In or at: that is the question

I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids—She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.—She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.—As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shewn and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal:—Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.—Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America? ~ Ben Franklin

Since returning to the work force on a semi-fulltime basis, I have been somewhat remiss in monitoring on those sites I’ve added to my blogroll over time…this morning, in response to an item on the Small Wars Journal Blog on 4GW/5GW, I wanted to link to the work that Peter had done his The Strategist blog on a Cohorts of War model that was considerably more robust than William Lind’s flawed 4GW construct. I knew that Peter had stopped contributing to The Strategist when he departed for Vanuatu a couple of month s ago but I was surprised to find that I couldn’t get into it at all this morning (hopefully a minor glitch relating more to the server firewall at this end and not to any issues with Peter’s old blog).

Anyway, since the intention was there to revisit members of the blog roll, I continued to do so…Neptunus Lex has an interesting item on the symbolism of flags, It’s Been A Long Time, in which he describes the history of the First Jack, the first flag under which the US Navy fought in the War of Independence and one which was reinstated post-911.  He recounts Benjamin Franklin’s word on the reason behind the snake on the flag, Don’t Tread On Me, was an apt banner under which to go to war…and he concludes with the thought that “…It’s been a long time, but we are still at war. Outside my house the Jack is still flying...”

Lex’s statement “…we are still at war…” is interesting. I don’t think there is any doubt that most Americans see their nation as at war and when you’re at war, you behave a certain way. I still remember the day of 911, of waking for breakfast in the Mess at Waiouru to learn of a terrorist attack in America and not thinking too much of it until I turned on the TV just in time to see the first tower come down. The school I was working at had an instructor who’d just completed the staff course at Ft Leavenworth…he spoke of how this was another Pearl Harbor Day, where the America that was so concerned about casualties in peace support/OOTW like Bosnia and Somali and of being perceived as playing by international rules, would shift to a war-fighting stance and leave no stone unturned in its hunt for those responsible and those who supported or abetted them. Thus, then, an America at war will bear the  ‘blood and treasure’ cost of that war and stay the course to see it through to a conclusion.

What then of those nations that might only be in a war…this is a question that came up when I was lecturing at Massey University a couple of weeks ago and led into an interesting discussion…the bottom line was that a nation in war can opt out at any stage when it convinces itself that its national objectives have been met, are no longer being achieved or even when it simply can’t remember why it got involved in the first place. On the other hand, a nation at war has a greater commitment to seeing matters through to a conclusion, regardless of cost – or certainly where the cost is a lesser concern than resolution of the issue.

But in 21st Century informal war, even resolution of the issue becomes blurred – once upon a time, a war was ‘resolved’ when the opponent was defeated and the victors occupied their territory – how now (brown cow?) do we define victory when our opponents don’t actually occupy any ground worth seizing and the nation’s capital is already occupied by our (apparent) friends and allies. The phrase that always comes to my mind when I think of this is from that great military theorist, Princess Leia Organa “When you broke in here, did you have a plane for getting out?” Defining the conditions for victory can be tricky: Phase One of WW2 was all about restoring Polish sovereignty but, despite occupying Berlin in 1945 we didn’t actually achieve this until 1989 – and then without occupying Moscow…In Iraq (version 2 anyway), it was a relatively simple task to define, although somewhat bloodier and more expensive to achieve, but then Iraq had been a centrally-governed society before March 20 2003.

Afghanistan is a whole different ball game and we now see the coalition start to wobble as some nations simply pack their bags and leave, although doing it to the tune of The Animals’ We’ve Got To get Out Of This Place instead of Het Wilhelmus was probably a bit tacky….while others discover that amazingly, they are now actually closer to achieving their in-theatre endstates that they had realised and thus can commence transition to a steady state Afghan-led structure…and recently we have seen the resurgence of statistics ‘proving’ how well that transition programme is going, especially the training of the Afghan National Police and Army but numbers aren’t everything. In fact, in this arena, they may be meaningless, certainly without some form of qualitative measures to accompany them…some interesting viewpoints on endstates here:


Tomgram: Body Count Nation

The other enemy

What does the Military Endstate in Bamiyan look like?

One of the things that those who might only be in war should remember, and one which may drive those at war, is that by opting to intervene or interfere in someone else’s country, they accept a certain responsibility for their actions. As those in war nations slowly slip away, they should remember that the people of those countries have no such option to just walk away and that the last helicopter off the Embassy roof always leaves someone behind…

In other news

John Birmingham seeks new ideas to develop the America-less post-Wave environment…the way things are developing in the latest thread on this topic, the rest of the world will write itself off in petty score-settling and an almost vacant America will reassert itself by default…

The Lite version of the UK’s Joint CombatOperations Virtual Environment (JCOVE) simulation based on Bohemia’s uber-successful Virtual Battlefield System 2 is availbale for download (and has been for some time but I only just found it) through the JCOVE Lite forum – yes, you do have to register and then you do have to post a welcome post to a thread before the download link activates but it is well worth it…VBS2 is the de facto standard simulation across the Anglospheric nations, well, the land forces anyway and is a superior tool for SOP and TTP development, AO familiarisation and mission rehearsal and well worth a look from anyone in the training or capability development arena….

A ‘poor western to arab death ratio!’

Curzon @ Coming Anarchy recounts his adventures flying on local airlines around the Gulf…sounds like feigning sleep is the best option…and while on the topic of Curzon, I have yet to finish reading his biography. The reason that it is taking so long is not that it is hard work and difficult to read – if anything, exactly the opposite: although some of the content is quite dry, it is so well written that I find myself savouring it like a fine dessert…comparing it to more contemporary writing, I think that we have lost a lot in the fifty years since this book was published…

Also on Coming Anarchy, Younghusband reviews David Kilcullen’s The Accidental Guerrilla. He summarises:

For close readers of COIN and CT theory, I do not think this book will offer any new insight. Kilcullen’s contribution though is an excellent overview of the “social work with guns” theory of COIN, as well as a succinct presentation of the realist arguments for non-intervention and conservation of military power…The last few pages, where he presents his policy ideas, is really where practitioners can sink their teeth in. Lots of debating points there. For example:

    • develop a new lexicon to better describe the threat (rather than UW, COIN, irregular warfare etc)
    • discuss a new grand strategy (have an ARCADIA conference on terrorism)
    • balance capability (Why is DOD 210 times bigger than USAID and State?)
    • identify new “strategic services” (ie. a new OSS)
    • develop a capacity for strategic information warfare.

As readers will now from the work published here, these insights are nothing new although it is refreshing to see them in a mainstream publication. It’s unfortunate that the conceptual COIN effort in the US especially (most others are simply followers) is still largely fragmented and lies predominately in the domain of the information militia. The focus on the Iraqi insurgency in 2005-6 has caused the term COIN to be used interchangeably across the contemporary environment and that has caused many to apply inappropriate concepts, policies and doctrine to the issues they face. Our findings in 2007 were initially that the Marines had a better grip on the issue in developing the Countering the Irregular Threat (CIT) concept; and then that the UK encapsulated it even better with Countering Irregular Activity (CIA) which covers the broad spectrum of irregular (potentially destabilising) activities from all sources and causes, natural and man-made. The flip side of both CIT and CIA is the need for a comprehensive approach harnessing the appropriate and relevant instruments of national power including those on NGOs and commercial/corporate interests which usually fall outside the accepted definitions of NGO. These are all themes that we have been exploring in the series The New War.

Bears in the Air

QRA Scramble to Intercept Russian Blackjack_Aircraft MOD_45151233

Well…Blackjacks actually…in a timely reminder that there are more bad things out there than just some nutjob hiding in a cave inciting the masses with poor quality video…the Russian Bear is alive and well and still has aspirations of Empire, certainly under its current keeper…perhaps we ought not be so quick in cancelling programmes like F-22 and planning total reliance on a committee-designed one-size fits all hybrid like the F-35…wasn’t the last time we tried – and failed – at a ‘joint’ aircraft the infamous F-111 project that skewered the TSR.2, set back the Aussie strike programme by over a decade and saw a less-than-stellar combat debut in Vietnam…thank the maker for the F-4 Phantom that carried the resulting load for the better part of a decade.

And on the topic of potential threats, STRATFOR carries an item on Chinese speed wobbles as the US ramps up a comprehensive (or unified, if you went to that school) approach to a potential threat…like Japan, China has built an economy on a foundation of sand and hope and its starting to get wobbly…all the more reason to keep the F-22 fires stoked and warm up that A-10 production line (and do a naval variant this time round!)…on yes, and you might need some decent SPGs to replace the M109s that grandpappy used in Vietnam…and don’t be counting on your data links staying up all the time so have a think about leaving the seats in any new airfames you invest in for combat… Neptunus Lex also carries some comment on this article…

The top ten manly movies

John Birmingham has been busy…The Geek discusses what are the top ten manly movies…JB votes for these with my comments in red:

1. True Grit. (Yes, you must fill your hands with this sonofabitch). Absolutely!

2. Saving Pvt. Ryan. (Because war is hell good lookin’ on blu-ray wide screen). Nah!! Too much gratuitous violence in the beginning that adds nothing to the story and the meandering journey across France is just boring. Blackhawk Down delivers all the same messages better and is based on a true story.

3. Master and Commander. (Tips out Gladiator because nobody wears skirts). Agree re Master and Commander not Gladiator which I slot in below.

4. Casino Royale (the remake, and the manliest Bond flick EVAARRR!). Yep!

5. Treasure of the Sierra Madre. (Or any Bogart flick, except the ones with a love interest). Ummm…no…Bogey never quite did it for me…from this era I’d opt for The 39 Steps.

6. The Magnificent Seven. (Well duh. It is magnificent, you know). Yep!

7. The Dirty Dozen. (Or Kelly’s Heroes, if you prefer your war movies with a psychedelic twist). Or both…

8. Cool Hand Luke. (Because I say no man can eat fifty eggs). Hmmmm…whatever…ditch in favour of 633 Squadron, the best flying movie every made.

9. Raging Bull. (Or any movie about boxers or wrestlers. They’re all good.) Replace with Kelly’s Heroes.

10. 300. (Because this is Sparta). How come these guys get to wear skirts, JB? Replace with Gladiator.

Cheeseburger Gothic also hosts a nice piece of fan fiction from The Wave section of the Birmoverse.

Get it off!

Dean @ Travels with Shiloh has developed a new counter to female suicide bombers…I wonder if the cure might not be worse than the problem…?

In more serious news, he summarises a recent workshop at Princeton on Afghanistan – in terms of being out of AFG in 2011, I hope that someone is working on the chopper pad on top of the Embassy…I think we all must have slept through the lesson on COIN re the long haul – or maybe that lesson took place during the five year summer holidays in Iraq?

Where it all began

Peter has released a prologue to The Doomsday Machine…great to see a local lad doing so well at this authoring thingie…

I also like his comments re President Obama’s snub at Israel…but disagree on the credibility of commenting on a book one has not read…I used to be prone to making similar judgements especially on movies so missed Gladiator on the big screen and gave the first series of Dr Who a miss as well…that learned me!!

Who am I?

Portable Learner discusses ways and means of promoting oneself on LinkedIn, something that I have been wresting with recently as well. The options available are quite prescriptive and I don’t think that will change regardless of what’s on the list. Lists, I think, are an industrial age tools that we have yet to evolve away from and, like so much industrial age legacy material, they hold us back. I agree with Shanta that ‘internet’ is probably more descriptive of how one might think than its clinical definition might imply.

I also agree totally with her points re e-learning which is sliding back into industrial age slime instead of being the shining beckon of knowledge it once appeared to be. In order to “…design effective learn ing environments in a networked world…” we must sever the ties with industrial tools and focus on the information and it s nurturing and growth…This is one reason that I think that the US Navy may have ever so slightly lost it in merging its 2 (intel) and 6 (comms) branches into the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) – yes, for real!! I see a very real risk that the information under this structure will be overshadowed by the fears and rules of the technicians and we will lose that timely dissemination that we so desperately need…it maybe that the victims of this merger will see their op critical information become a commodity that is delivered IDC…In…Due…Course – a phrase straight from the repertoire of petty bureaucrats and mindless chair polishers…


What’s up with all this Birmoverse stuff?

Good question.

First up, is that John Birmingham has asked via Cheeseburger Gothic for thoughts on what a post-WW2 world might look like in the Axis of Time (AoT) universe, with especial interest in Great Britain. It is rare for an author to do this and I think that it provides JB an opportunity to add a real richness to his books in adopting this approach.

If you hadn’t figured it out already, I like his alt-history after buying World War 2.1 Weapons Of Choice while stuck in Changi Airport in 2005 on my way home from CLAW 1 – it was an act of desperation as it was the only book on the shelves that even remotely appealed. Over two years, I managed to seek and devour 2.2 and 2.3 and then was pleasantly surprised to find Without Warning in the Taupo  Whitcoulls mid-last year. I was less impressed to find on completing it that, it was Part One of another series – there was not a single clue on the cover to indicate this which really hacked me off. Normally I won’t buy a book in a series unless I know that the whole series is published AND available – a lesson learned from War Against the Chtorr and Janissaries.

In thinking about the questions posed and subsequent dialogue on Cheeseburger, I am finding that I am able to view our current environment through a slightly off-centre perspective. By considering those things that we might want to do in the AoT universe that we didn’t get right in the real world, it is possible to divine perhaps some relevance back this way. As an example, I proposed that, in dissolving the Empire, that Great Britain establish India as a strategically-influential region power from the beginning instead of letting it muddle its way there over the decades as has actually happened. My thought at the time, was that,by doing this, we might be able to head off much of the instability in the Pakistan/Afghan area for the AoT universe. Thinking about it later, this also ties in with my belief that we have the wrong force composition in Afghanistan and they what it really needs is for the regional powers, namely India and Iran (might as well accept it and stop the name-calling), to pick up the burden of maintaining regional stability. Some thoughts on greater Indian involvement here

It’s an example of one writer harnessing the horsepower of the Information Militia.

It’s fun thinking about what-if, whether at the geo-strategic or micro-tech cool toys level; even more fun when there is a possibility that some of those ideas might actually be taken up into the storyline for the next book or form the basis for perhaps some fan fiction in the AoT universe. Nothing wrong with a bit of fun…

In other news…

Airmen from the 105th Airlift Wing's Logistic Squadron load cargo aboard a C-17 bound for Haiti early Saturday morning. (Photo: Tech Sgt. Michael O'Halloran, 105th Airlift Wing)

It’s also been a bit slow in the real world this week. Yes, lots of angsting over Haiti in just about every blog site on the planet with some interesting points being raised:

  • Humanitarian issues aside, at what point do we decide that it is simply just not worth it to keep saving these failed ‘nations’ from themselves? Here’s a couple of interesting threads from the Coming Anarchy side of the house:  The Latest Battlefield of the Monroe Doctrine and A Bit Of Realism Please? Our constant reinforcement of Third World cargo cults comes at a price and, sooner or later, it is going to become untenable unless we start to address the root issues. Step 1 would be to rein all these meddling NGOs that address the symptoms but actually only foster more suffereing in the long run…
    • Have a plan and impose control.
    • Blindly sending in supplies, aid, etc is a waste of time if the resources don’t exist ont he other end to do anything with them. Ditto for all the well-meaning dogooders who just want to arrive in Port-au-Prince to ‘help’.
    • If you are a ‘once-were’ nation, like the UK and France, then get with the programme and be thankful that someone is getting out there and filling the vacuum (and fixing the messes) left when you dumped your colonies. If you don’t like the new rules, then YOU rock up with the necessary capabilities and force structures to do the business. Here’s a subjective but interesting item on what a real power can bring to the party Do Americans Care About British Soldiers?
  • It’s funny how the US gets caned for even thinking about interfering in these rock show wannabe countries but then gets caned when something like this happens for allowing the country in question to decline to such a state in the first place. Same thing happened in Myanmar – why won’t the US make the government open up to accept aid? You really have to wonder sometimes why the US doesn’t just pack it all up and go home…?

The current operation in Haiti is a classic example of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, stability operations and countering irregular activities – the earthquake could not be predicted and it is unrealistic to expect Haiti to construct quake-proofed buildings, so many of the current problems are unavoidable. However it will be interesting to see what follow-on activities are conducted to maintain stability in Haiti and address the core problems within the country.

Travels with Shiloh is running a series on the implications of MAJGEN Flynn’s paper on what’s wrong with intel – of course the shorter option to write might have been ‘what’s right with the intel world’ – while I don’t agree with all the points made, I think it is important that someone is raising them to get the discussion going…

The Information Militia

I’m coming to the conclusion that Michael Yon is a well-meaning but meddling journo who probably does need to slow down and consider his place in the universe. I like his website and think it is some great material – please check it out – as photojourno, he is very good and sends some very strong and often poignant messages. His Facebook page on the other hand is an example of the down side of the Information Militia – he is a guy who has, just this week, publicly bypassed the US military chain of command by inciting his fans to pressure CENTCOM and the Pentagon to release a Haitian-born officer in the US Army, current posted to Afghanistan, for duties in Haiti. Yes, sure, members of this officer’s family have died so there IS a compassionate case to be made and his cultural and language skills would definitely be employable BUT…BUT…do you not think that perhaps the DoD has its own processes to this to occur and that there might also be broader implications in releasing him from his current theatre? Michael Yon also posted an item critical of Starbucks and its relationships with the US military which was subsequently proven to be both incorrect and old news as covered in this story from 2004 – as HoaxSlayer points out, even when a retraction is released, it never gets the same degree of airtime as the original accusation.

And in other news…

I’m still a bit bummed out after yesterday’s crash near Ohakea so nothing too stimulating this morning…

The Information Militia is on the march

Google is threatening to pull the pin from China because of government over-regulation and control – go the Information Militia!! More comment here on Coming Anarchy and Neptunus Lex…where Google stays or goes, the simple fact is that, sooner or later, unless it bombs itself back to the Stone Age or Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Old Guard is going to have to get with the programme and realise that time do indeed change – if they want to be player in the global game, they have to accept that not everything will go their way…of course, not that I particularly care: probably the best thing for China would be a total change of leadership and philosophy.

Teaching Green

I quite like the sustainability posts that Peter puts up on The Strategist and here is an item from paper model publisher, Fiddlers Green, with resources for school projects on wind turbines. Not only are wind turbines cool and green (even if they are white) but kids can get to build a model as part of the project.

New acquisitions

These don’t count under my NY resolution to not purchase any more models until I actually place a completed one on the shelf – not as simple as it sounds as I also need to build a shelf first. I ordered these from Orlik in Poland in October as part of my Christmas shopping plan – one was a gift, the others were ‘just to optimise the postage’. As it happened the package only arrived this week…containing….

There are two pages of plans, both equally cluttered but which seem to make sense if you stare at them long enough. Some of the detail around the turret and undercarriage construction is a little vague but hopefully I will be able to muddle through. I particularly like that this model has (for me) a more traditional frame than the normal monocoque style of paper model construction for aircraft so that it is possible to build up the skeleton and have the option of leaving some areas unskinned to show off interior detail without sacrificing anything in the way of strength. For the hassle of a couple of extra parts, I wish that more designers would do this i.e. allow aircraft construction to be more closer to the structure for the hull of a ship. The parts all look quite nice and logical although the standard RAF green/brown for the upper surfaces is very (too) dark and almost looks black from some angles. Some parts I will replace with other media mainly in the turret like the gun bodies and ammunition belts. The rest all looks good to go as is… (more here…)

I’ve already had a good look through the parts and plans which confirm that this should make a good little build in 1/72 to go with the rest of the fleet but as above, not a build that will kick off til at least mid-year. There don’t appear to be any great mysteries in construction but it would have been nice to have the full range of armament options listed in the history section of the instructions; and it is disappointing that the rockets for rocket launcher are not provided even though they are quite prominent pre-launch; nor is the 7.62mm AA MG provided. Easy enough to fix from the spares box…(more here…)

The plans look pretty straight forward and the only area where I anticipate a little pain so far is at the rear of the fuselage where there are no formers for support – I’m think I might make this area from foam and shape the skin over it in order to get a clean seam top and bottom. The fuselage skin is printed in a silvery ink that provides a nice effect (Orlik also has a metallic paper version available) – I don’t think it will scan and print well so I will have to use the actual parts and just make sure I get it right the first time (there is a first time for everything!!). I was a little disappointed that the gunbay interior for the XP-61E is not provided but the cockpit and gear bays appear to be nicely represented. Alternate fuselage parts and markings are provided to enable either the XP-61E long-range fighter or the F-15 Reporter versions to be assembled. I was inspired to buy this model by Bomarc’s PBJ build but am actually quite glad now that this model doesn’t have quite near the same degree of pain detail…(more here…)

Action in the Birmoverse

John Birmingham reports that the latest draft of After America has gone off to the publishers…

Thoughts while mowing

I was just mowing the lawns – a time when I can just flick on to auto-mow and just cogitate for a while – and a couple of phrases collided in my mind…the first was one by John Birmingham in one of his blog posts on writing, this one on where the idea for a book or story might come from. In this case, Without Warning is the result of JB enduring some fool prattling on about all of America’s failings…

…he screamed at me the world would be a much better place if we all just woke up one day and they were gone, just gone, every last American in the world. That dumb ass suggestion must have caught like a fish hook in my brain and kept nagging away for years until the idea of turning it into a novel finally occurred to me after a couple of months of frustrating negotiations to settle on the topic for a new trilogy after Axis of Time…

The quote that rear-ended these lines from JB is one I saw but didn’t really absorb from Neptunus Lex last week on Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in Oslo:

…I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.

But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions — not just treaties and declarations — that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity…

It struck me, as I mowed, that sometimes we should be careful what we wish for – it just might happen…I’ve met a lot of Americans and some of them were real dicks BUT in no greater proportion than those I have endured in Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the UK . As much as we might like to take a populist view of America’s ‘failure’ in Vietnam, I was struck by the attitude of the Vietnamese people when I was there some years ago: they despised the French with a true passion (understandable) but considered as America as well-intentioned but misguided “…came to our country with the best intentions but for the wrong reasons…

We’re all too happy to stand back and let America take the hits…til the Wehrmacht tosses a few warmers across the Channel, or the Imperial Navy steams south; the national daily prayer of France should be ‘Thank you, America’; as it should be in many ingrate European countries – can you say ‘Marshall Plan’?’ Can you say ‘thank God, someone else was able to sort Yugoslavia out’?. Even in our backyard, INTERFET may have been Aussie-led with a Kiwi 2IC but lets NOT forget Peleliu and her sister were there as well – just in case.

When has it ever hurt to simply say “thank you“?

PS. It’s worth reading the whole of the Neptunus Lex post on what it means to be a nation at war – we might need to know one day…

More on the 4GW scam…

…I don’t think The Strategist is a fan either…he has run two articles already, with the promise of a third tomorrow, also critical on this scam:

Roots – the origin of “generations of war”

On the bullshit of “generations of war”

So it’s not just me, although maybe it is a Kiwi thing to pass comment on the Emperor’s new wardrobe?

Anyway, have a read of Peter’s posts and the follow-on comments and please contribute to the discussion regardless of where you sit on this charlatanism. For those who are unsure what the 4GW model is, this is direct from The Strategist:

  • 1st generation (1GW): the massing of musket-equipped troops on the battlefield, in line and column formations – essentially the way people fought at Austerlitz and Waterloo during the Napoleonic wars.
  • 2nd generation (2GW): the linear concentration of firepower (artillery, machine guns etc) against fixed defences and mass troop formations – essentially the way people fought at the Somme and Passchendaele during the First World War.
  • 3rd generation (3GW): the use of manoeuvre to break through weak points and collapse enemy defences from behind – exemplified by the German invasion of France and Belgium in May/June 1940.

I agree with Peter’s comments and personally far prefer the Toffler’s Wave model (no relation to JB’s Wave model!) which covers societies as opposed to forms of war. From memory, the waves are:

  • First Wave. Tribal, not much more than every man/group for themselves. Sound like any current theatres of war you may know?
  • Second Wave. Society organised into what we might now recognise as states.
  • Third Wave. The full harnessing of society to support national aims and objectives, industrialisation.
  • Fourth Wave. Nichism (no relation to dead German philosophers!). Society transforms into groups that adapt and evolve according to need and opportunity.

If that isn’t the Toffler Wave model or close to it, then it must be my model – please remember you saw it here first….

Unlike the Toffler Waves, which love ’em or hate ’em, are still the result of some pretty heavy duty intellectual effort, the Lind 4GW (I keep typing it as ‘$GW’ – is my subconscious trying to tell me something?) is based upon logic that would get tossed out of a Fifth Form History class (I enjoyed 5th Form History – it was so much more interesting than later classes even though I appreciate the exposure to pre-20C history as a foundation for later life). I suspect that the primary motivator for it was ‘publish or perish’.

I’ll wait for Peter’s third 4GW post tomorrow before commenting any further on Mr Lind’s little scam…I am sorry if I sound just a little wound up about this 4GW thing but Lind’s attempt to twist what happened at Ft Hood to support his weak hypothesis is sordid and cheap – oh, yes, and jack too…


How unusual to have tap dancing on Closeup two days running:

  • The first story covered the successful attempt by a Wellington stock broker to break the Guinness world tap dancing record with 17 and a bit taps per second.
  • In the second item, the General Manager of the Accident Compensation Corporation showed off his own tap dancing skills when facing off with the very well-prepared leader of the Bikers Rights Organisation of New Zealand (BRONZ) over ACC’s attempt to grossly hike the ACC levies for bike riders…

What really gets me about all this ACC reforms is that no one is targeting the overpaid underproducing and apparently unaccountable fat cat senior staff who let it all turn to custard in the first place. The Strategist has an item this morning that applies equally to ACC as it does GM…In this battle, BRONZ needs all the support it can get: there’s a Facebook Group set up for this so please have a think about becoming a supporter – non-Kiwis too as deep down we known you all really want to be Kiwis, especially those from West Island!!

On Cheeseburger Gothic today, there is a discarded version of the opening for After America, the next in the Wave series – it is a good read, and also draws out another point about militia which applies to the Information Militia as well: often no one is quite too sure who, if anyone they are accountable too…

Top marks to the NZ Police Sergeant on Breakfast this morning – Always Blow on the Pie – just goes to show that your 15 minutes of fame can come anytime and from anywhere, even a casual stop at 3am five years ago…great to see a happy non-contentious Police story…Safer Comunities Together – get the T-Shirt here….

We woke this morning to a great bright ball in a broad expanse of blue sky…the rain is gone, long live the sun…But I still got drenched yesterday morning, mulching all the blackberry around the Chalet so that it was kid-safe for the guests staying this weekend and in the interests of aesthetics, tidieness etc as well. Also managed to slash my finger clearing away all the rubbish left where a previous tenant had burned rubbish – amazing what people think will burn, hence the slash from a broken bottle – stupid woman!!!!

Feral was making a big show of scratching up her kitty litter bin the other day so Carmen put her outside. Feral was clearly not impressed by this and gapped it again til about eleven that night…she probably has some justification in this as it followed right on from the previous day when Carmen let the dogs without doing the mandatory ground floor cat scan first. So there’s poor old 1.9kg  Feral perched up on top of Nimitz (the larger couch), silhouetted against the window, hoping that 96kg of Rottweilers won’t notice her…followed by a blur of tortoiseshell as she bolted for the stairs.

Have been shotgunning my CV around the place while working up Plan B…one insight after a couple of days is that if you want to work for the Government – or some parts of it – you have to really want to work for them – some of the recruitment systems really challenge your level of commitment. I wonder how many quality candidates just give all the hurdles and miss and seek employment elsewhere, leaving us with the ‘dregs’; it would be interesting to review those government departments with a history of screw-ups against the intuitiveness of their recruiting interfaces…

Coming Anarchy has an item on the coming next war – not that any of the current batch are likely to end any time soon…

The stupid German hire car…

I’ve finally got all my pictures from the UK trip sorted out and uploaded from the camera – I am amazed that so small a chip can hold the better part of 900+ pictures: a fair cry from my first big overseas excursion when I had to lug dozens of rolls of film around with me.

Anyway, this is the stupid German hire car that we had:

CLAW 09 - Stupid German Hire Car

We picked it up from Avis at Heathrow who were nice enough to hunt down a detailed UK roadmap for us (lesson: they don’t provide this automatically anymore) and then promptly dropped the ball by giving us the wrong directions out of the airport – if the guy on the security gate hadn’t set us right we’d still be doing laps of the Concorde…

Things we liked about the stupid German hire car:

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Things we hated about the stupid German hire car:

  • It was called a Passat – a stupid name with no sense of coolness at all..
  • It was  manual – not the car’s fault but we’ll blame it for this accident of birth anyway – what a pain in the bum to drive around narrow twisting Brit roads and towns.
  • Reverse was down and forward from first – if you shift too energetically into first while stationary, you could find yourself in reverse, much to the consternation of people queued behind us at the lights.
  • It would take anything to from 2 to 17 nudges on the unlock button on the ‘key’ to unlock all the doors.
  • I say ‘key’ with squiggly things around it because it wasn’t really a key at all: just a chunk of plastic and chrome that fitted into a hole in the dash. We think this is EU fallout out from the car-keying incident (it was Norris, dummies!!) on Coro St a couple of months ago (in NZ; probably a decade ago in the rest of the Coro watching world) where the over-efficient Germans are trying to avoid any such recurrences of such trauma (it’s all fun and games til someone loses a spleen).
  • To start the car, you just push the ‘key’ in while depressing the clutch at the same time but if you stall it (see comment above about stupid manual German hire cars) to can’t restart it by just pushing in the clutch and pushing the ‘key’ home again…nope, too simple – you actually have to pop it most of the way out and THEN push it all the way home again…that’s not a pain – yeah right…sorry, all you folk backed up behind us on the roundabout – it’s just the Germans getting payback for that Sea Lion thing….This sort of thing probably seemed like a good idea for when the Russians broke through at interesting places like Kursk but for a family sedan…nuh…
  • There’s no handbrake…just a button on the dash – works brill for setting the brake and makes a cool whirr-clunk sound but…to release the brake you have to push in the brake pedal while pushing the brake button; not only is there no whirr-clunk sound but you need to have three feet if you want to do a hill start. We had to limit our travels to flat places only.
  • The manual was over an inch thick – no wonder it was still sealed in the original plastic. This might have told us about the cruise control that we didn’t find until the last day…

The Peace Prize and the Olympics

Word on the street is that Obama won the prize (hardly seems worth capitalising it nowadays) because Europeans like him. They like him because he at least goes through the motions of communicating with them – while still doing what he wants anyway. I suppose they should be grateful as well that he engineered the 2016 Olympics going to Rio and not to some EU city that would be forever broke afterwards. After all the grief that Venezuela has been giving the US recently (but didn’t they get dealt to so well in John Birmingham’s Without Warning??), I’m surprised that it didn’t go to Caracas – that would certainly have put them in their place and then some. The Olympic city is fast becoming a economic kiss of death for many nations and I really have to wonder if Obama’s ‘failure’ to secure the Games for Chicago was not actually a masterstroke that Machiavelli would be proud of – it’s unlikely that Brazil will be throwing its weight around too much once it sees the bill…It would actually be quite nice if the Olympics went back to the original concept of sporting excellence instead of the municipal oneupmanship it has become…

Food Blogging

Have been thinking about the food blogging thing I mentioned yesterday and think I will do this from tonight where dinner consists of all the leftovers in the fridge mixed up in a big bowl and turned into rissoles (flash name for patties), consumed between slices of homemade sourdough bread (an accident with the mix last night but tastes great) with fresh tomatoes and sliced cheese – there would have been beetroot and lettuce except I forgot the beetroot til it was too late and parley was the closest thing in the fridge tonight to greens…

From a more organised kitchen we had a great lunch at Out Of The Fog in Owhango (it’s on GoogleEarth) on Sunday (unfortunately it is now only open on the weekends – probably a reflection on the Central Plateau job market) – very fast and friendly service: I had hardly finished the front page of the paper when my snack arrived and they do a great Chai Latte too (but not as good as my homemade ones)…the Owhango Pub has just closed up so Out Of The Fog is now it for refreshment between Raurimu and Manunui…

The Birmoverse

John Birmingham, the Australian author of World War 2.1, 2.2, and  2.3 (Axis of Time trilogy), and Without Warning (1st of the ‘The Wave’ series) has set up blog entry  over at Cheeseburger Gothic for discussion on both series…if you haven’t read any of these you really want to give them a go…a secondary theme of the AoT trilogy is a prescient (probably because it agrees with me) glimpse of one version of the next decade of so of the 21st century….

I see on the COIN blog today that Canadian forces are advocating a new approach in Afghanistan but as discussed by a number of members on the blog, this appears to be a desperation-driven attempt to accelerate the course of the campaign and it probably hasn’t been all that well considered. Trying to make the people the new bad guys is probably one of the more innovative approachs to COIN I have seen but will it fly? Like a brick…

From the COIN blog:

“In Afghanistan one of my close friends (an Afghan that would die to save me and almost did) let me know the difference in “their ways” of thinking.  “If you just give me something I may be thankful, but I am not grateful.  I think – look what I was able to get from you, not thankful of what you gave me.  If you attached a price to what you gave me in favors or later chips to be used when you needed something, now we are communicating and building our relationship.”  At first that bothered me but I then began to see through his eyes.  If we take that to winning the “hearts and minds” we have missed the boat.  It does nothing to give to these people as it does to have their own countrymen give, help, and make choices for themselves.  We need to be the facilitators and not the handout.”

Think about it….