Posts Tagged Warfare

Books: Composite Warfare, By Eeben Barlow

Right on! This is the highly anticipated book written by Eeben Barlow about his thoughts on how to conduct warfare on the African continent. Be sure to check out his blog post about the book over at his site, because he certainly will be answering some questions about it there.

As for an actual shipping date for the book, that is still to be determined and the publisher will have more on that I am sure. The date below says September 19 for the published date, so perhaps in September some time? But you can pre-order now and definitely get in line. Check it out. –Matt

Edit: 09/18/2016 – The book is now for sale and shipping at 30 South Publishers. You can buy the book here.

Website for STTEP is here. (Eeben’s company)



Composite Warfare: The Conduct of Successful Ground Forces Operations in Africa
By Eeben Barlow
Price: $49.95
Product Description
As a continent, Africa presents her armies with a vast, dynamic and multidimensional operating environment. It has numerous complex and diverse ethnic, religious, cultural and tribal interests and loyalties, along with many multifaceted threat-drivers coupled to varied and infrastructure-poor terrain plus vast climatic variations. The continent is, furthermore, characterized by numerous half-won conflicts and wars fought by incorrectly structured, inadequately trained and ill-equipped armies. For many reasons, these forces have difficulty adapting to the complex, demanding and rapidly changing environments they do battle in. Similarly, the armies have difficulty in decisively defeating the various threats they face. Many of these problems stem from the fact that numerous modern-day African armies are merely clones of the armies established by their once-colonial masters, their Cold War allies or their new international allies. Many of the principles and tactics, techniques and procedures they were – and still are – being taught relate to fighting in Europe and not in Africa. Some of these concepts are not even relevant to Africa.

This book is intended as a guide and textbook for African soldiers and scholars who wish to understand the development of hostilities, strategy, operational design, doctrine and tactics. It also illustrates the importance of nonpartisanship and the mission and role of the armed forces. Officers, NCOs and their subordinates need to, furthermore, understand their role in defending and protecting the government and the people they serve. They additionally need to know how to successfully accomplish their numerous missions with aggression, audacity, boldness, speed and surprise. The book provides the reader with valuable information relating to conventional and unconventional maneuver. It also discusses how African armies can, with structured and balanced forces, achieve strategic, operational and tactical success. It covers the role of government along with operations related to war, operations other than war and intelligence operations and how these operations, operating in a coordinated and unified manner, can secure and strengthen a government. ## Composite Warfare draws on the author’s experiences and lessons in Central, Southern, East, West and North Africa where he has served numerous African governments as a politico-military strategist, division commander, division adviser, battalion commander and special operations commander.

Product Details
• Amazon Sales Rank: #437301 in Books
• Published on: 2015-09-19
• Original language: English
• Dimensions: .79″ h x 6.14″ w x 9.21″ l, 2.15 pounds
• Binding: Paperback
• 576 pages
Buy the book here.

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Games: Peter Singer Interview About ‘Call Of Duty’ And The Future Of Warfare

This is cool. Foreign Policy did an interview with Peter Singer about his consulting on the newest Call of Duty Black Ops game and I wanted to comment on it. Apparently this game has some pretty interesting input as to what future warfare will look like. The theme of the game is what if we ‘lose the keys’? Or hackers steal UAV’s from countries, and use them for whatever purpose. You as the player has to deal with that world. (no word yet if Cyber Lance is a concept being used in the game, but if it has guns, I am sure it has some kind of theme that is similar)

Definitely read this interview below and then watch the documentary that they put together. I liked this quote in the interview and it deserves some mention.

FP: How about the impact of these games on the public’s perception of warfare?
PS: Again, they are an entertainment platform. But you’ll notice that in the TV commercial I was in, everything that we were exploring a year ago as we were building out the game — well, news kept popping that confirmed the trends that we were identifying as important. Those who play the game will learn about trends and issues that are real and that are familiar to those in the defense base, but are not known widely: the criticality of rare-earth elements, the moving of more systems into the AI and robotic space. But when people point to video games, I point to something bigger in the perception of war: the end of the draft. Millions of kids are playing this game, but each year the U.S. Army has to persuade a little over 70,000 to join. During World War II, the U.S. public bought $185 billion in war bonds. During the last 10 years, we bought $0 in war bonds and gave the top 4 percent a tax break. If you want to talk about connections between the public and war, there are bigger things going on than video games.

That is quite the thing to get 70,000 young men and women to volunteer every year to join the military.  I remember during the peek of Iraq, recruiting was pretty tough and the military was doing everything they could to get kids to join. The military also depended upon contractors to fill in the blanks, and we did.  They also used stop loss and even called back some folks just to keep the all volunteer force staffed.

But all in all, it is pretty damn impressive that they are still able to get folks to volunteer. If video games are able to motivate kids to think about a career in the military, or influence tomorrow’s leaders in the military, then that is a big asset to our armed forces. Especially since these games help individuals to safely explore tactics and strategies of the battlefield, and help to feed the imagination, that then leads to innovations on how we do business. Life imitates art as they say.

Although games will never replace the blood, sweat and tears of real warfare. And anyone thinking that life in a combat zone is anything like a video game, will be very much in the wrong. They will quickly readjust to it’s boring, bitter and then momentarily frightening and extremely brutal realities. Nothing new there. Oddly though, soldiers in combat zones love to play these types of games….

But, even generals and soldiers play simulated war games, just to see how all of the pieces of the military are used for various scenarios. So it helps to see what that is, through the simple tools like a sand table all the way up to video games/red teams.

The final question in this interview is a good one too.

FP: The concept of Black Ops II seems ironic. Our own high-tech weapons are turned against us. Is this a cautionary tale?
PS: One of the changes in the real world is what I call “battle-zone persuasion.” The goal is not to blow up the enemy tank, but jam it, co-opt it, persuade it to do something that its owner doesn’t want it to do. This is new in war. You couldn’t persuade a spear to do something different after its owner threw it. You couldn’t call up Tom Cruise in his F-14 and say, “Maverick, recode all MiGs as F-14s, and all F-14s as MiGs.” A couple years ago, though, the Israelis turned off all the Syrian air defenses before they struck its nuclear facility, and then came Stuxnet. We are moving toward an era of battles of persuasion, as well as the traditional kinetic side. That’s one of the things the game does. The cautionary side is to know more about this and start to build some defenses against it.

Battle zone persuasion?  Interesting. I look at pseudo-operations in the same way. Hacking mindless weapon systems is one thing, but hacking a human would be the ultimate tool of chaos and destruction on the battlefield. Then you could use that guy or team to infiltrate companies/military units/terrorists/pirates/criminal groups, or even use them to hack other mindless weapon systems. They can create chaos from within, and find/exploit all of the weaknesses. That is quite the advantage.

It also demonstrates the importance of having some kind of an elephant chisel for our weapon systems we create. To be able to destroy these things before an enemy can use them against us. But yes, we should look at what could happen if someone took the keys, and games like this can help to imagine the possibilities, and even the counter to these acts.

Peter also mentioned an interesting aspect of modern warfare that ties in with mimicry strategy. Meaning the whole opensource warfare concept (mimicry of what others are doing), where everyone learns how to build weapons based on the input of a community of weapon builders. Not only that, but I think it is important to note that an incentivization process is happening as we speak that will only fuel these weapon builders. What I am talking about is the idea of youtube, and the reward an individual gets for showing off a creation in that arena.

Specifically, I am talking about this fake quadrotor with a machine gun video, that now has over 8 million views! (that is just on his upload, and not including the uploads of his video on other sites) How many folks that have watched this video, will go back to their garage and actually try to make a real weaponized quadrotor?  And with all of the available parts and information online to build such things, then the potential for ‘building snowmobiles‘ is there.

This process happens at lightning speed as viewers observe/orient/decide/act in the construction of their weapon. They want to mimic what they see, and do one better.  Or even improve upon it, all for the attention it gets on youtube (or for winning their fight). Moore’s Law applies as well, and will further help in the mad dash to create a better mouse trap.  Not to mention the weapon companies who are into the same game of ‘build it, and show it off’ to impress potential buyers of those weapons. That is a powerful concept if you ask me, and keeping one step ahead of it is extremely difficult. Video games like this can help us imagine the potential with this stuff, so innovations can be created to counter it. The future is now, as they say….. –Matt



Since When Does Brookings Make Video Games?
Military futurist Peter Singer — and consultant for the forthcoming Call of Duty — reveals what kind of dark assumptions are baked into the next blockbuster game.
MAY 8, 2012
The Internet has been abuzz over details — and several intriguing YouTube videos — of the upcoming “Call of Duty: Black Ops II,” scheduled to hit shelves in November. A sequel to the 2010 blockbuster “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” the latest iteration of the video game continues the saga of American and Russian operatives immersed in a complex 1960s Cold War plot. But much of the sequel takes place in 2025, when the United States is confronting China and when America’s high-tech arsenal of robotic vehicles is hacked, hijacked, and turned against its makers. Although the dark plot sounds like science fiction, it is actually based on solid real-world analysis provided by defense futurist Peter Singer, author of the bestselling Wired for War. Foreign Policy spoke with Singer about his work on the game:

Foreign Policy: There have been a lot of delicious rumors about Call of Duty: Black Ops II. What can you tell us about the game?
Peter Singer: [Laughs.] I’m just going to say the things that are already out there in the media. Essentially what they have revealed is that it builds upon the last game [Call of Duty: Black Ops]. The setting is broken into two parts. Some events take place in the Cold War of the 1980s, and most of it in the 2020s in a proto-Cold War that has emerged between the U.S. and China over a series of regional tensions and resource shortages. Essentially what we have done is take certain trends that are just now emerging, certain technologies that are at their Model T Ford stage, and move them forward into likely potential futures. The same for the political side as well, playing what happens if they move forward. We identified key trends shaping the current and future battlefield. Some you will see played out in robotics. A generation ago, this was all science fiction. Today, the U.S. military has 7,000 unmanned vehicles in the air, some of them armed, and 12,000 on the ground. We have 50 countries out there beginning to use military robotics. We might see evolution in other directions of robotics, such as bigger is not always better. An example in the game is the armed tactical quadcopter. As part of the marketing for the game, we put out a viral video of one of these made real. I know a Pentagon office has started looking at it and asking, “Why can’t we have this?”

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Industry Talk: Boredom And Contractors–The Good And The Bad

     Military boredom has been studied since World War II by a variety of researchers. A common conclusion is that boredom leads to alienation and then resentment and anger.

     The findings of the current study take on added significance given the “non-kinetic” nature of much of the Marines’ counter-insurgency mission in Afghanistan.

     Few troops will see active combat. But nearly all will be assigned tasks — standing post, providing security for convoys, repairing vehicles or other equipment, manning communication gear, handling administrative chores — that, while important, are not the kind of activities that attract young men and women to enlist in the Marine Corps.

     The challenge, the researchers said, is for commanders to maintain the morale of their troops by emphasizing the importance of the mission. Highfill-McRoy is a specialist in the methodology of health research; Booth-Kewley is a psychologist. 

     How am I choosing to use boredom? Recent research reveals that our brains need a certain amount of downtime, that is, boredom, in order to be productive. Those moments when our minds wander are the moments that give us breakthrough thinking, insight and innovation. Reaching for the Blackberry when you’re stuck in a line-up, or processing e-mail during tedious meetings: these activities displace the former vacancies from which aha! moments once emerged. This is the year to commit to a minimum RDA of boredom, to foster habits that keep you from filling every moment with productive or engaging activity. 

     Now this is interesting.  I have found two schools of thought in regards to boredom and I think they both have application to this industry.

     The first connection I wanted to make was how some of today’s veterans that seek work as security contractors in this industry expect to be involved in the same kind of combat or kinetic operations that they were in in the military.  The truth of the matter is is that most security contracting is exactly what would be classified as boring to the Marines in the study mentioned in the quote up top. “Standing post, providing security for convoys, repairing vehicles or other equipment, manning communication gear, handling administrative chores” are exactly the kinds of jobs that contractors are hired to perform.

     The industry also seeks out individuals with extensive combat histories and highly specialized backgrounds, and yet they are only required to stand guard at some FOB or remote site, be a shift leader for TCN or LN guard forces, or perform basic convoy operations. For some guys, this is a nice break from their prior deployments in the military, but for others, you can just tell that security contracting is not for them. lol

     Another group of contractors  you might see would be former military folks or non-military with very little to no combat history, or they might be one of those types similar to the Marines mentioned in this first article.  Because they were so aggravated in the military or past job by their non-kinetic operations (or their extremely boring post), that they come to the security contracting industry expecting something different with more action.  When they see that it is actually more boring than they experienced in their prior deployments in the military or whatever job, you can only imagine what kinds of behavior you might expect with that kind of combination. Some learn to adjust, but others fail.

     So does this mix of personalities and low-kinetic environments in war zones lead to possible incidents within our industry? Maybe. It is an interesting thought, and it would be interesting to do a similar study about the current wartime security contracting industry. Because this might explain why we continue to see embarrassing incidents arise from time to time due to contractors behaving badly out there. It could also explain some of the issues contractors have at the home front. (divorces, money issues, etc.)

     Now for the good part of boredom.  Often times out in the field, guys will fill the down time with activity on their computers. But they still have to be out on post or on a convoy for their duties, far from access to a computer.  Plus their attention needs to be focused on some gate or the road or whatever.  These are the mindless activities that require discipline, vigilance and focus, and yet lead to some serious boredom. Just staring out into the desert or ocean, or at some gate or warehouse for hours on end…..  Pure boredom.

    What is good about this boredom though is that guys are able to have those ‘a ha’ moments, because that duty actually allows them to have the “breakthrough thinking, insight and innovation”. It is really cool for those of us that are constantly online reading, researching, writing a blog, gaming, or doing online classes.  You can really keep busy if you are immersed in all that technology. Having a break can be nice and it can allow you to think.

    For this blog I often come up with all sorts of things when I have down time or doing some kind of boring activity.  I think of stuff while on post, driving, running, you name it.  But like the quote mentioned, you have to make time for boredom if you want your brain to process. At home or even overseas, that can be tough when you have a smart phone in your pocket, or a computer in your bag that you can always browse with or play games with.

     So for those contractors out there reading this, the time spent on your lonely post or doing road work, could actually be a good thing if you are able to look at in a ‘glass half full’ kind of way.  You are not only focused on providing security or driving, but you are also allowing your brain to ‘incubate, illuminate‘.  Because the ‘saturation’ phase might have happened the night before or whenever.

     In other words, that non-kinetic security contractor job that might seem boring, could actually be a perfect opportunity for you to innovate, create, and come up with some amazing solutions to complex problems. Or you can let the boredom of your job get to you, and you do something stupid on the job or act out aggressively in order to alleviate that boredom or lack of action on your contract. Stuff to think about and as Sun Tzu says “know yourself“. –Matt

War zone boredom for Marines can lead to misbehavior when they return home, study finds

Social Medai in 2011: Six Choices You Need to Make

Boredom (Wikipedia)

War zone boredom for Marines can lead to misbehavior when they return home, study finds

By Tony Perry

May 21, 2010

It’s long been assumed — correctly — that a Marine who experiences the psychological trauma of combat in Iraq or Afghanistan has an increased chance of getting into trouble when he comes home.

But two researchers at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego have found another deployment experience that can be an even greater precursor of future bad behavior: boredom.

A survey of 1,543 Marines at Camp Pendleton, Twentynine Palms and the Marine base in Okinawa, Japan, found that the Marine most likely to disobey orders, get into physical confrontations, neglect his family or run afoul of the police is the one who reports that his war zone deployment was marked by boredom.

Dr. Stephanie Booth-Kewley and Robyn Highfill-McRoy, of the research center’s behavioral sciences and epidemiology department, reported on their study to the Navy and Marine Corps Combat & Operational Stress Conference this week in San Diego. Their findings may later be published in the journal Aggressive Behavior.

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Podcasts: Interview With Peter Stiff, Author Of The Covert War (Koevoet)

Listen to internet radio with TRP on Blog Talk Radio

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Cool Stuff: Green Boots–Koevoet

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Technology: China Used Cyber Privateers In Attack Against Google

     The hack was part of a computer sabotage campaign carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. This has been going on since at least 2002, the cable said.

     I read this and the first thing that popped out at me was that China was contracting with private industry to attack an enemy in cyber space (the commons).  In this case, that enemy was Google.

     Also, just look at the list of folks they contracted with, and you wonder how is this not cyber privateering?  Perhaps the Chinese understand the concept of ‘creating an industry out of destroying your enemies’, much better than the west. It is also the Chinese who are doing this, and not some poor third world country.

     So this is the next thought that came to mind.  If China is doing this, then why couldn’t the US use the same tool of cyber warfare against the Chinese, or even against a group like Wikileaks?  Hell, we can even be open about it and issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal to individuals and companies in order to make this happen. Just a thought, and hey, China is doing it. lol –Matt

Chinese Government Ordered Hack on Google Servers: Wikileaks

By Clint Boulton2010-11-29

Wikileaks gave the New York Times a diplomatic cable that shows the Chinese government was responsible for the hack on Google’s Gmail system.

China’s government was indeed behind the hack on Google’s Gmail system earlier this year according to a cable captured by the controversial Wikileaks organization.

Wikileaks, which butters its bread collecting secret documents and seeding them in media outlets, snagged 250,000 American diplomatic cables dating back three years and released some of them to the New York Times and other media outlets.

The Times cited one of the cables as proof that “China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January.”

The hack was part of a computer sabotage campaign carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. This has been going on since at least 2002, the cable said.

A Google spokesperson told eWEEK: “We aren’t going to be able to comment. As you know, since we revealed this incident in January, we haven’t been speculating as to the parties responsible.”

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