Fast and Rough

Spreading the Fire,” by Dan, tdaxp, 1 February 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/02/01/spreading_the_fire.html.

The Big Bang spreads . . . the rough way,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 7 October 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002427.html.

Is noted grand strategist Dr. TPM Barnett ripping me off again?

Compare, yesterday’s blog post over at his blog:

It’s not just Saudi Arabia where the locally-derived jihadists are returning home for the weekend and blowing up a police station or two.

Yes, Jordan’s Abdullah and Egypt’s Mubarek warned of this as an outflow of the Iraq takedown, and it worried them, because maybe they’d finally have to deal with all the angry young men in their respective systems.

Good thing or bad? Bad in content, of course, but very good in terms of speeding the killing. We can do this nice and slow, or we can do this fast and rough, as Tina Turner used to growl onstage before singing “Proud Mary.”

Al Qaeda has been quite open about its strategy of stretching the Americans thin. But rather than stretching us out, this development incentivizes the locals to deal with this long-held hatreds and grudges, like the massive chip on Musab al Zarqawi over how Jordan’s treated him in the past.

In the end, what will have to change for all this violence in the Middle East to stop is not our withdrawal, but political reform in the region. Keeping this fight suppressed, or having it exported to our shores like it was on 9/11 is certainly a safer route for the local authoritarian regimes. Then again, I think 9/11 put us past caring about those regimes’ stability like we used to.

Bush basically runs a race with Osama: who can destabilize the region’s regimes first? Both sides want change, but only one wants to replace the current autocracies with a religious dictatorship. What Bush wants solves the problem. What Osama wants merely extends it.

Bush may suck at execution, but his strategic instincts are sound. He’s not looking to leave these problems to the next generation, and yet, unless his execution gets better, that’s exactly what he’ll end up doing.

And me, back in February

George Bush is a very brave man.

He talks of spreading the fire of freedom. He has destroyed the status quo ante bellum. But so are the Salafists.

It is ironic that so much of the Bush agenda for the Greater Middle East is coterminus with Osama bin Laden

Bush has removed the army from Saudi Arabia, pressed for rapid trade normalization with Iraq, and is seeing Ariel Sharon withdraw from the Gaza and parts of the West Bank.

While bin Laden and Bush have radically different views of “freedom,” they both agree that the decrepit Arab states do not provide it. So it is no suprise that Bush is not the only one spreading the fire



In Iraq the Salafists and Ba’athis view each other as useful idiots. In the rest of the Greater Middle East, the Salafists and the Americans both wish transformation
. This is the nature of the Global War on Terrorism.

Of course, he writes a lot better than me…

EBO: Effects-Based Operations

Effects-Based Operations and the Excersize of National Power,” by David Pendall, Military Review, January – February 2004, http://www.iwar.org.uk/rma/resources/ebo/national-power.pdf.

More reading for the International Law paper. Note the generally psychological tone, and compare with John Robb’s opinion.

Clearly, future capabilities of combined and standing joint task forces (SJTF), coupled with specialized strike elements, will leverage the power of kinetic and nonkinetic weapons in future battlespace. Some battlespace will be located within sprawling urban environments and some will be against state and nonstate entities or both. Some of the capabilities used to achieve future desired effects might not be classed currently as weapons. Other battlespaces might be in the spaces between neurons or electrons. The cutting, burning, irradiating, poisoning, piercing, and concussion effects that enlivened combat in the 20th-century will persist, and other forms of engagement and effects will be added. Some weapons will be nonkinetic and will substitute for some of the fire and maneuver of times past.

Kinetic weapons, as defined here, are weapons whose effects are transmitted by the motion of a substance, such as a projectile, a shock wave, or heat. Departing from the conventional definition, nonkinetic weapons include—

l Sticky foams.
l Graphite bombs.
l Cyber weapons.
l Microwaves.
l Directed energy.
l High-energy radio frequency strikes.
l Calmatives.
l Acoustic weapons.
l Stink bombs.
l Antitraction and antireaction chemicals.


These items will be transformational once they become available, although they are less interesting as technologies and more interesting because of their capacity as surrogates

The battlespace in which the United States engages its adversaries are longer defend its interests and provide its citizens security by being “over there.” Defending the United States is now as much about local lawenforcement officers patrolling and protecting critical infrastructure nodes in Omaha, Nebraska, as it was during World War II when U.S. servicemen stormed Omaha Beach.

Like it or not, preemption is recognized as a legitimate form of self-defense. Future engagements are merely the branches and sequels flowing from what is being executed today. The variables are the degree of engagement, the methods of engagement, and how explicitly engagements become known to those not directly involved. Warfare can no longer be characterized as the conventional forces of a nation-state engaging in the delivery of munitions and destruction in pitched battles on land, sea, and air. Operations are no longer merely focused against an opposing nation-state’s forces and means to make and sustain the fight.

What are the national thresholds and attack-classification schemes that will compel national elements of power to respond in the future? How will the United States implement the newest national security strategy in the broader terms and environments this century presents rather than those of the 20th century?

Envision the construct of effects-based operations applied by or to nonstate adversaries. Operating globally and within a loose, confederated-network construct, these actors coalesce either for ideological reasons or for profit motive (perhaps both). The United States should explore its capability to deconstruct the network properties of its organizations and limit their attractiveness to new players. A range of human-based operations, whether classed as nationbuilding, foreign aid, media campaigns, or psychological operations (PSYOPs), might achieve both. A catch-and-release program for suspected operatives might create reluctance or distrust in such suspects and prevent them from further acts or, perhaps more important, create distrust in the cell leaders of these individuals in the future.16 The captor would determine when to name names and whento remain silent. Multidisciplined intelligence operations would help understand and sense adversarial network operations.

Finally, here are two out-of-order references to John Boyd’s OODA loop.

A reduced observe-orient-decide-act (OODA) loop at the joint unit-of-action level, enabled by superbly trained, technology enhanced and empowered teams will achieve the results the newest nationalsecurity strategy envisions. The United States will engage adversaries in unexpected ways, leveraging new weapons and techniques and deploying forces from existing and future—perhaps even commercial— platforms to reach remote areas of the world. The United States will act with effects, rather than weapons, in mind.

Sensor links to delivery platforms, using knowledge-based applications to speed information to the point or points of decision, will reduce the “D” time in the OODA loop, which in effect, will allow us to cycle through engagements and operational Go/No Go criteria with unprecedented speed. Decisions will be enabled at the lowest evels of operation.

Boydian Phase Changes and Clausewitzian Non-Attrition War

Dominant Battlespace Awareness and Future Warfare,” by Jeffrey Cooper, Dominant Battlespace Knowledge, October 1995, http://www.ndu.edu/inss/books/Books%20-%201990%20to%201995/Dominant%20Battlespace%20Knowledge%20-%20Oct%2095/dbkch06.html.

Some interesting words on John Boyd and Carl von Clausewitz by a military strategist. All emphasis is mine. Both of these are from readings in preparation of my International Law paper.


First, Boyd and his OODA loop:

Cycle-Time Dominance: DBK [Dominant Battlespace Knowledge] improves the understanding of critical combat dynamics as they occur so that they may be translated into timing and spatial cues for tactical actions.

Many analysts have returned to the Observation-Orientation- Decision-Action (OODA) Loop (see Col John R. Boyd, USAF [Ret.], A Discourse on Winning and Losing, August 1987) to understand the potential impacts of the Information Revolution on combat operations. Unfortunately they have focussed on the decision side rather than the action side. Good communications are analogous to Boyd’s key technical requirement for 3,000 psi hydraulics, to link a pilot’s rapid decisions to his aircraft’s performance. As with air combat, small advantages in each maneuver action ultimately result in a decisive firing solution. This is particularly attractive for repetitive action/response cycles in combat. Time becomes the critical determinant of combat advantage.

Phase Dominance: But what shorter cycle times really achieve is to let U.S. forces to select the right time to engage the enemy so as to maximize differences in relative combat capabilities. Phase-Dominance builds small advantages into decisive victories. DBK informs commanders of the natural operating cycles and rhythms of enemy forces (as well as their own) and ensures that actions can be executed exactly when needed.

Maintaining the coherence (a combination of mental and physical concentration) of combat units is never easy — especially when they are forced to alter their state in combat (one reason why the reorientation conducted by the 20th Maine at Little Roundtop is considered a classic). Armies change their tempos and shift back and forth between road march and assault formation; between defense against air to defense against ground; or from either to offense; from one objective to another, especially in meeting engagements. Each change not only perturbs unit coherence but risks a loss in the essential phasing between the integrated joint forces that produces overall operational coherence. It requires a different mental attitude and task sets — a resetting of the cycle. The coherence of an organization takes time to reestablish (this might be called a phase-change time-constant). In the interim, the unit cannot act in focus and is more vulnerable.

Surprise works because it comes from unexpected directions, but a larger reason is that it hits at unexpected phases in the operational cycle; it forces an unexpected and disruptive phase- change with the attendant loss of coherence while re-orientation is taking place. Thus, U.S. dive bombers caught the Japanese carriers by surprise at Midway during their extremely vulnerable refueling and rearming phase of cyclic operations.

tdaxp’s Comment: But then why doesn’t Boyd’s Patterns of Conflict mention phase changes?

Last, Clausewitz and the decisive battle.

Decisive Combat: The most fundamental changes in warfare may be the return of Clausewitzian decisive victories in place of attrition warfare. The latter paradigm, exemplified by World Wars I and II, were waged by large, relatively equal, industrialized nation-states, and won largely by material and mass, not by coups de main or great battlefield victories (even those like Kursk and Stalingrad).

DBK lets commanders exploit seams in the enemy’s forces, gaps in his abilities, and openings provided by his sequential operations. Forces and fires can be rapidly reassigned between holding, breakthrough, and exploitation operations. Opponents can be kept from cohering their forces so that the United States avoids the need to take on enemy forces en bloc (as General Sullivan noted of Operation Just Cause). Mobile, lethal, and rapid operations conducted in parallel could let U.S. forces defeat units in detail at a time of our own choosing across the battlespace. The other side can act only in a pre-planned but uncoordinated manner in the face of our initiatives. The result may thus resemble the classic coup de main, except not executed as a single main-force engagement but a parallel set of tactical operations.

tdaxp’s Comment: But isn’t attrition warfare more like in Clausewitzian warfare than in Boydian War?

Interesting!