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Old 05-21-2014   #41
Bill Moore
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I have generally been a fan of Kilcullen's books and articles, although I found this particular book not as well thought out as his previous books. Perhaps because he is still exploring this concept. To be fair Ralph Peters, and many others, did meet him to the punch on this issue, and I recall a number of discussions and papers in the 1990s discussing potential military scenarios in large urban areas and how complex they would be.

http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...-and-dangerous

Peters' wrote in 1996:
Quote:
Cities always have been centers of gravity, but they are now more magnetic than ever before. Once the gatherers of wealth, then the processors of wealth, cities and their satellite communities have become the ultimate creators of wealth. They concentrate people and power, communications and control, knowledge and capability, rendering all else peripheral. They are also the post-modern equivalent of jungles and mountains--citadels of the dispossessed and irreconcilable. A military unprepared for urban operations across a broad spectrum is unprepared for tomorrow.
Peters made a lot of interesting points regarding the future of urban warfare in a talk I attended in 2001 (before 9/11), but most of the points focused on the physical aspects of fighting in a city and the difficulty of templating irregulars. Kilcullen adds the socio-political aspects and I found his thoughts on the city as an ecosystem (system of systems) and how competitive control works very helpful in observing and explaining what many of us have experienced and simply labeled it as chaos, yet there was an underlying order that wasn't necessarily visible to us at the time.

On the other hand his book in my opinion is still is missing the so what factor for security planners. He is also focused currently on data analysis to analyze cities which may prove to be valuable, but similar studies in the past have generally led us astray. Ralph Peters on the other hand glances over the socio-political and focuses on the so what at the tactical and doctrine level. Curious about readers' thoughts on his projections made in 1996 as a Major now that we have extensive experience fighting in cities (though done would qualify as a megacity the principles still apply). regardless there is considerable room for further study in this area to inform military doctrine and future capabilities required.

How, or even if, Brazil can secure the games will be interesting to see unfold. We could be overstating the threat by assuming the masses will think and act collectively and actually have an interest in attacking the games. I'm sure some do, but what percentage? Is it enough to be threatening? How good is Brazil's intelligence in identifying the leaders who could provoke a serious security threat? What is their ability to pre-empt it? Will they leverage engineers to create obstacles and channelize potential protesters / trouble makers into zones they can control? What will the impact be if the disenfranchised citizens effectively disrupt (or worse) the games?
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Old 05-21-2014   #42
TheCurmudgeon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flagg View Post
I sometimes wonder if the life cycles of insects may be an analog to illicit megaslum networks?

embryo
larvae
pupa
imago/maturity/legitimacy

Comparing the favela video above with the Vice series on Karachi found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgIl1vmIchA

It would superficially appear that Karachi's slums/ghettos are well into the transition to political machines

-----

Are developing world megaslums simply echoing our own western history of slum/ghetto development with two adjustments for sheer scale and the catalysing effects of technology?

IF that is the case, and while I am a big fan of David Kilcullen's book and derived great value from it(particularly his conflict entrepreneur and "city as biological system" perspective), I don't see enough emphasis on what I see as the life cycle of illicit networks on the journey from criminality to legitimacy.

Using Kilcullen's own biological system viewpoint, I wonder if the illicit networks can be viewed as a parasitic/symbiotic biological system within a system?
I had been hesitating on picking up Kilcullen's book but now you have sparked my interest.

However, I would seriously caution you or anyone else with using biological metaphors for sociological systems. It is true that, like a life form, a social system is a complex adaptive system. However, Life forms evolve to improve the survivability of the species where social systems evolve to improve the desires of the members of the system.

The most common error, and the one that most people still believe is true, is the comparison of “social evolution” to biological evolution. This creates the impression that the more complex, Western societies are more “evolved” and therefore “better” than any other system. It would also imply that the “social system” is the unit that is evolving, that humans are sub-units inside a system in which they have no control. They are simply cells in the social system. The social systems are what are reproducing and it is the social system that is surviving, not the people in it.

That is not true, social systems have adapted to meet the needs of the people in it, the people in it have not evolved to serve the social system.

The rub of this kind of thinking is that it makes Westerners believe that their system is more evolved and therefore “better” than everyone else’s system. That, since we are at the panicle of social evolution it is our responsibility to bring the rest of the world up to our level. It is one of the fundimental components of Modernization theroy. Ideas like this can cause poorly conceived foreign policy.
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Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 05-21-2014 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 05-21-2014   #43
flagg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
I had been hesitating on picking up Kilcullen's book but now you have sparked my interest.

However, I would seriously caution you or anyone else with using biological metaphors for sociological systems. It is true that, like a life form, a social system is a complex adaptive system. However, Life forms evolve to improve the survivability of the species where social systems evolve to improve the desires of the members of the system.

The most common error, and the one that most people still believe is true, is the comparison of “social evolution” to biological evolution. This creates the impression that the more complex, Western societies are more “evolved” and therefore “better” than any other system. It would also imply that the “social system” is the unit that is evolving, that humans are sub-units inside a system in which they have no control. They are simply cells in the social system. The social systems are what are reproducing and it is the social system that is surviving, not the people in it.

That is not true, social systems have adapted to meet the needs of the people in it, the people in it have not evolved to serve the social system.

The rub of this kind of thinking is that it makes Westerners believe that their system is more evolved and therefore “better” than everyone else’s system. That, since we are at the panicle of social evolution it is our responsibility to bring the rest of the world up to our level. It is one of the fundimental components of Modernization theroy. Ideas like this can cause poorly conceived foreign policy.
I would agree with your caution sign.

The analogies can be rough and imperfect....or even potentially hazardous if clung to rigidly.

But I do think there is a place for the use of the terms "evolved" and "better"(maybe more elegant/sophisticated might be a better choice in this case) when used in describing the TTPs and capabilities of networks as some of them attempt to shift from illicit criminal networks to legitimate political networks.

As a political science grad and infanteer I would think governance and light infantry combat both possess best practices that will in some cases have changed little in centuries(as in "it's all about the fundamentals"). But layered on top over the years are more complex capabilities that don't inherently make one better, just potentially more capable if well employed/deployed.

In terms of poorly conceived foreign policy, it's probably easy to imagine near future scenarios where a nation's diplomats are face with the conundrum of dealing directly with both the self-appointed representatives of ungoverned/self-governed megaslums via back channels as well as the government representatives of the sovereign state surrounding the ungoverned/self-governed space.
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Old 05-22-2014   #44
flagg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
I have generally been a fan of Kilcullen's books and articles, although I found this particular book not as well thought out as his previous books. Perhaps because he is still exploring this concept. To be fair Ralph Peters, and many others, did meet him to the punch on this issue, and I recall a number of discussions and papers in the 1990s discussing potential military scenarios in large urban areas and how complex they would be.

http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...-and-dangerous

Peters' wrote in 1996:

Peters made a lot of interesting points regarding the future of urban warfare in a talk I attended in 2001 (before 9/11), but most of the points focused on the physical aspects of fighting in a city and the difficulty of templating irregulars. Kilcullen adds the socio-political aspects and I found his thoughts on the city as an ecosystem (system of systems) and how competitive control works very helpful in observing and explaining what many of us have experienced and simply labeled it as chaos, yet there was an underlying order that wasn't necessarily visible to us at the time.

On the other hand his book in my opinion is still is missing the so what factor for security planners. He is also focused currently on data analysis to analyze cities which may prove to be valuable, but similar studies in the past have generally led us astray. Ralph Peters on the other hand glances over the socio-political and focuses on the so what at the tactical and doctrine level. Curious about readers' thoughts on his projections made in 1996 as a Major now that we have extensive experience fighting in cities (though done would qualify as a megacity the principles still apply). regardless there is considerable room for further study in this area to inform military doctrine and future capabilities required.

How, or even if, Brazil can secure the games will be interesting to see unfold. We could be overstating the threat by assuming the masses will think and act collectively and actually have an interest in attacking the games. I'm sure some do, but what percentage? Is it enough to be threatening? How good is Brazil's intelligence in identifying the leaders who could provoke a serious security threat? What is their ability to pre-empt it? Will they leverage engineers to create obstacles and channelize potential protesters / trouble makers into zones they can control? What will the impact be if the disenfranchised citizens effectively disrupt (or worse) the games?
Any thoughts on human/social networks developing like an insect life cycle?

When I think of the possibilities of networks in the favelas disrupting(for benefit like conflict entrepreneurs exploiting opportunities) FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, I can't help but recall Air France's pilots union back in 1998 during the French World Cup:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/fa...f-1162409.html

I'm thinking what/how can the favela(and Brazil's notorious prison based) networks influence/disrupt logistics essential to FIFA and Olympic events.

And how much does the sophistication of the network and leadership decision making impact on it?

I think I hear what you're your saying both in terms of modern western networks aren't worth emulating in every respect(sometimes far from it) as well as how sometimes guys who live in caves are playing a pretty good game of chess, while folks flying first class are playing a lousy game of checkers.
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Old 06-07-2014   #45
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Default D-6 in Brazil

Not being interested in football I had missed the first game is due to be played in six days in Sao Paulo. So a mass transit strike is not unexpected and the almost inevitable confrontation with the police:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...up-opener.html A better report:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-27745401

This week the BBC have shown documentaries on Rio from different angles. One focussed on the sex trade, especially under-age boys and girls. Another on Rio, mostly filmed in one favela, from both sides - the public represented by a former gang leader turned community worker - and the state in the form of the military police. Neither readily found on the BBC website alas.
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Old 01-18-2015   #46
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Default Time to be friendly in Rio: goodbye pacification

A new Governor for the province and a new policy:
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If those in charge succeed, the controversial top-down term "pacification" may soon fall into disuse. Instead, police have announced that they are reaching out to civil society to help them do a better, less violent job of keeping Rio safe.
Link:http://www.insightcrime.org/news-ana...licing-at-last
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Old 01-18-2015   #47
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Default Moderator's Note

The nine post thread 'Out of the mountains into the slums?' has been merged into the longer running Brazil: violence in (merged thread) today.
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