Bert and Ernie…
Fred and Ginger…
Fish and Filo
I’ve been hanging out to try a fish and filo package for a while and thought that I would surprise Carmen with dinner when she got home last night. Lessons Learned:
- Where it says use three sheets of filo, use three sheets of filo. Otherwise your herbed cheese filling will melt through the pastry and require an urgent transfer from flat oven tray to over dish to prevent spillover into the depths of the oven.
- When folding filo packages, fold the ends in first and THEN roll. This tidily secures the ends and is less likely to crack the filo. Place the filling on one edge not in the middle of the sheet – this makes it easier to roll.
- When making a leek sauce to be served under the filo packages, go over on the leek – what looks like heaps on the chopping board becomes barely enough for two once cooked up with herbs, pine nuts and cream. More is less, way more is enough…
- The parsnip/turnip/carrot/kumara puree served in a scooped out potato half was a good idea but execution needs work. Baking these in tinfoil seemed like a good idea at the time but I can’t remember why now – it probably would have worked if I had literally spiced it up a bit – a better way would have been a straight bake sans foil. This would also have meant the spud cooking time would = filo cooking time.
Presentation needed work but it tasted primo.
Fish and filo 6/10
Leek and pine nuts 7/10
Potato halves with vegetable puree 4/10
Total: 17/30 which is still more than half!!!!
Afghanistan and TET
I’ve really bitten over this comment on Steven Pressfield’s One Tribe At A Time thread. My first reaction to Jim Gant’s Tribal Engagement Teams (TET – possibly an unfortunate acronym, remembering another COIN war) was ‘…yep, here we go again – more taking lessons from other wars and blindly hammering them into the round hole of the current war in Afghanistan…‘ Right up to the point, where the stated aim for the Afghan campaign was reaffirmed as creating an environment that could not be reoccupied by Al-Qaeda and its ilk. Against that objective in an essentially tribal culture like Afghanistan, the TET concept makes way more sense than free fire zones, big guns and high tech:
It is “Debatable whether the ‘clear zones of fire’ (free fire zones from another war?) or technological advantages are major contributors to a successful conclusion to this campaign (an Afghanistan that can not be reoccupied by AQ or its like?) At best the technology is an enabler for the initiatives that may lead to success; free fire zones, IMHO, are a legacy from conventional (Fulda Gap) mindsets and do not meet the spirit of proportionality, discrimination and precision required for countering irregular threats in a complex environment. It is these that may be more suited for “..low conflict area which is in relatively pro-government hands…” and NOT for an environment like Afghanistan where ‘everyone’ (outside the cities) has traditionally been armed – the only real way to discriminate between good guys, bad guys, fence-sitters and genuine non-combatants (who may still be armed) is up close and personal. This why, over the last week or so, I have gone from mild opposition to the TET concept to a firm advocate. After eight years of high-tech and big guns (which have proven of limited utility in other low level wars), it is time to get back to first principles:
- ditch any coalition partners are can’t/won’t step up to the plate, and/or won’t comply with the theatre strategy. This is not peacekeeping where the number of different flags waving in the wind outside the theatre HQ is a reportable metric: this is war fighting with no time for passengers or social members.
- Confirm the campaign objectives; identify the lines of operation to achieve those objectives; and then implement the tactical operations necessary to progress those lines. This isn’t COIN/CIT-specific – it must be 101 material from just about any military school in the Western world.
- Implement the best Information Operations campaign on the planet to seize the new high ground – Al-Jazeera will fight you for it.
It’s all very easy to pick holes in concepts like Tribal Engagement Teams and that’s how I started. BUT it is even easier to pick holes in the current strategy where we once again seem to be winning all the battles and losing the two wars (in-theatre and home front).”
The crux of a successful lessons is analysing and validating observations, issues and lessons (OIL – yes, it really is all about OIL) against your current context – not trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole with your forehead. We saw this when the ‘experts’ all trumpeted the absolute need to implement a Malayan Emergency-style COIN campaign in Iraq. The fact this campaign’ success was due to a number of unique demographic and geographic factors that definitely are not duplicated in Iraq was lost on the ‘experts’. They also overlooked that while the official end of the Emergency was in 1960, it was not until 1988 that the last of the Communist Terrorists (CT) surrendered to Malaysian authorities.
In my ever so humble opinion, I think that Jim Gant has analysed the current situation and campaign objectives in Afghanistan, developed a model and then validated it against that analysis. I doubt there are many other who could same that they have done the same, certainly not those from the big guns and high tech schools of thought…what was that about lessons from other wars…?