13 March 2009

Links of the Day

  • Matt Armstrong, "MountainRunner", has informed us that Facebook has just now launched in Arabic and Hebrew.  Which is cute for the whole Arab-Israeli conflict, because now they can poke each other and invite one another to play that stupid Vampire game until their hearts are content. It also opens up vast public diplomacy opportunities in an attempt to communicate and socially network with the Israelis and the Arab World.  Bonus:  I don't have to wait till Monday to get my IDF girl fix.  
  • When the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over, there's going to be plenty of time for reflection within the services.  Two articles in the last two days have highlighted the defects in organizational culture within the services.  One of them highlights the revolution in military thinking that led to the rise of German military professionalism, which created one of the most exceptional fighting forces in history, and a method that has been copied and emulated by the US.  This article in Small Wars Journal, written by Louis A. DiMarco, discusses the officer promotion and management system that many have railed upon previously (in particular two junior officers who talk about the Pentathlete model of leadership).  DiMarco is particularly interested in the creation of general staffs, a corps of specialized experts who provide key advice and planning information for generals.  Generals, he notes, should in turn be focused on the key aspects of national strategy and not getting "in the weeds", so to speak, with staff functions.  He quotes General George Casey:
Even Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Casey allowed that “we don’t do as good a job as we need to training our senior leaders to operate at the national level.” 

  • DOD Buzz posted some excerpts of a scathing speech given by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies to the National Defense University regarding the future of the military and its shortcomings.  It's notable that he compares the Rumsfeld era with the late MacNamera era, particularly when considering both secretaries of defense were doing poorly at applying overpowering technical solutions to primitive insurgencies.  
  • David Kilcullen talks about the difficulties with battling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, which he describes as the most difficult of the foes that the US currently faces.  One of the points he brings up is that one needs to create job opportunities and outlets for young males, which is probably one of the best things one can do to combat insurgency.  In societies where a large portion of the population is young and male, there's a much more fierce competition to become an "alpha male".  In developed societies, there are plenty of pathways for a young male to become an alpha male:  through business, sports, achievement, etc.  When opportunities to excel in productive fields are lacking, males will feel the need to achieve and excel in crime and insurgency, particularly if there is a cult of machismo where men feel fierce pressure to compete (for example, the one that exists in Latin America or in the Middle East).  

No comments: