The Jet That Ate the Pentagon

When I read this article from Foreign Policy, I am so very much reminded of this Arthur C. Clarke short story, Superiority which I found online here….Patton may have been righter than he realised when he said that it was all about being ‘first with the mostest’ as opposed to lastest with the bestest….

Superiority – by Arthur C. Clarke

IN MAKING THIS STATEMENT – which I do of my own free will – I wish first to make it perfectly clear that I am not in any way trying to gain sympathy, nor do I expect any mitigation of whatever sentence the Court may pronounce. I am writing this in an attempt to refute some of the lying reports broadcast over the prison radio and published in the papers I have been allowed to see. These have given an entirely false picture of the true cause of our defeat, and as the leader of my race’s armed forces at the cessation of hostilities I feel it my duty to protest against such libels upon those who served under me.

I also hope that this statement may explain the reasons for the application I have twice made to the Court, and will now induce it to grant a favor for which I can see no possible grounds of refusal.

The ultimate cause of our failure was a simple one: despite all statements to the contrary, it was not due to lack of bravery on the part of our men, or to any fault of the Fleet’s. We were defeated by one thing only – by the inferior science of our enemies. I repeat – by the inferior science of our enemies.

When the war opened we had no doubt of our ultimate victory. The combined fleets of our allies greatly exceeded in number and armament those which the enemy could muster against us, and in almost all branches of military science we were their superiors. We were sure that we could maintain this superiority. Our belief proved, alas, to be only too well founded.

At the opening of the war our main weapons were the long-range homing torpedo, dirigible ball-lightning and the various modifications of the Klydon beam. Every unit of the Fleet was equipped with these and though the enemy possessed similar weapons their installations were generally of lesser power. Moreover, we had behind us a far greater military Research Organization, and with this initial advantage we could not possibly lose.

The campaign proceeded according to plan until the Battle of the Five Suns. We won this, of course, but the opposition proved stronger than we had expected. It was realized that victory might be more difficult, and more delayed, than had first been imagined. A conference of supreme commanders was therefore called to discuss our future strategy.

Present for the first time at one of our war conferences was Professor-General Norden, the new Chief of the Research Staff, who had just been appointed to fill the gap left by the death of Malvar, our greatest scientist. Malvar’s leadership had been responsible, more than any other single factor, for the efficiency and power of our weapons. His loss was a very serious blow, but no one doubted the brilliance of his successor – though many of us disputed the wisdom of appointing a theoretical scientist to fill a post of such vital importance. But we had been overruled.

I can well remember the impression Norden made at that conference. The military advisers were worried, and as usual turned to the scientists for help. Would it be possible to improve our existing weapons, they asked, so that our present advantage could be increased still further?

Norden’s reply was quite unexpected. Malvar had often been asked such a question – and he had always done what we requested.

“Frankly, gentlemen,” said Norden, “I doubt it. Our existing weapons have practically reached finality. I don’t wish to criticize my predecessor, or the excellent work done by the Research Staff in the last few generations, but do you realize that there has been no basic change in armaments for over a century? It is, I am afraid, the result of a tradition that has become conservative. For too long, the Research Staff has devoted itself to perfecting old weapons instead of developing new ones. It is fortunate for us that our opponents have been no wiser: we cannot assume that this will always be so.”

Norden’s words left an uncomfortable impression, as he had no doubt intended. He quickly pressed home the attack.

“What we want are new weapons – weapons totally different from any that have been employed before. Such weapons can be made: it will take time, of course, but since assuming charge I have replaced some of the older scientists with young men and have directed research into several unexplored fields which show great promise. I believe, in fact, that a revolution in warfare may soon be upon us.”

We were skeptical. There was a bombastic tone in Norden’s voice that made us suspicious of his claims. We did not know, then, that he never promised anything that he had not already almost perfected in the laboratory. In the laboratory – that was the operative phrase.

Norden proved his case less than a month later, when he demonstrated the Sphere of Annihilation, which produced complete disintegration of matter over a radius of several hundred meters. We were intoxicated by the power of the new weapon, and were quite prepared to overlook one fundamental defect – the fact that it was a sphere and hence destroyed its rather complicated generating equipment at the instant of formation. This meant, of course, that it could not be used on warships but only on guided missiles, and a great program was started to convert all homing torpedoes to carry the new weapon. For the time being all further offensives were suspended.

We realize now that this was our first mistake. I still think that it was a natural one, for it seemed to us then that all our existing weapons had become obsolete overnight, and we already regarded them as almost primitive survivals. What we did not appreciate was the magnitude of the task we were attempting, and the length of time it would take to get the revolutionary super-weapon into battle. Nothing like this had happened for a hundred years and we had no previous experience to guide us.

The conversion problem proved far more difficult than anticipated. A new class of torpedo had to be designed, as the standard model was too small. This meant in turn that only the larger ships could launch the weapon, but we were prepared to accept this penalty. After six months, the heavy units of the Fleet were being equipped with the Sphere. Training maneuvers and tests had shown that it was operating satisfactorily and we were ready to take it into action. Norden was already being hailed as the architect of victory, and had half promised even more spectacular weapons.

Then two things happened. One of our battleships disappeared completely on a training flight, and an investigation showed that under certain conditions the ship’s long-range radar could trigger the Sphere immediately after it had been launched. The modification needed to overcome this defect was trivial, but it caused a delay of another month and was the source of much bad feeling between the naval staff and the scientists. We were ready for action again – when Norden announced that the radius of effectiveness of the Sphere had now been increased by ten, thus multiplying by a thousand the chances of destroying an enemy ship.

So the modifications started all over again, but everyone agreed that the delay would be worth it. Meanwhile, however, the enemy had been emboldened by the absence of further attacks and had made an unexpected onslaught. Our ships were short of torpedoes, since none had been coming from the factories, and were forced to retire. So we lost the systems of Kyrane and Floranus, and the planetary fortress of Rhamsandron.

It was an annoying but not a serious blow, for the recaptured systems had been unfriendly, and difficult to administer. We had no doubt that we could restore the position in the near future, as soon as the new weapon became operational.

These hopes were only partially fulfilled. When we renewed our offensive, we had to do so with fewer of the Spheres of Annihilation than had been planned, and this was one reason for our limited success. The other reason was more serious.

While we had been equipping as many of our ships as we could with the irresistible weapon, the enemy had been building feverishly. His ships were of the old pattern with the old weapons – but they now out-numbered ours. When we went into action, we found that the numbers ranged against us were often 100 percent greater than expected, causing target confusion among the automatic weapons and resulting in higher losses than anticipated. The enemy losses were higher still, for once a Sphere had reached its objective, destruction was certain, but the balance had not swung as far in our favor as we had hoped.

Moreover, while the main fleets had been engaged, the enemy had launched a daring attack on the lightly held systems of Eriston, Duranus, Carmanidora and Pharanidon – recapturing them all. We were thus faced with a threat only fifty light-years from our home planets.

There was much recrimination at the next meeting of the supreme commanders. Most of the complaints were addressed to Norden-Grand Admiral Taxaris in particular maintaining that thanks to our admittedly irresistible weapon we were now considerably worse off than before. We should, he claimed, have continued to build conventional ships, thus preventing the loss of our numerical superiority.

Norden was equally angry and called the naval staff ungrateful bunglers. But I could tell that he was worried – as indeed we all were – by the unexpected turn of events. He hinted that there might be a speedy way of remedying the situation.

We now know that Research had been working on the Battle Analyzer for many years, but at the time it came as a revelation to us and perhaps we were too easily swept off our feet. Norden’s argument, also, was seductively convincing. What did it matter, he said, if the enemy had twice as many ships as we – if the efficiency of ours could be doubled or even trebled? For decades the limiting factor in warfare had been not mechanical but biological – it had become more and more difficult for any single mind, or group of minds, to cope with the rapidly changing complexities of battle in three-dimensional space. Norden’s mathematicians had analyzed some of the classic engagements of the past, and had shown that even when we had been victorious we had often operated our units at much less than half of their theoretical efficiency.

The Battle Analyzer would change all this by replacing the operations staff with electronic calculators. The idea was not new, in theory, but until now it had been no more than a Utopian dream. Many of us found it difficult to believe that it was still anything but a dream: after we had run through several very complex dummy battles, however, we were convinced.

It was decided to install the Analyzer in four of our heaviest ships, so that each of the main fleets could be equipped with one. At this stage, the trouble began – though we did not know it until later.

The Analyzer contained just short of a million vacuum tubes and needed a team of five hundred technicians to maintain and operate it. It was quite impossible to accommodate the extra staff aboard a battleship, so each of the four units had to be accompanied by a converted liner to carry the technicians not on duty. Installation was also a very slow and tedious business, but by gigantic efforts it was completed in six months.

Then, to our dismay, we were confronted by another crisis. Nearly five thousand highly skilled men had been selected to serve the Analyzers and had been given an intensive course at the Technical Training Schools. At the end of seven months, 10 percent of them had had nervous breakdowns and only 40 per cent had qualified.

Once again, everyone started to blame everyone else. Norden, of course, said that the Research Staff could not be held responsible, and so incurred the enmity of the Personnel and Training Commands. It was finally decided that the only thing to do was to use two instead of four Analyzers and to bring the others into action as soon as men could be trained. There was little time to lose, for the enemy was still on the offensive and his morale was rising.

The first Analyzer fleet was ordered to recapture the system of Eriston. On the way, by one of the hazards of war, the liner carrying the technicians was struck by a roving mine. A warship would have survived, but the liner with its irreplaceable cargo was totally destroyed. So the operation had to be abandoned.

The other expedition was, at first, more successful. There was no doubt at all that the Analyzer fulfilled its designers’ claims, and the enemy was heavily defeated in the first engagements. He withdrew, leaving us in possession of Saphran, Leucon and Hexanerax. But his Intelligence Staff must have noted the change in our tactics and the inexplicable presence of a liner in the heart of our battlefleet. It must have noted, also, that our first fleet had been accompanied by a similar ship – and had withdrawn when it had been destroyed.

In the next engagement, the enemy used his superior numbers to launch an overwhelming attack on the Analyzer ship and its unarmed consort. The attack was made without regard to losses – both ships were, of course, very heavily protected – and it succeeded. The result was the virtual decapitation of the Fleet, since an effectual transfer to the old operational methods proved impossible. We disengaged under heavy fire, and so lost all our gains and also the systems of Lormyia, Ismarnus, Beronis, Alphanidon and Sideneus.

At this stage, Grand Admiral Taxaris expressed his disapproval of Norden by committing suicide, and I assumed supreme command.

The situation was now both serious and infuriating. With stubborn conservatism and complete lack of imagination, the enemy continued to advance with his old-fashioned and inefficient but now vastly more numerous ships. It was galling to realize that if we had only continued building, without seeking new weapons, we would have been in a far more advantageous position. There were many acrimonious conferences at which Norden defended the scientists while everyone else blamed them for all that had happened. The difficulty was that Norden had proved every one of his claims: he had a perfect excuse for all the disasters that had occurred. And we could not now turn back – the search for an irresistible weapon must go on. At first it had been a luxury that would shorten the war. Now it was a necessity if we were to end it victoriously.

We were on the defensive, and so was Norden. He was more than ever determined to reestablish his prestige and that of the Research Staff. But we had been twice disappointed, and would not make the same mistake again. No doubt Norden’s twenty thousand scientists would produce many further weapons: we would remain unimpressed.

We were wrong. The final weapon was something so fantastic that even now it seems difficult to believe that it ever existed. Its innocent, noncommittal name – The Exponential Field – gave no hint of its real potentialities. Some of Norden’s mathematicians had discovered it during a piece of entirely theoretical research into the properties of space, and to everyone’s great surprise their results were found to be physically realizable.

It seems very difficult to explain the operation of the Field to the layman. According to the technical description, it “produces an exponential condition of space, so that a finite distance in normal, linear space may become infinite in pseudo-space.” Norden gave an analogy which some of us found useful. It was as if one took a flat disk of rubber – representing a region of normal space – and then pulled its center out to infinity. The circumference of the disk would be unaltered – but its “diameter” would be infinite. That was the sort of thing the generator of the Field did to the space around it.

As an example, suppose that a ship carrying the generator was surrounded by a ring of hostile machines. If it switched on the Field, each of the enemy ships would think that it – and the ships on the far side of the circle – had suddenly receded into nothingness. Yet the circumference of the circle would be the same as before: only the journey to the center would be of infinite duration, for as one proceeded, distances would appear to become greater and greater as the “scale” of space altered.

It was a nightmare condition, but a very useful one. Nothing could reach a ship carrying the Field: it might be englobed by an enemy fleet yet would be as inaccessible as if it were at the other side of the Universe. Against this, of course, it could not fight back without switching off the Field, but this still left it at a very great advantage, not only in defense but in offense. For a ship fitted with the Field could approach an enemy fleet undetected and suddenly appear in its midst.

This time there seemed to be no flaws in the new weapon. Needless to say, we looked for all the possible objections before we committed ourselves again. Fortunately the equipment was fairly simple and did not require a large operating staff. After much debate, we decided to rush it into production, for we realized that time was running short and the war was going against us. We had now lost about the whole of our initial gains and enemy forces had made several raids into our own solar system.

We managed to hold off the enemy while the Fleet was reequipped and the new battle techniques were worked out. To use the Field operationally it was necessary to locate an enemy formation, set a course that would intercept it, and then switch on the generator for the calculated period of time. On releasing the Field again – if the calculations had been accurate – one would be in the enemy’s midst and could do great damage during the resulting confusion, retreating by the same route when necessary.

The first trial maneuvers proved satisfactory and the equipment seemed quite reliable. Numerous mock attacks were made and the crews became accustomed to the new technique. I was on one of the test flights and can vividly remember my impressions as the Field was switched on. The ships around us seemed to dwindle as if on the surface of an expanding bubble: in an instant they had vanished completely. So had the stars – but presently we could see that the Galaxy was still visible as a faint band of light around the ship. The virtual radius of our pseudo-space was not really infinite, but some hundred thousand light-years, and so the distance to the farthest stars of our system had not been greatly increased – though the nearest had of course totally disappeared. These training maneuvers, however, had to be canceled before they were completed, owing to a whole flock of minor technical troubles in various pieces of equipment, notably the communications circuits. These were annoying, but not important, though it was thought best to return to Base to clear them up.

At that moment the enemy made what was obviously intended to be a decisive attack against the fortress planet of Iton at the limits of our Solar System. The Fleet had to go into battle before repairs could be made.

The enemy must have believed that we had mastered the secret of invisibility – as in a sense we had. Our ships appeared suddenly out of no-where and inflicted tremendous damage – for a while. And then something quite baffling and inexplicable happened.

I was in command of the flagship Hircania when the trouble started. We had been operating as independent units, each against assigned objectives. Our detectors observed an enemy formation at medium range and the navigating officers measured its distance with great accuracy. We set course and switched on the generator.

The Exponential Field was released at the moment when we should have been passing through the center of the enemy group. To our consternation, we emerged into normal space at a distance of many hundred miles – and when we found the enemy, he had already found us. We retreated, and tried again. This time we were so far away from the enemy that he located us first.

Obviously, something was seriously wrong. We broke communicator silence and tried to contact the other ships of the Fleet to see if they had experienced the same trouble. Once again we failed – and this time the failure was beyond all reason, for the communication equipment appeared to be working perfectly. We could only assume, fantastic though it seemed, that the rest of the Fleet had been destroyed.

I do not wish to describe the scenes when the scattered units of the Fleet struggled back to Base. Our casualties had actually been negligible, but the ships were completely demoralized. Almost all had lost touch with one another and had found that their ranging equipment showed inexplicable errors. It was obvious that the Exponential Field was the cause of the troubles, despite the fact that they were only apparent when it was switched off.

The explanation came too late to do us any good, and Norden’s final discomfiture was small consolation for the virtual loss of the war. As I have explained, the Field generators produced a radial distortion of space, distances appearing greater and greater as one approached the center of the artificial pseudo-space. When the Field was switched off, conditions returned to normal.

But not quite. It was never possible to restore the initial state exactly. Switching the Field on and off was equivalent to an elongation and contraction of the ship carrying the generator, but there was a hysteretic effect, as it were, and the initial condition was never quite reproducible, owing to all the thousands of electrical changes and movements of mass aboard the ship while the Field was on. These asymmetries and distortions were cumulative, and though they seldom amounted to more than a fraction of one per cent, that was quite enough. It meant that the precision ranging equipment and the tuned circuits in the communication apparatus were thrown completely out of adjustment. Any single ship could never detect the change – only when it compared its equipment with that of another vessel, or tried to communicate with it, could it tell what had happened.

It is impossible to describe the resultant chaos. Not a single component of one ship could be expected with certainty to work aboard another. The very nuts and bolts were no longer interchangeable, and the supply position became quite impossible. Given time, we might even have overcome these difficulties, but the enemy ships were already attacking in thousands with weapons which now seemed centuries behind those that we had invented. Our magnificent Fleet, crippled by our own science, fought on as best it could until it was overwhelmed and forced to surrender. The ships fitted with the Field were still invulnerable, but as fighting units they were almost helpless. Every time they switched on their generators to escape from enemy attack, the permanent distortion of their equipment increased. In a month, it was all over.

THIS IS THE true story of our defeat, which I give without prejudice to my defense before this Court. I make it, as I have said, to counteract the libels that have been circulating against the men who fought under me, and to show where the true blame for our misfortunes lay.

Finally, my request, which as the Court will now realize I make in no frivolous manner and which I hope will therefore be granted.

The Court will be aware that the conditions under which we are housed and the constant surveillance to which we are subjected night and day are somewhat distressing. Yet I am not complaining of this: nor do I complain of the fact that shortage of accommodation has made it necessary to house us in pairs.

But I cannot be held responsible for my future actions if I am compelled any longer to share my cell with Professor Norden, late Chief of the Research Staff of my armed forces.

This is probably my all-time favourite Clarke story and I am rapt to be able to share it here…

PS In reference to my previous post about using Press This, it took me no longer and about three LESS steps to assemble this post the old-fashioned way than using the tool henceforth known as Press This – Another Tool For Lazy Writers (and thinkers?)

Navy Grounds Drone Copters, Then Spends Quarter-Billion to Buy More | Danger Room |

Navy Grounds Drone Copters, Then Spends Quarter-Billion to Buy More | Danger Room |

This is really my test post for the WordPress ‘Press This’ tool which embeds in one’s browser and enables a blogger to upload and comment directly on a link as a blog post…so far so good…although to include the title picture, I still had to save it to HDD, GIMP it to a maximum dimension of 600 dpi and then import it manually out of the Press This session which only allows one to embed a linked image…I hate doing this because it is all too easy for the image to go offline and leave a gaping wound in the post…

An MQ-8B Fire Scout drone copter lands on the U.S.S. McInerney after helping a counternarcotics mission in 2010. Photo: U.S. Southern Command

Anyway…I thought that this article was a good example of the smoke and mirrors games that are being played (STILL!) in the UAS game. While Firescout might be all very clever technically, I do have to question what value it brings, other than as a technology demonstrator, to the missionspace that can no be accomplished equally as well and with more flexibility with a manned helicopter. Maybe if manned helicopters crashed/malfunctioned as often as rotary-wing UAS, one could make an argument based on safety and cost savings…to argue, as has already been done, that UAS like the Unmanned Cargo Aerial Vehicle save aircrew from boredom is pretty weak and fails ABSOLUTELY to take into account the eyes on the AO lost when employing a supply UAS and also the ability to retask the ‘aircraft’ for other missions as can be done with ANY manned helicopter capable of a supply tasking…

A decade into the modern UAS generation, we really need to, with some sense of urgency, shed all the myth and mystique surrounding UAS and focus simply on developing capability where it adds the most value – or even just where it adds value…while my design for a UAS toilet roll changer is a. quite unique, b. cutting edge and c. would clearly save millions from the drudgery of bathroom maintenance, I have long since given up on it being my ticket to fame and fortune…

My final thoughts on Press This are much the same…a solution for which there is not really a problem, except maybe for the very few too lazy or otherwise incapable of starting a new post, giving it a title and pasting in a link…I may use it from time to time but certainly it’s not making my blogging any easier…Much like my last post on the glory of dumbness, sometimes making this a little harder so thatw e have to work towards them actually results in a better, more thought out product and end result…?

The information militia like all such bodies can be either useful or not and that often depends upon the level of structure within…the less structure, the more akin to a mob it may be and, for me, Press This encourages the ‘information flash mob’…

The case for dumbness…

Dean links to some sad and rather negative commentary on ‘dumbphones’ this mornng…

I like to think I’m fairly savvy with new technology.  For some reason, however, I’ve resisted all attempts to get me to buy a smartphone.  No amount of mocking from friends and co-workers has gotten me to budge.  I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one.

I support, praise and endorse ‘dumbphoneness’…I too am a hold out, partially because I don’t really have much of a need for a mobile phone and for that the el cheapo one supplied through work does the trick. Perhaps if peeps were LESS net-enabled and had to pause (possibly even think) before twitting/posting/blogging, they might be more contributing to a general increase in the standard of online knowledge and information instead of jamming it up with bland info-custard (or substances of similar consistency). I think that there has only been one occasion in the last couple of years that a more-enabled phone might have been useful for me and that was when I found that the Mitre 10 Mega in Palmerston North (John Cleese’s ‘most boring city ever’) had shifted and I wanted to learn its new location. But instead of Google-mapping or some such, I just called directory service and rang them up…perhaps this will become more of an issue when dial-in directory services die…?

If I need a map, I plan ahead before I leave…never have I needed the flexibility of a tasked B-1B to be retasked and have to prepare a whole new mission package enroute – if I did, then someone would probably provide the tools to do the job. If stuck, the good old Wises map book is still pretty useful and doesn’t rely on coverage or batteries to function – just some sort of ambient light…

I’m rough on equipment and tools…or more accurately, equipment and tools need to be able to survive me…a $50 cellphone is not going to draw too many tears if it gets dropped in cement; on the other hand a $800 i-Thing causes trauma if there is the faintest trace of a  scratch on the non-replaceable screen. While the el cheapo is obsolete before it is even bought (apparently), I don’t care but the i-Thing will be equally obsolete a few weeks/months later too…

Angry Birds Schmangry Birds…I still haven’t finished Lego Star Wars on the phone that Carmen bought me for Christmas 2006 (and which she has since repossessed for her own use)…I remember purchasing and loading that up at Waikato Hospital when the twins were born in April the next year…

One of the aforementioned twins – one day old – in 1.3 magapixels – does the trick. Apparently cameras aren’t allowed in the ICU but new nanas have special dispensation…

If I take a picture in all its 1.3 megapixel glory with my phone, I don’t feel a pressing shaft of urgency to share it with the world then and there…many people might want to learn from this before they cross the start line on a big night out…what seems like a good idea when half-cut NEVER looks prettier in the morning and that goes equally as much for those pics you posted in the wee early hours down Courtney Place…And let’s be honest about it, more many purposes a lowly 1.3 megapixel image more than suffices – what the Internet DOESN’T need is more bloated blurry megamegapixel images of the regurgitated kebab you forced down after the bars all closed…

…and the case against…

In an article titled Goodbye Michael, Carl Prine at Line of Departure  kicks Michael Yon into touch – finally…I don’t really care whether Carl made this decision all on his very own or whether someone further up his food chain either made the decision or gave him the OK to call it as he saw it…either way, it is a clear sign that everyone has just grown tired of all the Yawntics and would rather see the back of him…

This, of course, led to the inevitable international conspiracy post on Mikey Yawn’s Dispatches site this morning in which everyone from Stanly McChrystal to Santa Claus gets blamed for all the woes in Yawn’s life…Mikey perhaps you need to look a little closer to home for the true culprit…I think that may be the balding Ewok pictured in the Goodbye Michael article has a lot to do with it…As we’ve all been saying (and you just ain’t been listening) you need to go offline and Zen your navel for a while to get some perspective and reinvent yourself as the kinda of photojournalist (emphasis on the ‘photo’ – you could do yourself worse favours than throwing away your keyboard for ever) that the thinking serviceperson (AT ANY LEVEL) might want to have something to do with – trying to be the military version of News of the World clearly hasn’t worked for you…

COIN Questionnaire Part 4

Randomly-selected COIN-themed pic

I like this image because it starts to draw away from the purely physical operating environment in that where generally operate at a far lower level of operational competence i.e. the information domain…

Anyways, the next set of questions int he FM 3-24 revision project…

11. Does the current FM address adequately how to fight an insurgency based upon an ideological or religious foundation?

In general terms, yes, with the qualification that it was clearly written against the backdrop of Iraq in 2005/06; as a result the detail does not translate well into other theatres like Afghanistan, even less so when it is employed as a pre-templated solution which it is not. Just as much as MCO and even more so at all levels below battalion, COIN/IW requires personnel to think and keep thinking as the environment around them evolves: the ‘hit ‘em hard with HE’ template solution is no more applicable across the board than the ‘build more schools and wells’ school of thought.

12.a.  FM 3-24 and FM 3-24.2 discuss causes of insurgencies. How representative and accurate are the lists in the two manuals? 

I didn’t review FM 3-24-2 (actually I took one look when it first came out and hated it – how can a doctrinal publication include discussion papers? It read like ‘just go and figure it out for yourselves’.) however the section in FM 3-24 on Mobilisation Means and Causes, paragraphs 1-40 to 1-54 is sound, suitably generic for broader application beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, and does not require revision.

12.b. Should there be more analysis of possible causes and how to mitigate those causes?

This may become an exercise in tail-chasing due to the sheer range of possible causes and how they might be mitigated. It would probably be more useful to discuss methods and means by which causes, catalysts and contributing issues (C3I??) might be identified in a real or potential operational environment, and to also include the types of agencies and other sources which might be tapped or drawn upon to contribute to this analysis process. As these C3I will extend well beyond purely military issues (i.e. a total change from IPB for MCO), so these supporting agencies and sources will extend beyond the military into other areas of government and beyond – to define ‘beyond’ see ‘JIM’ and ‘the comprehensive approach’.

The strategy to mitigate those causes and achieve national objectives in a COIN/IW campaign should be derived in accordance with accepted campaign planning/operational design processes, guided to a certain extent by principles and truisms of COIN/IW (see Q5).

12.c. How should the manual address complex causes?

This question implies the existence of a ‘simple’ cause which is unlikely; even in the South West Pacific which is hardly a hotbed of terrorist, insurgents and international criminals, it is unlikely that there are any significant simple causes to any of the issues bubbling away under the surface of sand, sea and sunsets.

Refer back to Q12.b. – provide the tools for identifying C3I to combine with national objectives (strategic, operational, tactical) in extant planning and mission analysis processes.

13. Are there any other issues that we have not addressed related to understanding the operational environment/threat?  

Other than perhaps accepting that counterinsurgency, stability operations and irregular warfare all form parts of the same whole and exist on a common doctrinal foundation, no.

I would, however consider, shifting Appendix B from paragraph B-29 onwards to either FM 3-24-2 when it is revised, or to a relevant 2-series publication. It is very procedural and detailed coverage of what is quite a niche specialised topic to implement and probably does not belong in a publication at this level.

14. How/Should the revised FM to address armed groups such as criminal gangs, militias, and warlords that may “hitch their wagon” to an insurgency based on grievances against the host nation government?

The revised FM should not give special attention to such groups or any others that fall outside purist/theoretical definitions of  ‘insurgent’ although it may list them to illustrate the broader spectrum of actors in a COIN/IW environment.

This question illustrates the risk in an overly narrow definition of insurgent. If the ‘wagon-hitching’ grievances seek political change then these groups would probably fall into the narrow definition of insurgent anyway, regardless of whether that change may be sought only for criminal advantage or gain – not all insurgents are high-minded idealists thinking only of the people or ‘righting wrongs’.

It may be, however, that other elements, not just criminals may exploit the insurgency for their own ends and gains. If such affects the stability and security of the operating environment, then mitigating this threat should be a task/role that falls from campaign planning and design against the aforementioned clearly-articulated national objectives.

15. How or should the manual address what the United States government considers to be criminal activity that is ignored, sanctioned, or unable to be countered by the host nation government (e.g. growing poppies, pirating CDs)?

If stability is a key campaign objective, then the focus of the campaign should be on those factors that promote instability.

There should not be a kneejerk train of thought that ‘criminal’ automatically equals adversary or threat (we need to get our heads around the concept of ‘competitors‘.). It may be that temporary or permanent alliance/partnership with criminal elements is actually a practical pragmatic means of addressing core issues and achieving national objectives. It may be that a well-established criminal organisation already has structures for intelligence, operations and sustainment against the actual adversaries that enhance those of COIN forces.

It is dangerous to encourage moral standards over issues that do not directly support the campaign plan (both addressing C3I and national objectives): we cannot right every wrong and save every princess. The effects of targeting illegal operations like growing poppies and pirating CDs (which might not be all that illegal in the HN! It’s values and laws may NOT be the same as our own) as these may be key sources of individual and regional income, thus targeting them may actually increase support for the insurgents and undermine the COIN campaign and the HN government. Any alternative sources of income have to offer equivalent reward and not involve additional labour e.g. as that involved in switching from CD piracy to more manually-oriented agricultural pursuits.

Why is it so hard to deliver lasting change?


Lessons seem to fall into the big gap in the middle - obvious design flaw!

This article bounced in via one of my connections on LinkedIn or Facebook…it’s interesting but on the light side especially it’s parting shot whimper “…In summary, change at all levels is tough and many initiatives fail to deliver – that’s human nature. But, never give-up trying…” I really hate these “…oh, well, it’s just human nature…” pseudo-arguments. They essentially just say “…it’s all too hard…” and, in the lessons world, that’s just not true.

The problem is that people and organisations see lessons learned as some sort of blend between a universal panacea for all that ails them and good old-fashioned magic (except that, of course, magic generally works whereas lessons learned…). Lessons learned or L2 as it is becoming known in ‘in’ circles is not difficult, not that hard and certainly not magic…like most trades, skills and professions, there is a fundamental need for practitioners to have some idea of what the hell they are meant to be doing.

The simple fact is that the perception that enduring lessons are so difficult to implement is because most people and organisations tend to focus on the solution and not the reason why behind it. So, after some time, normally when those with first-hand knowledge and experience of the original issue and the applied solution move on, we are left with an implemented solution that slowly loses context as the individual and corporate memories of reasons why behind it fade into insignificance. What we are left with then is either dogma where that solution continues to be implemented without any real knowledge of the why, or satisfaction of the urge to change especially if the solution is considered onerous or too hard.

Even more important than the actual implemented solution we must keep alive the reasons why the solution was implemented in the first place – this allows use to evolve if and, when necessary, as circumstances and environments change.

While I was drafting this post this morning, the first Knoco newsletter for 2012 dropped into my inbox. It has some good pointers, even though it is technically about knowledge management than lessons learned (like there’s a difference?) (text in italics in from the original Knoco article, the rest is my thoughts):

How to build a KM strategy

There is no such thing as an “off the peg”, “one size fits all” knowledge management strategy.  Every organization needs to create their own knowledge management strategy, which fits their own context and their own business needs.  Here is how to do it (for more detail, order the strategy guide)

Start with the Business Drivers

Looking broader than a mere business perspective, driven by bottom lines, etc, look at what your organisation or agency is actually meant to do and why. There’s that word again ‘why’ – the good old ‘in order to’ of the mission statement…if you’re deviating from your chosen path of truth, light and purpose, you need to identify why – and whether that is both a good thing and a sanctioned thing: the two do not always go hand in hand.

Identify the knowledge that is crucial to delivering business strategy

Work out where that knowledge lies

It is the easiest thing in today’s world to simply drown in too much information: the crux of any system has to be getting the right information to the right people at the right time and knowing that they know how to apply it – again the rationale of all the ‘rights’; otherwise, really, what’s the point?
Knowledge management, at its simplest, consists of building a system to transfer strategic knowledge from the people who have it, to the people who need it, in an effective, efficient and routine manner.
So once you have identified the strategic knowledge, you then need to map out where it lies, and where it needs to be transferred.
Is the knowledge centralized, in a small number of company experts?  Is it dispersed among a community of experienced practitioners?  Is it created as best practices and lessons from projects, living in the heads of the project managers?

If it’s penny-packeted away, do you need to kick in some doors? Does the organisation still have bastions of ‘need to know’ resisting ‘need to share’? Do they even know that there is external interest in what THEY do and produce?

Understand the audience

It’s absolutely crucial to understand the users of the knowledge; how many there are, and the degree of context and knowledge they have already, then knowledge needs, their working styles and habits.  The knowledge demographics of the organization are important (see section below), and knowledge supply needs to be compatible with working style. A mobile workforce, for example, needs to be able to access the knowledge of their peers through smart phones or other mobile devices, while a office based workforce can use desktop computers.

Simply, despite our natural inclinations to revert back to this, there is no easy simple cookie-cutter solution to much except, of course, cutting cookies.

Choose an effective transfer approach

The two main strategic approaches for knowledge management are Connection and Collection, otherwise known as personalisation and codification.  Although any knowledge management strategy will need a combination of these two, one might receive more focused than the other.

A Collection approach, where knowledge is collected and codified and made available as documents, is effective where the knowledge is relatively straightforward, and needs to be transferred to a large number of people, for example in a company with a large turnover of staff, or a company wishing to transfer product knowledge to a large sales force.

A connection approach, where knowledge is transferred through communities of practice and social networks, is suitable for complex contextual knowledge shared between communities of experienced practitioners.

When you get down to it, you need to be able to apply and actually apply a blend of both what are referred to as collection and connexion approaches (when did connection lose the ‘ct’???????). Things won’t solve all things and neither will talk – together they may.

Drive Pull before driving Push

Many of the knowledge management strategies we asked to review, talk about “creating a culture of knowledge sharing”; in other words, they seek to promote publishing and “push” of knowledge around the organization.

This is the wrong place to start.  There is no point in creating a culture of sharing, if you have no culture of re-use. “Pull” is a far more powerful driver for Knowledge Management than Push, and we would always recommend creating a culture of knowledge seeking before creating a culture of knowledge sharing.

Create the demand for knowledge, and the supply will follow.  Create a culture of asking, and the culture of sharing will follow.

While I don’t necessarily agree that ‘ a culture of knowledge sharing’ automatically leads to a ‘push’ culture, I do agree that ‘pull’ is the most effective way to go. While staff must pull information to themselves, some knowledge sharing culture is necessary for there to be anything to pull in the first place…Create just a ‘culture of asking‘ and all that may happen is that people wull turn away when you approach the water cooler…

Which all comes back to the original question “Why is it so hard to deliver lasting change?” It is hard because current L2 practitioners focus tend to too much on the lessons for its own sake; worry less about ensuring that it is current, relevant and practical for its targeted audience; and pretty much totally forget the key rationale for the change, the reason why – that’s not doctrine, that’s dogma….

Breaking Silence

In Get Smart, this was funny…

The zone of silence put up by the Kahui and King families around the deaths of the three-month old Kahui twins in 2006 is not.

Debate has raged this week over the proposed publication of a book, Breaking Silence, based on the recollections of the twins’ mother, Macsyna King, and authored by locally well-known conspiracy theorist and wannabe whistle-blower Ian Wishart, described in one contemporary blog item as

…writing investigative books about spaceships piloted by lock ness monsters that are really demons disguised by Satan to implement global control via global warming legislation because global warming is a hoax created by the Free Masons told what to do by a Greenpeace lesbian Trans Gendered Queen who secretly runs the world…

He’s probably not that bad but having read a few of his Investigate magazine articles, there is some substance to the description. That notwithstanding, he fronted up and presented very well on RadioLive this afternoon with Willie Jackson (JT opted out due to previous ‘issues’ with Wishart – what a woossy).

The catalyst for this debate is a Facebook page Boycott the Macsyna King Book that seeks to ensure that

…Somebody like this should not be allowed to profit from preaching her perverted view of the horrific events which led to the deaths of the only two children who hadn’t already been taken from her by CYF’s…

At the time of my writing 45,911 people have ‘liked’ it on, although I do note that in the last couple of minutes at least one of my friends who had ‘liked’ it had dropped off the list…common sense starting to break out perhaps? To my mind, that means that there are at least 45, 911 Facebook members who are a guilty as the King/Kahui family of sustaining that wall of silence around the deaths of these children.

Now let’s get some facts down-range…

No one has been convicted of any crime relating to the deaths of the twins. I have no doubt that someone should be convicted not just for the deaths but also for the neglect of the babies prior to their admission to Starship Hospital and for obstructing justice after their deaths.

It is a big step from 45, 911 morons ‘knowing’ that Macsyna King is directly responsible for the deaths of the twins i.e. she ‘did it’, to having the evidence to prove that beyond reasonable doubt in court. Last time I looked, the mob DIDN’t rule in this country…

While it is illegal for anyone in this country to profit directly from their offence e.g. by publishing a book on it (although Steven Anderson managed to get a couple of grand out of North and South for ‘his’ story on why it wasn’t his fault he killed six people in a shooting rampage in 1997 but N&S is hardly Newsweek…), it is not illegal for anyone, especially before any court proceedings are completed, to comment on that issue in any way they please, including blogs and books, especially if they do not promote or incite hate or violence (I note that Facebook doesn’t appear overly concerned about the threats and intimidatory statements and attacks on the Boycott the Macsyna King Book page).

Pressuring book retailers to not stock the book only reinforces the wall of silence obstructing any ongoing Police investigation of the deaths – yes, that’s right you, 45, 911 plonkers, you’re just as bad, if not worse because the height of your moral bandwagons would indicate that you know better, than the original Gang of Twelve family members that cowered behind their right to silence in 2006 and throughout the investigation.

PaperPlus and Warehouse need to grow a set and stock the book on their shelves lest they become as tainted as the Stoopid 45, 911 – this is a topic of national interest that deserved as much coverage from all quarters so that interest does not die like those babies.

The guy who claimed on RadioLive on Wednesday night, Chris-not-his-real-name, to have set up the page, also claims to have set up the Facebook page for the KFC DoubleDown burger (a work of art in my opinion – the burger not the FB page) that saw national stock of the DoubleDown burger run out in less than two days. This means that he is a. a spin doctor and/or b. a meddling dickhead who has no personal stake in this debate i.e he’s just doing it for shits and giggles. That he lacks the mortal courage to front up under his own name is a fairly good combat indicator to his own personality.

A lady rang RadioLive this afternoon and challenged all the 45, 911 pitchfork and torch crew to donate a small amount to Women’s Refuge or a similar organisation that stands against family violence – if they feel so strongly on this issue. Hey, guess, what? None of those organisations will see the slightest spike in their donations this month.

I don’t buy into or support Macsyna King’s lifestyle up to and possibly past the death of the twins – Ian Wishart says that she has now turned herself around – she has exactly the same right as anyone else in this country to state her case in any legal media she chooses to. She even has the same right to earn money stating her case if people are prepared to part with it. She has not been convicted of any crime, regardless of the 45, 911 loony-toons who just ‘know’that she is guilty – and who would be the first to bleat if their own civil liberties were attacked in this manner.

John Tamihere is playing fast and loose with the law when he incites people to buy a copy of the book, scan it and distribute it online…dumb-arse, going into detail on exactly how people should not do this is incitement…what a hypocrite as he bleated on yesterday about how Ian Wishart had employed equally dubious (but not illegal) journalistic tricks to secure an interview with him (“...but it was off the record...”) – can I call you a dumb-arse twice in the same paragraph?).

Will I buy the book? Probably not, I have no doubt that it will be sold somewhere because there is money involved but it’s not really the sort of book I buy and I’m also kinda ‘off’ buying books at the moment because a. I have such a massive backlog of stuff to read, b. Scale Model Expo is at the end of August and I need to focus, and c. I’m attracted to this EPUB format once local retailers stopping screwing us by selling e-books for the same price (but considerably reduced overheads) and normal hard copy books.

Will I read it if I come across a copy? Certainly I’ll have a browse and see where I go from there…

And a final parting shot to the 45, 911 – you all strike me as the sorts that need to be told things more than once before they sink – if this crime remains unsolved, you need to stand up and accept some responsibility for that…you are nothing more than the sad flotsam of the information age, what Paul Henry described on Tuesday afternoon (yes, he’s back!!) as “…those who are so desperate to be outraged…

Be ashamed…

Strangelove has re-entered the Building

(c) FPA 2011

As a headline, this one that concludes the Time article  According to new Pentagon cyber strategy, state-of-war conditions now exist between the US and China, was too good to pass up…coupled with this SECDEF quote that Michael Yon put up on Facebook a couple of hours ago, it looks like lunacy has well and truly returned…

Just got this from Office of SecDef

“Secretary Gates believes that for the United States, once committed to a NATO operation, to unilaterally abandon that mission would have enormous and dangerous long-term consequences.

You think he might be talking about Libya? A campaign even more ill-advised than OIF? In all fairness, though, at least America had the courage and integrity to see OIF through as her allies and apparent friends slowly bailed on her…she had done the right thing in withdrawing her foot sharply from the (blood) bath of Libya as soon as it was apparent that NATO was getting the wibbles. That there will be ‘…enormous and dangerous long-term consequences…” is without a doubt but those consequences will be for NATO as it finds that it might have to ante up and see it’s own war through to a conclusion without a US safety net…yesterday I heard for the first time the phrase ‘...NATO’s Vietnam...’

I agree with the theme of the Time article that MAD actually = sanity in that it essentially rendered the irretrievable impossible – so long as we kept Peter Sellers out of the White House…As the Cold War staggered to a close in the 80s, Ronald Reagan declared a policy based on ‘you can run, but you can not hide‘ and indeed authorised and conducted a number of kinetic actions against those he perceived had crossed the line in the sand…

Those however were all kinetic actions against specific kinetic targets to send very specific messages…what targets might a kinetic strike against Chinese cyber-warriors hit…a server in downtown Shanghai or Beijing? The same fibre link that carries the world’s communications and commercial traffic? Some geeky buck-toothed nerd who needs a bath and some dress sense?

One of the biggest and most-frequently stated concerns at the Irregular Warfare Summit here last week was that the takedown of OBL and the (so far) successful drawdown from Iraq is leading to a growing sense of relief at senior levels that the aberration of COIN is over and ‘…now we can get back to real war...’  This ‘real war’ dogma seems to be set in the minds of those who just missed Vietnam and spent the larger part of their careers preparing for World War III – which, if anyone was paying attention, never happened.

Thus, possibly more by circumstance, the leaders in the ‘new war’ (which is really an old war) are those who were on the ground in Iraq when the pendulum was shoved all the way from clean surgical shock and awe to dirty messy complexity and irregularity…names like Petraeus, Mattis, Chiarelli, Casey…to name a few. It’s no accident these names are all from the land forces because this new war, at the moment, is very much land-centric (sorry, air power guys) because that is where the people are…and while I am noted as not being a uber-proponent of population-centric warfare, this war is one between beliefs which live amongst the people and not platforms which can be anywhere…

Cyberwar is much the same…there are no clearly-distinguishable platforms at which to strike: it is a game of skill and knowledge not fixed to key infrastructure or platforms,,,that guy next to you on the bus, playing with his iPhone could be a node in the attack network…the ‘enemy’ doesn’t even need to be in their own country which leads to thoughts of retaliation for spoofed cyberattacks against countries that only appeared to be guilty – how many times can a cruise missile accidentally hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade…?

Cyberwar is elusive, diffuse and evasive…it’s another facet of complexity and irregularity, warfare conducted by ‘the people’…releasing the kinetic dogs of war on it will achieve no more than ‘shock and awe’ did in Iraq…like any other operating environment, this one will only be conquered by those who get their (cyber)boots dirty and adapt to it…in the mean time we need to THINK a lot more before we commit ourselves to careless policies promising kinetic attack against cyber-strike…regardless of how many cruise missiles and JDAMs might be nearly their ‘use by’ date…

As David Hoffman concludes in The cyber arms race:

The offensive cyber battlefield promises to be far more chaotic than in the nuclear arms race, with many smaller players and non-state actors, and the risks of retaliation against the United States might be quite high. We need good defenses, no question. But should we be fighting back with cyber warheads and real missiles? Are we ready for what could follow? Is there an alternative?

Good use of colour

(c) Lily aged 4

A new release by ‘Lily aged 4’. displaying exceptional use of colour with clear direct and subliminal imagery which gets her message across in manner which is crisp, concise and to the point…it’s a pity that we can not expect the same from the socalled professional media…

Michael yon yanks Time’s tail for if not directly telling porkies, then definitely playing fast and loose with reality…the Taliban have initiated a spring offensive!!! Wow!! What have they done every other spring since 2003…? If Time wanted any credibility at all in this article it might have found a source better than Hamid Karzai whose grip on reality is tenuous at best…

And still on the Yon trail – in a good way again(Wow!! twice in a row – is Mike reforming?) – while I accept Nancy Colasurdo’s point in Spotlighting Loyalty and Our ‘Confirmation Bias’, I don’t agree that Mike was wrong in calling for a boycott of Rolling Stone magazine for its Kill Team story. I do not believe that the positioning of the Kill Team story with the roadside checkpoint video was an accident or an error – the intent was for readers to join the dots and form a totally erroneous opinion – that is both dishonest and not in the best interest of those at the sharp end of this conflict – certainly not those in US uniform – and I assume that Rolling Stone still considers itself an American magazine? No matter what one might think of the conflict in Afghanistan, how we got there or where it’s going, these are issues to be raised with politicians not targeted against those who serve… (a fine distinction perhaps – is what politicians do regarded as ‘service’?)

Yon’s call for a boycott of Rolling Stone advertisers became even more timely when the results of the Pentagon’s investigation into the circumstances leading up to the dismissal of GEN McCrystal by President Obama following another skewed Rolling Stone article were released last month…

Pentagon investigation clears McChrystal of all wrongdoing | The 

Pentagon Investigation Casts Doubt on Rolling Stone’s McChrystal 

General McChrystal did not violate US military policy, Pentagon 

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: Pentagon internal investigation of “Runaway 

General McChrystal did not violate US military policy, Pentagon 

So..until such time as Rolling Stone tidies up its act, it should be hit where it hurts the most – while is not in the court of the media where the more controversy the better the ratings but in the bank account…as Michael Yon discusses in Rolling Stone: Boycotting Advertisers

Getting back to the Spotlighting Loyalty story…I do like the point that she raises in regard to confirmation bias…a year ago, I had no idea that such things existed; well, certainly not that such a body of social science existed around them. I have been doing a lot of reading about this and other biases and am planning an article on some aspects of them and their employment…or the practical employment of that supporting science anyway…

In other news

FM 3-24 is being critiqued again…when will it register with some people that this was the right book at the right time – FOR IRAQ – and that it was never intended as the universal panacea for all thing not major combat operations…

Fighting Al Qaeda To Fight Liberalism, that I got from Dean at Travels with Shiloh…has given some food for thought but with all the big words, it’s become a bit of a mouthful…some more digestion required nefore I draw any conclusions from it…

Over at the new Unofficial Airfix Modellers Forum, I have started to populate my work area and also started a build (which I may finish) of Trumpeter’s 1/34 128mm PAK 44

Loose lips…

Grow UP, Mike, you're 44 and running out of time...

While Mike Yon crows on Facebook about milblogger CJ Grisham from A Soldier’s Perspective apparently being shut-down for a potential OPSEC breach, the US Army reinvigorates an OPSEC awareness campaignvia its Facebook page …an  use of social media interesting and contemporary enough that I’ve include a slice of the comments below…
Show off your knowledge of operations security, or OPSEC, by listing the types of things that should NOT be posted online. We’ll start it off with troop movements, deployment dates & weapons capabilities…
    • FYI-not all bases are listed on the internet.Not all Soldiers movements,and not all equiptment is known to the general public.There are secrets you and I will never know still in this modern day of the internet.

      about an hour ago ·  
    • Anything that anyone could post on Facebook has probably already been front page in the newspaper or breaking news on TV…it kills me to see all these wives posting where their husbands are…I’m CONSTANTLY talking to my husband about these issues. So many times I see soldiers doing the same things and it irritates me to no end. People don’t understand that they’re compromising their loved ones safety. When I see a post on Facebook by an army wife or soldier, I usually respond by writing OPSEC. I don’t want my husband dying because someone couldn’t keep their mouth shut. And, those of you saying they don’t have Facebook – you’re just foolish. They have Intel just like we do and if you think we don’t use Facebook to get Intel on people and track what they’re doing, you’re ignorant. And to add, just because they aren’t American, doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent, technology savvy, and just fly by the seat of their pants to figure out what our troops are doing.
      about an hour ago ·  
    • You all keep bringing up how a photo is so bad. Listen, people, if you didn’t know that we are scattered across Iraq and Afghanistan then you have been in a dark whole…military or not. They aren’t going after a single soldier. The dead giveaway over there is we come off our own bases wearing OUR UNIFORM. Crybabies.

      about an hour ago ·  

      about an hour ago
    • Per OPSEC: Current and future operations, Travel Itineraries, Operation planning information, Entry/exit (security procedures), Capabilities and limitations, Address and phone lists, Budget information, Building plans, Port calls (current, future and past port calls in a current deployment), Readiness, General morale, VIP/ distinguished visitor movements, People’s names and billets in conjunction with operations, Past operations of a current deployment. (You cant say my husband left Spain yesterday but you can say my husband left port. You cant say my husband left for deployment yesterday because you can generalize an area off one day.) You may however post any of the above if you have a media link to prove the information has been released. Halfway points or referring to how many months are left in the deployment. Also no discussing how long your SO has been extended. This includes discussing percentages left on a deployment. (example: There is only 20% left on this deployment), Flight times or pilots schedules. No placing such info in your siggy and/or title. If you post any picture that includes your SO in uniform please make sure that their name tag has been edited out. You may not make a post showing your paper chain or any other kind of object you personally use to count down.
      about an hour ago ·  
    • It sad to see that you can pull up google earth and people have labeled buildings such as hq’s on bases in iraq and Afghanistan

      about an hour ago ·  
    • pictures of you in the TOC on facebook…

      about an hour ago ·  
    •  list things that should not be posted online…..but….this IS online…..

      about an hour ago · 
    •  bragging how awesome you are on sensitive equipment like counter IED stuff.

      about an hour ago
    • who is the commanding officer,his military record ,does he compromise easily under enemy pressure,he experience and which engagements he was involved in

      about an hour ago
    • Perry Bennett T,O, & E!!!…and your MOS….Hell, Don’t even have any pix or info available on FB. “SCOUTS OUT!”

      about an hour ago
    •  This is a great idea. Family members need to know what they can and can’t say on facebook. Almost everyone has facebook now and keeping our troops should always be on the minds of military families, friends, or those serving. I’m in my AIT course right now, and didn’t realize what all is and isn’t releasable.

      about an hour ago ·  
    •  the national guard members have been pretty bad at POSTING pics of Current locations, and some dont give exact locations, but most have huge LANDMARKS to go off of…… one pic i saw had about 100+ soldiers in the building a very well known building…..

      about an hour ago ·  
    • Grid references of FOBS and PBs VIP visits it happend to prince harry and they stopped his tour of afgan because it was leaked all over the media.

      about an hour ago ·  
    • Intelligent people who care about our forces safety and well being would be aware of every word they speak or post as well as any photos or videos that may hold the seemingly minor but actually major sensitive bit of intelligence that could…See more
      about an hour ago ·  
    • I don’t want this to come off harsh, but here is my take on the reason why so much is posted with such haste. I’ve been out a long time, and in law enforcement since then. Some recent training I had indicated one extremely relevant trait o…See more
      about an hour ago · 
    • Be sure and tell CNN.

      about an hour ago ·  
    •  WW2 poster: The Enemy is looking for information~guard your talk!’

      about an hour ago ·  
    •  WWw2 poster: ‘Your PEN and TONGUE can be enemy weapons~WATCH what you WRITE and SAY!’

      about an hour ago ·  
    • First perhaps you should attack the History Channel and the Military channel that gives away our weapons capabilities. Then go to the US Army website and take troop movements from there and take off the structure from there…..hey just get rid of the entire US army website, because it has vital information there…or the US army website should carry an access page for those in the armed forces etc.

      about an hour ago ·  
    • last, but not least…’What you see here, what you do here, what you hear here, When you leave here…let it stay here’. (personally, I hate to see our troops names posted on these sites by their friends and family~they’re in Harm’s WAy enough)

      about an hour ago ·  
    •  Oh yeh, then the many You Tube videos with overseas military information should be taken down.

      about an hour ago
    • ‎@Diesel-Power, don’t forget the BA-1100-November.

      This isn’t exactly related, but I get pissed when I see people in BDU’s or with other identifying gear in airports (high and tight plus assault pack w/nametape, e.g.). I want to chokeslam them and ask if they’ve ever had an S-2 briefing in their lives. If I were a foreign intel service officer I would just hover around those jabronis all day waiting for them to drop sensitive info.

      about an hour ago
    • Everyone should use common sense. If you wouldn’t give the information to an enemy then don’t ever let it leave your mouth no matter what. The other thing i hate is when soldiers always are saying their deploying but have never had official orders. It gets out that a deployment could be coming up when its not true. you should get at least the same punishment as someone who impersonates a government employee because being in the military you should know full well not to lie about orders or tell when you get them
      56 minutes ago
    •  If we’d had today’s media in WW2, we’d’ve never won…

      56 minutes ago ·  
    •  Then perhaps you should go to the US ARmy Flickr page and take down captions that say things like this;Firefight
      “””U.S. Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division return fire during a firefight with Taliban forces in Barawala Kalay Valley in Kunar province, Afghanistan, March 31, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Cameron Boyd/Released”””…

      53 minutes ago ·  
    •  and your asking us to not post troop locations? just look through Flickr captions and you see our troop locations, training, formations explained etc. Remember if you want others to change, the ones asking for change need to be the first ones to lead by example.

      51 minutes ago · 
    •  and then it gives the soldiers name who took the photos.

      50 minutes ago
    •  Names of Generals’ mistresses

      50 minutes ago ·  
    •  Frequency modulation of the deflector shields

      49 minutes ago ·  
    •  You should never ever never ever post (redacted)

      47 minutes ago
    •  your soliders name, do not show name in pics!

      43 minutes ago
    •  The net is a GREAT place for MIS~information….

      42 minutes ago · 
    •  just a thought… but wouldn’t posting what we know about OPSEC, in fact be an OPSEC violation? just thinking outside the box here…

      41 minutes ago
    •  lmfao..frequency modulation

      41 minutes ago
    •  All of your comments seem to agree with my statement that America as a whole has a problem with the big mouth syndrome.

      33 minutes ago ·  
    •  heres a thought… wouldn’t posting what we know about OPSEC in fact actually be an OPSEC violation… just saying…. lets think here people….

      31 minutes ago · 
    • one of our spouses’ support facebook groups was just going over this. Soldier’s name, rank, job, unit, deployment date, deployment location, length of deployment, relocation within theatre, daily operations, any operation outside the wire.

      30 minutes ago
    • Maybe it would be a good thing for the enemy to read this then they would truely believe America lets ALL secrets outta the bag.I see many people assuming things here,there is soooooo much we don’t know.Media coverage is slow and poor to relate what is going on,that is for a reason.We have the BEST Military in the World and there is a reason for that!Always support our troops and if you know SPECIFIC dates,rank,location fine do not jeapordize our Soldiers travels to and from deployment-be vaugue like( “this month”)Many of the photo’s you see are on American ground.The things you can’t see I assure you are very securely kept from your eyes and ears.
      30 minutes ago
    • A lesson in no-no’s was a spouse who didn’t have her Facebook profile locked, so anyone coming on it saw everything even if they weren’t a friend yet. On her page in her friends, it has Married to: Her Hubby’s name and FB link, his FB pageis open too, so you could see not only that he was in the Army, but listed in Employment: his MOS by number designator and job name and his rank. Her FB page had her current location, her wall was open and had all these gushy mushy postings to her hubby and boohooing about him being gone and way too much stuff that could be totalled up to a lot of handy info to the wrong person.
      24 minutes ago
    •  Stop stop stop posting pictures of your loved ones on here. I know youre excited and so proud but you dont know who is seeing and stealing the pictures and using them for who knows what. Keep them to yourself. Pictures give away sooo much. Basically opsec works like this….if you wouldnt tell al qaeda…why the heck would you put it online or even open your mouth about it? HUSH!!!!!

      18 minutes ago
    • Yeah I think this was a terrible idea for a post…

      15 minutes ago
    •  exactly amber the wives have the pics of their loved ones and their putting their loved ones in trouble.. the troops are fighting for us and the wives do not care about it.. omg the enemy is online.. how stupid are they..

      15 minutes ago
    •  loose lips sink ships . . . still holds true . . .

      13 minutes ago ·  
    • this got redundant….

      12 minutes ago
    • Sensitive info must always be kept hidden from outside due to fact this kind of intelligence could be use by our antagonist against us. Like in fighting this small war, never ever divulge what you brought in the theater otherwise some other power would know and prove this as a fact and know what will they bring in case we collided with them. in short, keep your pie hole shut from saying where youd been, what you did, how you did it, what kind of thing enables you to succeed in the mission, etc. Thus this prove intelligence wins wars. the more the enemy is kept in the dark, the more fear would overcome his will. A man overwhelmed by fear is not as thinking man. is he now?
      11 minutes ago
    • capture of enemies

      6 minutes ago
    •  How about not being the source who has “leakage” of classified information on unclassified sources.

      2 minutes ago


…me, knowing you…it’s the best we can do…

Thanks, ABBA….it’s all about knowing when to do something and more importantly sometimes, when not too…

This idea for this post came from observing so many of the comments made in the immediate aftermatch of the February 22 earthquake and that we’re starting to hear again from Japan…it was reinforced again by the Daily Post question last week When is it better to be sorry that safe? As posts go, I’d rate it as less than average – if all you have to do to meet a Daily Post obligation is ask a question, I’d be in like Flynn but I think that any post worth its electrons needs to be a little more substantive than that…

Knowing… in her blog piece Three Times You Have To Speak Nilofer Merchant argues that there are three times (in bold print) when we ought to speak up:

When it will improve the results of the group.

When it gives others permission to speak their truth.

When the costs of silence are too high.

But her key point is hidden away in her summary text “…knowing when to speak is an art, and like any art, requires skill….” Conversely, knowing when to shut the hell up is equally as much a skill that requires practice…

Yeah, whatever, Mike...


A more pertinent observation from a more professional organisation...

Not really picking on Mike Yon this time…it’s just that he happened to launching off when I first started to draft this…what actually got me going on the subject was rather vocal comments from a number of sources regarding the Civil Defence effort in Christchurch in the immediate aftermath of the Feb 22 quake…calling for reviews and investigations and labelling staff as incompetent is simply not productive when responding to the most major natural disaster ever to hit the nation. There is a time for all hands to the pump to just get things done and another for later introspection and review…

In a similar vein, are all those second-guessers and self-appointed experts who, possibly with the best of intentions, promulgate such guff as the discredited Triangle of Life technique to save oneself during an earthquake or those who, like at Pike River, state it would have better to rush into collapsed buildings to try to rescue trapped and injured people. The harsh truth is that there is bugger-all to support such ideas and plenty to prove that they are more likely to hinder than help. Like we say it the doctrine world, it’s all about ‘applying with judgement’ and not just charging in – or applying by rote…thinking thinking thinking….

No doubt there are some major issues appearing in, not just Civil Defence, but most agencies involved in the recovery effort as they adjust from the initial response to the long haul of recovery and clean up…now is the time to start collecting the raw OIL (observations, issues and lessons) across the entire response force to identify what we did that we shouldn’t have done and what we didn’t do that we should have done…it’ll be interesting to see how a government-level lessons learned project might emerge from this…


As you can see this was a post that was started and never quite polished off…I’m still a bit behind the 8 ball on this one as well but completing ‘Knowing’ also meets another WordPress Daily Post challenge – even if it was from last Friday – Go to your drafts folder and finish an old post…I have to say that the Daily/Weekly Post challenges are great motivators to keep up the momentum…I get an idea and launch into a draft but then either get distracted or want to polish just a little bit more before publishing that it never really gets done…as it says in today’s daily challenge, “…Writing is therapeutic…” Yes, it is and although I now have more writing tools, I don’t write as much…ten years ago I had a good half dozen scripts bubbling away, was prolific in a number of online forums and was writing reviews and papers on a range of subjects. Today, the ideas are still there but the delivery mechanism seems to be jammed on ‘Start’ and locked out of ‘Develop’ and ‘Complete’…all I can say is that I’m working on it…