Archive for December, 2009

Yemen: Opening A New “Front” in the Long War Nicht Schwerpunkt as a Prescription for Defeat by a 1000 Cuts by Chuck Spinney

Recent events like the Fort Hood Massacre and the bungled attempt to fire bomb the airliner bound for Detroit have focused attention on and encouraged our escalating intervention in Yemen, which has been taking place quietly, as if Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan were not enough to keep our strategic planners and stretched out military forces occupied. Our reactions to events in the so-called Long War on Terror suggest an aimless spreading of effort throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. This aimlessness brings to mind a comment General Hermann Balck, a highly decorated German officer in WWII, made to a small group of reformers in the Pentagon in the early 1980s.

The subject was Operation Barbarossa, or Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Balck pithily dismissed the German strategy shaping that invasion with the words: “Nicht Schwerpunkt.” Balck was saying there was no focus or main effort to the German invasion, and without a focus, there was no way to harmonize the thousands of subordinate efforts. The result was a spreading of effort that led to eventual overextension as can be seen in the following map. Now the Eastern Front of WWII is very different from the ridiculously misleading label of a Central Front in the Long War on Terror. But the idea of schwerpunkt is germane to both efforts, and the US is showing all the signs of spreading and over extending its efforts which accompany a nicht schwerpunkt. This is no small thing.

As the American strategist Colonel John Boyd showed in his famous briefing, Patterns of Conflict, the idea of a schwerpunkt is central to organizing all effective military operations. It is far more than a simple question of concentrating forces. According to Boyd, the idea of a “Schwerpunkt represents a unifying medium that provides a directed way to tie initiative of many subordinate actions with superior intent as a basis to diminish friction and compress time in order to generate a favorable mismatch in time/ability to shape and adapt to unfolding circumstances.”

Now this is a very compressed statement, pregnant with information, and based on a lot of research, but it nevertheless makes it self evident that there is no comparable unifying medium in America’s Long War on Terror. Our failure to form a schwerpunkt is just as much a prescription for paralysis and defeat by a thousand cuts in a guerrilla war as it is in a mechanized conventional war between standing armies.


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The American strategist and military reformer Colonel John Boyd argued that nations and groups should shape their domestic policies, foreign policies, and military strategies so that they:

  • pump up one’s own resolve and increase one’s own solidarity,
  • drain away the resolve of one’s adversaries and weaken their internal cohesion,
  • reinforce the commitments of allies to one’s own cause and make them empathetic to one’s success
  • attract the uncommitted to our cause or makes them empathetic to one’s success
  • end conflicts on favorable terms that do not sow the seeds for future conflicts

These criteria are the essence of grand strategy and can be thought of as guidelines for evaluating the wisdom of specific policies or actions. And while they make sense logically and intuitively, the difficulty of defining policies that simultaneously conform to and strengthen to all these criteria is equally obvious. The latter challenge is particularly difficult for the unilateral military strategies and the coercive foreign policies like those preferred by Israel or the United States. Military operations and political coercion are often destructive in the short term, and these destructive strategic effects can be in natural tension with the aims of grand strategy, which should be constructive over the long term.

Moreover, the more powerful a country, the harder it becomes to harmonize the often conflicting criteria for a sensible grand strategy. Overwhelming power breeds hubris and arrogance which, in turn, carry a temptation to use that power coercively and excessively. But lording over or dictating one’s will to others breeds resentment. Thus, possession of overwhelming power increases the risk of going astray grand strategically.

That risk is particularly dangerous when aggressive external actions, policies, and rhetoric are designed to prop up or increase internal cohesion for domestic political reasons. Very often, the effects or military strategies or coercive foreign policies that are perceived as useful in terms of domestic political cohesion backfire at the grand-strategic level, because they strengthen our adversaries’ will to resist, push our allies into a neutral or even an adversarial corner, or drive away the uncommitted … which together, can set the stage for continuing conflict.

With these general thoughts about grand strategy in mind, read the following article by Uri Avnery and ask yourself if Israel’s most recent war in Gaza made sense at the tactical level of conflict?, the strategic level of conflict? … and most importantly, at the grand strategic level of conflict?
Cast Lead 2
by Uri Avnery Antiwar.com December 28, 2009 http://original.antiwar.com/avnery/2009/12/27/cast-lead-2/

Did we win? Sunday marked the first anniversary of the Gaza War, alias Operation Cast Lead, and this question fills the public space.


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I got this from a friend who works on budget issues in Congress, and he/she assured me the reasons are accurate — that is all I know, but if true, this list would explain Insurance stock just rose to all time highs. We are getting taken for a big ride. As my friend Al Gill says, “they are strip mining this country!” Here is a great example of corruption and selfish service. Remember Health Care begins with you and how you eat and working out moderately at least three times a week, not with the bloated government. The Senate bill isn’t a ” starter home,” it’s a sink hole. It needs to die so something else can take its place. It doesn’t matter whether people are on the right or the left — once they understand the con job that’s about to be foisted on them, they agree. That’s why Harry Reid and President Obama are trying to jam it through as fast as they can, before people get wise. So email the list to your friends and family, tweet it and spread the word.



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The below article best describes what is wrong with our nation today! I agree totally with it. We love facades, pretty faces, glowing resumes-filled with fancy places with degrees, and work experiences all over the globe. As I keep saying, “Where have all the leaders gone?”  You want real leaders, then you got to be able to take the hard truth, and mostly the hard fixes. Until we do that, we will continue to go down the drain, slowly, but surely. Of course, I provided recommendations on how to fix it in a column a year ago. I will look for the post and then update it.

Have a great Christmas otherwise.


December 20, 2009OP-ED COLUMNISTTiger Woods, Person of the YearBy FRANK RICH http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/opinion/20rich.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

AS we say farewell to a dreadful year and decade, this much we can agree upon: The person of the year is not Ben Bernanke, no matter how insistently Time magazine tries to hype him into its pantheon. The Fed chairman was just as big a schnook as every other magical thinker in Washington and on Wall Street who believed that housing prices would go up in perpetuity to support an economy leveraged past the hilt.

Unlike most of the others, it was Bernanke’s job to be ahead of the curve. Yet as recently as June of last year he could be found minimizing the possibility of a substantial economic downturn. And now we’re supposed to applaud him for putting his finger in the dike after disaster struck? This is defining American leadership down.


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Take it from me, this stuff also applies to Soldiers and Marines fighting 4GW right now and in the future. Fred and I work a lot together to cross over lessons learned between law enforcement and the military.

From Fred Leland:

 I started a new weekend morning series on my web-site called Coffee and Conversation: Trying to get the guys in law enforcement and security to think more about conflict and how to prevent or resolve it, with more than just the gun and physical force. The Tactical Decision Maker: The Devil’s Definitely in the Details is the latest (posted this morning) of 4 in the series I started a month ago.


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DON VANDERGRIFF: On Adaptive Leadership Posted

15 Dec 2009 10:29 AM PST

Obviously, warfare and conflict in the 21st Century present new challenges. It’s not only hideously complex, mercurial, and lightning fast — it’s an environment where missteps or brain dead actions of an individual or small group can unwind the work of an entire Army within hours. The solution to these challenges isn’t achieved by: automating new layers of oversight/controls on individual behavior or hermetically sealing off the organization’s members from the outside world or developing ever more complex doctrines that appear to solve every contingency.

Instead, the answer is to train leaders to think adaptively.

* So, how do you accomplish this? How do you train leaders to think adaptively?

** The best answer I have found so far is found in the work of Don Vandergriff.

He’s done more deep thinking and generated more experience actually training adaptive leaders than anybody else.

Here’s some links to his work on the topic:

First, his books:

The Path to Victory America’s Army and the Revolution in Human Affairs

Raising the Bar Creating and Nurturing Adaptability to Deal with the Changing Face of War

Manning the Future Legions of the United States Finding and Developing Tomorrow’s Centurions

Here are some articles that use his adaptive leadership training methodology.

Assembly Article: No Approved Solutions for Asymmetric Warfare (Foster)

OBTE: Defining the Aim Point for Reconnaissance Leader Training

* I could go into a long explanation for why this is so, but frankly Don does a better job than I would. ** I consider adaptive thinking is a requirement for all 21st Century organizations — corporate, military, agency, NGO, or insurgent . Even further: the best organizations make adaptive thinking a requirement for ALL of its members.

Here’s his contact info for more info:



CELL: 571-229-0962

EMAIL: vandergriffdonald AT usa.net

WEB: http://www.donvandergriff.com

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Congressman Ron Paul is one of the few strategic leaders we have in this country.  He won every Republican primary debate, but was shut out by the establishment controlled media. His son, with similiar views, is running for Senate in Kentucky. These few leaders is the only hope our country has left for limited government and the Constitution.

Congressman Ron Paul Dear Friend of Liberty, December 16th is a special date.

It is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party when early American patriots stood up to the tyranny of the King George. In 2007, we made history together by raising over $6 million in one day.

Now, we need to make this December 16th special by helping propel my son, Rand, to the United States Senate. Our fellow lovers of Liberty are organizing a Money Bomb for Rand and we need your help.

Please visit his website, http://www.RandPaul2010.com this Wednesday, December 16th and donate. A successful day will launch Rand into the homestretch of his primary with the momentum he needs for victory. Rand is running a tremendous race in Kentucky and is currently leading in the polls. Sending Rand to Washington would be the greatest victory for limited government and the Constitution we have seen in years.

Imagine the Senator Rand would be! He would fight to end undeclared wars, burgeoning deficits and the expansion of government that threatens all of our freedoms. And, Rand’s election will send a message to the establishment that we are taking our country back and the pave the way for future success together. Visit http://www.RandPaul2010.com to learn more. I hope you can help by donating to Rand this Wednesday, December 16th .

I know I will be. Together, we can take our country back one contribution at a time. In Liberty, Ron Paul

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