Posts Tagged Building Snowmobiles

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.


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From Certain to Win, by Chet Richards


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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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Building Snowmobiles: Crowdfunding Private Security

Definition of ‘Crowdfunding’: The use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a new business venture. Crowdfunding makes use of the easy accessibility of vast networks of friends, family and colleagues through social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to get the word out about a new business and attract investors. Crowdfunding has the potential to increase entrepreneurship by expanding the pool of investors from whom funds can be raised beyond the traditional circle of owners, relatives and venture capitalists.
In the United States, crowdfunding is restricted by regulations on who is allowed to fund a new business and how much they are allowed to contribute. Similar to the restrictions on hedge fund investing, these regulations are supposed to protect unsophisticated and/or non-wealthy investors from putting too much of their savings at risk. Because so many new businesses fail, their investors face a high risk of losing their principal.-Investopedia

One of the exciting things to develop last summer was the advent of crowdfunded security. It is a concept that I wanted to share here on the blog that is really cool and cutting edge. It is a new way of doing business and I wanted to introduce the concept. Who knows, maybe someone will take the ball and run with this.

So here is the concept–create a crowd funding website called or similar, that is completely dedicated to helping countries, states, cities, towns, communities and even individuals in starting crowd funding campaigns for their security. The model is already out there with such places as Idiegogo, Kickstarter, or Crowdtilt.

The idea for this came from a Crowdtilt campaign that was done in Oakland, California by a community in need of security services. Their neighborhood was constantly dealing with criminals, and the police were stretched too thin because of budgetary constraints to deal with that crime. So a member of the neighborhood started a campaign to raise money to contract the services of a local security company.

What happened next is amazing. They were able to raise all of the money needed to fund their own security, and in a very short time. Folks from all over the country could contribute funds to this campaign–and they did.

Now what makes Securityfundr an interesting concept is that it would be a ‘security specific’ niche crowdfunding site. A place to go, to specifically raise funds for whatever security is required. I envision something that a small village in Somalia could take part in, or some town Idaho could get into, or what some female jogger that runs in Central Park, NY could tap into–all to raise money for their security.

You could also raise money to secure websites and protect against hackers. The cyber element of securityfundr could be big, just because the ferocity of attacks that can hack places like Target, could easily be turned on small mom and pop websites–and they do. But small businesses and individuals are limited in their ability to protect their websites, all by how much money they have. Enter crowdfunding and the potential of a site like securityfundr….

I would also create a portal for security companies to advertise their wares on the site. They could receive alerts through the website, for when a funding campaign is started within their area.  A company could sign up, and get alerts for specific types of security work, within a certain distance. The website would have a highly secure and encrypted online interface and mobile interface. Each company would be voted on and rated by the public, kind of like what Yelp or Amazon does, all so folks can voice their opinions on the quality of companies and their services. Like I said before, the models are there, and all it takes is to make a snowmobile out of all of them for the purpose of Securityfundr.

Below I have posted all of the pertinent stories related to the crowdfunded security. If you know of others, by all means let me know and share them in the comments. As to the potential of such a concept? Who knows, maybe a crowdfunding campaign could be started to fund securityfundr?  lol –Matt


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Oakland Neighbors Crowdfunding Private Security
BY Sam Roudman
Friday, October 4 2013

Oakland California’s Rockridge neighborhood has generally been better known for its fresh pasta and pricey Craftsman homes than for brazen daylight robberies. But that changed last month when three men held up a line of drivers waiting at the Rockridge BART station to pick up passengers in order to use the carpool lane on their morning commute.
“The casual carpool line is sort of a sacred thing,” says Rockridge resident Steve, Kirsh, “they robbed 20 people and they kind of freaked out the community.”
What’s a violated yet technologically savvy community to do? In Rockridge, the answer has been to crowdfund private security services, with the aim of compensating for an understaffed police department in the city with the highest robbery rate in America. In the last few weeks three separate campaigns have been started on Crowdtilt in order to fund four months of private security patrols in three different section of Rockridge. Near $35,000 have been raised so far, and two of the three projects have raised enough funds to ensure they will move forward.
The campaigns illustrate the power of crowdfunding tools to propel civic action, but they also point to the potential of crowdfunding to increase urban inequality in the name of a civic virtue like neighborhood safety.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Building Snowmobiles: General Hermann Balck, The German That Inspired Boyd

The other day, Chet Richards posted his opening presentation to the Boyd And Beyond 2012 conference, and it was fascinating. It was pure building snowmobiles, and it was filled with the various bits and pieces of what and who inspired Boyd in regards to creating novelty or innovations during the fight. (unfortunately, I did not attend this conference)

What was cool is that an individual was identified as being the origin of Boyd’s thoughts on this stuff. That individual is General Hermann Balck, and he was considered to be one of Germany’s best during WW 2. Here is one quote that gives you an idea.

“Balck has strong claims to be regarded as our finest field commander,” declared Maj. Gen. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Mellenthin. And he was in a position to know: as a general staff officer during the war, Mellenthin had worked at one point or another for virtually all of Germany’s greatest commanders—including such legends as Rommel and Heinz Guderian.

So that gives you an idea as to why Boyd would be interested in such a man. The other quote that identifies Balck as a person of interest to Boyd is identified in this quote from Chet’s paper.

Boyd’s appreciation for novelty grew as he mulled over the ingredients for success in conflicts. Boyd’s close associate, Pierre Sprey, credits Boyd’s conversations with General Balck (1979a & 1979b) as planting the seeds that led to Boyd’s fascination with innovation, novelty, and the importance of rapid, intuitive decision-making (Personal communication, September 23, 2012). Thus the elements of maneuver conflict that appear in the September 1981 edition of Patterns, for example, do not include the concept of novelty, but by 1986 it was there (p. 115). Perhaps it was not until he began to compose Conceptual Spiral, though, that Boyd realized how the term “novelty” encapsulated so much of his strategy.

So can we boil it down even further?  Well below, Balck gave an interview and he talked about the secrets to his success on the last page. Chet quoted from this translation and I thought it would be prudent to post the entire thing here, just to give you the essence of what this guy was all about. Here is the quote.

Never do the same thing twice. Even if something works well for you once, by the second time the enemy will have adapted. So you have to think up something new. -Balck, pg. 42

Chet also added this quote to back up what Balck mentioned. Note that Boyd was equally inspired by Sun Tzu in his famous Patterns of Conflict.

So a military force has no constant formation, water has no constant shape: the ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to the opponent is called genius. -Sun Tzu, Art of War

Of course you could expand upon all of this by reading Balck’s book he wrote, if you know German, but at least with this translated interview, you will get a good introduction to the man.

I think what is equally interesting is that Balck was totally a prime example of the kind of officer that the famous German field manual promoted, called the Truppenführung. Here is a snippet.

Truppenführung (“unit command”) served as the basic manual for the German Army from 1934 until the end of World War II and laid the doctrinal groundwork for blitzkrieg and the early victories of Hitler’s armies. Reading it is as close to getting inside the minds behind the Third Reich’s war machine as you are likely to get.

So what kind of results did this kind of thinking produce? Why would folks put him at the top. Here is a quote about one of his accomplishments when his panzer division took on the Soviet 5th Tank Army. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Balck, who ended the war as a General der Panzertruppe (equivalent to a three-star general in the U.S. Army), is today virtually unknown except to the most serious students of World War II. Yet in three short weeks his lone panzer division virtually destroyed the entire Soviet Fifth Tank Army. The odds he faced were scarcely short of incredible: the Soviets commanded a local superiority of 7:1 in tanks, 11:1 in infantry, and 20:1 in a local superiority of 7:1 in tanks, 11:1 in infantry, and 20:1 in artillery. But Balck, leading from the front, reacting instantly to each enemy thrust, repeatedly parried, surprised, and wiped out superior Soviet detachments. Over the next few months his division would rack up an astonishing one thousand enemy tank kills. For this and other achievements Balck would be one of only twenty-seven officers in the entire war—Erwin Rommel was another—to receive the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds, the equivalent of an American receiving two, or even three, Medals of Honor.

Check out the interview below and let me know what you think? I personally thought Balck’s focus on leadership and taking care of his men, and constantly trying to figure out the true health and status of his army was pretty cool. His focus on the enemy and his psychology was interesting too. That and all the lessons learned from when he fought in WW 1. I really liked the focus on the offense as well.

The other quote that perked me up is Balck’s mention of the Prussian military tradition of ‘expressing yourself bluntly’ to your superiors. lol I love it, and in the quote below, Model was his boss and Balck was telling him how much he sucked at commanding.

Model listened to everything I said. We both expressed our opinions, shook hands and returned home. He never came to see me again. But every time I got a new assignment, he was one of the first to congratulate me.
That was one of the great Prussian military traditions: you expressed yourself bluntly but you were expected to never resent such blunt criticism.

 Boy, imagine if we had such a tradition in the US military? Or even in private industry? It also shows how smart the Prussians were about feedback and questioning authority. To actually have a tradition that forces folks to sit there and take criticism like a man…. I might have to explore this Prussian military tradition at a later point. Pretty cool and check this thing out. –Matt

Edit: 02/26/2015  Found the answer to where this tradition of Prussian disobedience came from. A big hat tip to Jörg Muth and his book called Command Culture, and his personal help in researching this topic. Here is my post on the matter called Leadership: The Proud Prussian Tradition of ‘Disobedience’.



Translation Of Taped Conversation With General Hermann Balck, April 1979

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Building Snowmobiles: The Jager Pro MINE Trapping System- Catching Hogs Using A Smart Phone

This is cool and I wanted to do a post about this new evolution in feral hog eradication. Jager Pro is a veteran owned and operated hunting service that specializes in the eradication of feral pigs.

They are also very good at what they do. From using thermal optics on AR 10 type rifles and hunting these animals at night, to using high tech trapping methods like the MINE trapping system. Because it is a private business, they must find ways of making eradication profitable in order to sustain that business. So they do guided hunts and they sell traps like the MINE system.

What is unique about this system is that it gives trappers all over the country a better tool in the game of capturing these pigs. With the MINE system, you can actually observe and control a trap from thousands of miles away, all with a smart phone. The trap sends a text message via a ‘cellular control box’, when the trap detects movement. Then the trapper can turn on their camera and see how many pigs are actually in the trap. That is a crucial element of this system.

Current traps have very crude trigger mechanisms used to close the trap doors.  This results in only capturing a few pigs, which usually are the young and dumb pigs, and this contributes to the avoidance education of the adult hogs. Pigs use point men as well, and the videos below show how they operate in order to survive. lol

Research has shown that inefficient trapping methods, such as small traps that catch only one or two hogs, lead to avoidance education of adult hogs and continued expansion of the unwanted population.

Below I have posted one of these videos that Jager Pro hads put up about what they are doing. Most of all, it goes into the mental process and intense research that Jager Pro goes through when approaching this problem. They are analyzing and synthesizing–or building snowmobiles.

Of course the method works, and it is being spread to other regions of the country because of it’s effectiveness.

A trapping program designed to concentrate, gradually acclimate – and eventually capture and kill – entire “sounder” social groups of hogs has proven successful and is now in use in 11 states, he told farmers and landowners during a presentation at Millhaven Plantation in Screven County.

Think of this angle as well. Meat processing sites demand that the wild pigs they get should be alive, and thus pay more for living animals. If a trapper can capture an entire sounder group alive, that is money in his pocket.  So this little technological advancement on a basic trap, has the potential to dramatically change the business of trapping–making it more profitable.

This is a great example of the power of Offense Industry as it applies to culling animals. Jager Pro is innovating and continuously improving upon what they do, and I believe they have introduced a disruptive technology for use against these animals. –Matt



JAGER PRO M.I.N.E.™ Trapping System
(Manually Initiated Nuisance Elimination)

JAGER PRO conducted three years of research and filmed 500+ hours of video to test multiple trapping methods since traps have emerged in a variety of gate designs, materials, sizes and shapes. Our goals were to document pig behavior and also quantify the capture success of each method tested. Results of our research can be viewed on video. Each month we release a new five-minute trapping video of lessons learned via our newsletter and YouTube Channel. Viewers can understand the most effective trapping methods by watching feral hogs react to various trap gates and enclosures.

Our trapping standard is 100% capture of the entire sounder group. There have been few published studies to determine the most efficient or the most cost effective trap design needed to accomplish this task in order to successfully reduce agricultural and environmental damage of wild hogs. Our definition of efficient is to spend the least amount of time, labor and fuel to accomplish 100% capture. Our definition of cost effective is to spend the least amount of money to accomplish these same results.

The most efficient design in our research was a large corral trap (35’ diameter) using six 16-56™ trap panels, an automatic feeder and an eight feet wide M.I.N.E.™ gate closed by a remote control device. This method of trapping allowed us to capture entire sounder groups with the push of a button while onsite or viewing cellular pictures or live video from another location. Timers were set to broadcast feed every day at the exact same time. Cameras captured live video footage of hogs entering the trap enclosure until the entire sounder was conditioned to use the feeder as a daily food source. A human made an educated decision to close the gate using this method. This approach was our most efficient trapping method and demonstrated whole sounder removal in less than eight days every time. This method was also more expensive to operate because it required the use of a cellular camera for remote “text” pictures or a cell modem for IP streaming live video. These technologies are currently available through JAGER PRO™ sales

The most cost effective design in our research utilized the same large corral trap (35’ diameter) explained above using six 16-56™ trap panels, an automatic feeder and an eight feet wide M.I.N.E.™ gate but was closed by an electronic trip wire. This method of trapping still required us to condition the hogs to trust the enclosure as a food source but used less expensive game cameras to capture video footage of hogs entering the trap area. This required trappers to visit the trap site every few days to observe video on the camera’s SD cards. Electronic trip wires were then set at the back of the trap so hogs would trigger the gate closed while feeding which demonstrated an overall 87% success rate. This method was the most cost effective but required much more time, labor and fuel to operate while producing lesser results.

Video intelligence is preferred over single pictures to receive the most complete feedback. Camera must be positioned opposite the trap gate to properly view hogs still outside the enclosure. Trap gate must be a minimum of eight feet wide with no visible frame to step over. Narrow gate thresholds and frames on the ground will prevent a trap-shy adult from entering a trap. Late winter months (December-March) provides the optimum trapping opportunity when hogs were searching for new food sources after the fall mast crops of acorns and hickory nuts are eaten. Round traps provide the largest trap area for materials used and there are no corners for the animals to pile up and jump out. Trapping is a very effective control method for removing large numbers of feral hogs if the task is performed correctly.

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Building Snowmobiles: Institutions Vs. Collaboration… And The Strength Of Offense Industry

In this deal I wanted to highlight the Power Law concept and the Pareto principle (80-20 rule) mentioned by Clay Shirky at around 8:30 in the TED video below. To me, this is an important element of Offense Industry, and it also shows how the collaborative nature of Offense Industry is able to compete against enemies that use institutions for warfighting.

Specifically, I wanted to highlight the actions of privateers during the war of 1812 versus the British Royal Navy. One group is a collaborative effort, and the other was an institution. At the end of the day, the collaborative effort of the privateers being focused on merchants and other valuable British prizes, ended up contributing greatly to the overall success of the war effort. And yet, there was no admiral coordinating the privateer attacks, no institution that dictated how each privateer operated other than a license (letter of marque) giving them authority, and there was room in this offense industry for the top performers all the way down to the one hit wonders.

Privateers during that time period also seem to exhibit a power law, 20-80 type effort. There were the privateers that were the top performers (20 percent that captured most of the prizes), and then there were the long tail of privateers who would get a prize here and there (one hit wonders or 80 percent). This entire grouping of privateers ended up accomplishing quite a lot, and at no cost the US government. Actually, the government made money off of these privateers and usually collected about 10 percent from each prize taken, which then went back into the war chest to further fund ‘institutions’ like the navy.

This system also rewards the top 20 percent, but still gives hope to those that are part of the effort. But governments that utilize the privateering system should know that those 20 percent are crucial to your effort, and every effort should be given to identifying and working with this 20 percent so they continue to be successful. A government should also be aware of the 80 percent and understand their place in the effort as well.

It should also be noted that the US Navy only had 23 ships during the war and the total registered amount of privateers was 517. Likewise, privateers were able to capture 1300 prizes and the navy was able to capture 254. Yet privateers funded their own vessels and self organized, whereas the navy was an institution requiring investment by the US. This is expensive and time consuming and obviously the US was not able to raise an adequate Navy in time for this war.

So instead, the US depended upon the ‘collaborative’ strength and cost effectiveness of a privateering system to accomplish the task of attacking British commerce and logistics.  To me, this collaborative nature of offense industry is it’s strength. I also wanted to identify this strength and archive it for future discussions about Offense Industry. You can also see that the more inclusive and massive the privateering system is, the more effective that privateering system will be at gaining prizes. It’s a numbers game, and institutions will have a hard time competing with that.

You could also apply this concept to what is happening in the arab spring. You have people who are part of a collaborative effort to overthrow their government and it’s ‘institutions’. These collaborative efforts follow the power law curve as well, and you will have the top performers and the one hit wonders throughout the effort, and the overall results of that effort equate to great accomplishments and the overthrow of dictators. Interesting stuff and the video below is definitely worth your time to watch. –Matt


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