Thursday, April 06, 2006

Random Stuff

I am blogging "on the road" and from a laptop. Not my ideal setting, but workable.

My template for the blog was all jacked-up, so I changed it. Still getting used to it. Lost all my little customizations, but I can add those later. At least now, FX-Based looks less like Zenpundit. I don't think anybody was getting FX-Based confused with Zenpundit since Mark writes on a wider range of topics and far better than me.

Speaking of Zenpundit, reading his blog I found a posting on the defense-related blog Opposed System Design by Wiggins that reference my "Unnecessary Attachements" posting on 4GW and Other Theories. Here's an excerpt from OSD:

Recognizing the uses and limits of a theory remains a challenge for surprisingly many thinkers. I see the uses and limits of 4GW, NCW and EBO as follow:

-use: recognizes the power of insurgency and unconventional warfare in a globalized environment
-limit: does not consider the relative vulnerability of non-state actors vs. states

-use: recognizes the importance of common orientation in military capability
-limit: is all too often is used to reduce war to a technological/operations research challenge

-use: intelligent targeting of structurally complex systems to generate cascading failures. This enables one to disrupt adversary systems with low costs, producing very high returns on investment.
-limit: not applicable to interactively complex systems, i.e. adversaries as a whole.

I like that Sonny characterizes these theories as tools that warfighters use as appropriate to adapt and overcome unexpected challenges. We naturally understand that tools have uses and limits. Theories, on the other hand, tend to activate our combative tendancies. To point to a theory’s limits often provokes the irate defense of its advocates. More theories mean more tools for the warfighter, and I say bring them on.

Thanks to Wiggins for commenting on my humble writings. I also like the bulletized "pros and cons" for each theory. I am going to elaborate on those three theories in a future post, but here's my quick take based on my real-world experience.


Believe it or not, I did not know that there was something called 4GW until I read The Sling and the Stone by Col Thomas X. Hammes in December 04. By then, I had already spent close to a year in the Middle East working in support of OIF and OEF. I think that even without knowing that we were fighting a "4GW enemy" we did a pretty good job of understanding that this was by no means a conventional fight. Understanding a concept and applying a strategy based on that concept are two different things though. Personally, this is how I viewed our enemy in Iraq:

So, we were basically dealng with a sneaky adversary that does not play by our rules. Having read about conflicts in the area prior to my deployment I was not that surprised when I saw some of the tactics used by the insurgents. They basically use whatever technique is practical to fight, (physically and psychologically) against us. Having played as a Red Team in some exercises, I can understand (but not condone) their method of fighting. Now, this is stuff that I knew well before I found out about 4GW. Maybe I was not reading the right books.


I don't really see NCW as a theory per se. I see it as a way of doing business. Call it NCW or whatever, we have to be able to share information across the battlespace to a host of dispersed units. In today's environment, you simply can't afford to have a collection of stand-alone units and systems running around the place. Personally, when I am in a forward operating location I want to be able to share information with other units in the battlespace, vertically and horizontally. NCW is just the way that we do business in the 21st century. Of course, we can fall into the technology trap, but part of your competence as a leader is knowing the limits of technology. The danger lies in the misaplication of technology, not in the the technology itself. Our military reflect our culture in many respects. We live in a "connected" information-intensive culture; our military will reflect some of that. For many of the kids coming in NCW or whatever you want to call it just makes sense and it's something they will pretty much do on their own. NCW does not need "proponents". It just comes naturally.


There is some disagreement as to what EBO is even within the Air Force. There are so many ways to approach a problem from an effects-based perspective that many times you will not have 100% consensus on what the best course of action to achieve a series of objectives. Even within EBO, we can use different models (Warden's Rings, Strange Analysis, Barlow's NEV Analysis, System of Systems Analysis, etc) to analyze the situation. No sigle model can account for everything, so basically what we usually do is use a combination of models to look at the problem. The metheorologists don't limit themselves to a single model to conduct their weather predictions. The same applies for strategists.

That's my quick take on those three "theories". I will definitely elaborate in my next post. Hopefully I'll be home by Saturday or Sunday, and I will have more time to write, but who knows?

One more thing before I forget. Dan from tdaxp added FX-Based to his "Great Blogs" blogroll. Thanks Dan! We had a long ongoing discussion on the OODA, PISRR, FFPS, and Attractive Asian Women of Lost Nomad's "Girl Wednesday" post. Click on the link and read the comments sections (below pictures of the attractive Asian race queens, courtesy of Lost Nomad) and judge for yourself. Lost Nomad also has a section called "Girl Wednesday" featuring more Korean hotties.

That's it for now.

Hey FX, do you have a definitive work for both "strange analysis" and "systems of systems analysis" as it relates to the EBO?


John Robb
I think of NCW as high-tech 3GW, and EBO as high-tech 2GW (and/or high tech 3GW).
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