The God of Viet Nam

The Chaplain’s Last Sermon,” by Dean Barrett, Memoirs of a Bangkok Warrior, 1983, ppg 57-60

Unclear theology. Notable poetry:


“Men, I want to talk to you today about prayer. I know many of you — as professional soldiers — may feel ill at ease when humbling yourself before God. But I have a pleasant surprise for you. Because praying to God is not unlike stepping on a land mine. Yeah, that’s right: there is nothing more explosive than faith in God. Now, I know you cannot always tell a good gook from a bad book. But God can. God knows which gook plants rice and which gook plants mines. I do not have to remind you that planting rice is Good and planting mines is Evil. And God wants you to recognize Evil when you see it; that is why He created land mines in such a way that when you step on them they blow you away.

Of course, I do not mean to imply that land mines planted in His name are Evil. (But, don’t forget, those too can blow you away.) But, remember, all personnel blown away in His Name have Life Everlasting.

You cannot see God — and you cannot see a land mine; but both are there and both are capable of responding. This is because both have power. Enormous power. But God has far more power than ordinary land mines. Land mines can blow you away when you step on them. But the power of God is unlimited. He can blow you away anytime, anyplace, under any conditions, war or peace, out on patrol or while cleaning your rifle, standing in the chow line or marching in a parade, engaged in a firefight or walking to the latrine, combatants or non-combatants, officer or enlisted, man, mama-san or bab-san, soldier or queer. Even, somewhat unfairly, perhaps, in a demilitarized zone.

Now, men, I want you to think of God as a powerful weapon. Because God is smarter than the smartest bomb, more powerful than the most destructive artillery, and don’t forget, He can see in the dark.

Think of God as a Great Being looking at us all through an infra-red starlight sniperscope. Wherever we are, the eyes of God follow. We are forever lined up in His sights. And one day this Supreme Being will peer through those sighs, squint through that scope, slowly squeeze the trigger and neutralize each and every one of us — regardless of race, color, creed, sex, age, I.Q., name, rank, and serial number.

God needs no illumination rounds or saturation bombing to rubbish His chosen targets. His rifle never jams; His ammunition is Everlasting. The day will come when each and ever one of us will be trapped in one of God’s multi-divisional search-and-destroy sweeps, or by angels deployed by God to mop up. And let me assure you that God’s angels are perfectly able to bomb and strage any pockets of resistance that hold you, however briefly, against them.

Let there be no doubt about it, the day will come when God will frag all of us. And when that day comes, when God in His wisdom springs His ambush, when God booby-traps your trail, when God chooses to evacuate you from the battle zone forever, when He discharges you from our army to reinforce His own celestial combatants, be absolutely certain that you have been adequately briefed on your new mission.

Because on that final Day of Judgement, when what we call our universe is finally and utterly defoliated for all time, God will gather thee elite troops of his most crack divisions around him, while those soldiers who surrendered to temptation, or who performed unnatural acts, will be condemned to a free-fire zone forever.

And those who feel they might escape God’s Incoming Rounds, remember, even Jesus was not issued a flak-jacket. Quite the contrary. Out of His Great love for the world, God fragged His own son. And that is something to think about.

Now, men, even after the war is over, people will still have faith in God — and they will still have children, some of whom will become soldiers themselves, and some of whom will be blown away by stepping on leftover land mines — regardless of race, color or creed, boy or girl, tall or short, military dependents or draft resisters, students participating in R.O.T.C. or deserters, applications of O.C.S. or queers. God calls everyone. But how many who have ever stepped on a land mine have actually paused to consider… consider how one path can lead back to base, and how one path can lead to Life Everlasting.

As I’ve said, men, land mines cannot be seen, neither can God; but both exist, and both are waiting — Out There. Now, you may never step on a land mine, but that does not mean God does not love you. Let us pray.

‘O Lord our God, Thou who art greater than any weapon yet conceived by man, Thou who exist in greater depth than any land mine yet planted by man, Thou who has blown away more soldiers on more battlefields, than even we are able to do, give us this day the power to tell good gooks from bad gooks, and to know which gooks serve in Your Name and which gooks should be neutralized… in Your Name. Give us the firepower to destroy Thine enemies. Give us the strength to understand Your Wisdom, to glory in Your Plan, and — when that time comes — to readily and gratefully allow our bodies to be rubbished in Your Name.

When you call us back to base, oh Lord, when we stand before you in Divine Interrogation, lead us not to report that our mission was aborted or that our air-strike against Thine enemies was canceled because of unfavorable weather conditions. Let us salute proudly and smartly and with confidence our Supreme Commander-in-Chief; and let us never stoop to inflating a body count in order to make favorable impression.

And give us this day the ability to recognize that beseeching Thy aid is — if we sincerely and humbly request it — as simple and as uncomplicated as stepping on a land mine. We ask this in Your Name and in the Name of Your Only Begotten Son. Whom You saw fit to rubbish on our behalf. Amen.'”

OODA Loop as Flowchart, Try 2

Earlier, in a post picked up by Coming Anarchy, ZenPundit, and others, I attempted to reconstruct the OODA Loop as a flowchart. You may remember I drew it like this:

Since that post, I have been in an email conversation with an expert on OODA loops. He asked me not to quote him, so I will neither use his words nor his name (if he lets me, sure sure I will!) Dr. Chet Richards of DNI. The expert informed me that my drawing contained an important mistake. That is, the flow from Observe to Act is the primary link out of Observe. Most actions are not “decided” upon, so the Observe-Decide flow is a secondary link.

So by thickening the Observe-Act link and thinning the Observe-Decide and Decide-Act links, the flowchart becomes:

However, two things looked wrong on this new version to me

  1. If the Observe-Act link is a primary flow, then why isn’t the arrow from Observe to Act straight?
  2. If a man goes out of his way to decide an action, then it makes sense that that decision will always be observed and always be acted upon. My “corrected” flow chart implies either one or the other may happen.

New problem: the flowchart is ugly. The Decide-Observe link is the only curved line. The flowchart isn’t close to symmetrical.

That’s easy enough to fix:

Corrected OODA Flowchart

Observe the fixed OODA loop!
Orient yourself to its wonder!
(No decision is necessary to…)
Act by leaving comments!

Dreaming 5th Generation War

I. The Dream-Quest of Unknown 5GW

Three times Randolph Carter dreamed of the marvelous city, and three times was he snatched away while still he paused on the high terrace above it. All golden and lovely it blazed in the sunset, with walls, temples, colonnades and arched bridges of veined marble, silver-basined fountains of prismatic spray in broad squares and perfumed gardens, and wide streets marching between delicate trees and blossom-laden urns and ivory statues in gleaming rows; while on steep northward slopes climbed tiers of red roofs and old peaked gables harbouring little lanes of grassy cobbles. It was a fever…”The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, Howard Philips Lovecraft.

Earlier I argued that war is evolving “deeper into the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act loop

I also argued

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.

I kept trying to imagine what this would look like. Besides a vague inkling that it would be fought by some combination of George Friedman and Peter Wiggin, no picture came to me. Like Randolph Carter looking for Unknown Kadath,

Fortunately, I got in communication with a genius who helped me understand that the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act look might be better pictured as

The original analysis is still valid. The “arrows of attack” I used still fall earlier and earlier in the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act power-line. Just now it is clear that not most actions are not decided upon. They are implicitly guided and controlled by orientation, based on our observations.

Then a comment by Mark Safranski hit me like a hammer

We all have a tendency to some degree to run on a mental ” autopilot” – whether you want to call this phenomena ” framing”, worldview, paradigms, schemas, ideological constructs, etc. – the precise meaning vary but the effect is to shape our perceptions of the world ( highlighting or omitting data) and to an extent predetermine our responses in a large picture sense. Ideological blinders concentrates our vision but they distort our view of reality.

A critical skill is to be able to periodically attempt to step outside one’s worldview and look at an event from multiple perspectives other than one’s own. You have become a strategic thinker when you know *when* to do this as well as *how*.

Now it’s clear exactly what

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.

means. The beautiful sunset city has been found.

II. The Uncaring War

I don’t care if you don’t
I don’t care if you don’t
I don’t care if you don’t care

Jesus of Suburbia, Green Day

Every other form of modern-warfare requires people to care. The aggressor needs to be able to morally and physically support his military forces for over a period of time — often a long time. The defender, once he realizes he is being attacked, will care about his own survival and fight back. “Caring” requires explicit thoughts, it requires decisions. The nature of wars where people gave a damn — of Caring Wars — was summed up by John Adams centuries ago

What do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations…This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.

Hearts / minds. Duties / sentiments. All based on explicit action. All based on Decisions.

In contrast to “hearts and minds,” 5GW focuses on the enemy’s “fingertips and gut.” “Fingertip feeling,” what the Germans called fingerspitzengefuhl, is the ability to know without thinking. This is what Americans call “gut feeling.” To a certain extent, it means a commander trusting his intuition. It is critical in 5GW because fingertip feelings, or “hunches,” will be the only way for the enemy to sense the fighter.

To rephrase these points, in 5GW:

  • The people do not have to want to be on the fighter’s side
  • Forces the fighter is using do not have to want to be on the fighter’s side
  • Your enemy must not feel that he is not on your side

In 4th Generation War, the sort of moral wars the world saw with Mao, Ho, and the Sandinistas, political mobilization is critical. In 5th Generation War, if it “tips” off your enemy, political mobilization is worse than useless.

III. Lessons from Software Development

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

“Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both.”

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
King Solomon (Proverbs 27:1,3,12)

In 5GW, secrecy is vital for success. While this has always been true on some levels, secrecy has never been vital on the grand-strategic level before 5GW. In 5GW the enemy’s knowledge of your existence all but ends your plans.

Describing 5GW, Mark Safranski writes

It occurs to me after reading Dan’s post the that a very powerful shift of longitudinal perspective takes place. 4GW is executed over a very long time frame, sometimes decades. 5GW is conceived in terms of strategic vision over an even longer time frame, sometimes before an opponent realizes that they will be an opponent but the execution time may be very short in comparison to 4GW. The operative question is probably whether the attacker or the defender has initiated 5GW – once you are already attacked you have missed your opportunity to shape the battlespace.

Once I realized what 5GW is, re-reading Mark’s words immediately reminded me of Systems Analysis & Design with Omar El-Gayar. The crushing Systems Analysis & Design class, called “SAD” by everyone, teaches that to create a system a plan must be created, in analysis of the plan against the current situation must be conducted, a design must be established, and finally the system must be implemented. Visually:

PADI: Planning, Analysis, Design, Implementation

Over the years, two different philosophies have surfaced of the best way to design a system — the most effective way to run through the plan-analysis-design-implementation obstacle course.

Waterfall Development was the first method tried. It takes every step one-after-the-other. Careful and methodical, it looks like a waterfall or perhaps a series of dammed locks, each lower than the last Because Waterfall Development occurs in a series, it might also be called “serial development.”

Waterfall Development (PADI, Serialized)

(A variant of waterfall development, “parallel development,” breaks down one large products into several smaller projects, each of which use their own waterfall model.)

The other major philosophy is “Rapid Application Development,” the most famous version of which is “Prototyping.” The chief difference between Rapid Application Development Prototyping and Waterfall Development is that RAD allows projects to evolve, changing as new requirements come in. RAD is considered to be much more flexible than Waterfall Development, and has become the industry standard in almost all subfields of software engineering.


Industry Standard Prototyping / Rapid Application Development (RAD)

Warfare, like software development, is a complex human undertaking involving reconciling a future worth creating with stakeholders. Waterfall’s top-down Soviet-style leadership seems most appropriate for older generations of war, while Prototyping’s user-centric approach is closer to 4GW and “open source” warfare. So will 5GW be “Waterfall Developed” or “Prototyped”?

To see, just look at the pros of Prototyping:

What’s Wrong with the Pros of Prototyping?

Need a hint?

In Prototyping, User Can Identify anything

Prototyping lets the end-users know the project exists. 5GW relies on the users not knowing that the project exists at all.

Prototyping allows for loose, Darwinian networks of projects competing with each other with user-input. For 4GW, this is fantastic. But just as being “fast” is more important than being completely “right” in maneuver war, being secret is more important than being completely “right” in 5GW.

5th Generation Wars will be created with Waterfall Development. We can see what 5GWs will be like by looking at what Waterfall Development is like:

  • Requirements must be known a long time before fighting begins
  • Requirements will be rigid and non-adaptable
  • Long Time between proposal and victory

(tdaxp’s Note: Before I put 5GW together with Systems Analysis, I could not see why Mark would say “5GW is conceived in terms of strategic vision over an even longer time frame, sometimes before an opponent realizes that they will be an opponent but the execution time may be very short in comparison to 4GW.” It seemed a non-sequitur. My hat off to Mark for seeing this long before I did.)

IV. 5th Generation Networks

“My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
Cain (Genesis 4:13-14)

The the nature of the networks that hold together a 5th Generation military is predetermined by that network’s need for secrecy and need for serial development. We know

  • A 5GW army will be unable to recruit to any sizable degree
  • A 5GW will be very unable to recruit during operations (development), because that is when the danger is the greatest
  • A 5GW will rely on strategic corporals or sheiks, who are super-empowered.
  • A 5GW will rely on “sleeper cells” who must not give up, get bored, or switched sides.

From this we know every 5G warrior will be valuable to the 5G militia. Likewise, to succeed every EG warrior must value the 5G project.

In other words, a fifth generation war is a lot like a struggling software project at a cash-strapped corporation. It needs to keep its head down, or it will be found-out and terminated. The solution is to have a collection of cross-specialist high-quality workers who know each other and make every worker a stakeholder — that is, make every worker feel that at least some important decisions were his decision. The team, is able to subvert the corporate system, diverting resources for the benefits of the project under the radar of jealous management.

The team plans, analyzes, and plans together. While there should be a “leader,” consensus management is a must. Every team member is constantly reminded, in words and deeds, how important he is. Team and project loyalty are established, and by the time jealous management learns of the project — after implementation, it is too late.

While there are no running starts in 4GW, every 5GW must be fully-operational by the time it is launched.

V. A Boydian Approach to 5GW

“If there’s anything you know
Please send me a letter
PS: Kiss my ass

Dick Is a Killer, Rx

5GW is substantively different from all previous forms of Modern War. Yet it is a natural evolution of warfare and the basic Art of War remains the same. And specifically, the lessons of Colonel Boyd’s Patterns of Conflict hold even in 5GW, where only one side knows it is fighting.

Slide 6

Idea of fast transients suggests that, in order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries—or, better yet, get inside adversary’s observation-orientation-decision-action time cycle or loop.

Commentary: Or best yet, arrange the enemy’s OODA loop, so his thoughts never flow into the orient-decide-act power-line relative to you, your plan, or your organization.

Slide 11

Diminish adversary’s capacity for independent action, or deny him the opportunity to survive on his own terms, or make it impossible for him to survive at all.

Commentary: In limited 5GWs, removing the enemy’s “capacity for independent action” is the goal. Specifically, the fighter tries to entangle the enemy into a web of obligations that effectively reharmonize the enemy, without the enemy knowing that he has “conditionally surrendered.”

Slide 115

Fire and movement are used in combination, like cheng/ch’i or Nebenpunkte/Schwerpunkt, to tie-up, divert, or drain-away adversary attention and strength in order to expose as well as menace and exploit vulnerabilities or weaknesses elsewhere.

Commentary: In a successful 5GW, the enemy’s attention won’t so much needed to be “diverted” away from a focus but “misdirected” from ever attaining that focus.

Slide 76

Create tangles of threatening and/or non-threatening events/efforts as well as repeatedly generate mismatches between those events/efforts adversary observes or imagines (cheng/Nebenpunkte) and those he must react to (ch’i/Schwerpunkt)

Commentary: In a successful 5GW, the events the enemy “must” react to are an “unknown unknown.” The enemy doesn’t know what they are, and doesn’t even know that he needs to know what they are.

VI. A Dream of 5GW

“We’ll run away, keep everything simple
Night will come down, our guardian angel
We rush ahead, the crossroads are empty
Our spirits rise, they’re not gonna get us

They don’t understand,
They don’t understand us”

Not Going to Get Us, Tatu

This brings me back to my original question: what would a 5GW look like? Once I understood the organization, developmental, doctrinal, and other aspects of 5th Generation War, picturing one in operation was trivial.

The Border War

A small, close-knight, highly-able team of Nativists wishes to militarize the Southwest border of the United States against Mexican migrants. Unable to handle the “content flow” of Latin culture and people, the Nativists believe they have exhausted attempts at political satisfaction. Therefore, they try politics by other means: war. Their aim is limited: the subversion of the government of the United States of America into closing the Southern border. (The aim of the Persian Gulf War coalition was similar: subvert the government of Iraq into closing the Iraq-Kuwait border against military and governmental Iraqi content flow.)

Logical View of Nativist-USG Struggle

The nativists seek an economy of force. They realize they are weak — perhaps only a few dozen highly-able members. They also realize it would be trivial for the FBI or even local police to round them up if their “treason” was discovered. Therefore they look to see what other forces they can leverage.

A big possibility stands out: the Global War on Terrorism. The USG is at war with al Qaeda, with Arab Muslims supporting both entities to different extents in different ways.

The Found Environment: The Global War on Terrorism

Which of course means:

The two conflicts, seen together

The Nativists now create two shadow organizations: Islamophiles and Islamaphobes. These are more than false-flag organizations, because the shadow organizations will honestly strive to achieve their stated goals. However, the success of the shadow organizations is irrelevant to the success of the Nativists. Both the Islamophiles and Islamophobes publicly support the United States Government, and assist the USG in some ways. However, the leadership of both shadow-groups is part of the Nativist network.

First Step of Implementation: Shadow Networks Created

Next, the shadow networks begin engaging in paramilitary operations. However, neither shadow network directly attacks the U.S. Government, and both continue supporting the Government as they are able. The purpose of the Islamophobes is to provoke and antagonize the Arab Muslim population. Publicly, the Islamophobes agitate for the removal or internment of the Arab Muslim population. On a street level, the Phobes align with anti-Arab-Muslim street gangs, escalating to political assassination of Arab-Muslims moderates and “outrage” attacks (bombing of deserted mosques, etc). The purpose is to disrupt peaceful Arab Muslim networks.

Simultaneously, the Islamophiles work to defend the civil rights of Arab Muslims, paying especial communication to maintaining liberal communication networks between American and international Arab Muslims. The Philes will work to create Arab-Muslim “self defense” networks, which will have the natural consequence of increasing the militancy of the Arab Muslim population. Most critically, the Philes will strive to make physical communication with the Arab world as easy as possible (“charity” smuggling networks, with a complementary political effort). The purpose is to prevent disruption of internationally-originating terrorist attacks.

The Philes and Phobes will engage in “phony” attacks on each other, as well.

The Frictional Sea of Conflict

Then, bam, a spectacular terrorist attack.

The details of the attack, and the particulars of its effects, don’t concern us. Nor does the fate of the American Arab population (interned? expelled? integrated?). But a natural consequence of such an attack will be an increase in border security. There already is strong agitation among working-class whites for “border crackdown.” For now, the cries are too weak to move a Government committed to North American integration.

But a few more 9/11s would change Washington’s mind.

And all of the 9/11s would happen without the Government understanding their was a thinking force supporting the attacks that had no concern whatsoever for bin Ladenism

So a natural consequence of the US Government’s escalating war against al Qaeda will be much tighter control of immigration and the Mexican border, including either National Guardsmen or Soldiers on watch. The 5th Generation Warriors have won.

The militant Nativist network is now abandoned as obsolete: the government has been subverted. The shadow networks are abandoned, allowed to run their course as passions dictate. The war against al Qaeda goes on, but it would have continued anyway.

What Victory Looks Like

For the price of a few thousand lives, the 5th Generation Warriors have won without their enemy — the American Government — ever realizing that it was in a war against them.

There are even purer forms of 5GW. But such is a post for another time…

Boot on "Unrestricted Warfare"

In a nice, timely coincidence, Max Boot discusses Chinese “unrestricted warfare” in his latest column, a topic that has popped up over the past couple of days in the discussion on 5GW. See ZenPundit for the relevant links.

In 1998, an official People’s Liberation Army publishing house brought out a treatise called “Unrestricted Warfare,” written by two senior army colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. This book, which is available in English translation, is well known to the U.S. national security establishment but remains practically unheard of among the general public.

“Unrestricted Warfare” recognizes that it is practically impossible to challenge the U.S. on its own terms. No one else can afford to build mega-expensive weapons systems like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which will cost more than $200 billion to develop. “The way to extricate oneself from this predicament,” the authors write, “is to develop a different approach.”

Their different approaches include financial warfare (subverting banking systems and stock markets), drug warfare (attacking the fabric of society by flooding it with illicit drugs), psychological and media warfare (manipulating perceptions to break down enemy will), international law warfare (blocking enemy actions using multinational organizations), resource warfare (seizing control of vital natural resources), even ecological warfare (creating man-made earthquakes or other natural disasters).

Cols. Qiao and Wang write approvingly of Al Qaeda, Colombian drug lords and computer hackers who operate outside the “bandwidths understood by the American military.” They envision a scenario in which a “network attack against the enemy” — clearly a red, white and blue enemy — would be carried out “so that the civilian electricity network, traffic dispatching network, financial transaction network, telephone communications network and mass media network are completely paralyzed,” leading to “social panic, street riots and a political crisis.” Only then would conventional military force be deployed “until the enemy is forced to sign a dishonorable peace treaty.”

This isn’t just loose talk. There are signs of this strategy being implemented. The anti-Japanese riots that swept China in April? That would be psychological warfare against a major Asian rival. The stage-managed protests in 1999, after the U.S. accidentally bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, fall into the same category.

The bid by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Co., to acquire Unocal? Resource warfare. Attempts by China’s spy apparatus to infiltrate U.S. high-tech firms and defense contractors? Technological warfare. China siding against the U.S. in the U.N. Security Council over the invasion of Iraq? International law warfare. Gen. Zhu’s threat to nuke the U.S.? Media warfare.

And so on. Once you know what to look for, the pieces fall into place with disturbing ease. Of course, most of these events have alternative, more benign explanations: Maybe Gen. Zhu is an eccentric old coot who’s seen “Dr. Strangelove” a few too many times.

The deliberate ambiguity makes it hard to craft a response to “unrestricted warfare.” If Beijing sticks to building nuclear weapons, we know how to deal with that — use the deterrence doctrine that worked against the Soviets. But how do we respond to what may or may not be indirect aggression by a major trading partner? Battling terrorist groups like Al Qaeda seems like a cinch by comparison.

This is not a challenge the Pentagon is set up to address, but it’s an urgent issue for the years ahead.

Posted by Phil

Update: See a recent Coming Anarchy post on 4GW by Younghusband. Or read Unrestricted Warfare for free — tdaxp