Archive for category PMC 2.0

Building Snowmobiles: All By Ourselves, By Chet Richards

Over the last couple of years, I have been digging into Mission Command and Maneuver Warfare quite a bit (hat tip Don Vandergriff, Jörg Muth and others). I guess my reasoning is that I am constantly seeking new ideas on how to build a better private military and security company or PMSC. My simple question is ‘would this work for a PMSC?’ or ‘can some aspect of this be applicable?’.

The simple answer for this latest information brought to you by Chet Richards is yes, I think it is absolutely applicable. My industry is composed of companies that operate mostly in war zones, and their head sheds are usually thousands of miles away. Good organizational climate is vital if the company wants it’s various contracts located all over the world to run efficiently and be contract compliant. Especially since a PM cannot be everywhere at once. A PM has to trust that things are being run well out there, and those contractors need to be set up for success and operate on their own. The leaders of these various contracts need to be good leaders and make life and death/contract saving decisions on their own, and at any time. A system or culture needs to be in place that sets up that contract for success and promotes initiative and harmony.

That, and this industry is inching closer and closer to more of a war fighting industry. Companies need to have an operating system or culture that supports contracts for the defense as well as for the offense.

With that said, Chet’s presentation covers what Mission Command and  Maneuver Warfare is all about and what companies can learn from the practitioners of MC. Most importantly he talks about why this is important and why these concepts are so powerful.

He specifically gets into EBFAS, which is the German acronym that John Boyd used to summarize his ideal organizational climate for a group–Einheit, Behendigkeit, Fingerspitzengefühl, Auftragstaktik, and Schwerpunkt. The reason why it is in German is because the concepts were derived from the German Wehrmacht way of war during World War 2 and 1 (and throughout their early Prussian history), and the German words have a wide variety of meanings. Here is a quote from Chet about EBFAS.

“EBFAS” was Boyd’s German acronym from the elements of his organizational climate. I’m very glad to learn that we have visitors who aren’t familiar with it. Certain to Win has a chapter on a simplified version, “EFAS,” in Certain to Win, and there’s a description of the complete version in the presentation Boyd’s Big Ideas, which you can download from the Articles page, beginning on chart 66. The simplification, incidentally, was Boyd’s suggestion. Certain to Win is available from Amazon and other online book sellers.

Briefly, the idea is that successful organizations fire up the creativity and initiative of all their members and then harmonize this power to accomplish the purposes of the organization. In a competitive environment, successful organizations do this better than their competitors.

So my first recommendation to leaders in a turnaround is to get the culture healthy, get the engine firing again. If you know what you’re doing, it doesn’t have to take long. Dean Lenane tells how he did it in The Turnaround, also available from our Articles page.

Why EBFAS? Well, back in the seventies and eighties, Boyd and company were studying ways of defeating the Russians during the Cold War. They stumbled upon some excellent ideas coming from the history of war fighting and specifically, from WW 2. Namely what the Germans did to prepare for their wars.

They also figured out how the Germans were able to defeat Russian forces much larger than themselves in battle, and a big part of that was the way they were organized and their command culture. Boyd was inspired by Germans like General Hermann Balck and after my own studies, it is easy to see where EBFAS came from and why Boyd and his guys were so inspired. (I highly recommend reading Balck’s book)

Back to my focus on this stuff. I am constantly looking for ideas on how to create the ultimate PMSC culture, and I believe EBFAS is the secret sauce. Or call it the optimum operating system, in computer speak. The military has Mission Command–this industry can call it Contract Command. lol

You can also use EBFAS to rate companies and see where they are strong and where they are deficient. Once you embrace the ideas presented, you cannot help but to view companies and units with an EBFAS filter, or rate leaders of companies on how well they support einheit and EBFAS.

On facebook I actually created an album dedicated to EBFAS and I recommend folks to check that out if they can. It is a living document of sorts because I am constantly adding to it, and it gets comments that build upon the ideas presented.

So without further delay, here is the video to watch and I have included the pdf as well. It explains completely what EBFAS is and why it is important to companies and military units. Enjoy. –Matt

All By Ourselves, by Chet Richards paper here.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 4.21.08 PM

From Certain to Win, by Chet Richards

 

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Mobile Apps: The Tactical Radio Mobile App?

This is one of those posts where I thought, why hasn’t anyone in the tactical industry or law enforcement industry developed a mobile app that can convert your smart phone into a 2 way radio? Because according to this article, private industry has already created three mobile apps that turn your phone into a basic 2 way radio.

So for this post, the idea is basic. Create a similar 2 way radio mobile app, but ‘tactify’ it. lol Get it encrypted and secure, and give it functions that would be applicable to military/police/contractor uses. Or just have basic switches on the mobile app that allow a user to customize the app to suite their needs.

The top mobile app for turning your smart phone into a basic 2 way radio according to this article below is Voxer Walkie-Talkie. If you would like to play around with it, and maybe use it for hunting or none tactical purposes, here is a link to check it out. Here it is on iTunes, and below is the description of what it does.

Description
Featured by Apple in 50+ countries
Turn your phone into a Walkie Talkie.
Don’t waste time on phone calls and voicemails.
Voxer® is a Walkie Talkie app for smartphones. Send instant Audio, Text, Photo and Location messages to one friend or a group of your friends. Your friends can listen to your message while you talk or check it out later.
-LIVE WALKIE TALKIE
-Cross Platform Messenger
-VOICE, TEXT, PHOTOS and LOCATION
-GROUP CHATS
-EVERYTHING is FREE
-No annoying advertisements
-Works over WiFi, 3G and any other data network
-Get notifications for new messages
-Create messages even offline
-Play voice messages faster
-Connect with Facebook friends on Voxer
Voxer turns your iPhone/iPad/iPod touch device into the ultimate Push To Talk (PTT) real-time Walkie Talkie.

The other thing I was thinking about with a Tactical Radio Mobile App is that companies could save money by not having to buy expensive handheld two way radios. They could just depend upon an internet connection locally or 3G/data networks, and have a team work off of that. So instead of depending upon a repeater, you are depending upon a diversified array of ‘repeaters’. Or you could have this as your back up to your pre-existing communications system.

Another angle is to create a Garmin Rhino style mobile app. Something that turns your smart phone into a basic Garmin Rhino, complete with blue force tracker style capability and two way radio functionality.

On the downside would be battery life. So along with the mobile app, you would probably have to get hardened cases with extra battery juice installed, to further extend the radio’s life and durability through a shift. Although I think the market has plenty of sources for this type of thing. I would think a power source that would give your phone enough juice to last a 12 hour shift would be acceptable. Rechargeable would be necessary as well. Pretty neat and I hope someone out there is able to take this idea and run with it. Maybe do a kickstarter for it? –Matt

 

 

Smartphone? Presto! 2-Way Radio
By DAVID POGUE
September 5, 2012
Cave drawings, smoke signals, letters, Pony Express, telegrams, phone calls, text messages. From the dawn of civilization, man has experimented with different modes of communication, each with pros and cons. Smoke signals, for example, contribute to far fewer car accidents than text messages. Text messages, on the other hand, leave much less soot.
You might think that we’ve exhausted every variation on electronic communication — text, audio, video — but you’d be wrong. A new one is quietly winning over millions of gadget fans. They’re free apps with names like Voxer, HeyTell and Zello, and they really do mess with the rules of the game.
Nobody’s settled on a good name for this communications category. But if we call them voice-texting apps, or walkie-talkie apps, you’ll get the idea.
They work on iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, Android phones and Windows phones. You open the app, tap someone’s name, hold down the big Talk button and speak. A second after you start talking — yes, even before you’re finished — your voice bursts to life, extremely clearly, on your friend’s phone, wherever it may be in the world.
Your buddy can respond to you by pressing his own Talk button, and the conversation is under way.
Now, before you roll your eyes — “These youngsters today! Why do they need so many different ways to talk!?” — consider all the ways these apps improve on existing modes of chat.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Technology: Miniature Aerostats-The MAKO Affordable Stationary Aerial Platform

Sofcoast is developing a revolutionary new product category called “Affordable Stationary Aerial Platforms” (ASAP). This product category is designed to be a coverage capability that represents a dramatic departure from the typical aerostat lifting systems on the market today and a product category that we believe can and will bring lightweight, affordable, rapid and mobile “on-demand” data, voice and imagery aerial coverage systems to the masses.

Now this is some interesting kit. This company called SOF Coast has created a miniature aerostat or helium filled mini-blimp equipped with a wireless camera. What is neat with this thing is that it is man portable, yet gives a small outpost the ability to have it’s own aerostat surveillance capability for night and day, and a repeater for radios. Something that large FOBs enjoy, but not so much for the smaller sites, combat outposts, and patrol bases.

The other thing that I thought that was cool, is that it is smart phone capable. Meaning you could watch the feeds through a smart phone like an iPhone. So that would give everyone of that camp, that has a link to that feed, the ability to see what the aerostat sees. My hope and concern is that this feed can be encrypted so that no one else can see what the aerostat sees. Here is a run down on what it can do:

-Portability – It is man-packable while wearing standard combat equipment.
-A high resolution image and full motion video surveillance camera for day/night operations.
-Communications repeater to increase dismounted patrol range and increase situational awareness.

Also, I guess the Army is looking at these things and will be playing around with them. That’s great and they might find some utility with such a tool. It will definitely add to the ‘Observe’ portion of their OODA. –Matt

 

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DIY: Opensource Military Hardware?

Ok, I have to say it. I watched this video at TED and instantly thought–Opensource Military Hardware wiki (OMH). The same concepts these guys applied to farm equipment and the basic tools of a society, can easily be applied to weapons and military equipment manufacture. And in fact, if you watch what is going on in Libya or even Mexico, it is already happening on the world stage.

Honestly speaking, mankind has been doing this since the time of spears. What makes this unique though, is the concept of open source and collaboration. That some engineer in Sweden combined his knowledge with some student in Ethiopia, to help some Peruvian maker shop put together a cost effective armored vehicle that works. And the whole world can access the same open source material via a wiki.

Of course the down side of this type of wiki would be ‘everyone’ could access it. That makes this a dangerous idea. But on the other hand, OMH is going to happen regardless. The internet already provides plenty of resources for folks to check out and use.

The other idea is that OMH could be a closed wiki, only available between partner nations. That way, one nation could give preferred poorer nations a means to protect themselves from neighbors. The thought here is ‘give a man a fish, you feed them for a day’….’but teach them how to fish, and you feed them for life’. To basically give countries a means to create their own defense industries, as opposed to giving them expensive weapons and hardware and expecting them to be able to maintain this costly equipment.

This is also a PMC 2.0 topic. Companies have built homemade armored vehicles in places like Iraq, and often these designs were based on whatever ideas those contractors in the field had come up with. Imagine if a company had access to an OMH, and could cheaply build the equipment they needed in whatever country they were operating in? You could either make an OHH ‘tank’, or go through the risk of open markets and hostile neighbors to purchase such hardware?

Or if your logistics sucks, and you need an armored vehicle yesterday, OMH could come in extremely handy. Lot’s of angles to go with this concept, and definitely check out the video below. –Matt

Edit: 11/29/2011- Check out this wiki. It is called Open Warfare.org. and it is pretty much doing what I was talking about in this post. Making public projects based on open source information and using the feedback of a the crowd. Check it out here.

 

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Leadership: TED–General Stanley McChrystal: Listen, Learn… Then Lead

This is a great presentation and very powerful. Also, the TED crowd gave the good General a standing ovation at the end!

The other thing that I noticed was the ideas he talked about, totally mesh well with Jundism. Learn from your people or ‘learning organizations’, and listen to your people or ‘get feedback’. Even the ‘shared reality’ concept was an issue that the General discussed as a difficulty with command in the modern age. Very cool and check it out. –Matt


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Building Snowmobiles: The Cyber Lance

I want to thank Matt from Facebook for bringing up this quote from Starship Troopers. I found the movie clip of the quote and it clearly shows the weakness of cyber warfare. It shows why you must have a direct action/physical security component mixed with your cyber warfare/information operations unit.

The simple reason why is that all it takes for your enemies to ruin your ‘hacking’ ventures, is for them to kill your hacker and physically destroy his equipment. To ‘throw a knife into the hand of the guy that pushes the buttons’, to paraphrase the quote up top.

Or worse, that hacker could be tortured and key information could be extracted in order to conduct a larger attack. The value of what that hacker knows (a nation or company’s secrets), or what they know how to do (hacking a nation or company), makes them a high value target.

In other words, today’s freelance hacker or even government/military hacker, is a highly valuable asset to a nation or a company. That highly valuable asset must be defended, and have a highly evolved physical and cyber offensive capability in order to compete and survive in today’s world.

So in order to deal with this new reality I have developed and defined a new term that I wanted to share with the readership. Enter the ‘cyber lance’.

Basically, a cyber lance is a combined arms team within a privateer company or military unit. Or it could be an outsourced team. The lance part comes from the french term Lances fournies, or ‘lances fournished’. Here is the definition from wikipedia.

The Lances fournies (French: “lances furnished”) was a medieval army squad that would have surrounded a knight in battle, consisting of a four to ten man team built of squires, men-at-arms (usually mounted swordsmen), archers, attendants (pages) and the knight himself. These units formed companies under a captain either as mercenary bands or in the retinue of wealthy nobles and royalty.
A Lance was usually led and raised by a knight in the service of his liege, yet it is not uncommon in certain periods to have a less privileged man, such as a sergeants-at-arms, lead a lance. More powerful knights, also known as a knight bannerets, could field multiple lances.

And of course the cyber is used to refer to anything to do with the internet or computing. I particularly like this etymology of cyber from wikipedia:

By the 1970s, the Control Data Corporation (CDC) sold the “Cyber” range of supercomputers, establishing the word cyber- as synonymous with computing. Robert Trappl credits William Gibson and his novel Neuromancer with triggering a “cyber- prefix flood” in the 1980s.

What’s cool about a cyber lance, is that a company can actually define it’s size to a client. They can say ‘we have 20 cyber lances’ or ‘cyber lancers’ (whatever sounds better to the user)
The other reason why I like the cyber lance concept, is that it mixes physical security with cyber security. It also mixes physical offense, with the cyber offense.  You must have one with the other as the world of cyber warfare continues to evolve. The cyber lance defines that combined arms group of hackers and shooters. The way I envision it, it could be as simple as a protective detail assigned to a hacker, or as involved as a special forces type team that does both the protection of a hacker, and conducts offensive operations based upon the information gained by that hacker. It is a fusion of the cyber and the physical, and all the potential actions that can come out of that combination.
I also like the etymology of lance corporal.  If you have ever served in the Marines, you more than likely were a ‘Lance Corporal”. Although the lance part refers to lancepesade.

From the Italian lanzia spezzata, which literally means “broken lance” or “broken spear”, but which was used to denote a seasoned soldier (the broken spear being a metaphor for combat experience, where such an occurrence was likely).

Or if you have ever heard of the term ‘free-lance photographer’ or ‘free-lancer‘ (etymology- medieval mercenary warrior) , then now you know the origins of the term. I think it works pretty nicely for cyber lance. So to me, cyber lance makes perfect sense in the context of what I am talking about here.
The cyber lance is also flexible in it’s usage. They could be all military units, or a  private cyber lance contracted out to the government or companies. A cyber privateer or cyber pirate company would have several groups of cyber lances as an organizational idea. Each cyber lance is just a unit or term to describe this hardened ‘hacker team with teeth’. It also goes back to the idea of combined arms, or mutually supporting groups within a unit. This concept is very much a part of the building snowmobiles mindset.

Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects (for example, using infantry and armor in an urban environment, where one supports the other, or both support each other). Combined arms doctrine contrasts with segregated arms where each military unit is composed of only one type of soldier or weapon system. Segregated arms is the traditional method of unit/force organisation, employed to provide maximum unit cohesion and concentration of force in a given weapon or unit type.

A cyber lance also promotes the idea of ‘team’, as opposed to an individual.  I believe cells or teams are far more capable for the attack and defense, as opposed to just an individual. The security of a nation or company, or the prosecution of that nation or company’s best interest would best be placed into the hands of a team, as opposed to just one individual.  Primarily because teams would actually have the ‘teeth’ necessary to capture or kill ‘individuals’, or defend against an attacking force. A cyber lance could also be attacked by a cyber lance, or a group of cyber lances that would make up a cyber privateer company.

Another key component of the cyber lance is it’s ability to work within the borders of another country or navigate the complexities of the commons called cyber space. A small team can be surgical and have a light foot print.  It also falls in line with the concepts of netwar, and offense industry which was a past building snowmobiles post.
Finally, as hackers become more valuable and more capable, it will be of national interest to protect these assets. The cyber lance could very well be the next chapter or paragraph in the world of combined arms and cyber warfare. It will also take the combination of the hacker’s mind and the tactical and strategic thinking of a special operations team to think of all the ways a cyber lance could be used for the defense or offense. The end result could lead to the destruction of a nation’s key national security assets, or the preservation of a nation’s vital national security assets. That is what makes a cyber lance a very important and lethal building snowmobiles concept. –Matt

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