14 September 2006

Sometimes you need a little finesse

The Pentagon has announced a massive overhaul to the US Army's counter-insurgency doctrine. After being reminded that Iraq II has lasted longer than WWII, with no end in sight, some Pentagon guy got up, made an odd reference to not being in a jungle anymore, and let us in on some of the new materiel. Material.

I saw a PowerPoint style depiction of 'new way' vs 'old way'. I couldn't figure out what the little graphics meant but the words were pretty clear: 'Old Way' is 'Lecture-based' and teaches 'what to think'; 'New Way' is 'Seminar based' and teaches 'how to think'. I'm not going to make any jokes about that, you go ahead and think of a good one and then pretend I wrote it.

We were also told about some of the 'paradoxes' in counter-insurgency:

The more you try to secure your force, the less secure you will be.
The more firepower you use, less effective you will be.
The more successful you are, the less force you will have to use, and the more risk you will have to accept (which is like the second one, except with a third clause that renders it non-paradoxical).

Aside from the fact that the third one is pretty much the same as the second only with an extra clause that makes it non-paradoxical, I like these. I think they do a pretty good job of capturing some of the problems their forces are having over there (and ours as well). I think it's cute that they do it in a vaguely eastern-philosophical sort of way, and that's not just the sound of one hand clapping. And the commentator (Loud Dobbs, I think) summarized brilliantly:what they're looking for in Iraq is all about finesse. But now that the Pentagon has reached this great enlightenment, they need to push the analysis further.

If finesse is what you need, why the hell would you send an army??


Blogger Penny said...

Hi Gavin. Thanks for the link here!!

Can't help thinking that, sealing the Pakistan/Afghan border might have been a good first start to their programme.

I guess "finesse" for them means being able to find a synomym for the old way of saying things, in case they can convince anyone besides Mouthpiece Dobbs that they have something new to say.

And in their hands, the phrase "being taught how to think" has a sinister sound... not exactly like what University does for the mind, is it?

September 27, 2006  

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