Tag Archives: boyd

Jesusism-Paulism, Part V: The People of the Book

John Boyd, the American Air Force Colonel, wrote that there were five stages to victory. In the first two, Penetration and Isolation, one’s forces enter the enemy’s networks and began tearing it apart. In the last two, Reorientation and Reharmonization, the old world is refashioned in one’s desired image.

There is only one grand choice, but that choice is critical. If, for the third stage, one chooses Subversion, one desires to “take-over” the enemy. The enemy’s house — his many mansions — should be viewed as one’s future property, and so their substance must be preserved while the deed is (re)-written

Victory Through Submission

Christianity, a political philosophy that could accurately be described as Jesusism-Paulism, was designed to Subvert the Roman Empire and seize her institutions in order to remake them. Jesus summed up the essence of subversion — the conquest of force by the service to force — in one line:

If someone [a Roman soldier] forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Matthew 5:41

Of course, there is another strategy. Instead of attempted to take-over, one might take-down. One might Subdue the enemy, destroying what is his, and win through war instead of through peace. Six centuries after Jesus, another Semite elucidated that strategy

Submission Through Victory

It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise.
The Spoils of War:67

The Rule-Set Revolution of Islam had begun.

Muhammed ibn-Abdullah was clearly aware of Christian victory over the Romans. Muhammed changed two basic strategies of Christianity, by transforming it into a strict monotheism and optimizing it for victory in chaotic conditions. Yet these are details compared to his grandest innovation. Muhammed focused his faith not on the Most High or on His Son, but on a Rule-Set. Islam is, at its core, is not Muahmmed and is not Allah. Islam is the Holy Koran.

Muslims were the first “People of the Book” in all history. The earliest Semites were tribalists who wished for their gods to protect their families, and Judaism falls into this category. Jews may be thought of as People of their Father and Mother. The land of the Jews is given to them because of descent from Abraham:

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
Genesis 15:17-21

and his wife, Sarah

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” … Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
Genesis 27:15-22

The Christians, meanwhile were the People of the Son

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20-23

Muhammed saw a basic weakness in loyalty to a personality or Holy Family: ruleset corruption.

An essential difference between Christianity and Islam is that the faith of Jesus focused on resiliency while the religion of Muahmmed centered on resilience. Resiliency is “the ability to spring back from and successfully adapt to adversity.” The Christian takeover of Rome exhibited resiliency because the faith could adapt to problems, through unifying mechanisms such as the Nicene Creed. However, Muhammed wanted Islam to have resilience instead. Resilience, the capacity of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically and then, upon unloading to have this energy recovered, focuses on recovering the initial form. Christianity as practiced during its take-over of Rome would not be operationally the same as Christianity after the fall of Rome, because the needs of a 4GW force in its early stages are different from the needs of a 4GW army in its later stages. However, Muhammad wanted Islam to be the same everywhere, he made his words into a universal ruleset.

To Christians flexibility was not a problem — only Jesus was the Word of God and revolution could “unfold.” The purpose of Christianity, after all, was not Law but Love, and Love is a magic cloud beyond words, but it is not measurable and not objectively verifiable.

To Muhammed this was a problem. As he said:

Say: “Of your ‘partners’ is there any that can give any guidance towards truth?” Say: “It is Allah Who gives guidance towards truth, is then He Who gives guidance to truth more worthy to be followed, or he who finds not guidance (himself) unless he is guided? what then is the matter with you? How judge ye?”

Mohammed was the first theorist in all history to define religion exclusively as rule-set adherence. Jesus and Paul had integrated a 4GW strategy — loving your neighbor — in with faith in order tow in. But Mohammed integrated every strategy into the faith. Contract law, criminal law, family law, even military strategy were elucidated before hand. Mohammed viewed Judaism and Christianity as failed because of the memetic drift they experienced.

Judaism and Christianity both “unfold” over time. Judaism can accurately be described as a Religion of Life because the focus is on the promulgation in this world of offspring of Abraham and Sarah. All Jewish Laws must be interpreted as rules to guide the People of Life. A Jewish Law that works against Life is not, in this context, being properly understood. Christianity can accurately be described as a Religion of Love because the focus in on the promulgation of loving kindness as described by Jesus and Paul. All Christian Laws must be interpreted as guide to the People of Love. A Christian Law that works against Love is not, in this context, being properly understood. In contrast, Islam can accurately be described as a Religion of One Ruleset, the Koran, in opposition to all others. The only proper Rules are those that spread the Ruleset. As a genetic program, Islam is frighteningly advanced.

It is fair to say that Judaism is Tribalist, Christianity is Ideological, and Islam is Totalitarian. Not in some particular implementations, but in their meaning and purpose.

The victories of Islam were swift, and they kept coming. A well evolved super-organism, the Ruleset and its Armies move conquered all of Roman Empire, Roman Iberia, all of Roman Asia outside of Anatolia. Fleets would soon sail to the indies, and assist in the flow of labor from Africa to the empire through slavery.

Much worse for the Christian Revolutionaries, the shattering attacks would not stop. The Cosmopolitan Empire, imperfect as it was, of the Greek Christians would be less and less able to export the security a Cosmopolitan faith like Christianity required. The old Maoism of Greco-Roman Civilization, which Christianity aimed to conquer, would re-emerge and the Western Church would fall pray to the barbaric tribalisms of a petty continent.

Islamic ideals would challenge Christianity as the fumbling counter-insurgency of the Romans never could. Before the Christian Revolutionaries could even calculate their losses, the Islamization of Christianity had begun.

But that is a post for another time…

Jesusism-Paulism, a tdaxp series in six parts
1. Love Your Enemy As You Would Have Him Love You
2. Caiaphas and Diocletian Did Know Better
3. Every Man a Panzer, Every Woman a Soldat
4. The Fall of Rome
5. The People of the Book
6. Embrace and Extend

Boydian Orientation as a Political Science Paradigm

The Origin of Politics: An Evolutionary Theory of Political Behavior,” by John Alford and John Hibbing, Perspectives on Politics, Vol 2. No. 4, December 2004, 707-723, http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=266160.

Today’s notes are from the John R. Alford and John R. Hibbing piece that preceded their piece “Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted?,” which was featured on the tdaxp post “The DNA of Politics.” In this earlier work they tie together wary cooperation and multilevel selection” to propose a new paradigm for political science. It’s so good, it’s dangerous.

As with the other work, a finding is that political beliefs are more genetically-based than personal attitudes.” As Alford and Hibbing write:

A 1986 study by Martin and colleagues of over 3,800 Australian and British twin pairs reported the following estimates of heritability (on a scale of 0 to 1.0) for the following items: death penalty, 0.51; white superiority, 0.40; royalty, 0.44; apartheid, 0.43; disarmament, 0.38; censorship, 0.41. The heritability estimate for pajama parties, on the other hand, was a mere 0.08. The comparable estimates for the influence of shared environment were: death penalty, 0.00; white superiority, 0.09; royalty, 0.14; apartheid, 0.05; disarmament, 0.00; censorship, 0.03 (but pajama parties, 0.44). (Alford and Hibbing 715)

These can be mapped onto the Orientation stage of John Boyd’s OODA Loop


like so:

The three categories allowed by the analysis of twin studies are genetic factors, which are very high for political issues but lower for moral issues and tastes

Social factors, which are very low for political issues (especially hot buttons like the death penalty and the then-issue of South African ) Apartheid but a significant factors in the appropriateness of pajama parties

If there is an uplifting, ennobling finding here, it is the important of non-shared environmental factors, what Boyd would have termed new information, previous experiences, and analyses/synthesis.

The rest of the notes are mad cool, dealing with group selection, problems a SysAdmin force may face, some cool simulations, and other amazing nifty things. They’re below the fold.

Most important, the theory should not be dismissed because of an unscientific aversion to its implications. (Alford and Hibbing 707)

Multilevel selection begins by recognizing the ubiquity of selection pressure. … The genes themselves are, after all, merely survival machines for the complex proteins that make up genetic material. At this deeper level, it is the complex proteins that are selfish, and their survival machines—the genes—may behave in ways that seem highly inconsistent with selfishness.11 In terms of human behavior, if we think of groups as survival machines for collections of individuals, then selection pressures that lead individuals to behave selfishly may well be in conflict with selection pressures that favor groups of individuals that behave in concert. (Alford and Hibbing 708)

In that spirit we offer our own theory of “wary cooperation” drawn from the work of leading scholars in evolutionary psychology and experimental economics. The theory may be summarized as follows. Humans are cooperative, but not altruistic; competitive, but not exclusively so. We have an innate inclination to cooperate, particularly within defined group boundaries, but we are also highly sensitive to selfish actions on the part of other group members. This sensitivity leads us to cease cooperating when that cooperation is not reciprocated, to avoid future interaction with noncooperators, and even to engage in personally costly punishment of individuals who fail to cooperate. (Alford and Hibbing 709)

Our genetic composition is to some extent the product of conditions faced by our hunter-gatherer predecessors of perhaps 100,000 years ago. One of the keys to an individual’s survival was being a respected part of a viable group. The central insight of a behavioral theory built on evolutionary biology is that the desire for group life is a fundamental human preference. What kinds of behaviors optimally promote belonging to a viable group? (Alford and Hibbing 709)

To sustain group membership, individuals must
1. cooperate with others in their in-group;
2. dislike those in out-groups;
3. punish or banish uncooperative in-group members;
4. encourage others through norms, institutions, or moral
codes to (1), (2), and (3);
5. be ever sensitive to status, payoffs, and reputation relative
to other in-group members;
6. cease cooperating if the noncooperation of other members
goes unpunished. (Alford and Hibbing 710)

In addition to expecting cooperative behavior in some circumstances, our theory also expects—and empirical studies have proven it to be the case—that people mindlessly conform, passively obey authority figures, are competitive to the point of taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others, initiate hostilities toward those people in outgroups, construct out-groups for the sake of having them, and are disconcertingly enthusiastic about punishing those not perceived as living up to the group’s behavioral standards, especially when personally victimized. (Alford and Hibbing 710)

For example, it is now thought that children learn languages more quickly than adults in part due to their limited memories. Limitations constrain solution space, allow a scaffolding to guide learning, and suggest patterns. Neural networks designed to simulate language learning actually learn more quickly with less memory—more is not always better. (Alford and Hibbing 710)

As stated by Cosmides and Tooby, “ ‘[R]ational’ decision-making methods . . . are computationally very weak; incapable of solving the natural adaptive problems our ancestors had to solve reliably in order to reproduce.” They conclude that, from an evolutionary point of view, human mental capacities, far from preventing rational thought, actually allow us to be “better than rational.” (Alford and Hibbing 710)

For example, when experimental subjects are shown pictures of individuals and told their names along with a single fact about them, subjects are better at remembering the names of those who had been connected with a social fact (Sally helped a neighbor paint his house) than a nonsocial fact (Tom has an old refrigerator), and they are best at remembering those who had been connected to a negative social fact (Harry did not return a CD he borrowed from his friend). (Alford and Hibbing 711)

People are initially helpful and cooperative, even at some personal expense, but they are hypersensitive to the possibility that someone might take advantage of their generosity. (Alford and Hibbing 711) (SysAdmin implications?)

Since in this view, the conflict of war is a group-level phenomenon, group-level factors become particularly salient. Markers of in-group–out-group boundaries, for example (e.g., borders, language, ethnicity, race, religion, citizenship) should assume exaggerated importance in both the development and prosecution of war. (Alford and Hibbing 712)

Americans’ primary source of dissatisfaction with government is not that it makes bad decisions, but rather that it makes decisions for self-serving rather than common-good reasons. (Alford and Hibbing 712-713)

Reformers would do well to realize that people do not wish to be in control of the political system; they only want those who are in control to be unable to take advantage of their positions. If people were confident that existing constraints prohibited such self-interested actions, they would pay even less attention to the political arena than they do now. For most people, involvement in politics is driven not by a desire to be heard but by a desire to limit the power of others. Current American foreign policy might be improved, for example, if decision makers realized that, like Americans, people in Afghanistan and Iraq do not crave democratic procedures. Kurds simply do not want to be dominated by Sunnis; Sunnis do not want to be dominated by Shiites; Uzbekis by Tajiks; and Tajiks by Pashtuns. People often express a desire for participatory democracy when they really just want to avoid being victimized by a more powerful group. (Alford and Hibbing 713)

Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace worked out the details of natural selection at roughly the same time and were in remarkable agreement—with one vital exception. Darwin was completely consistent and contended that natural selection applied to behavioral as well as physical traits. Wallace, on the other hand, drew a bold line between the two, positing that the mental realm was immune to evolution and was instead the purview of ethereal religious uncertainties. (Alford and Hibbing 713)

The most developed examples come from studies of the heritability of traits such as conservatism and altruism. These behaviors have been studied in different twin populations in different countries by different researchers over the last twenty years. All of the studies reach the same conclusion: a predisposition to conservatism is genetically heritable. (Alford and Hibbing 714)

This is not incompatible, and in fact substantially supports Elazar’s basic thesis; moreover, it could help account for the fact that, unlike purely learned orientations, these deeply rooted attitudes might prove surprisingly resistant to the rise of a generic national culture in an era of mass communication and rapid travel. (Alford and Hibbing 716)

If these two individuals happen to be political scientists, we would not be surprised if we found that because they viewed and explained human behavior in starkly different terms, they would largely be talking past each other—as has all too frequently been the case for behavioralists and rational choicers. This suggests that differences in methodology within and across disciplines may derive at least in part from heritable differences in brain physiology. (Alford and Hibbing 716-717)

The most interesting and numerous genes in human beings are not structural (blue eyes or brown), but regulatory. Regulator genes allow an organism to respond to its environment; they are the genes that turn on and off the transcription of other genes (or themselves). (Alford and Hibbing 717)

Interestingly, the computer simulations that we discussed above have demonstrated that (under reasonable assumptions) a population consisting of two types roughly compatible with mildly autistic individuals and wary cooperators, respectively, can reach a stable equilibrium with the larger part of the final population composed of wary cooperators and the smaller remainder behaving more like the mildly autistic. (Alford and Hibbing 717-718)

Part of the problem may be that the last time biology came to the attention of political scientists (in the 1970s, after the publication of E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology), they believed that advocates were saying that behavior was determined by biology. If that was ever the position of biology proponents, it is no longer. (Alford and Hibbing 718)

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?


Time-Shifting the OODA Loop

The Pentagon’s New Map: Book Proposal,” by Thomas Barnett, letter to Jennifer Gates and Todd Shuster, 2002, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/pnm/proposal.htm.

In the Pines,” by Smog, A River Ain’t Too Much To Love, 31 May 2005, http://www.lyrics007.com/Smog%20Lyrics/In%20the%20Pines%20Lyrics.html (available from Amazon.com).

Council of Trent,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, 22 July 2005, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Trent.

10 for 10,” by Steve Rubel, Micro Persuasion, 21 July 2005, http://www.micropersuasion.com/2005/07/10_for_10.html (from New Persuasion, also at Between Lawyers, Site 9, Telagon Sichelputzer).

“Ten Trends Let Me Take Charge,” by Nellie Lide, New Persuasion, 27 July 2005, http://newpersuasion.typepad.com/new_persuasion/2005/07/ten_trends_plus.html.

“The longest train I ever saw
Went down that Georgia line
The engine went by at six o’clock
And the cab went by at nine”

– Smog, In the Pines

An interesting article on “technology-driven trends will revolutionize how companies communicate,” which are really just techniques for fighting wars.

Most of them fit nicely with theories of modern war, like the mass-movement-based 4th Generation War (or “NetWar“)

1. The Long Tail – small players can collectively make up a market that rivals the giants. As Seth says, small is the new big. This applies equally for journalism as well as for marketers.

This refers to the super-empowerment of “small players,” which allow even the little guys to change world history. 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta shows the power of the long tail.

5. Citizen Marketing – consumers will organize – either on their own or with the help of companies – to evangelize products they love and vilify those they don’t

The peaceful Christian NetStruggle is an example of this citizen marketing in action — converts become evangelizers for new converts.

10. Decentralized Communication – armies of individual employees will use technology to become the voice of every company; like it or not. The solo singer is dead. Long live the chorus.

Why has the Iraqi insurgency been so hard to fight? Because of its decentralized communication.

One “technology” really caught my eye though, because it seems so different from what we are told makes wise warriors

3. Timeshifting – consumers will increasingly want to devour media on their own time, on the mobile device of their choice and without commercials

To understand how revolutionary the concept of timeshifting is, take a look at Air Force Colonel John Boyd’s Observe-Orient-Decide-Act decision cycle, sometimes called the “OODA Loop”

A Model of Human Thought

In the OODA loop, we observe the world, and then we orient (“make sense of it”). Most of the time, we go right into action after orientation — we are on autopilot (do you decide what foot to move next when walking? no — your orientation implicitly guides and controls you). Sometimes, we take the time to decide what to do, and then act (and observe that we made a decision, starting a whole new OODA loop!). In any case, the action effects the world, and the OODA loop begins again.

Modern militaries — whether our super high-tech Army or al-Qaeda’s super-empowered terrorists — try to get inside the enemy’s OODA loop. This means they try to go from Observation to Action before the enemy can. If you can Act before your enemy has acted, they will be acting on observations that are now out-of-date. If you are really good at this, your enemy will become paralyzed with doubt, because he knows he will never have observations that are up-to-date.

In other words, modern war theory teaches the warrior to “time-now,” to do things faster. Yet here is this idea to “time-shift,” in a list of other ideas that do fit with known keys to victory.

What is going on here? Has there ever been an example of a successful time-shift in struggle, where a fighter won by going outside his enemy’s OODA loop?


The Council of Trent (Italian: Trento) was an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church held in discontinuous sessions between 1545 and 1563 [a generation! — tdaxp] in response to the Protestant Reformation. It clearly specified Catholic doctrines on salvation, the sacraments and the Biblical canon, in opposition to the Protestants, and standardized the Mass throughout the church, largely abolishing local variations; this became called the “Tridentine Mass”, after Trent.

Establishment Power: The Catholic Church
Insurgent Power: Protestantism
Establishment Strategy: Get Outside the Enemy’s OODA Loop (very long “orientation” period)
Rejected Strategy: quest for Schwerpunkt/ch’i (decisive battle)
Outcome: Success (within a century, more Catholics than before the Reformation)

Hmmm… anything more recent?

Most importantly, this book [The Pentagon’s New Map — tdaxp] will link our nation’s foreign policy vision to its domestic security strategy in a way no one has done before. It will argue that America’s number one foreign policy goal in the 21st Century will be to shrink the Gap—not just “mind the Gap” in some Cold War-like standoff. During the Cold War it was enough just to wait the Soviets out [for 40 years, two generations!! — tdaxp], hoping they would fail. But that approach doesn’t make any sense with the Gap, which is already defined by failures such as authoritarian rule, poor economic connectivity to the outside world, endemic conflicts and epidemics, and routine acts of terror and genocide. The clock is already running out on these two billion people, which is why rooting out the dangers that keep these states from attracting direly needed foreign investments and thus growing economically—dictators, radical fundamentalists, terror networks—is so crucial.

Establishment Power: The United States of America
Insurgent Power: Communism
Establishment Strategy: Get Outside the Enemy’s OODA Loop (very long “observation” period)
Rejected Strategy: quest for Schwerpunkt/ch’i (decisive battle)
Outcome: Success (nearly all Communists regimes changed or transformed)

Of course, sometimes time-shifting the OODA loop is a sign of weakness, but that is a post for another time…

John R. Boyd’s "Patterns of Conflict" Brief

While discussing my attempt to understand PISRR in 4GW, Chet Richards of Defense and the National Interest suggested that I focus on some slides on late United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd’s epic brief, “Patterns of Conflict.” I took about four to read it and left astounded. What Thomas P.M. Barnett’s brief is to globalization, Boyd’s is to war.

I used the reconstructed Powerpoint


though a facsimile of the slides is also available


Over the next few weeks I will try to post on topics in Patterns of Conflict, to help me better understand this work.

I also took the the following unsolvable cryptogram of notes. Cryptic, neh?

warning: waterfall of victories creates failure, slide 40
warning: top-down attacks, pg 49
pro-waterfall: pg 65
agitprop/we-can-do-it 68
daily-kos-extremism pg 69
fake orders in politics 71
need for delegation 73
long political training during peace — then what about insurgencies?: 75
Schwerpunkt — Future Worth Creating? or Heart of the Beast?
fractals: 80s
quickly, Blitz 4GW not possible? 88
alien atmosphere, hence syphilis?: 91
need for popular early causes, agitprop, also SC ’00 decision?: 92
Reharmonize population BEFORE victory? Too much “capital” needed?: 96
Was SA guerrilla unsuccessful? How does that effect analysis: 98
similarity between 4GW/NCW: 102
saving delay: 106
need to help Sunnis: 108
my Dean experience: 109
Clinton/DNC as moral counter-guerrilla?/ different from GWs? 111
Kerry v Kos: 116
Overload/strategic despair 118
Human rights / moral conflict 119
similarities / differences to global guerrillas: 121
Parts of moral isolation / Aaron’s nightmare /evolutionary: 123
Kerry v Kos (again) 124
horizontal rule sets 125
FAA = FUD? what about MUM? 126
of DA, in ooda, GPASC 128
SDDOS == PISRR in different order?, Centralize/Decentralize 129
… but what about adversary’s successful? super-enemies? 130
“paths of least resistance” — in Senate, Reid is resisting or attempt to create new channel? 133
how does “moral fiber” relate in corrupt world of politics? 134
“Categories of Ruin” 136
“mop up or absorption” – marginalization or absorption in politics? 137
“penetrate [Pisrr] his being” / Full Spectrum 138
“end conflict” make sense in politics? non-ideological times? 140
PNM Grand Strategy 141
“internal harmony” – Larry’s electron comments 142
is “generous terms” in politics possible? 143
“some unifying vision” A Future Worth Creating / higher level than Schwepunkt 144
conspiracy/”theocracy” theories 149
strengthen channel and filibuster 150
“baited retreats” in politics 152
“senior commanders” is plural — lack of one authority possible/advisable? who are political anti-tankmen? 153
projected mental image/”theocracy” — both form AND temp 156
equilv of Barbarossa mistakes in politics? 171
encourage conspiracy theories 176
implies many technoguerillas? 177
“unsolvable cryptogram” – warns of popularizing strategy (Bush vagueness in GWOT?) 179

Download either the new powerpoint or original pdf, and learn a lot!

Colonel John Boyd and Affirmation

How Col. John Boyd Beat the Generals,” by Martin Edwin Andersen, Insight Magazine, http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/comments/c455.htm, 11 August 2002.

I read about Boyd on ZenPundit, and Marks’ description made him sound fascinating. His career is even better than I thought. A great summary is available on the ever-handy DNI site. My knowledge is still too sketchy to summarize the article, but the last paragraph is definitely worth quoting

Col. John Boyd, his biographer Robert Coram reports in his well-written book, had a speech he often gave to those who, like the fighter pilot himself, found that doing right did not always mean doing well. Known as the “To Be or To Do” speech, Boyd used it to rally flagging spirits of apprentices who, until they became involved as one of his Acolytes, had appeared fated to climb the highest rungs of conventional success. The tenets of this speech reflected both his spirit and values:

“One day you will come to a fork in the road. And you’re going to have to make a decision about what direction you want to go.” [Boyd] raised his hand and pointed. “If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments.” Then Boyd raised the other hand and pointed another direction. “Or you can go that way and you can do something – something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference.” He paused and stared. “To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?”

Definition of 4GW

Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW),” by Greg Wilcox and G.I. Wilson, Boyd Conference, http://d-n-i.net/fcs/pdf/4GW_wilson-wilcox_boyd_conf_2002.pdf, 20 May 2002.

4GW – Fourth Generation Warfare,” by John Robb, Global Guerillas, http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2004/05/4gw_fourth_gene.html, 8 May 2004.

Two posts, two different perspectives, on Fourth Generation Warfare. The freakishly anti-American John Robb, and the definition-of-American Defense and the Natural Interest, both have posts describing 4GW. If it wasn’t for Mark I would not even recognize the name “Boyd,” so this is clarifying for me too.

4GW can be defined as a method of warfare that uses the following to achieve a moral victory:

* Undermines enemy strengths (this may seem obvious, but most of modern warfare has involved direct attacks on enemy strengths — find the enemy army and destroy it).
* Exploits enemy weaknesses.
* Uses asymmetric operations (weapons and techniques that differ substantially from opponents).

The strategic/operational/tactical breakdown

• Strategic
– Loss of nation state’s monopoly on war
– A return to a world of cultures and states in conflict
– Internal segmentation/division along ethnic, religious, and special
interest lines within our own society
• Operational
– Seeks major psychological impact (will to fight, public opinion)
– Disproportionate results to investment
• Tactical
– Shift in focus from enemy’s front to his rear
– Use the enemy’s strength against him

4GW is an evolution of what came before

Generations of Warfare
The generational development of warfare can be outlined as:

* First generation — wars of Napoleon, conscription and firearms (the decline of mercenaries).
* Second generation — the US civil war and WW1, firepower and nation-state alignment of resources to warfare.
* Third generation — WW2, maneuver and armored warfare.
* Fourth generation — ad hoc warriors and moral conflict.

The Boyd Conference report puts things more clearly

• 1GW = Age of Napoleon
• 2GW = Age of Firepower
• 3GW = Age of Maneuver and Ideas
• 4GW = Small Independent Action Cells

GG gives a summary of how to “win” fourth generation wars (at least for the other side)

Winning a 4GW conflict
Victory in 4GW warfare is won in the moral sphere. The aim of 4GW is to destroy the moral bonds that allows the organic whole to exist — cohesion. This is done by reinforcing the following (according to Boyd):

* Menace. Attacks that undermine or threaten basic human survival instincts.
* Mistrust. Increases divisions between groups (ie. conservatives and liberals in the US).
* Uncertainty. Undermine economic activity by decreasing confidence in the future.

DNI cites Boyd’s original paper

• Surface fear, anxiety, and alienation in order to generate many non-cooperative centers of gravity thereby magnify internal friction

Destroy moral bonds that permit an organic whole to exist.

What can we do?

To combat 4GW requires coordinated response
– Political
– Military
– Economic
– Social
– Religious?

What are the moral problems with this? (Open question)