Heinlein’s own philosophies on life, politics and society, it is one of his better, less openly satirical reads and strikes on a number of levels. At face value, it is simply a ripping good scifi war yarn; at another, it delves into the relationships between those who serve and those who opt not to. At yet another  level, it provides an aspirational insight into the empty battlefield or distributed operations – IF you have the right combination and level of mobility, situational awareness, firepower and devolved decision-making to avoid simple defeat in detail. I would humbly submit that no military force has attain these goals yet and that those who may be closest are those who we currently face…

So…Starship Troopers…find and read a copy of the book – the whole unabridged version (no cheating with Reader’s Digest)…it is available via Audible so you can ‘read’ while on the commute or cycling/rowing/stepping in the gym…the movie is only good for some lightweight voyeurism, a not bad soundtrack and some cool spaceship designs of which the Rodger Young can be seen being built on Paper Modelers (not 1:1 though…).

Them’s the breaks

One thing that really bugs me about so much contemporary doctrine and writing is the way in which we as the ‘good guys’ are portrayed as inept numpties and the insurgents/criminals/terrorists are painted as unstoppable unbeatable uber-bogeymen. It was so very refreshing, then, to receive this paper by Lincoln  Krause on the mistakes that insurgents commonly make and as suggested in the paper, perhaps a gap in FM 3-24 that might be filled in the next go-round? These are the types of things that we need to be teaching in conjunction with the things that an adversary might do well and advantages that they may have over us, especially if we opt to let them maintain those advantages…

The Dark Side of the Information Militia

And probably the one we are the most familiar with…damn hackers…but the penny openly dropped for me this morning reading this Wired article Hackers Brew Self-Destruct Code to Counter Police Forensics which came in through Linked-In. Of course there is a dark to every light and I should have picked up on this way earlier…

Neptunus Lex calls it a travesty and he ain’t wrong. The rise and fall of a military blogger illustrates the difficulties of trying to restrain modern information technologies with rules and regulations designed for bygone days where paper and the typing pool ruled. no wonder the bad guys are all over us in the cybersphere. There is no way to protect our information now other than through education – the more draconian the rules we implement, the more chinks in the armour will be made – and exploited…In a very brief but uber-broad post, The Strategist links to a couple of articles on the whys and why-nots of taking the war to cyberspace – personally I think that the Guardian article on the why-nots is weak and bordering on pitiful – maybe the author was strapped for an idea and just churned it out to meet a deadline? Those same ‘citizens’ who bleat upon civil liberties are also those who bleat loudest when the fascist pig police don’t divert 100% of their resources to lock up the thugs who tagged their mailbox, and are those who would sacrifice the least for the common good…me, me, me…I agree totally with John Arquilla at Foreign Policy on the whys: so long as we cry about the adversaries’ use of information technologies against us and do nothing about it, we are artificially constraining ourselves and that’s a helluva way to run a war – the COIN Review found that mastering the COE will require us to master information fusion from a range and depth of sources the likes of we have never consider before. More so, as we adopt Michael Scheiern’s concept of individual-based tracking, cyberspace is where we must also find the individuals and track them…

I also agree with Peter’s crystal ball comment re the UK – a la Once Was An Empire which is symptomatic of the decay that is now becoming visible…

On the lighter side of the Information Militia, Steven Pressfield discusses the philosophy of Giving It Away – taking the plunge and not holding out for me, me, me direct physical rewards for one’s labours… looking at the big picture and the long game instead…

I wish WordPress had an Unpublish button as I hit Publish by mistake and now have to complete today’s post ‘live’ as it were….

Islam’s First Heretics

A brief by interesting article on Coming Anarchy

COIN, Training and Education

Small War Journal has a couple of good discussions going on: Counterinsurgency and Professional Military Education; Integrating COIN into Army Professional Education; The Army Capstone Concept: the Army wants your comments Feel free to leap in and value add…

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