Orientation and Action, Part I: The OODA Loop

Our OODA loop helps us know where warfare is headed. Modern warfare is usually divided into the four generations of 1st Generation Warfare (1GW), 2nd Generation Warfare (2GW), 3rd Generation Warfare (3GW), and 4th Generation Warfare (4GW).

Modern War in the Context of the OODA Loop
  • 1GW
    • example: Napoleonic War
    • characteristic: mass armies
    • method of fighting: man-to-man
  • 2GW
    • example: First World War
    • characteristic: mass armies
    • method of fighting: fixed-artillery-to-men
  • 3GW
    • example: Second World War
    • characteristic: blitzkrieg, fast transitions from one maneuver to the next
    • method of fighting: tanks/bombers-to-cities/armies
  • 4GW
    • example: Vietnam War
    • characteristic: dispiriting the enemy
    • method of fighting: propagandists-to-populations

In a recent post where he tries to look ahead to what the 5th Generation of Warfare (5GW) would be, Mark Safranski writes

A strong possibility exists that given successive generations of warfare tend to drive ” deeper” into enemy territory, that 5GW will mean systemic liquidation of enemy networks and their sympathizers, essentially a total war on a society or subsection of a society. There is no where ” deeper” for 5GW to go but here. At the high tech end 5GW would be precisely targeted to winnow out ” the bad guys” in a souped-up version of Operation Phoenix but at the low-tech end we could see campaigns that would be indiscriminate, democidally-oriented death squad campaigns that shred 4GW networks by the same actuarially merciless logic that led the Allies to firebomb German and Japanese cities in WWII.

War is going deeper, but by that I do not mean “farther into enemy territory.” Certainly you can’t get any deeper than obliteration of Dresden or Hiroshima! For that matter, centuries ago Catholic terrorists tried to destroy the British Parliament, which was the deepest heart of the British government!

War is going deeper into enemy minds. Every generation of warfare aims for deeper in the enemy’s OODA loop

1GWs, like the Napoleon Wars, were extremely fluid. Armies could march whenever men’s feet could carry them. Information was relatively symmetrical — precise locations of either army were unavailable to any commander, while general knowledge of the land was known to all commanders. (Napoleonic “disinformation” was trivial compared to what was later devised.) Another feature of the Napoleon Wars was the army’s need to live off the land. 1GW was defined by conflict centered around an enemy’s ability to decide and act.

Aim Destroy enemy army


2GWs, like the First World War, were sticky. Armies took marched, drove, or took trains to the front line — where they stopped. In 2nd Generation War, action is easy: charge. You know exactly where you are, exactly where the enemy is, and exactly where you are going to die (in the razorwire and minefield, hit by enemy crossfire). Thanks to telegraphs and modern communications, commanders are flooded with a tsunami of almost meaningless facts. Thinking now centers around where and when it makes sense to try to break through, as well as the how to move to advance evenly. This means that the heart of conflict “moves deeper” into the OODA loop. Another way to think of it is like a rainbow or spectrum, where the heart of conflict is “redshifting” away from acting. 2GW was defined by conflict centered around an enemy’s ability to orient and decide.

Offensives conducted on wide frontages—emphasizing few, rather than many, harmonious yet independent thrusts.

Evenness of advance maintained to protect flanks and provide artillery support as advance makes headway.


3GWs, like the trenches for most of the Second World War or the Lawrence of Arabia campaign in the First World War, were fluid again. But conflict kept burrowing deeper into the OODA loop and redshifting further away from action. Victory in 3rd Generation Wars required the ability to instill madness — to mess with the enemy’s minds. The purpose of 3rd Generation Warfare is to paralyze the enemy with doubt. We move even deeper into the OODA loop, to the red end of the rainbow. 3GW is defined by conflict centered around an enemy’s ability to orient.

Taken together, the captured attention, the obscured view, and the indistinct character of moving dispersed/irregular swarms deny adversary the opportunity to pictures what is taking place.


Gain support of population. Must “arrange the minds” of friend, foe and neutral alike. Must “get inside their minds”.


If older generations of war were like fluids, 4GW was like a gas. It spreads everywhere yet regular armies have a hard time even finding battles. Like 3rd Generation Wars, 4th Generation Wars focus on the picture inside the enemy’s head. But while 3GW tries to destroy the picture, 4GW builds a new one. This picture is built in that part of the OODA loop where people “wait and see,” the double-headed arrow between Observe and Orient. While 3GW tries to paralyze the enemy with doubt, 4GW tries to deny him even that much — 4GW drains the will of the enemy so he “waits and sees,” robbing him of his ability to want to do anything. In practice, this means 4GW tries to destroy an enemy’s civil society, turning his population into mindless cowards. To achieve this, 4GW is defined by conflict centered around Observe and Orient.

John Boyd’s words on the tactics of “moral warfare,” an important part of 4GW:

Create, exploit, and magnify … uncertainty

Impressions, or atmosphere, generated by events that appear ambiguous, erratic, contradictory, unfamiliar, chaotic, etc.


Surface, fear, anxiety, and alienation in order to generate many non-cooperative centers of gravity, as well as subvert those that adversary depends upon, thereby magnify internal friction.


So if these patterns hold, what will 5GW look like?

Visually, like this

The 4th Generation of War redshifts deeper into the OODA loop. It slides into the “Observation” realm. If traditional war centered on an enemy’s physical strength, and 4GW on his moral strength, the 5th Generation of War would focus on his intellectual strength. A 5th Generation War might be fought with one side not knowing who it is fighting. Or even, a brilliantly executed 5GW might involve one side being completely ignorant that there ever was a war. It’s like the old question of what was the perfect robbery: we will never know, because in a perfect robbery the bank would not know that it was robbed.

In his post, Mark Safranski noted that 4GW was around for decades its nature was recognized.

William Lind, one of the fathers of 4GW theory has welcomed yet cautioned against attempts to ascertain with too much precision any outlines of a 5th Generation Warfare that might be evolving within the dynamic of 4GW conflicts we see in Iraq, Afghanistan and in transnational terrorism. Yet according to theorists and practitioners of 4GW like Colonel Hammes, that form of warfare, although just now coming in to its own has already been present for some seventy years ! Undoubtedly then 5GW is also here with us, waiting for the next Mao or Rommel to fit the disparate puzzle pieces into a coherent pattern.

This means that, in their pragmatic attempts to solve problems, both al Qaeda and the United States might be using aspects of 5GW right now. Where will historians of the future look to see aspects of a secret war? Of a war centered on ignorance?

The 9/11 Commission

Al Qaeda’s new brand of terrorism presented challenges to U. S. governmental institutions that they were not well-designed to meet. Though top officials all told us that they understood the danger, we believe there was uncertainty among them as to whether this was just a new and especially venomous version of the ordinary terrorist threat the United States had lived with for decades, or it was indeed radically new, posing a threat beyond any yet experienced. As late as September 4, 2001, Richard Clarke, the White House staffer long responsible for counterterrorism policy coordination, asserted that the govern-ment had not yet made up its mind how to answer the question: “Is al Qida a big deal?”

A week later came the answer. Policy Terrorism was not the overriding national security concern for the U. S. government under either the Clinton or the pre-9/ 11 Bush administration.

The policy challenges were linked to this failure of imagination

President Bush:

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

Orientation and Action, a tdaxp series
1. The OODA Loop
2. The OODA-PISRR Loop

47 thoughts on “Orientation and Action, Part I: The OODA Loop”

  1. Dan,

    My congratulations for carrying the ball further down the field !

    Some comments:

    * Zeroing 5GW in on the Observe step of OODA was excellent. I vaguely alluded to ” shaping the battlespace” and while I meant controlling the Rule-sets, altering physical-systems and space, preemptively changing cultural trend lines you have clarified things into a proper Boydian framework.

    * IDing secrecy of success and an unaware opponent as a component of 5GW was exceptionally insightful contribution by you. It is also a point in complete harmony with Sun Tzu and John Boyd

    * Ditto on ” Intellectual stength” which is a natural evolution from collective political will targeted by 4GW

    * It occurs to me after reading your post that while 4GW conflicts may span decades, 5GW conflicts could start with the longest longitudinal planning vision but a relatively short period of execution in the field. This would most likely depend on whether the attacker or the defender is the party to have initiated 5GW

    I'll have to add some more thoughts on the blog later tonight. Great work !

  2. Wow! This is good stuff Dan.

    I just read the ZenPundit piece and was blown away and left a comment there and then came over here and was blown away again.

    “A 5th Generation War might be fought with one side not knowing who it is fighting. Or even, a brilliantly executed 5GW might involve one side completely ingorant that there ever was a war.”

    First thought: The Long March Through the Institutions.
    The success of the left in promoting their ideas where the people who adopt them actually and honestly deny that they are socialists. This is especially focused at the US which is the only real threat to the spread of socialism. The threat here is not Islamic fundamentalism, they have no chance of converting the American people. The threat is our old friend socialism, which has been working hard to undermine our entrepreneurial, individualist culture.

  3. This was an awesome post. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it. The part about a side not knowing who the enemy is or not even knowing a war occurred with an exceptionally executed 5GW strategy really got me. I wonder if this could apply to the terrorists' strategy of playing the victim even as they murder civilians, an obfuscation on a mass societal scale. After all, most of Europe (and much of America) still doesn't get that we are in a death throes struggle with radical Islam and think that we are some how to blame for their antagonism, though they may be finally coming around after 7/7. Could this be a primitive version of 5GW or is that still more akin to 4GW? I think Mark has a point when he discussed 5GW centering on going deeper into enemy terrority because I remember reading a paper by a Chinese theorist who talked about future warfare involving the entirety of the society. An enemy would seek to disrupt the social, financial, and even ecological balances of a nation using weapons powerful enough to cause earthquakes or droughts or flooding, among other things. I saw Colonel Hammes on C-SPAN presenting his book and he said that we might have seen the beginnings of 5GW with the anthrax attacks following 9/11. As he put it, if your an Animal Activist group who believes that the world has too many people, then genetically modified small pox can you help you out in this regard.

  4. While you no doubt mean well… you really don't get it. Honest.

    Maneuver warfare theory is not as complex as you make it out to be. And there is nothing new here. It is based on principles thousands of years old. Boyd constructed this doctrine from research on military history:

    And see here for a collection of rules for fighting adversaries, that take these principals and give them more practical application:

  5. So it would seem the main “actors” in 5GW would be intel agencies, who specialize in manufacturing impressions, in perpetuating lies and false reality-frameworks to affect the enemy's decision-making stream at its source.

    Nothing new to certain of our clandestine agencies, but what's a bit frightening is that, as these webs of deceit begin to constitute more and more of our apparent, perceived reality, even among the citizens upon whose behalf said agencies are supposed to be working, the only people in possession of the “real truth” will be the people spinning the webs. Making choices based on solid information will be the privilege of a tiny minority.

    I suppose this is nothing new, but given that 5gw is now blueprinted, codified and given symbolic structure in the minds of its practitioners, is it not reasonable to assume this state of affairs, this Wizard of Oz scenario, will only intensify?

  6. CS:

    I think you're wrong on this one.

    I think we are only beginning to understand maneuver warfare at all. It's only been codified as a theory in the last century. Before that, it existed as isolated bits of knowledge: mangudai warfare, metsubushi, et cetera.

    We are understanding the nature of networks and command hierarchies better now because connectivity options exist that simply weren't there even ten years ago.

    Saying that there's nothing new is like saying the same thing in 1905. We are seeing the emergence of technologies now that will not come to fruition for years. These technologies will carry their own vulnerabilities and countermeasures. They will require support and logistics systems that will expose weaknesses that did not previously exist.

    Excellent article on your site about principles of conflict, by the way. I bookmarked it. I think it's a great encapsulation of a great many things, down to the level of hand to hand combat.

    But I do think you should take a new look at “the long RMA.”

  7. Its been my impression that a “5GW” 'war for the hearts and minds' is indistunguishable from a propaganda campaign, which has been around since the beginning of religion.

  8. All,

    Thank you very much for your insightful and valuable comments. I apologize for not responding earlier.

    Mark, genius, as always.

    Phil, groups that have long records of deception may have an advantage at 5GW. A very good example of well self-documented deception and manipulation comes from Marxists subverting British labor unions and political parties (“Marxist Tendency,” etc.). These guys were smart.

    Gregory, you are correct that Chinese warfare has focused on the entirety of society since Mao. “Political mobilization” is even one of the principals of war in the People's Liberation Army! The fear of non-Islamist groups “hijacking” terrorism, pinning the blame on al Qaeda while persuing their own ends, is a real one.

    cs, I do not understand your criticism. In your last link, the legal tactics you present should be hedged. Anti-social behavior is punished in any stable society. Most lawyers operate in relatively tight social circles, and so an adoption of Boydian or Machiavellian tactics will backfire. Sometimes, honesty (more or less) is the best policy.

    MBTC, 5GW does create a threat to democracy. After all, in the Second World War the American people at least had a rough idea of how the war was going. Then again, perhaps the secrecy of 5GW is merely the “price” for living in a much more individualized world. Certainly there was no blogosphere checking the mainstream-media during Roosevelt's reign!

    Adam, you are not the only one to wonder if 5GW is “whatever + deceipt.” The major difference is that the “camoflauge” in 5GW is “grand strategic” — the existence of the fighter is concealed. This is new. Second, I'm unclear on your religion barn — do you mean since “time immemorial”?

    I hope I have addressed most the concerns raised here in “Dreaming 5th Generation War,” which is a continuation of the thoughts in this post


  9. I just read this post and began to think of how the world is fighting a 5GW with regards to Satan and sin in the world. Do we even realize that our minds are being changed without our conscience mind becoming aware of the warfare with only our subconscience being fully engaged? Look at how our family has become basically destroyed through the need to gain material things. Several generations before seemed to function well but were not influenced with the saturation of information. It is not until you take a look back that you see the effects of the unconscience attacks that have taken place.

  10. Herb,

    If you haven't, you should read “That Hideous Strength” by C.S. Lewis. [1] The struggle described is very similar to a 5GW (though I hadn't read the book at the time). While “That Hideous Strength” is technically the third in a trilogy, it stands alone and no character from the first two books even appears until halfway into the plot. I've read about 10 Lewis books, and in my opinion “That Hideous Strength” is the best of them.

    If you do read it, don't read any story summaries. It's about spiritual warfare, as all of 4GW and 5GW is.I was fortunate to come into it blind, and that made it tremendous fun.

    I wonder if we could answer your question in a factual way — or at least the question if whether the societal transformations from 1890 to 1970 bare the hallmarks of a 5GW operation. Much of the changes from that period are attributed to the “Eastern Establishment.” However, presumable one could determine how the various important actors were connected to each other, and see if in fact we saw a very small ideological movement that merely leveraged the Establishment's reflexive progressivism for its own ends.

    [1] http://www.amazon.com/That-Hideous-Strength-Scribner-Classics/dp/0684833670
    [2] http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2006/04/foreign-policy-and-american-elite-part.html

  11. Always seen as oversimplification, my opinion, we all know what's said about opinions. Born with the known, right/wrong, black/white. Take this slice, the Middle East, too much Sun not enough Water? No. Portal to Hell. The Israeli's desperately trying to keep the ajar cover from becoming completely dislodged. Too simple? Depends who you are, depth of your soul. e-communication, tool of Satan? Of course. Do you shun it? No, you fight back. You're not referring to this generation of warfare as Fifth because you want out of the fight, are you? Look to the future, all strategy and counter attack lies there. Or you could borrow Dr. Barnett's Time Machine.

    Gotta run, hearts and minds to be opened, changed, moved forward.

  12. Whew! Lowering the script blocker at every “click” is like work. Short addendum to yesterdays comment. You roll out, the battle between GOOD and evil is enjoined. Care to identify the anti-CHRIST, anti-GOD? Simply look in the mirror.

  13. “You're not referring to this generation of warfare as Fifth because you want out of the fight, are you?”

    It is referred to as the “fifth generation” or 5GW as the next generation in Lind's “Generations of War” framework. Lind et al covered 1GW to 4GW.

    This post of TDAXP is a major (and early) post thinking about what logically comes next in Lind's framework – a 5GW.

  14. “It's about spiritual warfare, as all of 4GW and 5GW is.”

    HA! Incidentally, a little stream-of-consciousness what-ifism has me wondering if pre-4GW styles of warfare were kind of an internal spiritual warfare whereas 4GW and 5GW turn the spiritual war outward upon foes… Well, to the degree that these generations can be understood through the lens of the OODA [1], and the OODA can be said to play a very real role in 'spiritual' matters (almost by definition…), then understanding the role of spiritual conflict(s) in each generation of warfare might be no dead-end endeavor!

    I once postulated a 5GW maneuver by the Founding Fathers of America: By instituting the U.S. Constitution, they were making war on the type of social structures (and other things) prescribed by the Bible, although most early traditionalist American Christians would not have realized this fact until — too late! [2] But who knows if they did so consciously or accidentally?

    Then again, given Jesus' words [3], perhaps breaking apart the family was always a Christian goal, lost these 2000 or so years…

    But in general, I think that getting a lot of people to try defeating an imaginary foe could be a 5GW maneuver itself. Getting them to believe that foe exists, and to focus their attentions on him as they make combat, would give the 5GW organization a lot of room to hide amongst the many real things that exist.

    [1] http://www.fifthgeneration.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2006/10/observing_the_maturing_world.php



  15. Hmmm, the bringing of the sword, to divide. Accidental/inadvertent/unintended consequence of interpretation as in “living” Constitution. Looked at past redistricting(gerrymandering) after the mid term. Found a few examples of corrections not made(when in power) that cost politicians. Redistricting in the '70s to protect a parties seat, left unattended, manufactured/generated votes causing turn over in the next century. Sort of a micro on the Founders “postulate” you made? Will make time to at least read down the middle of the page on your links Curtis – Thanks.

    Purple Slog: “Typing”(articulating) is not a strong point of mine. The art of injecting and making clear the inflection of thought or speech eludes me. Critical to this commenting in the ether I know. Dumb-asses like me should probably refrain from commenting although it does bring out the best in you Bloggers who want to hear from the “folks”. Put more declarative less interrogative to those typed words. Do appreciate the guidance – Thanks.

    “Honey, where did we park the Time Machine?” Yikes!

  16. When I read your invitation my thoughts went to New Years Day. On the telephone admonishing a dear friend for not testing this 5GW water. Multitasking, cut the top of my foot on the sharp edge of a very inexpensive, put together yourself, piece of furniture, strategically placed by my Wife. Bled like I take too many aspirin. Swelled, both the cut and my foot beyond belief. My thought, “What in the world did those Chinese treat this with?” Natural progression of assigning blame, “That Dr. Thomas PM Barnett, classic liberal in the mold of the Founders, militaristic, globalizer, DFI theorist, Gap Closer, all of his resilient pals at Enterra, who could forget the “War College”! I'm going to miss two, possibly three rounds of golf, this week, in the Greater NE(Where a round in January is cherished)! And it's all his fault. Uh, um hold on, I'm a classic liberal ………………”

    I swear I will comment in a more direct, relevant fashion. At the moment I am overwhelmed by your graciousness and when I'm overwhelmed, my responses are usually inappropriate attempts at humor. Pointed humor. You are absolutely correct, more reading is in order. Fascinated by the overlay and creation of language, applications of strategic thinking, like that.

  17. Purpleslog & Curtis,

    Thanks for stopping by! I'm enjoying the parallel thread over at Dreaming 5GW [1]


    In my (not at all humble) opinion, the central post in 5GW theory is “Dreaming 5th General Warfare.” [2] You might want to check that out and give your comments over there, as it will help you understand the concepts under review.

    [1] http://www.fifthgeneration.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2007/01/5gw_and_the_struggle_against_e.php
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/20/dreaming-5th-generation-war.html

  18. Sorry for not posting sooner but some of the comments that were made concerning not fighting this war are not valid. If you look at how sophisticated the enemy has gotten, the highest level is already engaged, The use of the internet to hide information (or share) based on your view point is another example of our current battle. I agree with President Bush that this war is about good versus evil. As a retired Infantry officer, I think the general public is unaware of the level of unconscience talent that has been created/used by the enemy to glean information and to adjust the minds of the majority. We are fully involved /engaged and need to end the threat. I would prefer to eliminate them but that is not “politically correct ” to say. The US will be attacked again some day and then everyone will look surprised once again. Gee, how could that happen?

  19. I believe that this is a spiritual warfare that is playing out in the world today as President Bush so boldly stated. Our basic truths and values are being questioned daily based on the influx of information being shared. That raises the question between the differences between knowing and believing. Knowing something is knowledge that was generated first hand whereas believing is knowledge that has been acquired through reliable sources. For example, if I see a fire and put my in it, I will burn myself. If I see a house burning in the distance, I believe that I will get burnt if I get real close to it. Why? Because I have felt fire and seeing fire sparks that vivid pain in my mind that occurred once before. Notice that it is triggered in the mind? If my mind can visualize it then my body will act on it. If the enemy can affect changes in the way that we think or to accept truths without questioning them then they will be able to conquer us without firing a shot. Sun Tzu had made a few comments years ago that support that concept.

    To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
    “To capture the enemy's entire army is better than to destroy it; to take intact a regiment, a company, or a squad is better than to destroy them. For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the supreme of excellence. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence.”
    – Sun Tzu quotes

    Where do we get our knowledge today? Very few of us actually know something as most of our knowledge is based on the reliability of some media source. How does the bias of the reporters change the way we see events? Do we look at the information and question the validity of it or do we look at several pieces of information and do a quick check to see if it seems accurate and then accept that as the gospel. How many pieces of facts are there in a newspaper article and how much of the article is just their interpretation of the facts? If the spiritual warfare changes the way we think (refocus the mind), then we react to the thoughts and then shift the way we view the truths. The enemy realizes that they can conquer us by changing the way we view issues – even if their position is inaccurate. Most individuals take the path of least resistance and as long as agreement keeps them from working then so be it. Many seem to vote without understanding issues and vote for the lesser of two evils or the one that creates the least amount of work on them. The enemy is changing the way we understand by showing only those images that paint the mind picture conducive to their point of view. We blindly accept without questioning and begin to believe their point of view as accurate. I have seen pictures from Iraq where we have done great things to improve the quality of life yet the only pictures that are shown are those that paint the negative – killing of so called innocent people. Were they really innocent? Sorry if it seemed like I ramble but I could write more.

  20. I find this rather ethereal conversation very interesting, and it's great food for thought, but as a current Active Army officer, studying at CGSC, I woul like to hear more about what the Western response should/might be. I think we all accept that there is a thinking enemy constrained only by distance, resources, etc., but as someone who will shortly be advising a commander on how to respond to this thinking enemy, probably on the field of battle, concrete ideas would also be useful. I am currently analyzing T.X. Hammes for some great insight into 4GW, with his belief that 5GW may reach further behind “enemy” lines. From a tactical perspective, are we just maintaining our finger in the proverbial dike of defeat as we regroup for 5GW, or is there a way to push back. I believe that we are failing to engage much of the Clausewitzian Trinity to maintain support, but it may be too late for this current conflict. Thoughts? I am new to this conversation, but it is very interesting.

  21. Ron,
    Don’t lose sight of the creativity of the enemy. The use of cells to generate targets, to glean insights on the targets, and to fund the overall operation is just as clever as the use of computer and embedded information on their web pages to share information These individuals within the cells gain support of the innocent and sometimes can alter the viewpoints of them. Look at how the liberals have become so comfortable with the Muslim religion that they do not question the basic beliefs associated with them. I look at those small groups that perpetuate the killing of innocent people since they have been classified as infidels. Is that what the Muslins actually are seeking? Those who are under the spirit of Satin twist the truth to a point where it begins to sound somewhat logical to those that are without the truth. Most American really doesn’t know what they believe so any logical thought process that conforms to a (most likely) distorted religion that they received as a child will fit that “path of least resistance” model that I had mentioned before.

    How do we win this battle? It will take more than just holding, or securing areas. The various backgrounds and the generations of mistrust and killings within these various groups need to be addressed. We are trying to resolve generations of fighting and thinking using our thought process. That will never work! They need to be ruled with a heavy hand and then slowly change their culture over many years of work. Change needs to be slow since this need for change will be a cultural shift. The desensitizing that I mentioned works both ways. The enemy is working on changing our viewpoint and we need to use the same tactic to change their culture in order to win this war. What would a win look like? I don’t think there is any diplomat that could describe that finished product so how do you create the formula for success? Even if they could see it as a phased operation, they would at least have a chance. Oh well, probably not what you were looking for as an answer to your response but….

  22. I will turn back to T.E. Lawrence, who said

    “Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them. Actually, also, under the very odd conditions of Arabia, your practical work will not be as good as, perhaps, you think it is.”

    We need to be very wary of falling into the Western mindset that “we” can change any sort of mindset in the Arab culture. Mao wrote the principles of insurgency, and every successful insurgency has used them to their advantage in some form or fashion. We can win militarily over and over again, and never “lose” a battle, but in the end, to quote GEN Giap, that is irrelevant. You correctly state that change will take years, however time, sadly, favors the insurgency. I have been studying the Russian countinsurgency in Afganistan; it is truly amazing to see how they made the same classic mistakes (and assumptions) that we have made in Iraq – and yes, Afghanistan – that somehow there is a military solution. In fact, the Russian occupation of Afghanistan was much more brutal and unforgiving than we have been in Iraq.

    What I alluded to with my T.E. quote is that the heavy hand that should rule Iraq is not ours, and that change will come from within – with our overt/covert support.

    The day that we announced that we were going to war with Iraq, I was afraid that it would become our Afghanistan. Too many people credit Reagan's fiscal policies with bringing down the USSR, but in part it was the war in Afghanistan. I worry about our own country overextending itself.

  23. herb,

    “They need to be ruled with a heavy hand and then slowly change their culture over many years of work.”

    Actually, this would work, to some degree — if it were possible. But it isn't, at least not for America and probably not for anyone. (China? Naw, there'd still be international condemnation for the 'heavy hand.')


    “The enemy is working on changing our viewpoint and we need to use the same tactic to change their culture in order to win this war.”

    True, but not with a heavy hand. There is some evidence that the Muslim-on-Muslim violence in Iraq is changing perceptions in the ME about the use of terrorism for achieving goals. [1] At present, this sort of dynamic is largely undirected, an 'accident'.


    The quote from Lawrence is interesting. In fact, the idea can be used to better understand the 'hands in the field' dynamic of 5GW: Get others to do the work altering the perceptions in the necessary ways. Given the present situation globally, much of that work will not be 'clean' or without violence occurring somewhere. Too bad, but there it is.

    [1] http://www.fifthgeneration.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2007/02/tying_loose_ends.php

  24. what a marvelous “blog” site this is, i feel honoured to have stumbled across it. my what a curious collection of comments. i am currently reading all the posts, references, comments and subsequent follow-ups before I put my 2¢ into this “discussion”. I am presuming that the 4GW is partially in reference to the missives at d-n-i.net and as well as other lethal books and blogs of equal question … for now, my thoughts centre around, “take all your overgrown infants away somewhere” … [The Fletcher Memorial Home, Pink Floyd]
    and “[the] five criteria to compare and contrast the relative strength of both sides, one can usually assess the real situation and predict the consequence. The first is called Dao, the second is climate, the third is terrain, the fourth is leadership and the fifth is institutional structure. – Sun Zi [ Sun Tzu ]” in particular the Dao. i may take a few days more being the consummate editor that i am. but, “wow!” – wasps on the hot seat once again! awesome!

  25. I never stated that we would be the ones using the heavy hand approach in Iraq. Wouldn't it be great if we were just supporting that faction utilizing that approach? What support would be required from the US and what psycholocial effect would that have on the majority of Americans if we did? We are our own worst enemies. Most Americans have no foritude, drive, guts, stick-to-it mentality or preservence at all. They have become overweight in stature and in the mind; nothing seems to stimulate them that requires work or eneregy on their part. Such a shame – we are being lead by a bunch of egotistical maniacs that have no term limits and who have no desire to stand up for what they honestly believe, They tend to use the Clinton method of testing the winds for a decision. Even the college that I work at has no intestinal fortude when it comes to making decisions. Everything is done by committe and majority rule. Weak folks and the youth are being trained by the same weak individuals. Thank God that there is a military that allows some to develop and lead. This slient majority is our only hope as the elected leaders seem to be only out for themselves.

  26. No, I am not advocating a coup.

    Hmmm, you still need leadership at all levels to make that work or at least many to support that so-called heavy hand approach. No, just frustrated with the way our system tends to operate. Not exactly as our forefather had intented. They (our forefathers) realized that God was our driving force and now….not even allowed to make mention of the one who clearly inspired our nation. Once we lose that …we are doomed. That spiritual warfare will have won. Can't you see that ?

  27. @ daniel
    Re: the german language presentation of the above material.
    It is a 100% translation and seems to find quite some interested readers..
    thanx a lot !!

  28. As you can probably tell, I am a republican. Does it appear that the democratic party is working against the US for which they are suppose to be representing? Again, it goes back to the mind games, shifting of thoughts to another focus without actually questioning. Look at how quickly they jump on General Pace for making so-called politically incorrect comments concerning gays. There is nothing wrong with his statement – being gay is no different in the bigger scheme than adultry is towards changing the discipline and makeup of the personnel in the military. Why should we lower our standards just so that we don't offend? How can we fight a war if we are afraid that we might offend? Where is the unity that is required in order to win? Until we get a better hold on ourselves politically, we will never be able to realistically fight the appropriate battles in defense of our country.

    Sorry, just irritated with our slow decline in values. Which generation of warfare is this?


  29. The mind reels. The anthropic principle of Christianity and the idea that we are fighting a defensive war both chafe, but I would like to make special point of the first sentence. If the Democratic Party isn't beholden to the United States, who exactly are they working for? I half-expect to get a Jewish conspiracy response from this retired infantryman.

  30. “If the Democratic Party isn't beholden to the United States, who exactly are they working for? “

    Their ideals, perhaps? Some view of social justice and peace?

    Not every unpatriotic — or better, apatriotic — movement is a shadowy, Jewish cabal.

  31. “Not every unpatriotic — or better, apatriotic — movement is a shadowy, Jewish cabal.”

    I would would further suggest that maybe none of them are.

    But if I was part of a small 5GW movement, I might sure want people to see conspiracies everywhere. It is easier to hide a 5GW signal in a wall of noise.

  32. I'm afraid I don't find patriotism some quality to aspire to. It's racism minus the pigmentary convenience. If anything, I'd say the Democratic Party is currently beholden to their electorate, who inarguably saw this election as a referendum on the war. I guess I'm curious why Herb and his type think what the Democrats are trying to do (the will of the people) is counter-intuitive to our country's goals. If terrorism had stopped on the eve Iraq fell, I'd have to eat my words. Alas, it has not.

  33. Eh, this started to go down hill when religion got injected(not that it wasn't interesting, but it is a polarizing element). Like parties there are three things that shouldn't get injected here: money, politics, and religion.

    On the bit of patriotism. This may be reduction to absurdity, but then what classification isn't racism sans the pigmentation? Wouldn't a constituency then amount to the same thing? It is self selecting, but so is the US(nobody has to be a citizen who doesn't want to). So serving someone's goals, whatever group, becomes some form of hatred then?

    Mostly I see this as sloppy thinking that's trying to say something without saying it. Let's not define words down to duck the hullaballo their use would cause. Don't start making patriotism take the place of the word jingoism just to duck someone daring you to prove it or yelling at you dor calling them that. Neither pride nor sense of duty to one's nation is wrong. Jingoism is. There was a difference between your avg. Wehrmacht joker and an SS trooper. One stood on the line to serve his country. The other sought to make what his country was about the norm for everyone. It's a difference of degree but one is acceptable and the other is not.

    On republicans vs. democrats. One can be utterly wrong while operating with the greatest of intentions. Real harm can be done. Being wrong can do damage. America First comes to mind. Lindberg. Man was definitely a patriot—went out of his way to find a way to fight for his country and help his countrymen—but his preferences weren't for the best of the country or the world when it came to wanting to sit WW2 out.
    I'm a conservative. I think 70% of the democrats and leftists are simply wrong. THe remaining 30% run the gamut from wrong to self-hating. But most of the left is simply wanting to go in a direction I believe is wrong. Hyper-partisanship needs to be put down. You can say you think someone is 100% flat out wrong without making moral questions of someone's character.

    So I don't think Aaron is out of line here. Someone called those he, I assume, self identifies with and mounted a defense—possibly going further than he wished in returning fire. I just think the man is wrong. 😉

    Feel free to smack me upside the head (particularly Aaron). 😉

  34. Aaron,

    Thank you for the excellent comment. I upgraded it to a full post [1], and it's already getting a lot of response (like most of what you write does). Thanks for your contribution over at the Open Thread [2], too.


    And excellent contribution from you, as well. I'm looking forward to how he'll respond!

    And thanks for the link over at Castle Argghhh! [3]

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/03/14/comment-upgrade-patriotism-and-the-iraq-war.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/03/12/open-thread-iv.html#c1494272
    [3] http://www.thedonovan.com/archives/2007/03/hi_fires_14_mar.html

  35. Ry,

    “Neither pride nor sense of duty to one's nation is wrong. Jingoism is.”

    Half-agreed. The idea that one ought to be proud of his country I think is not a good definition of patriotism. I think wanting to progress, however, is. If I were to say “this war is B.S. we're neglecting real terrorists, real threats, real issues” I'm saying our current course of action is wrong. I'd probably be labeled soft or even a terrorist sympathizer by Msrs. Savage and O'Reilly. But blind devotion to your football club even when they get caught smashing up the hotel is ridiculous. I was very proud of my country up until Bush got elected by suggesting John McCain consorted with a woman who didn't share his skin color. Since then, I've been let down time and time again. Please see Dan's upgraded post for a better idea of what I sort of meant 🙂

  36. Ry,

    In addition, I'd really like to hear what put you in your camp. While I don't think the right is 100% wrong or really even 70% wrong, I didn't become a Democrat by chance or convenience. I come from a split family, half Sierra Club and half NRA. There are things my party does that drive me up a wall, so it'd be nice to hear the same (hopefully) from someone across the aisle.


  37. Aaron,

    “I was very proud of my country up until Bush got elected by suggesting John McCain consorted with a woman who didn't share his skin color.”

    It's interesting how an event that never happened, nor was ever reported, can cause such a profound change.

    Or does Bush supporter == Bush. If so, then i take it that you're willing to describe Kerry as having accused Bush of cocaine use, because some Kerry supporters did?

    Last: a reminder that this discussion continues both at the “comment upgrade” post [1] and over at Dreaming 5th Generation War [2].

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/03/14/comment-upgrade-patriotism-and-the-iraq-war.html
    [2] http://www.fifthgeneration.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2007/03/patriotism_and_stumblingblocks.php

  38. Aaron, why I became conservative isn’t an easy question to answer. I don’t think the reasoning for why anyone holds to a particular ideology is easy or simple. So, realize that this is rather general, simplified, and broad stroke on purpose. And it does seem like I’m defining it mostly as opposition. But that’s only because I’m hitting only the highlights. Like most people there’s actually a large number of reasons and mush of it because something is for something. But the road to finding conservatism started as being in opposition; and it’s the road you said you were most interested in, not what I found when I got there.

    1)1) Vietnam and Communism. I grew up in Orange County, CA—behind the Orange Curtain as some say. Lots of Vietnamese moved there, and continue to flee there from Vietnam. I spent a lot of my youth in homes listening to little old ladies in black aodai and smelling of hoc nam tell stories of how their oldest son or their brother or some relative was slaughtered by the forces of Ho Chi Minh, often times for wearing glasses or owning a book or simply refusing to give up food grown on the family estate. Yet most on the left, and quite a few democrats, think of the ending of US involvement in Vietnam as un-alloyed good. Something they pump their fist about. ‘We got Nixon and ended that damn war.’

    That tended to be true of people I knew who fled communist countries: their governments flat out abused them. But most democrats couldn’t bring themselves, despite all the evidence, to flat out denounce communism. Leftists on the other hand always made excuses for guys like Ceausescu and the Soviet Union, often singing praises to them.

    Seeing the damage they did, the intentional damage as opposed to the un-intended consequences, I couldn’t agree with them. I simply couldn’t. For communism to succeed it required some truly heinous acts to be intentionally done and these people couldn’t bring themselves to admit that such was required and often denied that they happened (Duranty and his Pulitzer for example, but the number of examples is legion).

    I understand that they didn’t want to fight a war or thought that more could be gained thru diplomacy, but that they couldn’t, not even for a moment, find serious fault with communism. And often sang the praises of guys like Ceausescu or Gorbachov who were party to things that made Abu Ghraib and Gitmo seem like Disneyland. The blatant wrongness and dishonesty on this issue kind of pushed me away from progressivism/American liberalism even though, like Dan, being Catholic made me open emotionally to some of what they espoused (help the poor, fair and just society, caring for fellow man).

    2) Defense.
    Like I said, I grew up in OC and more or less equidistant from El Toro MCAS, Seal Beach NWS, and NAS Tustin. My Aunt worked for the Navy Dept so I also wound up meeting a lot of service people. My family was desperately poor. Dad was an alcoholic who Mom threw out leaving us on welfare. I met those service people so often because while Aunt Betty was working at SBNWS sailors would often come by in junker cars and give us food or money(same for the local parish, I don’t think I’d have survived if it wasn’t for Monsignor Scanal), and once tickets to Disneyland on a day they closed the park to civilians because I’d never been. Liberals were always talking about how we paid too much for defense. Yet I saw how little the rank and file actually made. These people were often only a day ahead of us against the bank and collections agencies and they were bailing us out? Yeah, we were paying way too much on defense when it came to paying the individual Sailor, Soldier, Marine, and Airman all right.

    Because my Aunt worked for the Navy I also got to see things that most people didn’t on things like Meet the Press or other talking heads shows. I got actual data on Soviet/Warsaw Pact capabilities compared to our own. Not simple cannon counting. What I saw scared the hell out of me.

    And yet people were screaming that Reagan was crazy, we were spending too much on defense, and we had to get rid of nuclear arms (which, had we not had them, would’ve lead quite possibly to another major land war in Europe based on the disparity in numbers and capabilities—you kind of have to look at TN Dupuy’s QJMA to get what I’m talking about. Bare bones: the combination of capabilities of individual systems and numbers gave them a serious advantage.)

    We needed to upgrade and expand to maintain status quo. We needed even more than what Reagan was giving to give servicemen a decent wage. But because of 1 above, I assume, seeing the need made me a closet fascist and a warmonger in the eyes of much of the American political left. Because I didn’t embrace diplomacy as the One True Way(part of a way, but definitely not the sole route) to peace there was something definitely wrong about me, which they tried to diagnose by calling conservatism a mental disease a few years ago or simply called evil with the Port Huron Statement back with the rise of The New Left.

    An example: In ’02 I was in Oregon visiting the In-Laws. My BIL was in his senior year of hs and writing essays for college admissions. He chose to write about how we spent too much on defense and not enough on education. So I asked him what missions and commitments the military had. He had no idea. I pushed so he brought in my FIL. Who had no idea either, but since he was older insisted I should defer to his judgment on the issue. A man who doesn’t know anything about costs for the military and commitments and admits he could never vote for a republican for so much as dog-catcher and I am supposed to just take his word for it? Not likely.
    They had no idea of what ‘teeth to tail ratio’ meant. And now they’re pissed off about Walter Reed AMC and trying to shove that issue in my face along with most of my friends from my UC Davis days, even though I was telling them there were budget shortfalls back before we were at war in Afghanistan.

    Now there are democrats/liberals who do know. But there aren’t that many. Noah Schatman seems to be one over at Wired’s Danger Room. And most of them in my experience, but not all (as J over at ArmchairGeneralist and the august personage of TPM Barnett exemplify), are ones who work at reducing the military as much as possible because they want to force people to use diplomacy or because they abhor violence.
    3) I grew up in OC, behind the Orange Curtain as the jokers in SanFran would say. That means both more and less than people think. The idea that it was just this factory turning out Alex P. Keaton clones is patently untrue. But growing up in proximity to the military left its mark. So too did that when republicans/conservatives were in power locally and nationally my family and our brown skinned neighbors(mostly Hispanic and Vietnamese) moved up the socio-economic ladder and when dems/liberals were in power we fell back closer to being on welfare.

    Which bring us to 4)
    4) Fundamental disagreement how to get to a mutually desired destination.
    Many of my experiences have lead me to accept certain assumptions as being true and many of the assumptions by progressivism/liberalism, and much of a political or philosophical ideology is assumption IMO, to be untrue. Both ideologies really do want much of the same on the grand scale of things. They just assume very different things which tell you which path to take to get there.

    Example: I grew up on welfare between 3 and 7. Many liberals, like Teddy Kennedy, had grand ideas, proposals and plans for how to help us. Most of them really didn’t work that well. They closed loopholes in the system we used to get by too. Ruined services for us often too—-don’t forget that TK was the guy who gave us the HMO, that ruined doctor care for us poor folk because HMOs are so cost conscious, with Medicare and Medical paying on avg. 40 cents on the dollar, that they tied the hands of doctors. Thanks a lot TK. Basically, the assumptions about how to help the poor liberals made simply didn’t hold to be true. They have made fine arguments on the Hill and in the Ivory Tower, but when it came to the real test of whether or not it fed the bulldog they failed(miserably).

    At the end of the day, much of their proposals really only worked to make us more dependent on the system instead of moving us toward self sufficiency which was the stated goal. My family is originally from Wisconsin, farmer and Irish stock. Self sufficiency is a major defining trait. It really grated on me to see my Mom working so hard to get off welfare, being home only to wake me up in the morning, to have TKs plans seem to rob her of every advantage and hedge against unforeseen circumstances she worked for.

    At the end of the day most liberals/progressives and I wanted the same things, but they simply refused to accept that how they intended to solve the problems didn’t work at the street level. Whether it was welfare or their ideas about how to create an egalitarian society or how to provide for the common defense or whether to oppose certain govt’s they simply seemed to come up wrong.

    And that’s just your garden variety democrat or left of center independent. The hard core socialist types(and you can’t be into punk rock in Orange County without spending more than a decent amount of time listening to and debating them) who really do hate much of what we’re about.

    But I can’t get too mad. We want the same things by and large which is why I hate the hyper-partisanship inherent to calling a democrat unpatriotic and things along those lines being tossed into debates. Democrats want terrorism to end too. They just have different ideas about how to do it—ideas I think are bassackwards having seen this pattern before in the 80s when we were spending so much on defense we couldn’t face the Warsaw Pact and deal with foreign terrorism at the same time. Not unpatriotic, just wanting to go in a direction I believe is wrong based on experience, scholarship, and the assumptions about human nature I have. And saying someone is wrong is pretty strong IMO.
    (And now Dan realizes why John keeps a pretty tight leash on me. I get pretty wordy. One of my X-country coaches once remarked in an annual: “How quiet Ryan was at the beginning of the year. Not being able to keep him quiet at the end of the year.”)

  39. Could you chunk that all down into 4 bottom lines up front? WOW. I followed what you were saying but also wondered how that ties your discussion of politics into the 5WG thought process? If you believe that one party over another is working some sort of subversive movement to alter the direction of society then …..or was that just a discussion on the thought process of one party? I must have attention deficient issues – sorry.

  40. I can usually restrain myself from stepping in until I see that the conversation is veering way off course. I mean wayyy off. Mostly kidding, but I think that Ry started a good post that went awry (bad pun), by not delving into the root ideologies that drive our current – and former – administrations to make the decisions they make in committing the military forces. What would really make this tangent very intriguing would be to discuss realism vs. idealism. Idealism is very close to ideology, which is what we say we are fighting in the Middle East and elsewhere. Unfortunately, idealism does not necessarily equate to the national interest or national security. The idealistic approach that we have some sort of God-given imperative to impress democracy on a culture that can't even begin to grasp the concept – especially after 35 years of brutal repression and worse – has led is into this costly debacle that never had a defined endstate or an exit strategy, and now we're trying to redefine both.

    It doesn't take a Democrat or a Republican to be an idealist, but I think that people are retracting some of the grandiose rhetoric that spewed out in the last five years to something more realistic; that we should only commit our forces when our national security is at stake, and even then we need to define “forces.” Does it always have to be ten divisions? Can it be special operations forces, or some of the other clandestine assets? I'm not advocating isolationism, which is one of the first accusations hurled at “realists,” but I think we need to take a hard look at how we make decisions to put forces into harm's way. Williamson Murray noted that our successful foray into nation building at the end of WWII was a result of years of post-war planning that started before the war had barely started. We cannot, then, point to our success in Europe as some sort of reason as to why we should persevere in Iraq when we have so disastrously mucked it up. For those who espouse the domino theory a la Vietnam, look at that country today and our warming relations with them. While Iraq is a different animal because of its neighbors, there is no reason to think that when we leave that the Islamists won't return to squabbling among themselves over the scraps, returning to that Iraqi parable, “Me and my brother against my cousin, me, my brother and my cousin against the world.”

  41. Herb, Ron, I did that in response to Aaron asking a question about how I arrived at conservatism. It really had no relation to 5th Gen warfare theory. It wasn't supposed to.
    “There are things my party does that drive me up a wall, so it'd be nice to hear the same (hopefully) from someone across the aisle.”—Aaron

    That's how the discussion progressed to that very loooong comment.

    This, “For those who espouse the domino theory a la Vietnam, look at that country today and our warming relations with them. ” is a non sequitor. Domino Theory had nothing to do with warming relations wih Vietnam. It was about communist influences spreading, it was a sub-set of the Truman doctrine.

    And didn't it actually prove true? Look at the troubles of SE Asia. How much of it is from the communist revolutionaries that ran or tried to overthrow those countries> Cambodia. Laos. Thailand(which has Moslem and communist insurgents), Malaya, etc. Look, i know Domino Theory isn't popular because of its connection to Nixon, but come on. 30 years of woe for SE Asia only to have warming relations right now doesn't invalidate someone saying in 1962 that bad things would happen if we didn't try to actually enforce the Truman Doctrine—which JFK did.

    Iraq and the school of realism. It's easy to dismiss Barnett and his branch school of 5GW as idealists. But you're looking past their reasoning. Why does Barnett say 'go big' instead of places like Iraq and even justify even doing something like Iraq? Ideology to save the rest of the world? Not likely. That's a side benefit. It serves our economic and security interests. It flows from Boyd: don't be contradictory, say what you mean and do what you say you mean. It's the 'a rising tide raises all boats' of economic Realism taken just a step farther.

    Terrorism causes are many. change the rule sets and you see a disappearance of not only the causes but the tolerance thereof. More markets interconnected(helps our economy) stems from the rule set reset, and so does the increase in our security(fewer jackalopes seeking to poke the great satan in the eye).

    I don't point to Europe under the Marshall Plan for a reason to stay in Iraq. I don't think any serious commentor on the issue does. The reason to stay is more of what we got out of Grenada and Panama. They aren't really analogous are they, at first glance. But the analogy is that doing both stemmed a tide and caused a movement a real reversal for at least a decade. Communism in the case of the New Jewel movement in Grenada and strongman-ism in Panama(which was then followed by stiff arming Pinochet out of power a few years later). The results of those had far ranging effects. The payoff from them was huge, even if you don't compare the costs of not having gone.

    Let's not forget that the ME was a Mexican Standoff prior to Iraq. Sure, Iran and Iraq helped each other a bit during GW1, but just before that they'd gassed the hell out of each other, and now we've denied Iran one of their greatest claims for a need of nuclear arms: a belligerent neighbor next door. Syria and Iraq though both Baathist weren't on the greatest of terms. Wahabi from Saudi? Well, where haven't they tried to penetrate? We've altered that calculus. They cannot go back to that. For that reason it was worth it. A major Arab/Moslem conflict in that region would've started a major global recession(China is utterly dependent on ME oil, the US less than a 5th. But it would drive prices well above $60/brl). How is that not in our interests?

    Don't confuse the sales job for the grande strategy is what I'm saying. That's a fair bit of real politik.

  42. Having served twice in Iraq, and having been stationed in Panama back in the 80's, I can tell you that the two are worlds apart. First, the mis-nomer of the “Invasion of Panama” ignores the fact the the United States was intertwined with the Panamanians since the 1800s. I lived in Panama for 2 1/2 years, and enjoyed a remarkable life as a young soldier. There was no invasion – we were already there. There was no culture clash, no ideological differences, simply a strong man formerly on the CIA payroll who fell out of favor with the U.S. What we did in Panama was a police action, and that's a strong term to use, if that. Grenada was equally unimportant compared to Iraq – the people there were thankful to have that situation end as well, and we did not occupy.

    Your comment “Terrorism causes are many. change the rule sets and you see a disappearance of not only the causes but the tolerance thereof.” That is the sort of idealist psychobabble that infuriates anyone who's ever fought “terorists,” or served in a place where you are just a layer of concertina wire away from ending up in an orange jumpsuit with a knife at your throat. “Rule sets.” I can tell you that the bad guys don't need rule sets. What they have is a permissive environment to sustain indefinitely the sort of insurgency that we don't have the manpower or willpower to fight. What they have are the ratlines and logistics trails coming in from Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere that put the Ho Chi Minh trail to shame. What they have are an estimated ten years supply of munitions for IEDs from the stockpiles that we didn't have the manpower to secure. What they have is a sophisticated information operations campaign that does not rely on rule of law or truth, but uses the internet, airwaves, and word of mouth to subvert all of our efforts.

    Keep in mind, my friend. I am part of that “Broken Army” you hear rumblings of, and there is no way that we can sustain surge-era troop levels, or even pre-surge levels for the ten, fifteen, or even twenty years it would take. Tell the American people that we 're going to spend $50 billion or $100 billion a year for the next decade on this war, and see what they think.

    I have done two tours in Iraq, and the thought of a third gives me the willies. But there are plenty of folks out there going in for their third time; try telling them that it's worth it – they're the same folks who are going to be going back for 4th, 5th, or 10th time. The solution to the problem in Iraq is not a military one – it is the ME taking responsibility for its own problems.

  43. hello, i browsed several topics here and i have a new flash for you.
    1st of all: wtf US doing in afganistan? looking for taliban bad guys? if so its easier to nuke the whole thing

    2nd: throughout the wolrd history no one ever accomplished to conquer afganistan. no one ever.

    3rd and final: US will never win this war, and even if somehow they do natives will never adopt democracy and will sabotage every US instalation possible.

    conclusion: this so-called war is a pure waste of taxpayers money.

  44. Freelancer,

    The US appears to be engaging Taliban light infantry.

    I'm not sure what you're trying to say with your second point. (That the Ahmad Shah Durrani was mythical? That the US is attempting to annex Afghanistan as an insular territory?)

    On your third point, what do you believe American objectives in Afghanistan are?


    Thank you for your service.

    I agree that terrorists don't care what the rulesets are. The point is to change things at a level where it doesn't matter what the terrorists care about.

    Europe faced an internal terror crisis in the 1960s and 1970s (Red Army Faction, etc.) and dealth with it far more easily than the middle east has been able to do. It's not that RAF was kinder or gentler than al Qaeda. It's that Europe is a much more hostile environment for terrorism than the middle east is.


    After Congress stabbed the United States in the back in 1974 we lost the ability to build up South Vietnam in the same way we built South Korea. But the war nonetheless exhausted communism all while the balance of forces shifted in favor of the West (Sukarno wasn't in power by '74, any more) in south-east Asia.

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