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Old 09-06-2007   #1
Rob Thornton
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Lightbulb Recruiting for SWC members because....

I promise this is not a NPR or PBS funding drive

However, we can tell by the number of new members and the number of visits to the site that clearly there are more people who come to read and consider what is being written, then those willing to participate. This is perfectly OK.

However, I would like those both inside and outside the council to consider some rationale for greater participation.

- I first came to the council back in the Summer of 06 at the advice of Tom Odom. While I was comfortable on CoPs (Communities of Practice), they had largely been confined to those limited to military participation. Immediately, I was exposed to guys like "Slapout, Steve Blair, Marc T" who provided me perspective in the areas of Law Enforcement and Cultural Anthropology which helped me tremendously to do my job working with indigenous forces in a COIN environment. I also met guys like John Bellflower who helped shape Joint Service perspective and development for future jobs. I also met some outstanding retired and contract workers who provide institutional and conventional wisdom as well, superb critical reason and logic, and often - unorthodox problem solving that conserve resources. I've also had the opportunity to consider and express my personal views in the light of others who differ - and I like to believe we have both benefited from these discussions.

- Much of the knowledge that is shared often happens behind the scenes through PMing and emailing - once a person is identified as having a skill set, that person is often solicited on a 1:1 basis for specific thoughts or requests - we build knowledge in this way and form networks for problem sets.

- Often a new member might be hesitant to express and opinion, so it stands to reason that a non-member might be hesitant to sign up to be a member. We often see posts where a new member qualifies their participation as being without experience or "in light of a prestigious group" - I have not figured that one out yet - but we'd prefer you not to feel that way - the concern or interest that brought you to the site, and willingness and energy to devote your time combined with your personal and professional experiences are very important to a nation at war in a world that has a suite of connected issues that effect us all in our every day lives. We only ask that when providing your argument - you do so with as little bias as possible, and use your best judgment as to how you reason.

- Recently one of our (the Council's) new members asked a question about his value as a member given he was in the marketing field and not the uniformed service - I responded that his thoughts are invaluable to me as the many problems, conditions and challenges that face us revolve around people. In many ways - given the tendency for people to identify themselves with groups - a profession that advocates, sells and appeals may be more relevant then my own - if I show up in ACUs and my mustache it probably means we already have a serious problem - his opinion may help us avoid that.

-Given that I was thinking about the many other professions that can us better understand our environment and challenges through the cycle of conflict prevention/preserving a peace, conflict resolution, conflict termination/implementing a lasting peace and came up with a list of professions I wish were represented here:

Education Professionals - I'm talking from elementary teacher to high school principal to professors of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences.

Medical Professionals
- Doctors, nurses, nutritionists, administrators, Insurance agents, etc.

An Economist - Understanding market forces is critical I believe.

The NGO community - You have capacity and understanding that may help us avoid terrible consequences for all involved

Geologists, meteorologists, climatologists, and Geographers - your understanding of the environment may help build capacity, consider options, identify problems and trends and understand the physical world which impacts lives.

Civil Engineers, sociologists, and those who deal with people and where people live - This is about humans and their environment - your understanding about how people live is paramount to preserving the focus on people.

Small business entrepreneurs - helping people to find independence in financial terms and preserve their dignity is one of the keys toward building tolerant, pluralistic societies free from that type of large scale violence and instability - people find much less to differentiate themselves from others if their basic needs are met.

Journalist or media professional - you bring the perspective of considering and evaluating vast amounts of information and commenting on it for public consumption. You are in tune with how people listen and perceive and your objectivity may prevent miscommunication and adverse consequences.


This list is not exhaustive and I apologize if I did not name a particular profession or interest. I hope you will consider that if you are engaged in something, you probably have something to offer. If you are wondering why you should offer your perspective freely - I suggest you consider the world that we live in. You need only Google a Friedman, a Kaplan, a Barnett, or Huntington - or anyone else who has considered the current world and its future to recognize that globalization is a continuing theme and that because of technology it is occurring faster - what goes on outside of where you live does impact where you live. Your efforts may help prevent or alleviate not only personal and wide spread suffering, but may make your own life, those of your family, friends, and citizens better. Yo may preserve and foment a better life for our posterity. It is certain that at times there will be friction and that we will disagree, that is OK - it is even healthy! I hope that if you can participate, or know someone who can participate and bring insights - then you will do so and urge them to do so.

Best Regards, Rob Thornton

Last edited by Rob Thornton; 09-06-2007 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 09-06-2007   #2
Steve Blair
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Thumbs up Agreed!

I'm not a military member, nor do I play one on TV....

However, I do work for ROTC, paid my dues as an Air Force brat, and have been interested in military history and theory since I was about eight years old. I've learned here, and hope that I've passed along the occasional speck of wisdom at the same time.

Small wars are small only in terms of the number of troops committed. In terms of scope, impact, and resources (in a holistic sense, not just "dollars on target") they are very broad and touch on many areas of society and government that people don't necessarily think about. Our membership is already broad, but every new, thoughtful addition is welcome and needed.
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Old 09-06-2007   #3
Tom Odom
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Rob

Good post and I agree completely. We have a pool of knowledge here that covers the experience spectrum, the cultural gamut, and spans the globe.

Best

Tom

Last edited by Tom Odom; 09-06-2007 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 09-06-2007   #4
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This might not be a bad sticky for new users to read. Speaking of which (because I can't remember) do you have to read the intro sticky before posting the first time? Is there a way to get the intro sticky to pop up before the first post, just to make sure?

Having said that, I have no problem with others coming here and imparting wisdom. I do have problems with the drive bys and people who don't put their knowledge into a context (ie. no intro post, no user profile, etc). I think we do a good job as a council of policing these people up quickly and they, in turn, are quick to reply and correct. Is there a way to streamline the registration process or make profile completion a mandatory, "do not pass go" station before their first posts?
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Last edited by RTK; 09-06-2007 at 08:09 PM. Reason: other thoughts
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Old 09-06-2007   #5
Graycap
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Hey Rob, reading from your post maybe I could be one SWC superstar!

My curriculum:

I'm from Italy

Engineer graduated at Milan University in 1992

Military experience: Army second lieutenant in Italian Army (artillery). At that time In Italy there was compulsory military service and I volunteered to serve as an official. That made my service duration longer. Not involved in any real operation (the only one active abroad at that time was Somalia) but I have taken part at my regiment's training for partecipation in the Army intervention in Sicily against Mafia's territorial control.

Working position: small entrepreneur in heavy machinery maintenance (we work on cranes and aerial platforms)

Part-time : I write, when I can find spare time, for an italian webzine http://www.paginedidifesa.it about coin and irregular warfare. This is the principal reason why I visit regularly this incredible site.

Three different characters in one person...Maybe too much

But as you can see my post count is running low..

The reasons: First of all the very high level of dicussions. I'm here to learn. This community has so much experience embedded that I've nothing to add.
Maybe it's difficult for you to imagine how this wall seems high.
The second reason is my poor ability (my fault!) to write in english. I read perfectly this language but to write at the level requested by this forum is difficult.

In this very moment I'm realizing that I never introduced myself in the dedicated thread ...I'm flying at the Tell Us About You topic in a second!

Thanks to you all for your information and experience sharing. It's invaluable.

And now back to lurking.

Graycap
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Old 09-06-2007   #6
Rob Thornton
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Hi Greycap,
Being from Tennessee, some might challenge my ability at English as well - reading your post it seems like you have very good command of the language indeed. I certainly understand you commitment to learn - however you have some incredible experience - as you get more comfortable with the council I hope you will benefit us all with that experience - but based on this:

Quote:
Not involved in any real operation (the only one active abroad at that time was Somalia) but I have taken part at my regiment's training for partecipation in the Army intervention in Sicily against Mafia's territorial control.

Working position: small entrepreneur in heavy machinery maintenance (we work on cranes and aerial platforms)
I already want to hear what you have to say

My Best Regards, Rob
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Old 09-06-2007   #7
Ken White
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Thumbs up Don't spend all your time lurking

Some -- most -- Italian equipment is top class and from an engineering standpoint is worthy of discussion and emulation. The application tactically being the goal of discussing...

Plus the Carabinieri experience has some lessons.
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Old 09-07-2007   #8
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Default Re Profiles

Having just found this site I am interested in RTK's comment above re. profiles. I have no relevant specialist knowledge. I am a moderator on another completely unrelated site (about disease tracking H5N1 etc.) and have found many of the regular non-specialist posters make some of the most interesting - and knowledgeable - posts. While it is interesting to know if they are virologists or epidemiologists etc. I try to take each post on its own merits and not worry too much about the posters academic back ground, there are plenty of well credentialed 'experts' making factually incorrect statements.

I am British, a computer consultant, and my interest - in this area - relates to the foreign policies of Nation States and their global impact. As the US is the biggest player in this arena and its foreign policy seems to have an increasingly military face this site looks like it will be a very useful source of data.
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Old 09-07-2007   #9
Rob Thornton
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JJ,
You read like value added to me based on your solely on your ability to reason - however your IT skills, understanding of CoPs and the subject matter you cover on the other board will be of great use.

ref:
Quote:
and have found many of the regular non-specialist posters make some of the most interesting - and knowledgeable - posts. While it is interesting to know if they are virologists or epidemiologists etc. I try to take each post on its own merits and not worry too much about the posters academic back ground, there are plenty of well credentialed 'experts' making factually incorrect statements.
I concur, both for the reason you mention - while Holiday Inn Express has poked fun at a non-professional making astute observations - there is certainly truth to the some of the most qualified people I've known have missed some pretty obvious connections in their own field based on the way they look at things.

I also would like to see greater interest and participation by concerned "non-professionals" (meaning those with no military experience) because it fosters civil-military relations by helping them understand war and peace from various perspectives, and provides them the opportunity to play a positive role by educating the uniformed professional, statesman, diplomat and other stakeholders in things that may have escaped them (or in my case us ).

Best regards, Rob
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Old 09-07-2007   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJackson View Post
Having just found this site I am interested in RTK's comment above re. profiles. I have no relevant specialist knowledge. I am a moderator on another completely unrelated site (about disease tracking H5N1 etc.) and have found many of the regular non-specialist posters make some of the most interesting - and knowledgeable - posts. While it is interesting to know if they are virologists or epidemiologists etc. I try to take each post on its own merits and not worry too much about the posters academic back ground, there are plenty of well credentialed 'experts' making factually incorrect statements.
While I agree with your final statement, I always like to be sure that the bit of advise I'm taking for the real-time or near-real time application of foreign policy at the tactical level isn't from the shmedlap sitting in the office next to mine. It also helps gain a perspective from a different direction, one perhaps I'd not thought of having a relevent application in a certain realm. I'm also not into getting foreign policy tips from a sophomore in high school.

It's not that I'm just looking for some Soldier or policy maker's perspective. Regardless of background, I (and others) would like to see what exactly the background is for a lot of the same reasons Rob wrote on in the first post. Many have much to add to the discussion from a lot of different angles. We're just trying to figure out which angle people have.
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Old 09-07-2007   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTK View Post
It's not that I'm just looking for some Soldier or policy maker's perspective. Regardless of background, I (and others) would like to see what exactly the background is for a lot of the same reasons Rob wrote on in the first post. Many have much to add to the discussion from a lot of different angles. We're just trying to figure out which angle people have.
I think the angle or perception of a poster is important. In terms of experience...it's all relative. In my job I have to deal with military folks who think that 15+ years of military service qualifies them in some way to provide academic advice to college freshmen, even though they've never seen the inside of a college classroom themselves and have only the vaguest idea of what a college major really is. They don't understand how the university system works, but they think that their experience somehow translates directly to it.

One of the keys to experience, in my view, is knowing what you DON'T know. I've met people both in and out of the military who are seriously expert in their very narrow lanes of knowledge, but then think that that expertness (yeah...not a real word I don't think, but it sounds cool) somehow carries over to every other thing they touch. We're fortunate here in that we have a great number of people who understand what they don't know and are willing to offer up what they do know to help others fill their own gaps.

That said, I also find the high school sophomore foreign policy "expert" annoying, but at the same time it's interesting to see what they know, what they don't know, and what they THINK they know.
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Old 09-07-2007   #12
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I just signed up here.

I'm an Economist, with degrees in Economics and Military History. I spent 17 years working for the Corps of Engineers and got lured into the private sector last year.

I worked on several projects for the Gulf Regional Division from 2004 through 2006, serving in a "reachback" capacity for GRD. BG Walsh was my Division Commander when he was at South Atlantic Division (and I scored a Challenge Coin from him for my reachback work).

I now work for a Civil Engineering, Surveying, Landscape Architecture and Planning firm with a good history of military and civilian agency work.

I'm looking forward to learning, and I'll probably lurk more than post.

Regards,

Dave
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Old 09-07-2007   #13
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Hi JJ,

It sounds like a lot of "value add" to me as well . I'm another one of the non-military people on this site. I'm a symbolic Anthropologist with an interest in applied symbology. I'm going to be supervising a directed reading course for a student of mine on the security effects of infectious diseases this term, so I will definitely want to pick your brains on that.

I think Steve hit it nicely when he said "One of the keys to experience, in my view, is knowing what you DON'T know." In a lot of ways, the SWC is more a Community of Interest with a focus on Practice, and that is one of our greatest strengths.

Marc
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Old 09-07-2007   #14
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So I guess this is the thread to make an entrance. Another non-military member here. I lurk quite often checking the news stories and the new posts for the information that is not mainstream and the background intelligence that does not always come to the surface. I've been a member for quite some time, but not a participant. My qualifications are nil other than a deep interest in strategic maneuvering and foreign policy. Being an Information Technology professional I enjoy the details but see myself as a big picture person. I love trying to sort out how the details, innuendo, and undercurrents guide and shape the big picture.

My regional interests these days are focused on the South/Central Asian states. I tend to lurk for a while to get the feel for the regular posters and flavor of the boadr before jumping in with my thoughts but I lookl forward to the jump here. There is a lot of knowledge and as I see it, one of the biggest benefits of this site comes from the real world experiences of the posters.

Now, on to that profile...
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Old 09-10-2007   #15
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Post Hi

Hi, another non-military guy here. Thanks for posting this. I really felt uncomfortable saying things before.

I just moved to the Albany, NY area from Calgary, AB where I have been for the past 5 or so years. I have been a history, especially military, buff since the age of 3. Although history has probably by far been my greatest passion the only area I think I have not taken to studying is botany. I have spent a great deal of my time working on several patents which unfortunately, due to financial qualifications, I have not been able to pursue as of now. I would like to say I am an amateur engineer, but alas I do not qualify. My main outlook about life is and has always been learn everything you can from whomever or whatever and to get used to the fact that there is always someone out there who knows more than you.

I stumbled across this site a few days ago and found it to be in line with my interests. I hope I can provide some meaningful contribution.

Quote:
That said, I also find the high school sophomore foreign policy "expert" annoying, but at the same time it's interesting to see what they know, what they don't know, and what they THINK they know.
I utterly and thoroughly agree. I've felt the same way since I was in the 9th grade. LOL.

Last edited by Adam L; 09-10-2007 at 12:59 AM. Reason: improvement
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Old 11-25-2011   #16
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Default SWC 'quite disappointing'?

Here I had expected to find here a place where Coalition partners could have posted interesting stuff about their respective approaches and experiences in small wars.
Being Dutch, I could have posted on the Dutch 3 –D approach (the comprehensive approach of Defense, Diplomacy and Development) and its results in Uruzgan province;
or on how well the re-employment of the French colonial ‘ink blot’ strategy worked
or on the intensive use of cultural competence in an operational setting.

What I found instead is a place where coalition partners are being bashed plus unfavorable, unflattering and IMO uninformed comparisons with the American approach. This I find quite disappointing and not a real encouragement for posting.
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Old 11-25-2011   #17
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Default SWC 'quite disappointing'?

Created following a post in a separate thread and raises an issue that needs an airing in its own thread and for members only. The title is mine, not the authors.

This post will come second now the post has been moved.
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Old 11-25-2011   #18
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You should have seen this place ins 2008...the Americans here have learned humility in comparison to 2007/08.
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Old 11-26-2011   #19
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David,

Where did you move the post from? Where did he feel his counter ideas were attacked? To be frank we are seeing more and more of that across the council. On the other hand some people are excessively thin skinned. We have four or more folks who repeatedly come up with same counter argument regardless of the topic (they get credit for staying on target, regardless of whether it is relevant or not), so a new person may have taken some their knee jerk responses out of context.
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Old 11-26-2011   #20
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it was a necro-post Bill, from a short thread about NATO/Dutch issues.

It wasn't this one, but I came across it during the search for the one I had seen the comment: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ighlight=dutch

I think if he had seen that one, he's have realized that not everyone was down on the Dutch.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-26-2011 at 06:08 PM. Reason: Bulk of text copied to Winning in Afg thread, author aware.
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