Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

More Mouse Turds

November 23, 2012 1 comment

Interesting article in the Washington Post.  Apparently there is concern among the Army’s officers with the service’s unremarkable performance in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with a dark future of small budgets and strategic irrelevance.

Big Army’s response, led by SMA Chandler, is to tighten restrictions on backpacks and sideburns.


I can’t imagine why anyone is concerned…..




Not “Can We?” but “Should We?”: The Central Question of Strategy

January 14, 2012 Leave a comment



Image by The U.S. Army via Flickr

Often times the central question of strategy is not whether we are able to do something, i.e. Do we have the means to accomplish the ends, but whether we ought to do something.

Such is the argument made by C. Dale Walton of the University of Reading (UK) in Infinity Journal.  His thesis:  Even if we can succeed in Afghanistan, why should we?  Is is worth it?  Probably not.

One of the most insightful, straightforward articles I’ve come across.

The Futile Decade: The US Failure in Afghanistan and Its Lessons

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Five Monkeys and Fixing the Army

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment

A writer going by the name of “Petronius Arbiter” recently posted a series of articles entitled How to fix the Army in 66 easy steps on Tom Ricks’ blog.  Although there’s been much discussion on the blog about many of his recommendations, I feel a few deserve some additional attention.

It’s probably best to being by asking “What is the problem?”  Not that I don’t think the Army has problems that need fixing (as it certainly does), however, the Petronius never defines what problem he is trying to fix.  The closest he comes is when he leads off his series with “A few small things, some annoyances, and some big fixes that could make a good Army better:”

Really?  Better at what?

He follows with his 66 steps, not all of which makes Ricks’ blog.  Some are ok; most are the kind of pointless drivel that essentially boil down to “Let’s go back to the way we used to do it.”  The “way we used to do it” is sacrosanct in the Army.  If it was done at some point in the past it must be good – nevermind that WHY it was done in the past is rarely known.

Among the more stupid:

  • “Since 75th Ranger Regiment is not an Infantry Regiment do not allow Infantry personnel in that organization to declare 75th Infantry as a regimental affiliation.”  Oooooooh.  Now there’s a HUGE problem.  (WTF, over?!)
  • “Re-instill drill and ceremonies so that units can at least have confidence in unit abilities to conduct a pass in review at ceremonies. Oh, and when supervised properly, it is a tremendous discipline builder and junior NCO developer, but most officers don’t know that.”  Really?  With all the time pressures on Army units, to suggest that they should waste time marching around and doing facing movements is, quite frankly, idiotic.  Soldiers are still going to war every 12-15 months.  They need to be training on mission-oriented tasks, not wandering around a parade field.
  • “Restore unit designations that make sense and are understandable. We know what an artillery unit is and does. We don’t understand what a Fires unit is and does.”  Go a mouse in your pocket?  Speak for yourself, bub.  “We” understand what a Fires unit does just fine, thanks.  Perhaps you meant YOU don’t understand.  Here’s a suggestion – pick up an FM and read a bit.
  • “Bring back the bayonet.”  Wow.  Between that and Drill/Ceremonies we could be just like the British in WWI.

Bottom line:  Let’s just go back to the way we used to do it.

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Bin Laden’s Legacy

May 4, 2011 Leave a comment

So, Osama bin Laden was, by any measure, a murderous son of a bitch who got exactly what was coming to him.  Although the thought of incinerating him with a missile strike is attractive in a eye-for-and-eye kind of way, the thought of him cowering in the dark as vengeance in the form of Navy SEALs methodically hunted him room by room is oddly satisfying.  I enjoy knowing that the last moments of his pitiful life were filled with fear.

So it is done.  Now what?

Aside from the strategic implications, to which I may devote a future entry, there has been some discussion on bin Laden’s legacy.  Specifically, does he take his place among the most influential strategists/theorists of history?  Did he invent/perfect/introduce a “Jihadist” way of war? Read more…

Be Careful What You Wish For: The Perils of Multilateralism

March 29, 2011 Leave a comment

The President has taken his lumps from both the left and the right on the Libya intervention.  The right accuses him of not doing enough, or alternatively, of not articulating a clear mission and end state for our military actions in Libya.  Of course, this is par for the course – the right is opposed to Obama’s actions simply because they are Obama’s actions – itself a commentary on the madness of our political dynamics.  The best example of the madness on the right has to be Newt Gingrich’s flip-flop – he was for the Libya no fly zone before he was against it… Read more…

Do You Like Leftovers?: Army Officer Attrition

March 24, 2011 1 comment


The debate over officer attrition, particularly in the US Army, continues.  An article by Tim Kane recently appeared in The Atlantic which made the case that the Army, and to a lesser extent perhaps the rest of the military, was hemorrhaging its best officers due to a lumbering, industrial age promotion system.

Kane’s article has now been rebutted by four senior officers currently serving as fellows at the Atlantic Council.  It’s become quite the subject of debate on Tom Ricks’ blog, and Starbuck has an entry at Wings Over Iraq as well.  I originally posted my thoughts on Ricks’ site, and below is the text”

It’s interesting to consider exactly what dog these officers have in this hunt.

Read more…

How Does Libya End?

March 21, 2011 3 comments


“The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish . . . the kind of war on which they are embarking.”

Carl von Clausewitz, On War

Upon which kind of war are we embarking in Libya?  Have we answered Clausewitz’s question?  The answer would appear to be a resounding no.

Read more…