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Thread: The Clausewitz Collection (merged thread)

  1. #61
    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Default OK..I can agree with that

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    However, I am sceptical when it comes to building schools, and other types of social programmes and civilian infrastructure. This is getting into muddy water. The Army is not there to provide education and employment. If it needs to hire, then great.
    The exception being civil affairs; however, they are supposed to coordinate local assets, not do it for them. Those type activities did need to get done in Iraq in 03-05 and the local and international resources dropped the ball completly in that particular case. Perhaps the Army trying to pick up the ball created a bad example and false expectations.
    Reed

  2. #62
    Council Member sullygoarmy's Avatar
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    Thought MG Scales presented a good alternative to the other "Generations of Warfare" articles that are out there. I especially like his focus on the soldier versus technology.

    The only point I would bring up is the use of "cultural awareness" versus "cultural understanding". In my simple mind, cultural awareness does nothing for me. You can be aware all you want regarding a foreign culture and still trample all over it. Being aware is one thing, understanding not only the culture but the ramifications of that culture is where we should be trying to get not only our leaders on the ground, but our soldiers as well.

    By better understanding the culture, we can shape our actions to strengthen our currency in the eyes of the population and devalue that of the insurgent...that's really the name of the game.

    I know www.clausewitz.com has some of Beyerchen's articles posted there. May be worth a read after going through MG Scales' article.
    "But the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet withstanding, go out to meet it."

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  3. #63
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    By better understanding the culture, we can shape our actions to strengthen our currency in the eyes of the population and devalue that of the insurgent...that's really the name of the game.
    But is "[strengthening] our currency in the eyes of the population" an effective means in suppressing an insurgency, especially one as complex as the Iraqi insurgency? I'd agree there's a strong correlation, but I'm not certain there's a definite casual relationship of one preceding the other. Even so, I'm not sure how earning someone's fondness or respect will make them desire what they want any less. By nature, insurgencies of whatever type are pro-active and not reactionary; they'll keep fighting until they get what they want. Peace for them is not simply the absence of violence, but the institution of their version of "justice". And that makes me wonder if we have the cultural aptitude to adjust to the Machiavellian nature of power politics? As I see it, we're not so much as engaged in a war in Iraq, but instead shoulder-deep in the cut-throat domestic politics of a foreign country. One day we're shooting up Faction XYZ, the next day we're arming them. That's not war. That's politics. So I'm not sure how effective the military can be in that kind of situation without significantly expanding the scope of responsibilities for the military beyond war. Or, even if it's wise to move the military in that direction.

    I agree with your statements about cultural awareness vs understanding, however.
    Last edited by AmericanPride; 09-08-2008 at 08:09 PM.
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  4. #64
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Not sure

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    By nature, insurgencies of whatever type are pro-active and not reactionary; they'll keep fighting until they get what they want. Peace for them is not simply the absence of violence, but the institution of their version of "justice". .(emphasis Ron)
    That this is always the case. Seems like quite a few parts of any given "insurgency" are quite reactionary.

    Consider that the "acceptable" versions of justice might quite often vary even within the insurgency itself.
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  5. #65
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    Cool Clausewitz in Wonderland

    hi,

    To much commentary on Anthropology for me not to jump in

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlenWard View Post
    hi,

    To much commentary on Anthropology for me not to jump in
    Please introduce yourself here before you take the leap.

  7. #67
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    Default New Clausewitz book

    I'd highly recommend reading Jon Sumida's new book Decoding Clausewitz (Univ. of Kansas Press, 2008). It provides a new, and I believe useful, look at On War. Sumida makes a couple of propositions that put On War into a new light. The first is that the ordering of the "Clausewitz notes" has been mis-interpreted and that On War was substantially complete upon Clausewitz's death (not just Book I as many claim). The second is that Clausewitz was not trying to produce a "theory of a phenomenon", or to explain war, but rather to describe a "theory of practice", to describe a framework for examining and learning about war. In this light Book II, with its description of the process of critical analysis as a means to learn from history, is really the focus of the book.
    Fully agree with it or not, I believe this is a good approach for members of this forum to consider. It especially comes to my mind as I track the current multiple SWJ discussion threads on various aspects of Maneuver Warfare, John Boyd and the OODA loop. What comes out is that the value isn't really in what a doctrine or theory says is, but rather the thinking and discourse it promotes. More thinking and discourse means better educated practitioners (whether they be military or civilian).
    Last edited by PhilR; 10-01-2008 at 11:42 AM. Reason: spelling

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    Hey thanks for this i found it a very insightful and interesting read and im in agreement that it was not the reason for today's PC attitude but it could have helped a little bit.

    Thanks for this though guys much appreciated and a good read!

  9. #69
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default Thread Bump start

    Clausewitz is the essential grounding for all modern military thought. It's not as binding as Newtonian physics, but we have nothing else. I concur with the view that Tony Corn has either never read Clausewitz or has failed to discuss and understand what he says, with those who do.

    Part of this comes from the increasing confusion caused by the current use of means which have no military purpose. (Building Schools, Aid programs etc) which fall outside the scope of the military instrument and are part of the policy, not the War. A vast amount of what is currently discussed about military thought is not military, or even "Warfare", so folks read Clausewitz and get confused.

    Failing to understand Clausewitz is also central to a lot of John Boyd's insights, so again, adhering to one set of faulty argument sets you up for the next error in your OODA loop! - cheap shot, but it was too easy!!
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  10. #70
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    In my understanding, the relevancy of Clausewitz in the contemporary operating environment has not eroded, but instead has moved "downwards" to where tactical decisions have the same political effects and aims of war as a whole. Anthropology in war is nothing new -- IIRC Caesar extensively exploited such knowledge in his conquest of Gaul.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  11. #71
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Okay, and...

    Quote Originally Posted by nathan3011 View Post
    Hey thanks for this i found it a very insightful and interesting read and im in agreement that it was not the reason for today's PC attitude but it could have helped a little bit.

    Thanks for this though guys much appreciated and a good read!
    Please do an intro and, per our “house rules”, explain why you found this insightful and interesting... We tend to ask for substance here. Thanks in advance.

  12. #72
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    Default What, me muove?

    Does the fractious debate on evolutionary theory more-or-less hamstring any effort at describing complex adaptive systems from a human perspective?

    Merry Christmas

  13. #73
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    Default Evolutionary theory?

    Does the fractious debate on evolutionary theory more-or-less hamstring any effort at describing complex adaptive systems from a human perspective?
    The evolution of warfare is a fact, not a theory. I'm not sure there is any debate on that, and complex adaptive systems are systems that evolve in response to a changing environment, in other words co-evolution.

    Previously I have been hard on the readers/followers of Clausewitz, but that was due to their interpretations and blind obedience to what they think Clausewitz meant to say, such as the debate on center of gravities (COG). The COG process normally results in a lot of wasted time that does nothing to address the real problem, but it results in a must have power point slide for most ring knockers and graduates of CGSC. Clausewitz was a trend setter, not a follower. His intellectual insights were far above most, if not all, other military theorists, but his hordes of worshipers do not fall in the same category.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 12-24-2008 at 05:44 PM. Reason: grammar

  14. #74
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    Default Sir,

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    The evolution of warfare is a fact, not a theory. I'm not sure there is any debate on that, and complex adaptive systems are systems that evolve in response to a changing environment, in other words co-evolution.
    Got it. Thanks!

  15. #75
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    The evolution of warfare is a fact, not a theory. I'm not sure there is any debate on that, and complex adaptive systems are systems that evolve in response to a changing environment, in other words co-evolution.
    Just wanted to chime in and differentiate that no one argues against the idea warfare constantly evolves, but whether there are semi-linear "generations" of war (1/2/3/4 GW) is quite a subject of debate here and elsewhere. I, for one, hate the GW concept, for all the reasons outline in this thread.


    I would also argue that whether the underlying nature of warfare is different today than in the past is open discussion.
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  16. #76
    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    I would also argue that whether the underlying nature of warfare is different today than in the past is open discussion.
    I am of the opinion that the nature of war is unchanging but its character may change based on the cultures, available technology, and motivations of the antagonists.
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

  17. #77
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    I agree with many that "generational" concepts of war are hugely disturbing (even if I've written about it). I've been doing a literature review on the topic and I'm coming to some ideas that may or may not be valid.

    1) The reasons for conflict remain the same. The reasons, the issues, the politics, the humanity of conflict is the same throughout history.

    2) There are fundamental tactics that remain the same. Small unit to large army the ideas of movement, formation, are re-interpreted but fundamentally similar to previous eras.

    3) Strategies appear to evolve but that is a false premise. Understanding and knowledge of the enemy and response techniques to the enemy actions evolve to follow consistent maturation models.

    4) The fulcrum of many military eras is a fusion of technology and culture. New weapons cause a scramble to identify new defenses which result in new attack modes. That follow similar strategies of past eras just in newly interpreted roles.

    I might suggest that industrial age harmonics rolling through our knowledge economic age have created a tension within military circles (e.g. Nagl v. Gentile). Generational and episodic explanations have a tendency to create waves of new/old thinking. Whereas, usually the point of view of each is increasingly in error as the window of time moves across both points of view. The only constant being change, the only reality being the independent view points of the participants.

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  18. #78
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    Default Generations of War

    I, for one, hate the GW concept, for all the reasons outline in this thread.
    Concur, although I still think there are some worthwhile observations in the 4GW school of thought. I heard from a credible source that Hammes later wished he didn't attach his ideas to 4GW, because that association ended up discrediting an otherwise great work.

    I concur that the character of war evolves primarily based on culture and techology, but I strongly suspect there are other factors. Furthermore, as we all know different cultures evolve at different rates and in different ways. If a particular foe (most of them), can't afford to evolve sufficiently to counter our advanced technological based force, they'll evolve their tactics and strategy in an attempt to mitigate it (co-evoluation), thus equating to what some call asymmetrical warfare. Seems all of our terms asymmetric warfare, irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, etc. are far from ideal, yet those terms emerged for a reason.

  19. #79
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Concur, although I still think there are some worthwhile observations in the 4GW school of thought. I heard from a credible source that Hammes later wished he didn't attach his ideas to 4GW, because that association ended up discrediting an otherwise great work.
    When I first read 'Sling and the Stone', it was an eye-opener that I learned a lot from. Even then (well before my SWC/IW/COIN/4GW/Hybrid War/etc education) I was uneasy with the concept. That didn't take away from the overall lesson of TX's book - these wars are about populations, narrative, and information.

    That said, he spent the first 1/3d of the book making a foreceful argument for the GW concept, something that really detracted from my recent re-read.

    For novices, the 4GW theory doesn't do any harm, it's just intellectually dishonest, and I still don't understand why Lind and Co. persist in promoting what is a bankrupt construct when other, more intellectually honest approaches are available.
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  20. #80
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Concur, although I still think there are some worthwhile observations in the 4GW school of thought. I heard from a credible source that Hammes later wished he didn't attach his ideas to 4GW, because that association ended up discrediting an otherwise great work.
    Not to doubt the credible source, but having spent some days, a dining in night and a couple of hours on a train with TX, arguing about a whole range of stuff, I think he believes in the idea of 4GW, if nothing else as short-hand for the idea that somehow war is or has somehow changed.

    This is the idea I disagree with.

    4GW is like MW and EBO. It's a very blunt tool for trying to get an idea across quickly and without having to explain too much.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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