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Old 11-03-2007   #1
Rob Thornton
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Default Revisiting DR Kilcullen's piece on New Paradigms and the OSS

We’ve had allot of discussion about roles and missions and where capabilities should reside. I dug this out of the SWJ Blog archive – Dave Kilcullen discussed New Paradigms for the 21st Century Warfare. One of the things he talked about was “the new Strategic Services” – later on he responded to a query I made and he referenced Tom Barnett’s SyS-Admin concept and USA LTC John Nagl’s case for an Advisory Corps (its one of the responses to the original blog). He also referenced the WWII era Office of Strategic Services as a possible way of thinking of the types of skill sets, personality traits, focus of scope of operations. What he was conceptualizing was different then SOF and different then GPF – and he was quick to point out that he was not putting forward some new radical idea, but adapting a concept that worked for what we needed at the time.

This was back in June, and six months later I’m still thinking about it. With all our discussion about how we get capabilities for PRTs, how we get the right folks for Advisory missions, how we do Inter-Agency, how we do business, how do we attract and retain the very types of talented folks we need – as such, the discussion that DR Kilcullen started I think is very relevant. SWC member Troufion and a couple of others started raising the issues about new a new service; some like myself thought it sounded like a risky idea because it would require new doctrine, new structure, new monies, and would compete with ground services that with some adaptation might be able to fill the need.

I’m not so sure anymore. For various reasons it may be a good idea to start a new service along the lines of the OSS – but on a scale proportional to the requirement and the capabilities they’d present. It might do to let such a group develop their own organization and doctrine, and requirements (one reason is that if an existing group develops these things it tends to build requirements and capabilities which reflect its own values as opposed to those which may be needed. We’re not talking about SOF doing DA, and we’re not talking about GPF doing FID, we’re not talking about CIA doing collection and analysis, we’re not talking about DoS doing diplomacy – we are talking about something different.

Quote from David Killen at the blog: (his own citations are in the end notes of the blog)

Quote:
“4. Identify the new "strategic services": A leading role in the war on terrorism has fallen to Special Operations Forces (SOF) because of their direct action capabilities against targets in remote or denied areas. Meanwhile, Max Boot(12) has argued that we again need something like the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) of World War II, which included analysis, intelligence, anthropology, special operations, information, psychological operations, and technology capabilities.
Adjectives matter: Special Forces versus Strategic Services. SOF are special. They are defined by internal comparison to the rest of the military—SOF undertake tasks "beyond the capabilities" of general-purpose forces. By contrast, OSS was strategic. It was defined against an external environment and undertook tasks of strategic importance, rapidly acquiring and divesting capabilities as needed. SOF are almost entirely military; OSS was an interagency body with a sizeable civilian component, and almost all its military personnel were emergency war enlistees (talented civilians with strategically relevant skills, enlisted for the duration of the war).(13) SOF trace their origin to OSS; yet whereas today's SOF are elite military forces with highly specialized capabilities optimized for seven standard missions,(14) OSS was a mixed civil-military organization that took whatever mission the environment demanded, building capabilities as needed.
Identifying which capabilities are strategic services today would be a key step in prioritizing interagency efforts. Capabilities for dealing with nonelite, grassroots threats include cultural and ethnographic intelligence, social systems analysis, information operations (see below), early-entry or high-threat humanitarian and governance teams, field negotiation and mediation teams, biometric reconnaissance, and a variety of other strategically relevant capabilities. The relevance of these capabilities changes over time—some that are strategically relevant now would cease to be, while others would emerge. The key is the creation of an interagency capability to rapidly acquire and apply techniques and technologies in a fast-changing situation.”
We have some good models for this – the NCTC (National Counter Terrorism Center) is one, the JIATF (Joint Inter-Agency Task Force) is another. These organizations have unique capabilities and constraints – a center for example is not an agency or bureau, and does not have the types of authorities associated with those types of organizations, JIATFs are durational (although some of the counter drug JTF types are long standing). These organizations draw their personnel from the supporting agencies. Maybe what is needed is something that allows its own recruiting with its own budget to operate along the lines of the OSS.

I think we continue to have better understanding of how the threat operates within the world as they perceive it, and how they see us.

As DR. Kilcullen closes:

Quote:
“The new threats, which invalidate received wisdom on so many issues, may indicate that we are on the brink of a new era of conflict. Finding new, breakthrough ideas to understand and defeat these threats may prove to be the most important challenge we face.”
I wonder if our current tool set is adaptable and flexible enough to do what is required? I wonder if we should or even if we can create capabilities within existing organizations with strong rational for remaining as they are, and strong culture that resists change – often for good intuitive reasons. Consider that possibly the best way to meet these challenges might be to create something new (in relative terms) to work with our other existing tools in accomplishing our strategic ends. If so, maybe its not as hard as we think it is – maybe a key quality of this organization is that it is people & grey matter focused – other then its human requirements (recruiting & retention), and the $$$ required to travel – its budget should remain small. This is tough, because the more I learn about the Inter Agency, the more I believe budget = power and authority – but maybe that is the point here. The people we would want in such an organization would have to be clever enough to get by on little, they’d need to be natural communicators, intuitive and audacious among other traits. They might not desire to be in some of our traditional agencies and services, but they might “fit” is a different kind of organization – and as such be attracted to it. They don’t need to be able to do the Darby Queen, or even run 2 miles in 18 minutes - however, would need to be willing and able to live without McDonalds and Wal-Mart. They could be men or women, ages 18 to however old they can be and still function at an alert level. They could (and perhaps should) contain a wide array of interests, and experiences (both professional and personal).

As always this seems the best place to discuss this – the SWC in itself could be a virtual model of such people and such an organization - and potentially a recruiting pool.

Best, Rob
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Old 11-03-2007   #2
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As always this seems the best place to discuss this – the SWC in itself could be a virtual model of such people and such an organization - and potentially a recruiting pool.
Rob, you would definitely look dashing in sunglasses and a fedora.

On the serious note, inter-agency is so tough, given the baggage and size of rice bowls that come with it. Even if this new service stood up from scratch, there would have to be administrators, bean counters, and advisors who rolled in at the beginning and formed the nucleus from which all else would grow.

I don't think they could come in without bias and the "own values" you mentioned that would in fact be detrimental to the mission. Or could they?

For some bizarre reason, the movie 'The Peacemaker" comes to mind.

Last edited by jcustis; 11-03-2007 at 02:26 AM.
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Old 11-03-2007   #3
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Well I can confirm that even a hat and sunglasses won't help you pick up chicks - good thing for me I met the wife in bad light

Quote:
On the serious note, inter-agency is so tough, given the baggage and size of rice bowls that come with it. Even if this new service stood up from scratch, there would have to be administrators, bean counters, and advisors who rolled in at the beginning and formed the nucleus from which all else would grow.
I think like many such organizations in the past - it'd have to start with leadership that had a vision, knew the kind of people he/she wanted, and where to get them. I'll bet that skill sets you need to frame an organization can be found out there amongst folks with talent who are currently disgruntled and looking for a place that reflects function over form - what you have to guard against down the road is when organizations take on the mistake upholding core values for group think - a danger to anything novel.

Bias I think is always going to be there to some degree - it reflects our individualism to some degree - but the trick is acknowledging that you have bias on a topic, realizing how it effects your perspective, then mitigating its negative effects.

I was thinking something different from the Peacemaker (if we're talking movies - maybe not the best way to describe people but...)- something less kinetic and lethal for sure, less Clooney - more Jimmy Stewart sort or Hitchcock kinda of Cary Grant in North by Northwest, Indiana Jones, - not very flashy by today's standards, but ideally we're talking about low on the tech, more of the grey matter - something where the cause of the solution goes largely un-noticed in the media because it was not spectacular enough to make the FOX/CNN cable media , something more indirect. We have good organizations to do the DA high speed stuff already. These would be people who feel comfortable and are able to think in what for many might be a set of uncomfortable circumstances - they'd need reasonable powers of observation and analysis and be resourceful.

Best, Rob

Last edited by Rob Thornton; 11-03-2007 at 03:10 AM.
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Old 11-03-2007   #4
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Excellent post Rob. My initial gut reaction would be to reorganize the CIA for these sorts of roles, given it was for just such a reason (as well as to centralize and oversea the entire US Intelligence structure) that it was originally created for. In principle, I really do not like the idea of creating yet another Federal service or agency to perform a task, especially when there is at least one other that was originally created to do much the same thing. But as you have explained Rob, the culture of the institution(s) may well prove resitant, even hostile to such a re-roling and reorganization, thus dooming it to probable ignominious failure.

There is little question though that an OSS-type capability and service is necessary. Given that, I would insist upon the end of whatever Paramilitary role the CIA retains, and annex it to the new service/agency. More broadly speaking, this agency should hand-pick recruits at all times, and especially the cadres when first standing the service up. Preferably with the people who are doing the hand-picking would choose people whom they know personally - not out of cronyism, but because not only are they quite aware of what the personal qualities and abilities of these people are, but can also go some way to vouching for their personal reliability. The recruiting net should be cast wide and in both the usual and unusual places, for both the usual and unusual suspects.

An excellent point you made Rob was the one about the budget, not only being small, but making a virtue out of such a necessity. The new service would lose much of its effectiveness if money and resources were lavished on it; the temptation to throwing money at problems, or finding problems to throw money at, would be great and progressively erode its professional judgement and operational effectiveness (not to mention the administrative efficiency). Professionals would quickly find themselves shouldered out by careerists and bean-counters. Thrift is essential, for both operational success and institutional integrity.

There should be as little compartmentalism and formal division of labour as possible within the reasonable limits of operational effectiveness and security. There also should be as little of a system of Grades as possible. Someone's position should depend upon talent and their competence in particular tasks. As much as possible, everyone from soldiers to businessmen to academics to tradesmen to bartenders (they can be remarkably effective collectors of information and provisions) etc., should be able to rub shoulders and broaden each other's horizons and work together to build a much more comprehensive picture of things, figure out what has to be done, and to just go ahead do it, than might otherwise be the case in more formal, structured situation.

There's real potential in such a service. It's a very good thing that you dug this back up Rob, otherwise it would eventually have been forgotten.

Last edited by Norfolk; 11-03-2007 at 03:27 AM.
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Old 11-03-2007   #5
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Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
Rob, you would definitely look dashing in sunglasses and a fedora.
Ya know jcustis, I thought there was something funny with that story Rob was telling us about him having to shave off the 'stache so his daughter would recognize him...I think the real reason he did that is starting to come out...

Just to clarify, I'm referring to him shedding his hitherto flashy persona and adopting a "gray man" profile prior to his setting-up of his super-secret we're-not-quite-sure-what-it-is organization that he seems to be attempting to recruit for from SWC.

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Old 11-03-2007   #6
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Well, we could do this: recreate the OSS using most of the existing CIA as the special intelligence branch and most of the existing SOCOM as the special operations branch. And have it under a civilian director. Leave the services a tactical special operations capability.

Of course, this is an idea from someone who doesn't have a good understanding of strategic matters. I'm sure someone here can tell me why it's not a good option.
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Old 11-03-2007   #7
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Default Oss - Mi6 - Soe

Rob--

As usual, a thoughtful and intriguing post. I have a concern about the OSS model in that I beleive that Donovan erred when he combined the capabilities of MI6 and SOE in one organization. This resulted in the operators having a vested interest in the intelligence product. the problem was carried over into CIA and came out "loud and clear" in the Bay of Pigs that President Kennedy reportedly called a "perfect failure."

I am also concernd that SOF is viewed as primarily direct action when FID, PSYOP, and Civil Affairs may be its most important components.

If one were to thin seriously about creating a new organization then the first step would be, I think, to address the capabilities one would want to have. The second step would be to ask what kind of organizational structure would be needed to optimize those capabilities. Then, compare those capabilities with those in existing organizations; see if they could be adapted, or if one or more new organizations were needed.

Cheers

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Old 11-03-2007   #8
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Default The way we think about problems matters

I'm just not sure those ( I guess the OSS model) are the capabilities we're after (I'm not saying their not either) - that was one of the reasons its stuck with me for 6 months - it bothers me - like I'm missing something. I've known a few CIA folks, I always thought highly of them - as an organization it seems to fulfill its role (and probably then some) - I would not tamper with it. SOCOM is an organization that also seems to have come into its own and offered policy makers a suite of capabilities under one roof that we've not really been able to put our fingers before - my gut tells me that SOCOM is a good thing.

Since I read DR K's piece, I've thought he was alluding to something different. To be sure he had/has allot going on, and may not have had the opportunity to think more about it - but I think its something that would fill a niche that is absent, or one that something else is covering poorly because its a square peg in a round hole. Partly why I decided to put it up - so we could think about it some more - burn up some brain cells.

If interested, folks might peruse the Barnett Sys-Admin piece (just Google it). Kilcullen mentioned it, and at first I thought he was referencing it as a model - but after looking at it a couple of times - I think he just meant we required something that reflected the challenges we see now and believe are ahead. While I don't think Sys-Admin is what we need - I do think it has attempted to frame the challenges (in this case Barnett's "Gap" theory) and develop a solution. Same with LTC Nagl's Advisory Corps -in this case a way of looking at the problem of future security challenges differently within an existing organization (the Army). I think what is important is the way we think about the problem - using the analysis of the problem and its conditions to shape the solution vs. trying to use existing solutions against a problem for which they were not designed to anticipate. It sounds subtle - but I think its significant, and I think that was the value of the examples - not necessarily that the proposed solution(s) were the ones to go with - just the process in which the solutions were derived should be used here.
Best, Rob

Last edited by Rob Thornton; 11-03-2007 at 02:07 PM.
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Old 11-03-2007   #9
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As we move forward the needs for advancing Intelligence that is tactical rather than strategic is going to require a change in CIA/NSA/DOD efforts. In the past each of the intelligence services has sliced up and duplicated efforts and no amount of substantial political wrangling has changed that. I'm currently reading a few good books that look at information sharing and operational versus intelligence analysis.

Treverton, G. F. (2001). Reshaping national intelligence for an age of information. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Shulsky, A. N., & Schmitt, G. J. (2002). Silent warfare: Understanding the world of intelligence. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, Inc.

Clark, R. M. (2004). Intelligence analysis a target-centric approach. Washington D.C: CQ Press.

The changing role of information in warfare. (1999). Santa Monica, CA: RAND.
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Old 11-03-2007   #10
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From my point of view he (Dr. K) was suggesting something a like a world wide Phoenix program. Just my opinion.
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Old 11-03-2007   #11
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Slap,
Quote:
From my point of view he (Dr. K) was suggesting something a like a world wide Phoenix program. Just my opinion.
I think there is something to what you are saying. One of the problems we have though is that our ability to describe something (or problem solve) usually begins with our experiences and knowledge. This is generally a good problem to have since it accounts for the context in which the description /solution took place and that helps us determine how relevant and how applicable something is.

This is one of the reasons I think why its easier to discuss what happened in the past as opposed to what will happen in the future - we're able to sort of walk around the problem and start to consider it from the "what happened before it", "what happened during it" and "what happened after it" to provide context. Often we infer the wrong lessons because of whatever bias we've applied from the angle of view - which might skew the applicability/relativity of the description/solution/model.

However, you have to start somewhere and the nice thing about history is that if you consider enough similar problem sets and how they were approached you stand a better chance of identifying your own bias and mitigating it.

The Wikipedia has a reasonable definition of the Phoenix Program (not always the case with a wiki) - what would be interesting is the debate that led to the creation of the Phoenix Program, and its original intent - then finding out how it evolved/morphed over time - what influenced creation and change.

I'm still wrestling with defining the problem that was put forward in DR K's essay to a level where I can think about the solution. The other part is wondering if it is a problem with a solution at all, or just a change in the conditions in which our problems are occurring. The two things are different enough to require different approaches. Then there is allot of background noise going on in the environment that complicates it - ex. I read a piece this morning discussing the est. of an private intelligence company out of the Prince Group (of Blackwater fame) that has guys like former career CIA officers in it. While former intel officers have marketed their talents before, this seems of growing importance in the larger COE (Contemporary Operational Environment) because of IT and reach of not only those who offer services, but those who contract them. How does that affect our goals? How does it change the environment? The rise of importance and availability of professional services with resources comparable to many states is just one aspect of how to consider contemporary and future challenges.

Wanted to add that I'm not trying to single out any one changing variable within the COE (this was just the one I read this morning and was thinking about), but just that its difficult to describe all the variables which have led us to understanding we have problems which need answers, but which also leaves us scratching our head a bit when it comes to understanding the relationships between parts of problems and problem sets, and problem sets withing problem sets. This is why I think it has to be "people" oriented solution that while it might be capable of acting on a problem (or resourcing action), its culture would not be such as though it approached problems with the desire to find a "fire and forget" solution - then service the next target. Does that make sense?

Best, Rob

Last edited by Rob Thornton; 11-03-2007 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 11-03-2007   #12
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Hi Rob, a big portion of the first part of your post is almost straight out of Col. Warden's concept of the 'Future Picture' of the Situation. You don't start with the past you start with the ideal future you want to see and then work backwards to the present

The second part is important because of all the misconceptions of what Phoenix was. It was conceived and executed as a Constabulary (Police) Operation. Intell was collected...a warrant for arrest was issued....you were put on trial and had a chance to defend yourself....and if convicted you could go to jail or convert to the side of the Vietnam Government. The arrest process is where most of the killings happend relative to Phoenix proper, not as some kind of formal policy.
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Old 11-04-2007   #13
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Hey Slap - spent about 5 hours hanging out with TT (AKA SWC member Terry Terriff) and we were discussing similar processes - I got to thinking about David Hume (1711-1776) and remembered a remark attributed to him ref. his thoughts on probability while considering the physics of billiards.

Then I got to thinking what we're really talking about is the ability to better set up the shot. How do you arrange the pool balls on the table in such a way that the probability of the shot you need is better then before?

Best, Rob
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Old 11-04-2007   #14
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Hi Rob, the article talks about a dye (rolling dice) not billiards is this the right link? Anyway I loved the article I went to. Ayn Rand liked Hume quite a bit which is something not generally known about her.

This article is a good example of systems theory (that I learned anyway) a higher or larger system always controls the smaller or system below it. So cause and effect can come out differently, but the truth of what really happened can be difficult to see or understand.

Which sums up my personal philosophy and I forget who said this, "I can only believe in a God that laughs"

Last edited by slapout9; 11-04-2007 at 12:35 AM. Reason: I meant Hume not John Locke
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Old 11-04-2007   #15
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I had to go with the dice because I couldn't find the anecdote piece I was after - it may have come from a second source - basically it said that Hume was contemplating the billiard balls and decided he needed a "pint" of ale to continue I've always suspected beer and thinking go together.
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Old 11-04-2007   #16
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I think what is important is the way we think about the problem - using the analysis of the problem and its conditions to shape the solution vs. trying to use existing solutions against a problem for which they were not designed to anticipate.
The danger here is that we presume that there is a broad, possibly new but nonetheless enduring, problem--whether its CT or stability/PKO ops, or COIN.

I'm not so sure that there is. Not that there aren't new challenges--obviously there are, as 9/11 highlighted--but different parts of the CT (or PKO or whatever) puzzle require very different approaches, approaches that vary over time and space and political context. Quite apart from the dangers of going through major organizational bureaucratic change, there's the risk of designing new structures for problem sets that are themselves constantly evolving and mutating.

All of which leads me to want to look at this very much from the bottom up: what is being done now, or is needed now, that current doctrine, capabilities, or structures don't address? (Related to that--do we really agree what what's lacking now, against current or foreseeable future challenges?)
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Old 11-04-2007   #17
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Default Good post. With respect to your final

parenthetical comment, I'm not at all comfortable we have much of a clue as to future challenges and our impatience to reorganize today to meet yesterdays challenge sort of concerns me...

Last edited by Ken White; 11-04-2007 at 05:01 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 11-04-2007   #18
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Default That is probably where we should start

by considering the so what. That is what got me thinking about Killcullen's blog post - how do we see (collectively) the 21st Century unfolding - how do you get it more right then wrong?

From Ken:
Quote:
I'm not at all comfortable we have much of a clue as to future challenges and our impatience to reorganize today to meet yesterdays challenge sort of concerns me...
From Rex:
Quote:
All of which leads me to want to look at this very much from the bottom up: what is being done now, or is needed now, that current doctrine, capabilities, or structures don't address? (Related to that--do we really agree what what's lacking now, against current or foreseeable future challenges?)
I agree - I'm not sure we've had our feet under us very well when it comes to understanding how/if the world is different, how our friends see us/if that matters/what could we do to make it better/why should we do it. I'm not sure we understand the enemy -even from the point of agreeing on who the real enemy is from a global perspective that allows some focused thinking - what is that enemy (insert menu depending on your view) trying to accomplish with regards to himself and with regard to us and with regard to others?

My sense is we're having a hard time deciding who we want or need to be - did we change, or are we the same, but just forgot for awhile? Until we decide that one - our friends are going to look at us a little funny, and our enemies might misinterpret our actions/inactions on matters or slide one past us.

I think we are starting to come out of though. That we're asking questions about ourselves, and are tired of using the words - gray, ambiguous, nebulous, unclear and other words that followed 9/11 when the emphasis swung to passion's corner seems to me that we might be getting a sense of self and the world.

Until we get some consensus built on how know yourself (our government,the domestic population, the Inter-Agency,etc.), know the enemy (from state to non-state; pandemics to the effects of global warming), know the terrain (friends, trading partners, allies, neutrals, peers, everyone not currently the enemy) it will be hard.

I'll be off the net most of the day - got to play catch up on all the things I'm supposed to be doing, but didn't yesterday Best, Rob
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Old 11-05-2007   #19
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Default A Real Bump On the Bell Curve

I tossed the bones and it shows alotta' small wars and petty dictatorships - scarce resources fueling the former and lots of take-offs on established religions jusifying the latter - a real bump on the bell curve - extra smart missles and fast-moving, very autonomous, almost independent small units are seen in the bone pattern - they show an External Affairs Cabinet aka the Dirty Works Dept. with State pretty much muzzled from trying to foist notions of democracy on primitive people
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Old 11-05-2007   #20
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Thumbs up I suspect you and the bones are correct...

Where's Matt Helm when we need him...

Now, to train and unleash the Rambos.
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