Monday, August 19, 2013

Praxis: John Boyd’s Art of War

"Why our greatest military theorist only made colonel."
Remember, though, that while this is brilliantly true for all Third Generation Warfare, and tactically for Fourth as well, it is not strategically true of 4GW. In 4GW, you want your enemy to be able to think through the consequences of his actions, since the space you are attacking is the few inches between the war-makers' and decision-takers' ears.
"This is our 4GW target, The five and one-half inches between the tyrant's ears. We accomplish this with an action-reinforced idea -- that governmental actions have personal consequences and that the tyrannical game is not worth the effort. Next power-point image, please. . . ."
"Or, failing that, the target is still the same but the argument is more direct, 'pour encourager les autres.'"


SWIFT said...

While having an abrasive style can hurt an otherwise talented individual's career, another long debated issue could have played a role here: The Ring. The Ring, is often the sole deciding factor whether an individual retires as a colonel, or a general. A sheepskin from the University of Iowa, or any other university, does not carry the symbolic weight, of a West Point ring.(All other Services are equally guilty.) While we do not hear about this as much today, as when Boyd was in the service, it was a big issue. Gen. Mathew Ridgeway, in his book "Soldier", even saw fit to address that issue. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he denied The Rings, importance in promotion. In my opinion, that hurt his otherwise excellent reputation for credibility. Boyd may, or may not, have been yet another victim of The Ring. Just my opinion.

Paul X said...

Thanks for that article; it's excellent. In today's military, it looks like a badge of honor to retire as a colonel, not a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Without doubt Boyd having graduated from the University of Iowa and having been commissioned through ROTC did not help him win admission to the General's Club. However, I would say that Boyd's habit of tweaking the noses of senior officers, and of barely being able to cover up his opinion that many of them were stupid, played as big a role as his lack of an Academy diploma did.

As an aside, the most stupid and worthless Naval officer I knew retired as a two star. Numbers two and three both retired as O-6s. All Ring Knockers.

Squid III

Anonymous said...

Just my opinion after reading his book, like many another genius, John Boyd's personal demons (stemming from his early life), haunted his career. But its also obvious Boyd should be ranked with Guderian, Sun Tzu, Clausewitz and Napoleon as a master of his battle space - and beyond. >Jeff

Ed said...

I guess ROTC at St. Michael's College does not count as "the Ring":,_Jr.