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Old 05-18-2006   #1
Strickland
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Default Center of Gravity Construct

Is the Clausewitzian idea of Center(s) of Gravity applicable in unconventional warfare?
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Old 05-19-2006   #2
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Default Stealth People and the Center of Gravity

Yes, I believe it does. The definition of COG I like best came from a Navy article I once read. The quote may be imprecise but it described a COG as something you take away from the enemy so he cannot attack you! In this case it is about how the enemy can move freely because he cannot be identified. Stealth people. He dosen't wear a uniform so you don't know who he is. He can expand on this in many ways. He can steal an airliner and make his own stealth bomber and strike with the same precision as our advanced and costly smart weapons and he can conduct EBO without having an Air Force. Very cost effective. Figure out how to take this away from the enemy and he will have a big problem.
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Old 05-19-2006   #3
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Look up Col. Boyds theories on non-cooperative centers of gravity

It is the essence of unconventional warfare
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Old 05-19-2006   #4
Bill Moore
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Default limited utility if any

In my opinion the center of gravity construct which many of our officers cling to blindly demonstrates a serious deficency in our professional education process. COG's are rarely correctly identified (assuming they exist), or the COG identified (such as the enemy's will) is useless from a strategy stand point. Furthermore, using the COG construct (assuming it works at all) only results in the defeat of the enemy's forces, but does not result in a victory (eg OIF). It doesn't allow for planning in depth. The sooner we shelve this concept, or at least subordinate it to other methodologies the better for the force.
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Old 05-19-2006   #5
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore
In my opinion the center of gravity construct which many of our officers cling to blindly demonstrates a serious deficency in our professional education process. COG's are rarely correctly identified (assuming they exist), or the COG identified (such as the enemy's will) is useless from a strategy stand point. Furthermore, using the COG construct (assuming it works at all) only results in the defeat of the enemy's forces, but does not result in a victory (eg OIF). It doesn't allow for planning in depth. The sooner we shelve this concept, or at least subordinate it to other methodologies the better for the force.
Center of gravity is viewed and handled from only a physical standpoint.
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Old 05-19-2006   #6
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Default Mistake Re: Small Wars / COIN

Quote:
Originally Posted by GorTex6
Center of gravity is viewed and handled from only a physical standpoint.
At times we seem to get enamored with physical centers of gravity because they fall into the easy to do category and can be assigned relatively simple metrics / measures of effectiveness. Second and third order effects are easy to identify, nodal analysis is easy, and the list can go on…

Problem with Small Wars and COIN is that it is the human element and how it interacts with the physical environment that presents the problem set we face.

Several schools of thought have emerged over the last several years – one is that the civilian population is always the COG, another is that there are multiple COG’s, and yet another is there are no "true" centers of gravity in a Small Wars / COIN scenario.

Somewhere in all this – Lines of Operations fall out and I believe that probably is the best way to go… At least in getting a grasp on the systems of systems human and physical environment we are faced with.
 
Old 05-19-2006   #7
Larry Dunbar
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Default Ooda

Quote:
Originally Posted by GorTex6
Center of gravity is viewed and handled from only a physical standpoint.
Again, I apologize for commenting on something I know so little about. This quote from GorTex6 seems completely true to me.

Unless you want to break the trust of your enemy, the enemy needs to see you exactly as you are. If the enemy sees you as an adaptive force that controls the COG in all situations, then, to remain in his OODA loop, which was formed when we penetrated his country, you have to give the enemy your complete trust and remain an adaptive force that controls the COG in all situations. Once the trust is broken the enemy has to readapt to the situation, which he seems to be very good at accomplishing. Strategically it may remain a good way to keep a lot of the enemyís energy occupied by making him adapt, and in time the political force in Iraq might change for the better.
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Old 05-20-2006   #8
Strickland
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Default COG construct

Perhaps, I should have stated my opinion in the original posting. I believe that Dr. Strange's COG construct of Critical Capability(s), Critical Requirement(s), and Critical Vulnerability(s) is VERY useful. However, I do not believe that we as planners should be slaves to this construct. The true utility of this construct is in assisting planners conduct conceptual planning and visualize the threat. No, not all adversaries fit neatly into this construct; however, by going through the process, one is capable of finding a 90% solution that will assist in futher detailed planning.

For Iraq, I would argue that there are 2 main adversaries - Sunni Rejectionists and Terrorists/Foreign Fighters. Most would agree that little can be done to positively influence the later except for direct kinetic acts, thus we are left with Sunni Rejectionists. Yes, I recognize that Sadr is not a Sunni Rejectionist; however, I would assert he is a minor threat who has demonstrated a desire to be included in the legitimate political process. In addition, I recognize that there are criminals that continue to destabilize the country, but that is no different than in the US, thus hardly worthy of comparison with rejectionists and terrorists.

Is it possible that the strategic and operational center of gravity for OIF is the Muslim - Sunni perception/feeling of marginalization - victimization? If coalition forces and the Iraqi government could somehow eradicate this perception and feeling, would our troubles not largely disappear? I say largely disappear due to the fact most agree that terrorists represent a small fraction of insurgents in Iraq. It is this feeling of victimization that leads Muslims to strike back. It is this sense of being victims of Israeli or American power that fuels anti-Western hatred. It is this sense of victimization that leads 300,000 former members of the Iraqi Intel, Security, and Military services to contribute to the insurgency.

If we accept this a the COG, then how is it vulnerable. Immediately, we see inclusion as the answer in Iraq, and not as we are currently mandating it through the "democratic" process. I put democratic in quotations due to the fact that any system which mandates 25% female representation regardless of the one man one vote idea is not democratic.

In the end, if the Brits can live with Martin McGuiness or Gerry Adams taking a seat in Parliament, then we can live with the Baath Party in Iraq.

ps - I have heard compelling arguments that the COG is the enemy's continued ability to destabilize the country, and that the critical requirement necessary for this to continue is our continued presence.

Last edited by Strickland; 05-20-2006 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 05-21-2006   #9
Bill Moore
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Default If the COG construct is to work, it must be useful

In resposne to Strickland's post:

I respect most, if not all, contributors to this council, for their contributions to the body of knowledge we are all trying to master, yet I still find many of their arguments against EBO illogical, especially when they turn around and embrace the center of gravity theory. While it does have limited application, it also is an extremely limited construct that doesnít facilitate a strategy for winning a war. In some cases it may allow a strategy to defeat a particular enemy, but that is seldom enough. During phase III of OIF the COG was the Saddam Regime, and as we saw that foucs only provided a worthwhile intermediate objective, but destroying it didnít allow us to win the war, of which military power is a only a part of.

Getting back to your comments, while thought provoking I think your example is a perfect illustration of the limits of the COG construct. It is a desire to identify a single enabler for a complex problem set, so we can focus our limited assets on a few enabling decisive points around that COG (as close to a silver bullet solution as possible), then we call victory and go home. This is a practice that some have associated with EBO, but I think it is much more prevalent in the COG approach.

The Sunni rejectionist problem you identified must be addressed, but you canít address it in isolation. Also identifying the Sunni rejectionist as a COG doesnít give a planner much to work with. You canít wish away the other problem sets, since they are all interconnected. We canít fix the Sunni rejectionist problem without establishing a viable economy, you canít do that without security, you canít have security within a criminal society with foreign fighters and ethnic hostilities or regional nations that donít support security, etc.

Little can be done to influence the foreign fighters except kinetic acts? I disagree and this is a problem of trying to find the foreign fighter COG within Iraq. Assuming there is a COG for foreign fighters, maybe it exists outside of Iraq? Foreign fighters can be addressed through a number of indirect means, to include engaging the source nations with information and assisting them with economic development, not to mention swinging the stick when needed. Another indirect approach which is effective in some areas in Iraq is to turn the population against the foreign fighters which denies them sanctuary, and greatly impedes their ability to operate. By the way this is an effects based approach.

I donít buy into your comparison of Iraqi criminals with U.S. criminals; thereby, disregarding a problem that is equal on scale to the stability of Iraq as the Sunni rejectionists. There is a difference between a criminal and a criminal economy. What weíre really trying to focus on is the underground or informal economy. Letís face it, at the end of the day the economic system really determines who as the power, so if a tribe makes its wealth (limited as it may be) from emplacing IEDs, kidnapping, or black market fuel sales, then what is the incentive to support a central government in Iraq that at present cannot provide a viable economic alternative to the tribes? The economy and underground economy are the key competing factions regarding the future of Iraq as a stable state. I think that criminals (who are also frequently terrorists and insurgents) are a bigger threat than the Sunni rejectionists, because they are undermining the very concept of the state.

In summary I think an effects based approach is far superior to the center of gravity construct.
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Old 05-21-2006   #10
Strickland
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Default EBO v. COG

Unfortunately, I have limited experience with EB planning, and each of those experiences was a poor one. Maybe I am paralyzed by personal experience; however, I believe that EBO requires a level or amount of intelligence that is unreasonable in order to work effectively.

Again, I am not arguing for a single COG; however, am suggesting that in order to get our heads around a complex problem, one must pick something instead of continuously arguing that whatever is selected is wrong.
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Old 05-21-2006   #11
Larry Dunbar
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Default Ignorance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore
I respect most, if not all, contributors to this council, for their contributions to the body of knowledge we are all trying to master...
I am one guy you don't have to respect. As far as COG goes, I think the best maneuver is a flanking move, EBO to me is the firebombing of Japan during WWII, and I believe the forces in Iraq are composed of remnants of the Ottoman Empire, Persia, and the Arabs, not to mention the forces of the USA. In short, I am completely ignorant. I believe COG keeps our troop alive; EBO only works if the General in charge envisions it, and I believe we are in the middle of wars fought long ago for goals both won and lost. I am a simpleton. While this makes me without a place in todayís complex world, I have an extremely fast OODA loop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strickland
In the end, if the Brits can live with Martin McGuiness or Gerry Adams taking a seat in Parliament, then we can live with the Baath Party in Iraq.
I think it is too late for the Baath party, they should be eliminated from the planet earth. Our strategy should be one of transformation instead of reform. This comes from the visions of our Generals and not through our civilian leadership.
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Old 05-21-2006   #12
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Default I hear you...

Quote:
I am a simpleton. While this makes me without a place in todayís complex world, I have an extremely fast OODA loop.
Sometimes I read all the "smart guy" stuff and wonder what planet that conference was held on...
 
Old 05-22-2006   #13
Bill Moore
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Default EBO versus COG and now the OODA loop

Larry claims to have a fast OODA loop, but I think we all do or we would simply perish, but speed is not the sole essence of the OODA loop. John Boyd focused on speed when he used the OODA loop model from a fighter pilot perspective, but expanded the OODA loop concept considerably to address what we're now calling 4th generation warfare while he was assigned to Thailand.

We observe, we orient (perceive), we decide and we act, but both sides when they start a conflict are relatively weak at the orientation aspect due to the cultural biases we bring to the table. There is usually a learning curve (or should be) after observing the results of our actions. OIF is a perfect example where we learned after repeated failures that mass search and sweep operations were not effective at catching or killing bad guys, and they further alienated the local population, which in the end played into the enemy's hands. If you have some sort of effects based approach you'll learn and adapt, but if you're beholden to a COG you'll tend to stay the course regardless.

As for simply picking one system (COG or EBO) and running with it, why? Why do we have to have a regimented system that "limits" our ability to define and solve problems? We need less emphasis on planning systems/methods and more emphasis on independent thinking.

I'm not a big advocate of Effects Based Operations methods that are coming out of OSD and JFCOM, and concur with your comments on EBO, the planning episodes I have witnessed have been disappointing to say the least. We have tech centric leadership at OSD now, and if they keep evolving EBO into an information technology reliant system it will fail, as many of us have already seen, yet there are still some good aspects of using an effects based approach that will enable us to become a learning organization. It won't keep us from making mistakes initially, but it will allow us to steer in the right direction sooner (I think).

The pie in sky dream of an on line, all knowing, Operational Net Assessment (ONA) Tool that can lay out every node, predict every effect, etc. is not just a fantasy, but a dangerous one that will make a few contractors rich, and in the end DoD will have wished they spent that money on weapons systems, getting spare parts for helicopters, etc.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 05-22-2006 at 12:56 AM.
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Old 05-23-2006   #14
GorTex6
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Default <----slow

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore
speed is not the sole essence of the OODA loop.
It is the ability to analyze a spectrum of "noise", deduce information, and synthesize a new reality ie. build snowmobiles

Fast thinkers are impulsive, slow thinkers think big

Last edited by GorTex6; 05-24-2006 at 12:03 AM.
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Old 05-24-2006   #15
Larry Dunbar
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Default Ooda

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore
Larry claims to have a fast OODA loop, but I think we all do or we would simply perish, ....
My OODA loop is fast because I live in a simple environment, with very few influences trying to get into my orientation and decision-making. I, as all Americans do, have implicit laws that enable me to move quickly from my orientation to decision making.

If I were in Iraqi this would not be the case. I would still have those implicit laws, but I need to know my enemyís orientation to influence his decision-making. To get up to speed, I would first try to get inside the insurgents OODA loop as outlined in the 28 articles on another post at this site. My speed would then depend on how fast I could understand the situation as it unfolds, I can't imagine it being all that fast.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore
but speed is not the sole essence of the OODA loop.
Exactly true. Trust is the real important quality, without trust you cannot enter your enemy's loop and he can't enter yours. You have to trust your enemy to act like you think he will. If he doesn't he has broken the link (trust) between you. If you act unlike your enemy thinks you will, he will have to adapt to the situation or be destroyed. It seems to me they are adapting. I have no knowledge if this is so, and will gladly concede this point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore
We observe, we orient (perceive), we decide and we act, but both sides when they start a conflict are relatively weak at the orientation aspect due to the cultural biases we bring to the table.
ďÖ when they start a conflict [they] are relatively weak at the orientation aspectÖĒ Not true! The orientation aspect was strong (and quick) on both sides. We simply did not know each otherís orientations very well (the US military and the forces (all of them) in Iraq).

The information we needed in the beginning was in the Observation aspect. We had to know exactly what the enemy was doing and at all times. This was the reason for the rush to get information. This is especially true during a high maneuver strategy such as a blitzkrieg.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore
There is usually a learning curve (or should be) after observing the results of our actions.
Bill Moore's statement can't be over emphasized. After gathering information to satisfy our observation of the enemy, we needed to know him (28 articles) and ourselves. This new knowledge is what enables an army to plan what the enemy will do. We got into their OODA loop and they enter ours. Whoever reacts quicker wins the battle, but not necessary the war.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore
As for simply picking one system (COG or EBO) and running with it, why?
One reason might be because that is the system that the enemy knows you will use, and you know you can defeat him with it. According to Boyd, you want to react as your enemy's orientation dictates and not how yours dictate. If the only thing you know about the enemy is that he understands how you move, I guess you have to go with that. I know too little about your COG and EBO, so I really can't be more specific. Even if I did know more, I am a civilian so my overall knowledge on how the military operates is very limited.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore
Why do we have to have a regimented system that "limits" our ability to define and solve problems? We need less emphasis on planning systems/methods and more emphasis on independent thinking.
War has such a high level of chance and the outcome can be, well... so final, I wouldn't want any "limits", but then I don't know the limiting factors in the military.
Emboldening the front-line troops wins battles, but I am beginning to believe that it takes leaders with vision, and knowledge to win wars. I also believe this vision has to begin at the top. Independent thinking is great for winning battles, but the US military needs to present a unifying strategy to win this war.
If the COG is about installing leadership in the Iraqi government, I would say that sounds about right. If the EBO is directed at influencing that leadership, I would say that sounds about right. Using EBO against the enemy is great if all the effects it causes are known. I am just not sure if it can be known completely in such a complex situation.
If the companies are trying to sell you a system (pie-in-the-sky) that wins every battle, it is too late, you guys already accomplish that. Sounds to me like a bunch of whistles and bells you donít need.
Your knowledge of the facts of the situation sound spot on. It sounds to me like the discussion for and against COG or EBO needs to be carried forward by qualified guys like you.
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Old 05-24-2006   #16
Merv Benson
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Default The enemy news cycle loop

In Iraq the enemy is primarily targeting noncombatants so that the media will say it is another example of the US sides failure to stop them from engaging in mass murder. Our primary response to this has been to concentrate on finding and taking out bomb builders and better intelligence in finding those doing the attacks. What is missing from this loop is an attempt to get inside the news cycle or to challenge the premise of the stories. The enemy has said that 80 percent of his battle space is in the media, yet we have no one in charge of fighting in that battle space. The weekly newsbriefings run as many as seven days behind the news cycle. Too often a charge is thrown out and it takes days and sometimes weeks for a response, by which time the cycle has moved on to a new charge to be investigated. If we took the same approach to a kinetic battle space, we would have a lot of friendly KIA's to deal with.
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Old 05-24-2006   #17
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Default News Cycle

Here is an example of an average day's worth of Iraq reporting (MSM, Official and Blogs):

Iraq and OIF / Telic / Catalyst
  • Bush Says U.S., Iraq Will Assess Troop Levels - Reuters
  • Coalition, Iraqi Leaders Meet to Discuss Future of Iraqi Security - AFPS
  • Talks on Security Continue in Iraq - Los Angeles Times
  • PM: Iraqi Forces Could Stand Alone in 2007 - Agence France-Presse
  • Bush to Make Assessment of Iraq's Needs for U.S. Military Help - VOA
  • Delay in Key Iraqi Ministries Will Affect U.S. Troop Levels - VOA
  • U.S., Britain to Start Iraq Exit in July - The Australian
  • Far From Model Army but Iraq's Troops Battle On - London Daily Telegraph
  • Iraqi Security Forces Leading Operations in More Areas - AFPS
  • Diggers to Pull Out of Muthanna if Iraqis Take Over - The Australian
  • Armed Groups Propel Iraq Toward Chaos - New York Times
  • Iraqi Insurgent Gives Chilling Confession - Washington Post
  • 30 Iraqis Die in Attacks Across the Nation - New York Times
  • 40 Killed in Iraq, 11 Near Shiite Mosque - Associated Press
  • Bomb Kills at Least 11 at Baghdad Shi'ite Mosque - Reuters
  • Hands-Off or Not? Saudis Wring Theirs Over Iraq - Los Angeles Times
  • Rights Under Assault In Iraq, U.N. Unit Says - Washington Post
  • U.S. Is Faulted for Using Private Military Workers - Los Angeles Times
  • Amnesty Urges U.S. on Iraq Contractors - Associated Press
  • U.S. Urged to Stop Paying Iraqi Reporters - New York Times
  • Judging Iraq On Its Own Terms - Christian Science Monitor Editorial
  • Iraq's Next Giant Step - Seattle Times Editorial
  • Revisionist History - Wall Street Journal Commentary
  • For Neocons, the Irony of Iraq - Washington Post Commentary
  • Iraqi Progress - Washington Times Commentary
  • Securing Baghdad is a Numbers Game - Los Angeles Times Commentary
  • Troop Withdrawal To Speed Up: Guardian - Captain's Quarters Blog
  • U.S. & Great Britain Will Start Iraq Exit in July - Gateway Pundit Blog
  • Government Forms; Recent Counterterrorism Ops - Counterterrorism Blog

The list with the links is here. I read most of it and post the links every day. I feel many of the same frustrations as Merv in reference to lagging behind the MSM daily news cycle on events in Iraq, Afghanistan and the GWOT.

Many of the blogs pick up some of the slack but they do not have the wide exoposure the MSM does. Moreover, many (if not most) of the blog readers tend to be selective and visit blogs that more or less reinforce their particular views on Iraq and other issues.

The official DoD press reporting and transcripts lag behind events and tend towards straight forward script that reads like press releases.

DoD did try to get into the enemy's IO OODA Loop but the program to pay Iraqi reporters was outed and the MSM had a field day with that, to say the least.
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Old 05-25-2006   #18
Bill Moore
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Default 80% of the battlespace?

Merv I don't disagree, but I would love to quote your source that the enemy said 80% of their battle space is the media if you can find and share it. I know we have all read and heard a lot over the years, so you may not have it at your fingertips.

From an effects based approach, the information system is definitely the most important, as it has a disproportionate impact on all the other systems such as political, economic, social, military, etc. We can win every kinetic battle and still lose if we canít effectively influence the info sphere.

Although we discussed at length the failure of our ability to influence the info sphere in previous discussions, this is the first example I have seen where you framed the argument using the OODA loop construct, which is simply brilliant. Obvious in hindsight, but not until you pulled open the curtains.

I think we should run with this a little more. We may be able to convince our public affairs officers to get off their duff and respond quicker, but I donít think that is the right answer. For those of us in the military, we all know weíre repelled by most commercials, and news on the Armed Forces Network (AFN). It comes across as simpleton in nature and disingenuous, I rather Korean, German, or Japanese television. Instead of having a polished prince presenting the approved official side of the story after the response has been murder boarded a few times, why not let one of our NCOs or younger officers speak directly to the media about what happened right after it happened? It may not be polished, but it will be genuine and from the heart and people will have no choice but to believe it. That is the type of IO that will have an impact.

I wonít even attempt to sugarcoat what we did in Abu Grab, and in my opinion the failure of our leadership to aggressively respond to it, gave the enemy an IO victory of enormous scale. Of course ever so slowly we brought several of the culprits to justice, but it was a behind the scenes show. How do you manage the damage for something like this? You donít manage it, you stand on principle, what people around the world love us for, and you aggressively respond to the crime. Concurrently, and equally if not more important, we show what the terrorists are doing to the population, to include pictures of the tortured bodies. Hell, I read a depressing story today about a 12 year old Iraqi boy that was tortured to death, why wasnít that one the front page or headline news? We have to show a clear contrast, which means we admit our mistakes, and in the case of the guilty we punish them. The terrorists are murdering pricks who brag about their atrocities online! Why canít we get that across to the Arab street? It is a story right there to be told. We wear the white hat, that is obvious to us, but it isnít all that clear to the Arab world. We can do better, much better.

I don't want to divert too much from the COG versus EBO argument, but this has merit.
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Old 05-25-2006   #19
Merv Benson
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Default 80 % of the battle space

The 80 percent figure came from one of the intercepted al Qaeda communications. I will try to find it and post a link.

I do not think public affairs offices are set up to respond in a timely way to enemy media campaigns. The best analogy I can think of off hand is a groups of trial lawyers responding in real time to the other side in complex litigation situations. They have the sense of urgency to get their sides position out there and to tear down the assertions of the other side. If properly manged by a skilled attorney they can be devatatingly effective. This is not the same as lawyers giving legal advice on operational matters. It is about presenting a case in an understandable way that ordinary people can understand. Trial lawyers are very different from deal lawyers in terms of their OODA loops. They can't afford to let testimony bad for their case just hang out there without dealing with it while it is still fresh in the minds of the fact finders.
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Old 05-25-2006   #20
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Default

Experienced trial lawyers tailor their message to the audience. They'll use different approaches depending upon the judge and jurors as they know them.

The Arab mindset seems a bit difficult for westerner's to wrap their heads around - certainly I don't grok it. Heightened concern for social honor, a penchant for paranoia, major concern over person to person relationships as opposed to detail oriented deal making, etc. It's easy to see how rotating a press secretary in and out of the Green Zone isn't going to cut it.

At the same time, the internet offers an incredible opportunity to insurgents everywhere - untraceable, immediate and virtually impossible to refute (because you can't verify anything online - thus folks believe the stuff they want to and ignore the rest). And for the finale - in Iraq you've got scads of local Imams whose livelihood is dependant upon their popularity and who have far more credibility and authority than any American.

Frankly, I can't think of a more difficult information operations environment.
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