SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > The Small Wars Community of Interest > TRADOC Senior Leaders Conference

TRADOC Senior Leaders Conference Discuss issues from the TSLC.

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-19-2009   #1
SWJED
Small Wars Journal
 
SWJED's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Largo, Florida
Posts: 3,988
Default In illo tempore...

In illo tempore...

Marc Tyrrell

There is a curious quality that overcomes the mind during a visit to sacred space. Today, I rode along on the staff ride at Gettysburg and saw that quality of mind slowly come into being as we moved from site to site on the battlefield. The manifestation that arose was not one of what lessons can we learn from the battle and campaign but, rather, one of what questions should we ask.

As you might have gathered, Robert and I rode in different buses even while we both took part in the same staff ride. Or did we? After the ride was over, we got the chance to talk to each other about how each of our rides operated and, as it turns out, there were some differences.

The biggest difference between our two rides lay in the tactics of how people were encouraged to interact, both with each other and with the past. In place of people having been tasked with short presentations, we were encouraged to ask questions, make comments and, in general, bring out free associations between the past, the present and the future.

I cannot say whether this difference came about as a result of differing pedagogical styles or just emerged from the group interaction. What I can say, however, is that I had an opportunity to both witness and take part in an event that I can only describe as a “ritual”. Over the course of the day, I could see people bringing the past into the present until, by the end of the ride, past and present seemed to co-mingle. It was fitting that the end of the ride was signalled by thunder, lightning and a line squall.

I describe the event as a “ritual” in a very technical sense. Fifty years ago, Mircea Eliade talked about the power of origin myths – how by re-enacting the origin myth, the participants in these rituals would touch both a “sacred time” and a source of power that could re-invigorate them. I saw some of that process operating today.

At the start of his post, Robert asked

Why would the Army waste the time of the senior leaders of its training and doctrine command with a guided tour of a 19th century battlefield? What does Gettysburg have to do with Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other conflicts the Army is likely to face?

Certainly for the ride I was on, the answer is still “Quite a lot”, but it went beyond historical analogies and lessons into something much more subtle and intangible. It set the stage for these senior leaders to reconnect with one of the key events that defines the modern United States. It was truly a case of “In that time...”.

And before someone comments that I am being overly poetic, let me note that we were primed for this by a quote that served to introduce the ride and, for our bus at least, served to close it.

In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls.

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, October 3rd, 1889
__________________
Small Wars Journal
SWJED is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #2
Bill Jakola
Council Member
 
Bill Jakola's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 66
Default What I learned on this staff ride.

Then as now, the simplistic views and categorizations we (humans) tend to apply to most all things, to more rapidly wade through the vast amount of information associated with everything around us, significantly limits our ability to see the world the way it actually exists.

The truly superb Army War College(AWC) historians, who conducted this staff ride, allowed me to see far more of the richness and complexity of this battle.

Today, we want to develop our leaders with the skills, similar to those of the AWC historians, for seeing the world in its totality; for only in this way will we be able to rapidly transition along the full spectrum of operations to apply the requisite tactical solutions that support our operational and strategic goals. The danger of simplifying reality to ease our ability to manage war risks executing a tactically prudent course of action at the expense of strategic success.

For example, on 01 July, 1863, “Confederate General James Longstreet argues that Lee should move east between the Union Army and Washington and build a defensive position. Lee overrules him. "No," he said. "The enemy is there, and I'm going to attack him there.... They are there in position, and I am going to whip them or they are going to whip me. " Longstreet had a tactically prudent course of action; but, Lee understood that this otherwise useful tactic would lead to almost certain strategic failure. Because the North had a larger population and economy, the South needed to obtain a negotiated settlement to survive. Thus, Lee knew his strategic goal was to reduce the Northern popular will for support of the war to gain a negotiated peace. Additionally, the only way to achieve this was to utterly destroy the Army of the Potomac; and, Longstreet’s tactic would not accomplish this strategic imperative.
Bill Jakola is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #3
John T. Fishel
Council Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Rancho La Espada, Blanchard, OK
Posts: 1,065
Default Bill, as only an amateur

historian, but one who has studied Gettysburg for nigh on to 60 years (am I really that old?), I have to disagree with your assessment of Lee's strategy - and Lee as a strategist. Indeed, I am inclined to think that while there was no way the1863 invasion of the North could have succeeded in forcing a negotiated peace, IMHO Longstreet's proposal came closest. The Longstreet campaign plan had the possibility of tactical success; I don't think giving battle at Gettysburg as Lee did really had such a possibility. I am also inclined to think that even with Stonewall Jackson, Lee would have failed. The Union had tactical commanders who were as good - or even better than the Confederates. In Meade, they had an operational commander who was certainly up to the job. Meade had the advantage of terrain, of intelligence, of numbers, and of fighting on home ground. He also had tactical interior lines.
Over time. I have come to the conclusion that Lee was a good and inspiring tactial commander, perhaps even a good operational commander, but IMO no strategist. In many of his successes, Lee was an opportunistic gambler who got lucky. In the Gettysburg campaign Lee's luck ran out, in part because his "strategy" was flawed.
Well, I guess that will provoke a reaction from any "old unreconstructeds" and partisans of Marse Robert. Still, the point of the staff ride in this context was not so much to debate the historical example but to get folk to think about the kinds of problems that might be useful in present circumstances. You raise those questions. Is there an analogy between Lee's Gettysburg campaign and the Marine incursion into Helmand today? If so, is Lee's solution more apropos than Longstreet's or vice versa? (All with the caveat that - as Neustadt & May argue - analogies of all kinds are suspect and must be used with great care).

Cheers

JohnT
John T. Fishel is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #4
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Hi John,

Quote:
Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
Still, the point of the staff ride in this context was not so much to debate the historical example but to get folk to think about the kinds of problems that might be useful in present circumstances.
In all honesty, I'm still processing the staff ride experience in my hindbrain at the moment. Still and all, I suspect that while what you said was the stated reason for the ride, and it's justification, that it is not the underlying reason behind it.

The more I process the experience, the more convinced I am that the underlying reason was to pull people out of their current time and "selves" (social roles). Yeah, I know, I've spent too much time studying mysticism, but let's look at it in terms of effects (snort... I think I just created a new acronym for the military lexicon Effects Based Mysticism or EBM ).

Okay, 'nuff silliness. There is a serious organizational issue that GEN Dempsey faces that has two main, internal faces. The first is the hierarchical nature of the organization with it's concomitant restrictions on expressions of thought (see here for a good commentary by Bob King). The second is the bureaucratic imperative to map out and "understand" reality (see here for some of my comments on this in the IO context). When we add in the minor point that CYA appears to be a human universal that is accelerated and rewarded in such a system, we have some real problems.

One way to deal with this is to use another piece of human nature, our ability to "act as if" something were true. Actually, we do this all the time in organizational contexts as well as in daily life, but it can also be a mental "tactic" that allows us invert certain assumptions of our current belief / perception structures. Now the crucial part is not that we can act as if something else is true, but that we can become consciously aware that our beliefs are a form of acting as it they were true. This lets us stand back from them and opens our thought processes up to let us look at our current problems in a new light.

Enough philosophy.... Let me just also note that we can get the same effect on perceptions (i.e. that type of a shift) by using humour - a point well know to GEN Dempsey.

If I had to put its purpose into a sound byte, I would say that it is to use the past to free use from the present.

Cheers,

Marc
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #5
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
Still, the point of the staff ride in this context was not so much to debate the historical example but to get folk to think about the kinds of problems that might be useful in present circumstances.
I agree. That is exactly what staff rides should aim at.

Problem is that the "new war brigade," keep telling us that "modern conflict" is so far more complex than in the past, thus the past holds limited lessons.

If your whole agenda is to denigrate traditional military force, and promote "something new" then Military history is a very uncomfortable body of evidence, and probably best avoided.
__________________
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
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #6
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
Problem is that the "new war brigade," keep telling us that "modern conflict" is so far more complex than in the past, thus the past holds limited lessons.

If your whole agenda is to denigrate traditional military force, and promote "something new" then Military history is a very uncomfortable body of evidence, and probably best avoided.
Beautifully said, Wilf!!!! Have you been watching this ?
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #7
Ron Humphrey
Council Member
 
Ron Humphrey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Kansas
Posts: 1,099
Post Haven't had an opportunity to go on a "Staff Ride"

Have however stayed in a few Holiday Inn's and whenever I do in a place where there are historic sites I always make the trip.

Like much of what you mention I also felt doing so helped me to "step" outside of the current wars thinking long enough to gain some perspective.

Went to FT Fisher NC a while back and it was really an eye opener when you considered that 4000 + died in the effort to close and or hold that place. In Strategic context for the north it was a must in order to close off a major port of the south . And it took a whole lot to do so. Naval bombardments, Troop ground movements under heavy fire, siege tactics and ambushes, pasage of lines, you name it. It really helped me to accept how very complex war is(in any given time).

Wilf, do they really say that war is more complex now or is the message and point rather that those complexities must be understood and dealt by lower ranks then ever and under much faster shifting of circumstances?
__________________
Quote:
Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur
Ron Humphrey is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #8
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Hi Ron,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
Wilf, do they really say that war is more complex now or is the message and point rather that those complexities must be understood and dealt by lower ranks then ever and under much faster shifting of circumstances?
I've been hearing that line a lot, but I really think it's a proxy for "there's just too much stuff we don't understand" rather than any actual change in the objective "complexity".
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #9
Ron Humphrey
Council Member
 
Ron Humphrey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Kansas
Posts: 1,099
Question Maybe that's part of the problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by marct View Post
Hi Ron,



I've been hearing that line a lot, but I really think it's a proxy for "there's just too much stuff we don't understand" rather than any actual change in the objective "complexity".
Would it be a beneficial exercise if we were to use an example something like the thread Mike F had but with perhaps a non military problem and help differentiate between complexity both objective and subjectiveLink

then try to tease out why and how it differs
from actor to actor.
__________________
Quote:
Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur
Ron Humphrey is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #10
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by marct View Post
Beautifully said, Wilf!!!! Have you been watching this ?
No. Been watching this and this..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
Wilf, do they really say that war is more complex now or is the message and point rather that those complexities must be understood and dealt by lower ranks then ever and under much faster shifting of circumstances?
Oh yes they do. We have Complex insurgencies do we not?
Supposedly different from all the simple ones?
When was understanding by the lower ranks not required? War is an expression of society. War cannot be more complex than the world we live in.
__________________
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
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #11
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Hi Ron,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
Would it be a beneficial exercise if we were to use an example something like the thread Mike F had but with perhaps a non military problem and help differentiate between complexity both objective and subjectiveLink

then try to tease out why and how it differs
from actor to actor.
Might indeed be a good idea..... Hmmm, if you've got one in mind, why don't you go ahead and start it? Right now, I'm still trying to pull my perceptions on the entire process together, which means that a lot of my "thinking" is pretty incomprehensible on the subject .

Let me give you a vignette of where my thinking is running (well, limping slowly...).

I was watching the "new" case study video at TRADOC, and one of the scenes showed the commander of a reaction force up on a hill observing the operations of a police check point. The facilitators (who were great BTW), noted that some 300 civilians were leaving the objective. My immediate reaction was to think to myself "Oh, crap, there's an ambush coming...". No one else really seemed to think it or, if they did, they didn't say anything.

Latter on, I was asking myself why I had that thought, and it popped into my head that it was because all of what I "know" about war comes from reading and talking with people who have actually fought. Civilians fleeing an area in advance of combat is such a classic trope in the literature, that it had become ingrained as a sign in my mind (a "clue" in the Piercian sense) with a very high probability that the civilians knew an ambush was coming and were fleeing the area. Why couldn't the commander see this (and, BTW, he didn't - he got caught badly)?

Bringing it back, does this mean that our experiences condition our perceptions? personally, I would say yes, but in more ways than we would like to think.

One of the key tropes of the conference was on "adaptability" - a term I dislike for a number of reasons, but mainly because it is used incorrectly. Anyway, how could that commander have been trained to think "adaptively" and avoid the ensuing debacle? Where my mind is going now is towards what I'm starting to call the tyranny of lexicality. Thinking through long term effects, "taking the long view", tends to be defined as a matter of "strategy" and "grand strategy", which is the prvince of generals and politicians, not CPTs. This means that implicitly CPTs are supposed to fix their perceptual and interpretive lens on a limited number of "in the present" and "in the short term" stories of what they should be doing. If they don't, then they will get hammered by the organization (that's a general observation of probabilities). Indeed, a commanders intent actually serves to define the universe of discourse and, by implication, the universe of perception.

Anyway, that's where my brain is heading at the moment. I'll see what other neuronal drivel comes out later .

Cheers,

Marc
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #12
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
No. Been watching this and this..
Not my normal fare, but pretty catchy!
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #13
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by marct View Post
One of the key tropes of the conference was on "adaptability" - a term I dislike for a number of reasons, but mainly because it is used incorrectly. Anyway, how could that commander have been trained to think "adaptively" and avoid the ensuing debacle? Where my mind is going now is towards what I'm starting to call the tyranny of lexicality.
This is another excellent example. All successful armies adapt. It is inherent to their nature. However recognising that comes in two forms.

a.) Wow! It's all new and very complex. We have to adapt and become adaptive, because we have never seen this before!

b.) All good armies adapt. They do it based on need, and use evidence and fact on which to base their actions. Why can't we do that? What prevents us doing that and fooling ourselves by saying the things in item A?

IMO, how an Army describes its problems, or fails to, is strongly indicative of how it does or does not understand it's profession.
__________________
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
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #14
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
IMO, how an Army describes its problems, or fails to, is strongly indicative of how it does or does not understand it's profession.
LOL - too true, and not just for armies either - that's applicable to all organizations.

My complaint about the term comes from viewing it as a misuse of evolutionary language and concepts. The term that they should be using, although there is no way that they could for political reasons, is "eugenics" .

Now that I have everyone hot and bothered.... .

In evolutionary theory, there are three sub-theories:
  1. "natural" selection
  2. heritability, and
  3. mutation
All of these interlinked sub-theories refer to a basic unit which, in biology, is a DNA sequence (aka a gene). When we get into cultural areas, it's much harder to identify what the unit is, despite Dawkins term "meme". Personally, I've tried to use a decomposable basic unit appropriate to the organizational level of what I'm looking at, but that's problematic as well.

Anyhow, "natural" selection is a process that produces either positive or negative selection criteria; the criteria either "select for" or "select against" genes / memes / whatever. At least this is the general idea. It actually gets much more complex, mainly because selection criteria operate in interlinking environments that are often contained within each other (e.g. think about ecological niches as an "environment" within a larger environment...). At the socio-cultural level, it's even worse, because we are dealing with selection pressures from multiple, overlapping environments.

Here's a simple example: military organizations operate in the "field", in the back end, in the broader political environment and in the social environment. each of these different, overlapping and generally "messy" (i.e. subject to constant change and redefinition) environments produces selection pressures that may well be inverted. IOW, an action may be positively selected for in one environment and negatively selected for in another.

Take retention as a "problem area". In the operational environment, there is a positive selection pressure to have a unit deployed for a long time, especially in a COIN setting. However, in the homeland social environment, that is a negative selection pressure on the people involved (e.g. broken marriages, PTSD, etc., etc.). In the current communications environment, this homeland negative selection pressure gets translated into negative political consequences, so there is now an organization "order" to shorten deployment times. In this case, "accurately defining the problem" means recognizing the interlocking selection pressures and coming out with both a way of priorizing environments and, at the same time, mitigating some of the negative selection pressures.

So, that's natural selection.

"Heritability", in biological terms, refers to the proportion of characteristics that come from genetic rather than environmental sources. In cultural terms, it refers to "learning" and "training" (i.e. the social part of those "environmental sources"). Basically, if we want a theory of heritability that applies to socio-cultural evolution, then we focus on organizational culture, training and education.

But it's actually subtler than that, since we are (somewhat) dealing with a frequency distribution here. For example, if you are training a soldier in basic or OCS and you give 1 hour of training to "cultural awareness" and 100 to kinetic operations, which one will they default to even if the optimal solution to a particular problem was actually contained in the 1 hour? Heritability, in socio-cultural terms, actually requires reinforcement, so the perceptions and 'solutions" (and "problem definitions") will tend to come from the most heavily reinforces part of that training.

"Mutation" is really the study of how change happens in whatever your basic unit of analysis is. Mutations can be beneficial, deadly or neutral depending on the selection pressures involved and the other basic units operating to maintain the organism. In most socio-cultural settings, mutations come about both incrementally as a result of normal operations ("Normal Science" in the Kuhnian sense), via individual "point mutations" (think Road to Damascus conversions), via rapid changes in other environments that now impact the "main" socio-cultural environment of the group (think 9/11....), etc., etc. Many of the socio-cultural mutations, however, are conceived of and constructed by humans (e.g. social movements, new religious movements, revitalization movements, etc., etc.). And some of these constructed mutations are done consciously.

This brings me back to my comment about why what TRADOC is doing should be called eugenics and not adaptability.

Eugenics is the artificial construction of selection pressures that select for and against particular attributes deemed as "good".

Adaptability, OTOH, is rooted more in heritability and actually refers to the variability or scope of actions available to an organism to survive and prosper in a changing environment. In socio-cultural terms, the more you know and the faster you can flip through your options, the greater amount of adaptability you have.

Sheesh, I feel like I'm writing a monograph here.... I'll shut up now .

Cheers,

Marc
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #15
MikeF
Council Member
 
MikeF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Posts: 1,177
Default Nature, Adaptation, and Competition

John Maynard Smith produced some interesting game theory models (ESS and Hawk-Dove game) to describe how animals compete for limited resources in a restricted environment.

Simply put,

-Doves never fight.
-Hawks will always fight.
-Retaliators fight against hawks and share with doves.

This game could be applied to competing agencies with the military/government to show how some adapt, some survive, and some fail.

v/r

Mike
MikeF is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #16
Ron Humphrey
Council Member
 
Ron Humphrey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Kansas
Posts: 1,099
Post Couple of thought's

On the problem set I really liked a lot of the business case studies I had at Baker. Mainly because the prof's where able to use them to help each of us recognize how little we actually thought about other cultures when considering what kind of business would be productive in a given place and even more importantly how the way that a given society is socially constructed is fairly indicative of what will or won't work and how.

I'll have of think of a specific one.

Wilf,

I think this

Quote:
IMO, how an Army describes its problems, or fails to, is strongly indicative of how it does or does not understand it's profession.
is probably a good starting point at least for actually looking into the Process vs outcomes piece on anything from training and education to simple interactions with others in war or peace; Also think it would work for looking at almost any organization.

Not sure however that it serves as such though if we believe that our own personnel definition or description of the profession is without flaw.
If on the other hand we start with the assumption that what we think we know; may or may not be the end all be all then perhaps the discussion that happens from that approach could indeed be fairly productive.

Oaths

The Army Profession


NYT

Just a starting point
__________________
Quote:
Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur
Ron Humphrey is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #17
Bill Jakola
Council Member
 
Bill Jakola's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 66
Default

“I have to disagree with your assessment of Lee's strategy - and Lee as a strategist.”

John T. Fishel,

I agree we can view history in different ways, but our individual conclusions are not important for the lessons of this staff ride; because as you point out, “the point of the staff ride…[was] to get folk to think about the kinds of problems that might be useful in present circumstances.”

My deeper point is the need to acquire and instill the skills of these AWC historians into ourselves and more importantly into our junior leaders. The AWC historians possess an ability to view life (history) in great richness and detail. I understand that war today is no more complex than during other times; but our ability to perceive this complexity changes depending on many factors including who we are—education, training, and experience—but also how much we are willing to work at achieving a view that more closely approximates reality.

Therefore to develop more capable leaders it seems necessary to replicate in our training the complexity of actual operations. For me, this Gettysburg experience did exactly that. I have spent time here before, but never have I encountered this history in such vivid detail.

Major Bill Jakola
Bill Jakola is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #18
MikeF
Council Member
 
MikeF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Posts: 1,177
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
Went to FT Fisher NC a while back and it was really an eye opener when you considered that 4000 + died in the effort to close and or hold that place. In Strategic context for the north it was a must in order to close off a major port of the south . And it took a whole lot to do so. Naval bombardments, Troop ground movements under heavy fire, siege tactics and ambushes, pasage of lines, you name it. It really helped me to accept how very complex war is(in any given time).
I would encourage everyone to visit Fort Fisher. That's close to home for me.
MikeF is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #19
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Hi Mike,

Good references. Smith's models have been applied that way and, if you get into some of the really obscure journals (obscure even in academic terms ), you can find some really neat modifications and, also, some of the limitations of the ESS model (e.g. a restricted environment).

I think that Lotka's Elements of Mathematical Biology gives us some basic models, but the problem with socio-cultural evolution is that it is Lamarckian and not strictly Darwinian (i.e. the inheritance of acquired characteristics). Not a major problem, really, since all we have to do is shift the theory of heritability, but it does mean that simple predator-prey models have some major limits.

The other key difference coming out is that socio-cultural evolution is really a form of punctuated equilibrium a la Eldridge and Gould. So, we're got these "equilibrium" phases that last for a longish time and then, wham bam, we have massive mutation and all sorts of new, competing things showing up. What's "neat" about this is that there are regularities at the process level (yes, Wilf, sometimes War really is just War ).

Anyway, I think we're in one of those punctuations right now - rapid mutation, rapid shifts and changes in heritability mechanisms, etc.

***********
postscript:

I blame John for me rambling on about evolutionary theory - If I wasn't working on that paper / book, i wouldn't be doing this - maybe !

Cheers,

Marc
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 08-22-2009   #20
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
I would encourage everyone to visit Fort Fisher. That's close to home for me.
So, is that, like, an invitation ?
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Closed Thread

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 07:14 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design © 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation