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On War #302: Blinders

by William S. Lind
28 April 2009

At the height of the Cold War, a U.S. army corps commander in Europe asked for information on his Soviet opposite, the commander of the corps facing him across the inter-German border. All the U.S. intelligence agencies, working with classified material, came up with very little. He then took his question to Chris Donnelly, who had a small Soviet military research institute at Sandhurst. That institute worked solely from open source, i.e. unclassified material. It sent the American general a stack of reports six inches high, with articles by his Soviet counterpart, articles about him, descriptions of exercises he had played in, etc.

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On War #323: Milestone

William S. Lind
23 November 2009

One of the ongoing themes of this column has been gangs and the role they play in a Fourth Generation world. Here in the United States they already serve as an alternative primary loyalty (alternative to the state) for many urban young men. Gangs will likely be a major player in 4GW because gang members are expected to fight. Those who won’t do not remain gang members.

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DNI to close

Probably on Monday, November 23, depending on how my travels work out. Please go ahead and download any thing you’d like to keep — I’d particularly recommend Boyd’s briefings and the 4GW manuals.

I have great faith in the growing number of bloggers and commentators who cover many of the same subjects we did — check out a few of them in the “Blogs” and “Other Sites” sections on the right.

DNI started in March 1999 with a grant from Danielle Brian and the folks at the Project on Government Oversight. Its original purpose was to house the growing collection of Chuck Spinney’s commentaries on the foibles of our defense program (when you read these, keep in mind this was during the Clinton era.  We were not associated with any political party).  If you’re interested in strengthening our position in 4GW, I’d suggest a generous donation to POGO.  You could also run for office.

I’d like to thank Danielle, Chuck, Marcus Corbin (our original project officer at POGO and the person who commissioned A Swift, Elusive Sword), Ginger Richards (who designed and operated all the various versions of the site), Bill Lind and all of our other contributors, and all who have taken the time to compose comments.

Chet Richards,
Singapore (for another couple of days)

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On War #322: What Is “Political Correctness?”

William S. Lind
18 November 2009

In response to the killing of 13 American soldiers at Ft. Hood by an Islamic U. S. Army major, a number of senior officials have expressed their fear, not of Islam, but of a possible threat to “diversity.” “Diversity” is one of the many false gods of “Political Correctness.” But what exactly is Political Correctness?

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On War # 321: 4GW Comes to Ft. Hood

William S. Lind
10 November 2009

Last week’s shootings at Ft. Hood, in which thirteen U. S. Soldiers were killed and 30 people wounded, appear to be a classic example of Fourth Generation war. The shooter, U. S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was a practicing Muslim. He sometimes wore traditional Islamic dress and carried a Koran. He reportedly cried “Allahu Akbar” before he opened fire. Though American-born and a U.S. citizen (and army officer), Major Hasan appears to have transferred his primary loyalty away from the state to something else, Islam. For his new primary loyalty, he was willing to kill. That is what defines Fourth Generation war.

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On War #320: Beware Charybdis!

William S. Lind
2 November 2009

My recent trip to the Baltic included a week with the Royal Swedish Navy and the Swedish Marines, the First Amphibious Regiment. The hospitality of both surpassed anything I could have expected, including a chance to conn one of the superb Class 90 patrol craft through the skerries. At 40 knots the boat rode like a Pullman car but also turned like a Fokker DR-1. Any navy interested in controlling green or brown water would be wise to take a look at the Class 90.

As my hosts stressed to me, the Swedish armed forces have a strong Third Generation heritage. Historically they had close ties with the German military. While Swedish armies often fought in Germany, Sweden never went to war against Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm II was an honorary admiral in the Royal Swedish Navy.

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On War #319: The First Front

William S. Lind
26 October 2009

An article in the October 23 Washington Times points to what I think may be the next important evolution in Fourth Generation war. The piece concerns Mexico’s third-largest drug gang, La Familia. La Familia is best known for beheading people it does not like. But according to the article, its real claim to fame may be as a pioneer in seizing the mantle of legitimacy previously worn by the state.

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On War #318: Operation Albion

William S. Lind
19 October 2009

Last week I had the pleasure of helping lead a staff ride of Operation Albion for the Baltic Defence College. Especially for people with an interest in amphibious operations, Albion is one of the best case studies history offers.

In Operation Albion, which was carried out in early October, 1917 – our staff ride duplicated its timing – Germany took three large Baltic islands, now Estonian, from the Russians. In effect, it was Germany’s Gallipoli, though with very different results.

As a case study, Albion offers lessons on many levels. Two are of special importance. First, Albion illustrates a marriage of amphibious operations with the new German stormtroop tactics of late World War I, tactics that when combined with Panzer divisions created the Blitzkrieg. Instead of doing what the U. S. Marine Corps still does and send in landing waves that take a beachhead, then stop and build up combat power for a further advance – the Somme from the sea – the Germans landed multiple thrusts which immediately advanced as far and as fast as they could, without regard for open flanks. Speed was their main weapon, speed made possible because part of the force was equipped with bicycles.

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About light infantry tactics and the tactical challenges in Afghanistan

Sven Ortmann
30 September 2009

William S. Lind has proposed a re-training of U.S. infantry with what he calls “true light infantry or Jaeger tactics” to solve tactical challenges in Afghanistan. He especially referenced General McChrystal’s restrictions that recently limited the Western ground forces’ ability to address tactical challenges with fire support.

A simple step from “Second generation” to “Third generation” tactics may be easy to communicate, but it’s too simple and doesn’t promise to solve the problems in Afghanistan and similar conflicts nearly as much as Mr. Lind implied.

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On War #317: Keeping Our Infantry Alive

William S. Lind
29 September 2009

The headline of the September 23 Washington Post read, “Less Peril for Civilians, but More for Troops.” The theme of the article was that restrictions General Stanley McChrystal has imposed on the use of supporting arms in Afghanistan, with the objective of reducing Afghan civilian casualties, have increased American casualties. The Post reported that since General McChrystal issued his directive on July 2, the number of Afghan civilians killed by coalition forces dropped to 19, from 151 for the same period last year. At the same time, U.S. troop deaths rose from 42 to 96. Not surprisingly, Congress is interested: the Post quotes Senator Susan Collins of Maine as saying, “I am troubled if we are putting our troops at greater risk in order to go to such extremes to avoid Afghan casualties.”

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