« To War, To War, This Country’s Going to War” - TTG | Main | A Game Changer »

09 February 2018


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Combat Applications Group and SEALS don't even begin to compare, they're not in the same league as 'real deal' GBs. The GBs are thinkers as well as doers, whereas Combat Applications Group and SEALs all they know is breach and clear, breach and clear.

There is more to life than breach and clear.

Having worked with all in one manner or another, I'll take GBs any day hands down. It makes a difference when the brain is engaged instead of just the heel.


A lot of technology entrepreneurs--especially those active today--are stuck in their own groupthink, inflated by their sense that they are born for greatness and can do no wrong. The kind of grand schemes that the top people at Google, Uber, and Facebook think up to remake the universe in their own idea of "good society" are frightening. That they are cleverer (but not necessarily wiser) than the academics, borgists, or generals, I think, makes them even more dangerous.

FB Ali

Col Lang,

They are indeed "narrow thinkers", but I think the problem runs deeper. They seem to be stuck in the rut of a past era. When the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to accept the reality of the world as it is now.

Of course, these policies ensure that they continue to be well-funded, even if the US is bankrupting itself in the process.

Peter AU

I see your point pl and you are right.



He is still the Saudi Mukhtar for the US and most of the generals are still narrow minded. pl


"Syria war: Israeli fighter jet crashes under Syria fire, military says"


Could this be a 'casus belli' for the US in the Middle East?


And this is unexpected:

"Syrian Defense Ministry announces end of operations in Idlib, Aleppo.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:30 A.M.) – The Syrian Ministry of Defense announced, tonight, that all operations in the Idlib and Aleppo governorates have concluded after several weeks of fighting.

According to the spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense, the Syrian Arab Army completed their objectives in both Aleppo and Idlib after they successfully erased the Islamic State’s (ISIS) large pocket in this region of northern Syria...

A military source told Al-Masdar News, tonight, that the Syrian Army is preparing for a long-term ceasefire with the rebel forces in this region of the country."


And this just in:

"Syrian military says Israeli drone downed over western Damascus"



They seem to have deliberately completely ignored the issues and policy positions Trump ran on as President. It isn't a case of ignorance but of wilful disregard.



I think that is true but, they were able to talk him into that, thus far. pl



What's your grade? That would frame the discussion. Regular Army (active force) or ARNG? BTW, I am altogether in favor of the new tax laws and the budget agreement in spite of the deficits. Ivanka? A babe. pl


I've been reading this blog for some time. My question was facetious and written with the understanding of your statement about the generals not having a good grasp of "the vision thing" on their own.


So true and as others commented this is a sad feature of the human race and all human organizations. Herd mentality ties into social learning. Chimps are on average more creative and have better short term memory than humans. We gave up some short term memory in order to be able to learn quickly by mimicking. If shown how to open a puzzle box but also shown unnecessary extra steps a chimp will ignore the empty steps and open the box with only the required steps. A human will copy what they saw exactly performing the extra steps as if they have some unknown value to the process. Our massive cultural heritages are learned by observing and taken in as a whole. This process works within organizations as well.

I suspect a small percentage of the human race functions differently than the majority and retains creative thinking and openness along with more emphasis on cognitive thinking than social learning but generally they always face a battle when working to change the group "consensus", i.e. Fulton's folly, scepticism on whether man would ever fly, etc.

One nice feature of the internet allows creative thinkers to connect and watch the idiocy of the world unfold around us.

"A natural desire to be part of the 'in crowd' could damage our ability to make the right decisions, a new study has shown."


Bill Herschel

Walmart employs 1.4 million Americans. The military employs 1.3 million active duty soldiers.

That's a problem. Peace can't be allowed to break out. And the best way to insure that it doesn't is to kill the minimum number of people and export the maximum number of arms to keep people fighting with each other around the world.

That is all about as far as conceivable away from any notion of a professional soldier.

How do you stop this? Who will employ those 1.3 million... 1.3 million who have been brainwashed about "terrorism", "communism", "democracy", "muslims", etc. etc. etc.? Particularly in the context of the tsunami of social change that is about to hit with the advent of real artificial intelligence. Doctors? Their jobs are on the line and I suspect they don't know it. Lawyers? Even worse.

The following article was the start of an epochal change in medicine:

Lasko TA, Denny JC, Levy MA (2013) Computational Phenotype Discovery Using Unsupervised Feature Learning over Noisy, Sparse, and Irregular Clinical Data. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66341. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066341

Bill Herschel

I guess I should add, although it should be obvious, that the one thing that absolutely cannot under any circumstances be allowed to happen is real war. Then you have to figure out how to employ both the soldiers and the Walmart employees. Those that are still alive. And of course if you look at the behavior of the U.S. in Syria you see that we are about as interested in real war as we are in the arts.


The military by definition is a rigid hierarchical structure.
It could not function as a collection of individuals.
This society can only breed conforming narrow leaders as an "individual" would leave or be forced out.

Account Deleted

That part of our brain responsible for the desire to be part of the 'in crowd' may affect our decision-making process, but it is also the reason we keep chimps in zoos and not the other way around. Or, to put it another way; if chimps had invented Facebook, I might consider them more creative than us.

Babak Makkinejad

Do you think chimps are, per the Christian Docrine, in a State of Fall or in a State of Grace?


"he provided a “very rough first guess” that the over-all effect of the tax bill and the spending deal would be about 1.25 per cent of G.D.P. for this calendar year, and two per cent for the next.
> That would be a substantial stimulus. It would be larger, for example, than the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, which George W. Bush’s Administration introduced to try to head off a slump following a big fall in the real-estate market. That stimulus, which came in the form of a tax rebate, amounted to about one per cent of G.D.P. (It wasn’t enough to head off a recession. In fact, the National Bureau of Economic Research subsequently said that the recession had already begun in December, 2007.)
> The Trump stimulus isn’t as big as the Obama stimulus of 2009 through 2011, which most Republican senators and congressmen vigorously opposed. That package, which consisted of a mix of spending and tax cuts, totalled about two per cent of G.D.P. each year. But, in February, 2009, when it was enacted, the economy was suffering through the deepest recession since the nineteen-thirties. The unemployment rate was 7.8 per cent, and G.D.P. was plummeting. If ever there was a textbook case of an economy crying out for a stimulus, that was it.
> Today, by contrast, the economy is in the ninth year of an economic recovery that began in 2009. G.D.P. is growing at an annual rate of close to three per cent, and the unemployment rate stands at 4.1 per cent. Many economics textbooks say this is the sort of environment in which the government should be balancing its books, and perhaps even paying down debt, like a family salting away money for a rainy day. That’s what the Clinton Administration did during the late nineteen-nineties, when the national debt was much smaller than it is today.
> The Republicans and Trump are embarked on the opposite course—confirming that the G.O.P.’s devotion to deficit reduction, which in 2011 prompted members of the Party to refuse to raise the debt ceiling, is purely cynical. Of course, we already knew this. The Reagan Administration and the George W. Bush Administration both raided the public purse to finance big tax cuts, and left the deficit much higher than they found it. The Trump Administration is merely following suit."



This is an interesting discussion.

The top in organisations (civil and military) are increasingly technocrats and thinking like systems managers. They are unable to innovate because they lack the ability to think out of the box.

Usually there is a leader who depends on specialists. Others (including laymen) are often excluding from the decision-making-proces. John Ralston Saul's Voltaires Bastards describes this very well.

Because of natural selection (conformist people tend to choose similar people who resemble their own values and ways-of-thinking) organizations have a tendency to become homogeneous (especially the higher management/ranks).

In combination with the "dumbing" of people (also of people who have a so-called good education (as described in Richard Sale's Sterile Chit-Chat) this is a disastrous mix.

Homogeneity is the main culprit. A specialists tends to try to solve problems with the same knowledge-set that created these.

Not all (parts of) organizations and people suffer this fate. Innovations are usually done by laymen and not by specialists. The organizations are often heterogeneous and the people a-typical and/or eccentric.

(mainly the analytical parts of )intelligence organizations and investment banks are like that if they are worth anything. Very heterogeneous with a lot of a-typical people. I think Green Berets are also like that. An open mind and genuine interest in others (cultures, way of thinking, religion etc) is essential to understand and to perform and also to prevent costly mistakes (in silver and/or blood).

It is possible to create firewalls against tunnel-vision. The Jester performed such a role. Also think of the Emperors New Clothes. The current trend of people with limited vision and creativity prevents this. Criticism is punished with a lack of promotion, job-loss or even jail (whistle-blowers)

IMO this is why up to a certain rank (colonel or middle management) a certain amount of creativity or alternative thinking is allowed, but conformity is essential to rise higher.

I was very interested in the Colonel's remark on the foreign background of the GB in Vietnam. If you would like to expand on this I would be much obliged? IMO GB are an example of a smart, learning, organization (in deed and not only in word as so many say of themselves, but who usually are at best mediocre)


The Syrians claim to have shot down an Israeli F-16 earlier today, while the Kurds shot down a Turkish helicopter.
The Israeli's say the F-16 was downed by an Iranian drone. Do they have that capability?

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

Isn't the "Borg" really The Atlantic Council?


Dear Colonel,

Would you then say that a rising military officer who does have the vision thing faces career impediments? If so, would you say that the vision thing is lost (if it ever was there) at the highest ranks?

In any case, the existence of even a few at the top, like Matthis or Shinseki is a blessing.


Israelis as neo-Bolsheviks: https://www.rt.com/news/418414-russia-statement-syria-israel/
Moscow: "Our special concern is the threat of escalation of tension inside and around the zones of de-escalation in Syria, the creation of which became an important factor for reduction of violence on the Syrian soil." Moscow added that there were Russian service members stationed in Syria and said it considered any threat to their lives unacceptable."
More: http://www.fort-russ.com/2018/02/syria-responds-to-us-israeli-aggression.html
"Netanyahu escalates tension with Syria knowing that the Syrian Arab Army has been battling ISIS and other Saudi and Turkish supported terrorist groups for the last 7 years, and that Syria is in no position to go to war with Israel at this time. Israelis have been bombing Syria regularly during this period, and today's firm response from the Syrian army sends a loud message as a US made and tax payer donated F-16 jet was shot down over Syrian air space."

ex-PFC Chuck

FB Ali:

"When the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to accept the reality of the world as it is now."

That's true not only of the US military but of US elites in general across all of the spectra. And because that reality is at odds with the group-think of those within the various elements that make up the spectra it doesn't a hearing. Anyone who tries to bring it up risks being ejected from the group.


I forget an important part. I really miss an edit-button. Comment-boxes are like looking at something through a straw. Its easy to miss the overview.

Innovations and significant new developments are usually made by laymen. IMO mainly because they have a fresh perspective without being bothered by the (mainstream) knowledge that dominates an area of expertise.

By excluding the laymen errors will continue to be repeated. This can be avoided by using development/decision-making frameworks, but these tend to become dogma (and thus become part of the problem)

Much better is allowing laymen and allowing a-typical people. Then listen to them carefully. Less rigid flexible and very valuable.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad