Archive for the ‘Boyd’ Category

There will be a Boyd and Beyond Symposium at Marine Corps Base Quantico Virginia on October 15th and 16th 2010. The symposium will have numerous esteemed speakers from varying disciplines, discussing how the theories of COL John Boyd are applied  to the vast array of problems and threats we face.

This symposium goes beyond Boyd’s Work. His influence on other professions and individuals making efforts to more effective outcomes in their perspective fields will be the focus of the Boyd and Beyond symposium. Topics discussed will focus not only on important military issues but will, as well, take Boyd’s theories into the different professions and realms of conflict these professions deal with.  How Boyd’s theories apply and what they have done to make all more effective at solving problems via the observation. orientation, decision and action cycles.

Understanding the OODA Loop, and the effects; Interaction, Insight,  Imagination, and Initiative, Command and Influence (LEADERSHIP) have on the constant repetitive nature of the decision making cycle can when leveraged, lead to gaining the advantage or as COL John Boyd stated; the essence of winning and losing;  

The essence of winning and losing is in learning how to shape or influence events so that we not only magnify our spirit and strength but also influence potential adversaries as well as the uncommitted so that they are drawn toward our philosophy and are empathetic towards our success.”

Soldiers, Marines, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Law Enforcement, Homeland Security Professionals, Colleges and University Safety and Security, Hospital Security, Hotel Security and private business looking to keep their workplace safe, will benefit from the lessons learned and applied at this symposium. Developing better strategies, tactics and methods and operational art to make your organization more effective in all that it does, is the type of learning that will take place at the Boyd and Beyond Symposium. 

I have the honor of attending and speaking on Boyd’s theories, translated and applied to training and education revolution going on in the Army, Marines and selected law enforcement right now . Adaptive Leadership, Recognizing the Signs and Signals of Crime and Danger and their relationship to Critical Decision Making Under Pressure and the training methodology necessary to reach this goal will be my focus. 

Here is the list of committed speakers and their topic of discussion. You can clearly see that learning, unlearning and relearning will most definitely be taking place.

Lieutenant General (Retired) Van Riper TBD
Stan Coerr Intro
Don Vandergriff Outcomes-Based T&E
Bill Bon
GI Wilson 4GW and Border Security, Gangs, cartels
Robert Coram Boyd Biography
Terry Barnhart Boyd in Corporate R&D
Fred Leland Boyd on the Street: Law Enforcement and the Signals of Crime
Dave Foster Systems: Portfolio Complexity and Fog of war
Ev Raspberry NA
Elaine Grossman  
Jim Hasik Supply chain fast transients
Mike Grice Afghanistan and OODA
Captain Linton Wells USN Maneuver in naval warfare
Art Corbett Mission Command
Bruce Jones Coast Guard
Katya Drozdova Soviets in Afghanistan: the slow transient
Chip Pearson Applying John Boyd principles to business strategy and execution
Colonel David Pearson (retired)  
William Johnson  
Mark Boblitz LTC AUS Retired  
Bob Howard?  


Anyone interested in attending contact: Stan Coerr Headquarters Marine Corps stanton.coerr@usmc.mil 


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I commend to your attention the recent speech made by the SecDef at
the USAFA. If you read down to the second Boyd reference you will find the
“To Be or To Do Speech” quoted in full to the cadets.
I fear the SecDef is poisoning the minds of the Zoomies.


United States Air Force Academy Lecture
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Colorado Springs, CO, Friday, April 02, 2010

Thank you for that introduction.
It’s a pleasure to be back at the Air Force Academy for my first visit since 2007, when I spoke at commencement. And I’m particularly happy to be in Colorado Springs, but then I am happy to be anywhere other than Washington, D.C.

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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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Tom Ricks, who I do respect, and love his books, wrote a very biased list of reformers in regard to the COIN movement inside the Army today (he works with a lot of them as well). A lot of these people, if not most, are beltway insiders (I don’t know everyone of them, but do most). They almost all get a lot of media attention for the wrong reasons. I disagree almost totally with Tom’s list. So, I published my own list below.  I disagree as I explain below. Read Tom’s list at the bottom of this post, then read mine here.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas,



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My friend Andrew Cockburn has launched yet another stunning tubesteak. Read it and you will understand why we don’t need “change we can believe in.” We already have the best government money can buy. 

On the 4th of July, I was driving with my wife to see my step son and his family when we drove by the Prince William County Virginia Government buildings, and we saw several people in front protesting big government.  The signs talked about socialism and the massive debt we are taking on. The audience resembled more the parent crowd at a kids soccer game than sterotyped protestors.  I told my wife, I should be out there with them. I agree with their positions.  Sadly, I believed in the President when he first came into office though I am a Ron Paul supporter, but I had to give President Obama a chance.

Now, I am very disappointed.  Our country is turning into a nation of corruption, where the rich get very rich no matter how it happens, while most of the rest of my fellow citizens are turning into dependents of the government.  They are unable or unwilling to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own actions.  Someone else is always to blame for their troubles., while the the big U.S. government is the only one that can fix their problems.

Then, there is no path for leadership in order to gain a position to fix the problems we face.   We select people based on stunning and long resumes, then they are groomed through a system that tells them to play along to get along.  If you do what is right, no matter how effective it may be, but it goes against the establishment, you become an “outsider.” We all proclaim through the media, pop culture and books that we like these boat rockers, heretics, etc…but as my good friend and mentor Chuck Spinney says, “as long as they don’t rock anyone’s boat.”

The following article, which could relate to the other institutions that make up our government, show how the top stay in control, and continue to screw the rest of us. They put self before the nation, retaining institutions and systems that are draining our national treasure, so they can fill theirs.

My solution, civic involvement, like the people I saw yesterday, get out and vote, but we need to form a third party.  Right now, both parties are one in the same, it is all about greed and power, not leading. Until we as citizens peacefully rally and fix this mess, our nation will continue to go down the tubes owing China and others a lot of money, while our fellow citizens become irresponsible, unable take any action while they wait for their periodic handout.


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Military Reformer William S. Lind (not to be confused with the anti-reformer Raytheon lobbyist now ensconced in the Pentagon as the Deputy Secretary of Defense, William J. Lynn) has written an excellent piece of advice for President Obama. While one might want to quibble with whether some of the people now incarcerated in Guantanamo should be tried as criminals, rather than held as prisoners of war, the central theme of Lind’s thinking is the essence of winning in human conflict. It comes directly from the founder of the military reform movement, Col. John R. Boyd, who died in 1997: Thinking and operating at the moral level in Iraq and Afghanistan, and elsewhere, is the key. To stoop to lower levels, such as the un-, and anti-, American behavior pushed then and now by Vice President Cheney, is a sure route to defeat.

Lind explains in a commentary published in the June 3 AntiWar.com. It appears below.

Thanks Don


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