Warfare, Strategy and Problem Solving

Remember the law of intended consequences.

There is no predetermined set off rules. Strategy is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim; the application of resources to attain a goal. The mastery of strategy is never ending. It is the pursuit of perfection. The word strategy derives from “strategos,” which means “General”. The strategic level is the plan (define your goals and allocation of resources), tactical level is the methodology (techniques and procedures) and the operational level develops the campaign (tie a series of victories together to achieve the goal). Adaptability is the law that governs survival in life and friction is the element of uncertainty. This element exists in the commercial world. The strategy of war applies to business and other pursuits. All plans fall apart after first contact because the enemy gets a vote. They have a say in what happens. Your enemy is your competition. Nothing in the universe is static. Adaption and reinvention are necessary for any business or organization. Change is the rule; not the exception. Indecisiveness can be fatal. Learn to manage risk properly. Careful planning followed by rapid execution.

I enjoy studying studying military history because I learn strategies translatable to my life. Tactics and operations may win battles but strategy wins wars. The rules of war are simple but rarely followed. Success in war requires leadership, deception, innovation, raw courage or good fortune. The object of studying war is not to get the future exactly right, but to avoid getting exactly wrong. While all war is a defeat for mankind battle in war can be seen as a metaphor for overcoming an obstacle. Everyday you face battles. You must see far and wide. There are warless societies but very few. Peace is always temporary; vulnerable to the follies of man. Global free trade is what ensures world peace. Restrictions in unilateral trade cause conflict. Mankind must eliminate war. I have seen war. I was a US Army combat veteran by the age of twenty-two. War is organized violence and that takes boldness, ruthlessness, creativity, taking of risks and even breaking the rules. The battle is won by the General that adapts faster. War is the most extreme condition, the most unpredictable of all forms of human endeavors and wars rarely turn out as envisioned by the ones who start them. People think they can control war but war ends up controlling them. The story of the human race is war. War is chaos and has been around longer than people. Raiding is pre-dated by primates. It is an ancient behavior.

Warfare evolved by a cost vs benefit approach. It must pay off such as a war of conquest (the last of which was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. In the 20st century war increased in scope and cost: combined arms warfare (tanks, artillery, infantry), thermonuclear weapons, machine guns, airplanes. These inventions made war very deadly. There were few benefits and a high cost. Still we choose to fight. The most potent thing in war is the unexpected. Therefore war is more art than science. The military planning process: define a problem, develop a solution, identify a sequence of steps to a solution and calculate the logistical requirements. Making a plan, putting it into effect and claiming victory. Without battle there is no victory. Sometimes battle is necessary to overcome a crisis. The greatest battles you fight will be against yourself. A crisis can be an appropriate catalyst for change or if you have a problem there may be a solution based on these timeless methods. Its not the physical reality that matters so much as your mental state. Improvise, Adapt, Overcome!

Strategists and major tenets I find useful: Sun Tzu-all warfare is based on deception, win without bloodshed, know your enemy. Carl von Clausewitz-war is a political act, trinity (military, government, people), element of friction, the military spirit. Baron de Jomini-moral superiority, destruction of enemy forces. Miyamoto Musashi-learn to foresee problems, clarity, know the true path, no ego. Other rules I find useful: Thomas Jefferson 10 rules for life, Rogers Ranger Rules of Ranging.

Good Generals

Napoleon – la grande armee. Alexander the Great – conquered half the world long before he was 40. Napoleon and Alexander wanted to take over the world however Napoleon abandoned his army and Alexanders’ army refused to go any further.

Great Generals

George Washington-put nation first, defeated an empire. Washington succeeded in his goals, won independence for his country with little resources then declined to be named king.

Start fast and never stop. Disciplined fire and maneuver supported by well aimed rifle fire. Lay down a base of fire and then leapfrog. Fire without forward movement is a waste; movement without fire is suicide. Attack, command, control and logistics. Warfare evolves from generation to generation through geopolitical and socioeconomic forces. New technology favors a new generation of war. War has evolved 90% in the last century. None of us are smarter than all of us. Never underestimate the power of combinations such as hunter killer teams (HKT), close-air-support (CAS) and special forces (SF). Missiles are cheap while soldiers are expensive. You always listen to the guy on the ground. An army is a conscience willed organism with a collective genius not cattle to be herded across the battlefield. The maxim holds true in war: only amateur’s worry about strategy; professionals worry about logistics.

  • 1st gen warfare-peaked with massive armies in offensive operations (Napoleon nation state kinda army).
  • 2nd gen warfare-defensive over offensive; beginning of modern warfare (advent of trucks, tanks, artillery, airplanes, chemical weapons in World War 1).
  • 3rd gen warfare-mechanized combat arms operations at the small unit level-maneuver warfare (the invasion of Poland in 1939).
  • 4th gen warfare-War of ideas. Attempts to directly change the minds of enemy policy maker through terrorism, insurgency and guerilla warfare. (Vietnam War, 9/11, Iraq War (OIF)). Stealth, precision and information.

Counterinsurgency (Coin) is graduate level warfare. It takes an average of 9-12 years to defeat any insurgency and it’s the average soldiers job to win the support of the population.