How Would Boyd Analyze Afghanistan?

Two ways to answer this question:

  1. Deploy the Mark I Ouija board
  2. Study what his closest associates are writing.

I can’t help you much on Alternative 1, but if you’re interested in the second, I recommend Chuck Spinney’s piece in today’s Counterpunch.  Here’s a short sample:

The information suggests the Taliban’s strategic aim is to wear down their adversaries by keeping them under continual strain and by working on their psychology, or as the late American strategist John Boyd would say, by getting inside, slowing down, and disorienting their adversary’s Observation – Orientation – Decision – Action (OODA) loops.

Comments are welcome; please observe our comment policy.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed in Uncategorized | 7 responses so far

7 Responses to “How Would Boyd Analyze Afghanistan?”

  1. rmhitchenson 14 Jul 2009 at 3:31 pm 1

    We can analyze this war with theoretical models (even good thought like Boyd’s) or with some simple factual analysis. I personally doubt that any senior Taliban official or planner would recognize an OODA loop if they tripped over it. I think this is an organization whose leadership is dogmatically religious on the one hand and operationally practical on the other. What works against the “crusaders?” Immersing themselves in the population and leveraging family and tribal loyalties to keep below our radar. We have little choice but to play their game. Sometimes, if we’re good or lucky in the intelligence arena, our OODA loop will be a hundred times faster than theirs; most of the time, their fairly slow OODA loop will dictate the pace of events.

    The larger question is whether we still need to be there. We needed to get rid of the old Taliban because they were an overt state sponsor of a cohesive terrorist movement directed against us. Will this be true of the new Taliban? If not, what happens there is of little strategic concern to the US or the West. I think Pakistan may be undergoing a change of heart and no longer inclined to be a Taliban sponsor, which means that if we exited and the Taliban managed to capture Kabul, theirs would be a regime under more or less permanent siege. Not a pleasant prospect for the average Afghan, but of relatively small consequence to us. Afghan restaurants would proliferate here in the USA.

    [CR: It isn’t necessary for the Taliban to articulate the OODA loop concept any more than it is for U-235 atoms to understand relativity.]

  2. Maxon 16 Jul 2009 at 7:39 am 2

    CR: ‘It isn’t necessary for the Taliban to articulate the OODA loop concept any more than it is for U-235 atoms to understand relativity.’

    It’s getting a bit off topic, and Spinney has produced an excellent
    diseration and summary.

    For what it’s worth, I’ll second what Chet had to say.

    In quantifying OODA, Boyd described a natural
    phenominia, a process by which rational human beings make decisions.
    Wether they know the theory, or not, it still applies.

    As a further illustration, Be reminded, that strickly speaking NO ONE really knows what gravity is, or how it and electromagnetic radiation propigates through empty space, and yet we live and die by the physics of this universe.

    Put another way, you don’t allways have to know what you’re doing, to get the job, as the record of the 43rd President Of The United States underscores.


  3. Newjarheaddeanon 19 Jul 2009 at 1:00 pm 3


    IMO our leaders know what needs to be done. All this ancient knowledge and history discussions, and we who care and read and commit on it all, IMO are not unlike those lessening to a favorite classical music peace.

    I have not read the book, however I recently heard that Naomi Chambel’s book the “ The Shock Doctrine” is based on the idea that Government and big business have orchestrated financial catastrophes for their own financial benefit.

    I have read about operations in Afghanistan. One recurring act is the changing of command thus rules and missions. IMO even if Tactically the enlisted and NCOs are doing it all correct, the Operational and Strategic Officers and Government have other goals.

    And why would the media, print all the repeat filibuster articles topped off with the drip-drip (NATO only) body counts, if that lost Vietnam? And note like in Iraq, leaders are being targeted first and foremost.


  4. Newjarheaddeanon 20 Jul 2009 at 1:56 pm 4


    Ha! Ha! Ha!, Ho! Ho! Ho!, Hee Hee hee.

    well…. okay, its Naomi Klein, who wrote the book. However they are both shocking.


  5. Maxon 26 Jul 2009 at 12:11 pm 5

    I expect a lot from a man who was hand picked, and subsiquently spent years working closely with John Boyd and his inner circle. Chuck dosn’t disappoint, in a very comprehensive analysis.

    In a very real sense, all the socalled insurgence has to do is introduce
    randomness and anarchy to the situation. By doing so, and being
    sucessfull at it, they’ve allready won.

    On a elated note;
    I sit here watching a documentary on the US/UN Korean war experience and the defete at the hand of the Chinese at the Chosen Resevoir.

    Here’s a gem of a quote of critical analysis I’m compelled to share,
    as it just might hold relevence in the larger context of the current
    scenario and groupthink.

    *Robert Taplett.
    3rd Battalion 5th Marines Ret.

    “McArthur IMO was probably a tremendous ecotist, that he could never be wrong.”

    “Whatever he had done in his previously in his life he had always been
    very successfull. And I think he probably had around him at lot of
    incompetent staff people, that were good yes men. They kept saying “yes, yes, general” “what ever you said” ” “you’re right general” nobody probably ever probably raised thier voice to general McArthur, and siad “general, you ever considered that maybe you’re wrong ?!”


  6. Newjarheaddeanon 04 Aug 2009 at 3:43 pm 6


    Max is on to something, i.e. IMO randomness, anarchy and incompetence coupled with the ranks, filled with “yes men”, leaves the ACM (in the villages not MT. caves) watching as the West cycles though OODA loops like a dog chasing it’s tail. Recalling I said “even (if) the tactical i.e. Co./field level where doing COIN right”.

    I like to think Boyd would agree with Mr. Lind’s (“Rage against the machine”) i.e. today’s society lacking Analytical abilities (IMO thus pool of recruits for our modern professional warfighters). Ex; USMC is wasting time discussing reorganizing units T/O&E, CoLt. (Co. landing team) vs. BLT. while admitting the C2 of existing Cmd. elements isn’t working. They have the V-22 but claim they never thought about how to escort it. IMO we are not purposely landing in “hot LZs” if someone shoots at a chopper the landing is canceled, everyone rallies at the C.P. excuse me the COC (and HLZ stands for helicopter landing zone LOL) to have a bull session. I’m surprised no one has argued that the standard Column is no good to counter booby traps excuse me IEDs, LOL. Ever notice how rarely civilian vehicles hit IEDs, the media acts as if IEDs are dump bombs laid haphazardly all over the land.


  7. Newjarheaddeanon 08 Aug 2009 at 11:43 am 7


    I like to think Boyd would point out that observing Afghanistan though the eyes of the western media is more misleading than helpful. Ex. I just read the book “Victory Point” by Ed Darak. He begins the book with a real trashing of the medias pure coverage, then IMO doubles down on the nonsense.
    He talks about MT. warfare training but never is a rope or knot mentioned. He only mentions UAVs excuse me UASs a couple of times on or about page 150 and 240. I got a kick out of him writing that the S2 was looking over a hard copy of an oblique aerial photo, LOL, like the S2 would not have a feed on his laptop to manipulate in all kinds of ways. NVGs are mentioned only twice, once that a pair had stopped a bullet. And someone should tell those dramatic yelling NCOs that sound travels real far in the valleys. And after all the sweating, vomiting, burning thighs, climbing all day, Ahmad Shah i.e. the villain leader and his crew of evil doers always had the high ground.
    He mentions on page XVII exceeding his officially allotted time of ten days by nearly three weeks. IMO the government gives the ten day pass which is just enough time to get you in place, then once your pass is up, if you should try reporting some real news, you are subject to arrest for not having an up to date chit.
    And I just bought me a real new monitor with great resolution, and so now I can say that the always/still grainy combat video is IMO purposely that way and the sheep hard is not only silent, they cheer it on.