Posts Tagged Boyd

Building Snowmobiles: Manoeuvre Warfare, By Captain Daniel Grazier

This is a fantastic video that I have watched several times and highly recommend. It is a Building Snowmobiles post because it is pure John Boyd and William Lind. I also wish this was available when I was a young Marine back in the day.

Captain Daniel Grazier is a Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and just recently joined up with POGO’s military reform project. I will let the video speak for itself, and he does a fantastic job of explaining manoeuvre (not maneuver) warfare and drawing heavily upon the concepts of Boyd’s Pattern’s of Conflict. Enjoy and Semper Fidelis. –Matt


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Blogs: To Be Or To Do, By J. Scott Shipman

Thanks to zenpundit for posting this. Scott has put together a great little blog and website related to all things Boyd. And you gotta love the title!  So definitely put this on your RSS reader if you are interested in following this stuff and I will put the site on my blog roll. –Matt


Welcome to the To Be or To Do Website and Blog!
January 25, 2012
This website and much of my work was inspired by John Boyd’s professional life-example, his “to be or to do” challenge, and his thoughts on teamwork. However I have included principles that do not apply to Boyd and drawn conclusions that Boyd may well have disagreed with. As I’ve told friends and colleagues, I have taken Boyd’s scaffold, or outline, if you will, and introduced my ideas and experiences. This is the substance of my forthcoming book, To Be or To Do and of my service to clients.
The core of the To Be or To Do material is based on five attributes that exemplified John Boyd’s professional life, plus two. The core Boydian attributes, or principles, are:
No doubt, others could find other laudable attributes, but these principles seemed to define the man for me. The two “extras” are:
By most accounts Boyd was not a particularly humble man, nor optimistic, however I’ve included because I’ve seen the power of these two attributes up close. My late grandfather, Robert F. Shipman, was the most humble man I’ve ever known, and I’m pretty sure he’d be disappointed if I didn’t include humility as an essential principle by which to live. My late mother-in-law, Janet Turney Mulvaney, PhD, succumbed to breast cancer after an eight-year battle. She attributed part of her longevity to “optimism” and impressed upon me that optimism was a key part of a life well lived. On both counts, I agree.

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Building Snowmobiles: For Total War And Netwar, You Need Both A ‘Defense Industry’ And An ‘Offense Industry’

Total war is a war in which a belligerent engages in the complete mobilization of all their available resources and population.
In the mid-19th Century, “total war” was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare. In a total war, there is less differentiation between combatants and civilians than in other conflicts, and sometimes no such differentiation at all, as nearly every human resource, civilians and soldiers alike, can be considered to be part of the belligerent effort. -General Ludendorff, Clausewitz, General Lemay

Netwar is a term developed by RAND researchers John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt to describe an emergent form of low intensity conflict, crime, and activism waged by social networked actors. Typical netwar actors might include transnational terrorists, criminal organizations, activist groups, and social movements that employ decentralized, flexible network structures.-wikipedia

Very cool and this was by far the most interesting article I have read about netwar or networks in this current war.  Bravo to General McChrystal for writing this and sharing. It is food for thought, and I highly recommend reading this thing.

Probably what really jumped out at me after reading this, is that mimicry strategy is what McChrystal is talking about here.  Funny how this pattern continues to repeat itself in war fighting.  It also really complements what John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt talked about with Netwar. But most importantly, McChrystal and the authors of this concept both agreed that the best way to defeat a network, is with a network.

Now this is where I want to add my little angle to the whole concept.  I personally think that the US military is not nimble enough or organized properly to act like a network. Even these leaders and strategists mentioned have agreed on that point. Sure, maybe some of the special forces units within the military might be able to accomplish this, but will there be enough SF teams to keep up with all the cartels, pirates, terrorists, and cyber-hackers?

What about the police, both federal and state?  With transnational terrorists, criminal organizations etc., are there enough law enforcement to keep up with the deluge? In both the military and police examples, I do not think that they can match the size, spread and scope of today’s miscreants.  An example is the drug war against the cartels. It is overwhelming the Mexican government, and the US is not doing that great of a job either, despite all the efforts of law enforcement.

In the war against these folks like Al Qaeda, pirates or the cartels, I have doubts that there are enough military, police or intelligence assets to keep up with the formation of all of these networks. And the simple fact that Osama Bin Laden is still free to move around in this big world of ours, indicates to me a problem. When trying to locate a needle in the haystack, the more folks you have participating in that process, the higher the chance of finding the thing or person you are looking for. Many hands make light work, so to speak.

So what is missing is scalability of the current netwar that governments are waging against these viruses of society. What I propose is that what is missing is an equally decentralized and flexible network that can compete with the growth of these non-state actors and their enterprises.  What I think is missing in this war, is a licensed and regulated market that profits from our enemy’s destruction. One created to promote netwar (or whatever works). That last part is crucial.

I have talked about the concept of the Letter of Marque and Reprisal in the past, and of how important privateers were to early America.  I have also highlighted what makes the drug cartels or modern day pirate industries so strong–and that is the drive of monetary gain or profit.  With terrorists, their profit is a different currency that is spiritually based. A suicide bomber profits from their act, because they are told and belive that they have secured a better life in heaven (or whatever place they go). Everyone does what they do, because of personal gain.  It could be monetary gain, spiritual gain, political gain, etc.  The point being is that this gain or profit, is what fuels their enterprise.  In order to defeat that enterprise, you need an enterprise that is equal in size and scope and vitality.

I believe that a purely government venture is a half measure. The full measure of war against these non-state actors, is to include private industry in the process of destroying these folks. Today’s private industry is not used in this way, and the resistance against such a thing indicates the ego and naivety of today’s war planners and law enforcement leaders. No one likes to admit that they are overwhelmed and they certainly do not want to compete with private industry.

It’s kind of like how the Postal Service viewed companies like Fedex or UPS in the beginning. But of course the government postal system and private industry are still in existence today, and they co-exist just fine. If anything, they learn from each other and the competition drives innovation in each group. If you go into a Post Office today, they look and feel like a Fedex or UPS store, and their prices and even customer service are comparable.

Now to apply this example to the war effort, imagine a company like Dyncorp capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden? I mean after Gary Faulkner did his thing in Pakistan, all types of feathers were ruffled, and everyone in government, military and the media were all balking at the idea of an individual without any government guidance going after OBL? Talk about ego…. I think most Americans, and most of the world wouldn’t care who nabbed this guy or how it was done–just that he was captured or killed–end of story.

And this is the point I am trying to convey.  I think a private company or individual could be quite effective in this war, if given the license and legal authority to do so by their government. But what is most important to this relationship between private industry and government, is that once given the approval, a company can organize, hire the talented people, find the most suitable ideas for the task, purchase the best equipment and weapons, and create a winning strategy to gain profit.  That is a very powerful concept.  Those companies that are not innovative or are hard working, will not succeed.  But those companies that get it, and have the flexibility needed to do what they got to do, will be rewarded by profit, and that profit will drive that engine of innovation for the fight.

Not only that, but once successful companies come onto the scene–whether small or large, then others will copy what they are doing.  Pure mimicry strategy, but at the business/war fighting level.  You see the same pattern with today’s pirates, cartels, and terrorists. They too use mimicry strategy, and copy the models of operation that give them the most profit and reward.  Money or spiritual reward is what fuels the engines of these industries, and as a result, they are unstoppable. Piracy and the drug trade are prime examples, and following the rules of mimicry strategy, it would take an industry to stop these industries. Or at least keep up, because in the end, not only do you want to copy what they are doing, but add one or two things to the model of operation that gives you the edge.

Now for those that are reading this and saying, ‘what happens if these privateer companies, turn into pirates’? Funny, that is exactly the argument that the US government used after they wanted to get rid of the privateer concept and develop a fully functional navy.  The war planners used all sorts of excuses to get rid of the competition of private industry.

Of course there were privateers back then that went on to be pirates, but to me, this very small percentage of possible outcomes of this industry, are far outweighed by the positives of using private industry in this way.  I would also suggest that out of the thousands of security contractors that have cycled in and out of today’s security contracting industry, that a few might have gone on to commit crimes back home and abroad–but that is the 1 percent of 1 percent. To me, I have yet to see this ‘privateer to pirate’ phenomenon that folks continue to use as an argument against private security.

Most have served honorably, and most do not sell their services to criminal organizations. Of course there are few, and of course there are also corrupt cops or unethical and immoral military folks that do crimes as well.  Criminal acts and bad behavior are things that happen in all organizations.  And even during the Revolutionary War, most privateers went back home to be fishermen or work in shipping. Piracy was a crime that attracted criminals, pure and simple, and to classify all privateers as criminal because of the acts of a few, is dumb.

So going back to the Letter of Marque and Reprisal, which happens to be a law that the US congress has the right to use, would be just one way of licensing and regulating this private industry designed to destroy our enemies. If that is too unsettling to the powers that be, then modify the ITAR and issue license that way. I would also require companies to be bonded, and I would reopen Prize Courts so that asset seizures could be another way that companies could profit from the destruction of our enemies.

Another argument that I continue to hear against the concept, is that the Hague forbids privateering and the issuing of Letters of Marque and Reprisal.  In my view, it is not the Hague that stops us from doing this–it is a lack of political will and courage to toss out old and outdated treaties and do what is most important.  That is to win the war that is of national interest, and of the interest of the people. If winning wars is the priority, and the current war has a virus in the form of networks, then in order to compete with such networks will require an equal amount of networks–plus whatever innovation/edge.

Finally, there is another point I wanted to make, and that is today’s ‘Defense Industry’ profits off of creating weapons and equipment for the war effort, or providing defensive or logistics services in the war zones. In terms of war fighting, all companies benefit from the war continuing, and there is not a market mechanism in place to put a stop to that process. Winning a war stops that process though.

To me, what makes better sense is to create an ‘Offense Industry’, which is purely focused on destroying the enemy as quickly and as efficiently as possible, and essentially working itself out of a job. I compare it to the commercial hunting of the Buffalo in the wild west–when there was no more buffalo left (or enemy), the hunters worked themselves out of a job.  What fuels a ‘Defense Industry’ is war, and what fuels an ‘Offense Industry’ is the destruction of an enemy.  Or at least that is the goal when you create, regulate and license an ‘Offense Industry’.

Also, it should be the goal of politicians and war planners to win the war as quickly as possible, once a war has been deemed necessary to fight.  As time drags on, the enemy will learn how to compete against you, because they too have learning organizations and continuous improvement as part of their plan.  To me, if winning a war is a priority, then it should also be a priority to send everything you got at the problem to finish it as soon as possible.

The current war is coming up on the ten year point, and I have yet to see Osama Bin Laden’s head on a pike. Nor have I seen any ‘Closing Business’ signs in front of cartel businesses in Latin America. Nor have I seen today’s pirates whimpering back to their countries because piracy sucks. And we are definitely not seeing today’s lone wolf hackers or state sponsored cyber criminals receiving any threats that would give them pause. Total war (and netwar) require the strategic use of all available manpower of a nation, and/or world effort, and that requires both a vibrant Defense Industry and a well regulated and licensed Offense Industry among the fielded armies in this endeavor. Or we can continue to depend upon the few and the overwhelmed to win these wars. –Matt

It Takes a Network
The new frontline of modern warfare.
March/April 2011
From the outset of my command in Afghanistan, two or three times each week, accompanied by a few aides and often my Afghan counterparts, I would leave the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul and travel across Afghanistan — from critical cities like Kandahar to the most remote outposts in violent border regions. Ideally, we left early, traveling light and small, normally using a combination of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, to meet with Afghans and their leaders and to connect with our troops on the ground: Brits and Marines rolling back the enemy in Helmand, Afghan National Army troops training in Mazar-e-Sharif, French Foreign Legionnaires patrolling in Kapisa. Read the rest of this entry »

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Strategy: Fourth Generation Warfare And Grand Strategy, By Chet Richards

4GW and Grand Strategy

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Building Snowmobiles: Franklin ‘Chuck’ Spinney Talks about Afghanistan

   This was an interesting article, because Chuck was analyzing the situation much like Boyd would have.  And of course Chuck is a member of Boyd’s Acolytes, so I thought this to be certainly befitting of this category.  Enjoy. –Matt


Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

The Taliban Rope-a-Dope


July 14, 2009

On July 7, the Times [UK] carried a remarkable report describing the trials and tribulations of the Welsh Guards, who are now engaged in the ongoing offensive against the Taliban in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It described in riveting detail how accumulating mental and physical stress are grinding down the bodies and minds of what are clearly highly-motivated, well-trained, and competently-led troops. My aim is to elaborate on the Times report by examining its information from a different perspective. My hope is that this will provide a better appreciation of the Taliban’s game.

With the exception of the last sentence in the penultimate paragraph (i.e., “The Taliban fight not to win but to outlast”), which is silly, the Times provides a graphic description of the pressures on the individual British soldiers, and it is an excellent window into the effects of the Taliban’s military art. The information suggests the Taliban’s strategic aim is to wear down their adversaries by keeping them under continual strain and by working on their psychology, or as the late American strategist John Boyd would say, by getting inside, slowing down, and disorienting their adversary’s Observation – Orientation – Decision – Action (OODA) loops. Moreover, the Taliban’s operational art seems particularly focused on the mental and moral levels of conflict. Outlasting, by running away to fight another day whenever faced with superior forces, is a central part of any winning strategy directed toward achieving this aim. (Interested readers can find a brief introduction to OODA loops in the last section of my remembrance of Boyd in the Proceedings of the Naval Institute, Genghis John.

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Kaizen: Jundism Review

   So here is the review of Jundism.  I feel it is important to put this out there from time to time, because it is very easy to forget about it as it sits in it’s own little corner of the website.  Here is what I have come up with over the last couple of months and let me know if I am missing anything. Of course these are concepts that all came from the various posts and discussions that happened on this website.  Most of these are not my ideas, but collecting them all under the banner of a belief system is my idea.  If the mind is the best weapon out there, then these are the concepts that will help to build that weapon and make it truly formidable.

        I guess some of you are wondering what the hell is Jundism?  Good question, and I think in the spirit of Jundism, I was going to put it out there to the readers and ask ‘what is your recommendation’ as to what Jundism means? lol  I am serious though, because my version of of what Jundism is could totally be different than your version, and this is me trying to get some ‘shared reality’.

   As to etymology of the word, the first part of ‘Jundism’ would be Jundi, which means ‘soldier’ in Arabic. I felt it to be most appropriate because that is one of the root words of my blog title.  That, and many of us contractors and military men and women have cut our teeth in the wars overseas in the middle east.

   The second part of Jundism would be the ‘ism’ part, which really opens up the possible meanings of Jundism. So that is where it gets interesting. Although, there is a part of me that really doesn’t want it defined, and part of Jundism’s power is that it is somewhat flexible in meaning.  I think Boyd would have gotten a kick out of that. Or maybe I am wrong on that, who knows….

   My big concern is that I do not want a rigid system of beliefs.  I want something that grows and evolves.  Doctrine or dogma is not what I want Jundism to turn into, I want it to be a system that an individual or group can apply, that will grow with them over time.   I also want all the concepts to work well with one another, but also do equally well on their own.

   The hope here is that one day,  a soldier or contractor will do something uniquely Jundi-istic out there, and someone will ask ‘where did you learn how to be like that or do that’?  And that guy or gal will smile and say, ‘Jundism’.

   And one last thing.  I also think Jundism is necessary, because the global nature of soldiering or contracting is so difficult to control or monitor. That, and I think this war will last awhile, and lethal minds are what we need in order to finish this thing.  My goal is to throw the concepts out there like a virus and hope that it spreads.

     I also believe that in order to change the culture of contractors and the military into a more efficient and lethal force, that we cannot solely depend upon the corporation or government to instill the correct philosophies.  It is up to each and everyone one of us as to what kind of follower or leader you want to be, and Jundism, I believe,  is the key to success. –Matt


Jundism pronounced like ‘Jundee-ism’.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The suffix -ism denotes a distinctive system of beliefs, myth, doctrine or theory that guides a social movement, institution, class or group. For example, baptize (literally derived from “to dip”) becomes “baptism,” a distinctive system of cleansing in water to testify to the forgiveness of sins[1]. It is taken from the Greek suffix -ismos, Latin -ismus, and Old French -isme, that forms nouns from verbal stems. Greek baptismos “immersion”, for example, is derived from baptizein, a Greek verb meaning “to immerse”. Its usage has since been extended to signify the ideology or philosophy surrounding the element to which the suffix is added.

Concepts represented by “ism”

The -ism suffix can be used to express the following concepts:

    * religion or belief system (e.g. Buddhism, Mormonism, Protestantism)

    * doctrine or philosophy (e.g. pacifism, olympism, nihilism)

    * theory developed by an individual (e.g. Marxism, Maoism, see also List of ideologies named after people)

    * political movement (e.g. feminism, egalitarianism)

    * artistic movement (e.g. cubism)

    * action, process or practice (e.g. voyeurism)

    * characteristic, quality or origin (e.g. heroism)

    * state or condition (e.g. pauperism)

    * excess or disease (e.g. botulism)

    * prejudice or bias (e.g. racism, sexism)

    * characteristic speech patterns (e.g. Yogiism, Bushism)

Many isms are defined as an act or practice by some, while also being defined as the doctrine or philosophy behind the act or practice by others. Examples include activism, ageism, altruism, despotism, elitism, optimism, racism, sexism, terrorism, truantism and weightism.

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