Sunday, June 14, 2009
All new blogs develop their own specific lists of topics. I think "Strategic Cavalry" should be one for MilPub . . . Why, because it sounds kinda cool and puts together a rather novel concept which I suspect that those posting here all share . . .
So I start my first post on this blog, one dealing with an application of strategic theory which is one of my passions. Besides being a teacher and dabbling in strategic theory applied to education, I also teach strategic theory to students who might find it of interest. Some day I'd like to do nothing else but write about theory, but that particular day is far off.
To start off, strategically speaking usable and actionable information provided through theory and interaction in a social environment exists. So why not model it?
All you need is the best model available which is Clausewitzian strategic theory, specifically his general theory of war. We're still waiting for the 4GW guys to come up with the second best (and btw I enjoy throughly trashing such dubious and confusing notions/pipe dreams as 4GW -aka Cheney's art of war-, 5GW, 6GW, Global Guerr . . . , anyway you get the idea).
War comes down to politics, without that it makes no sense, has no basis outside of vague anthropology which gets us nowhere. Politics includes (ir)rational policy and the effect of confused national politics (various factions/powerful intersts opposing each other during a war), that is both what got us into Afghanistan and Iraq and what keeps us there. The problem with all the 2nd place wannabe theories of strategy is that they never get beyond the tactical, always focus on warfare, but not war, that is how the military instrument by way of the military aim is expected to provide the means for the accomplishment of the political purpose against a living entity which resists over time. None of those promoting the second best theory can even articulate convincingly what our political purposes even are, let alone how to achieve them through military means. Clausewitz accomplishes this - in theoretical terms by way of the general theory - and is the basis for classic strategic thought, which is unfortunately in decline today.
Now we can define strategy in this matter, that is dealing with the planning and implementation of policy of nation states, or we can use the same concept to deal with policy planning and implementation of any political community. Your family for instance is a political community, with politics defined as the struggle (both opposed and unopposed) of dividing and implementing power/resources within that community. In the end all political power rests on the potential use of force/violence to implement it, and how this implementation is perceived by those at the receiving end is "legitimacy" (following Max Weber now). Doubt me? Well perhaps if you've never had a spanking as a child, but I'm talking about families in general, as human social collectives. So strategy - in this very broad sense - can guide a country or a family as well as all social communities in between. Consider here how for instance John Boyd's OODA loop is a model for decision making for all strategic communities. Recall too that Boyd's strategic view (which I find compatible with Clausewitz in spite of what 4GW contends) sees prosperity, survivability and harmony as the (rational) goal of all social groups.
I'm not quite through with "strategy" yet, but let's talk now about the second concept of "Strategic Cavalry". Cavalry today is essentially tank troops with a reconnaissance function, they retain the title of "cavalry" for historic and morale purposes, but are nothing like cavalry in the historic sense. The reason for this is that cavalry is essentially organically and socially constructed. The rider interacting with his horse, using his senses for situational awareness, protecting himself with small arms, operating as a group, are all the essence of cavalry. Take those away and you have something quite different. The reason that outside of limited use in some anti-partisan/partisan actions on the Eastern Front in World War II, cavalry hasn't had much utility at the tactical level over the last 60 odd years is that modern weaponry can "outreach" the human scale of movement/interaction that is basic to cavalry. So the illustrious 7th Cavalry (or the descendants of Bedford Forrest's CSA cavalry) of today ride in tanks, in order to avoid extinction. Simple as that.
The role of traditional cavalry is shock action, strategic (but usually operational/tactical) mobility, reconnaissance and communication in support of the commander's intent. I am stressing here the reconnaissance and communication functions exclusively, although admit that shock action and mobility (like in a bar fight) definitely have their place. This arm, cavalry, takes in and modifies many human attributes and transforms them into a machine, a social machine of rapid movement and destruction. For the commander of such a human machine, genius as well, if his troops are lucky enough to enjoy it. Due to the nature of the arm (a cavalry officer never really stops unless recalled) a leader of cavalry can acheive strategic effect, at least theoretically. Strategic effect defined as the possibility of achieving/influencing a decision at the highest or decisive level of the confrontation. Finally the worse thing that cavalry can do is operate on unproven assumptions or be smug and too self-assured as to what lies ahead. The nature of the environment they operate is chaotic, ever changing, fluid and full of surprises, a virtual graveyard for dubious assumptions (and those who held them). So if we use "cavalry" as a metaphor we can use it to describe a group of like-equipped individuals operating under the restricted conditions of cavalry for strategic goals at the lowest level of political community, that is the family or clan, or blog in this case.
What I am stressing here also indicates a personal connection, since cavalry is basically Humint or Human intelligence, or information gleened from human sources/through human observation. Humint is my military intel background, as in back in the bad ole days in West Berlin before and after the Wall came down.
What makes "strategic cavalry" a real concept is strategic theory. Strategic theory is simply to plan for (in a Clausewitzian fashion) the potential use of force among or within political communities. War is the application of organized violent force for the achievement of policy aims. A strategist commanding the army in the field would come up with the best military application to achieve the political purpose. Few ever become strategists, which does not displace the need for strategic theory. In fact in a democracy, strategic theory has a very important place: insuring the sequence of policy formulation and implementation, military planning and critical analysis (which by nature is retrospective) thus providing for "rational" policy implementation and accountability.
So what exactly is "Strategic cavalry"?
First my assumptions: cavalry needs more than one. Cavalaryman or Cavalrywoman is singular, but two makes Cavalry. Second, it all comes down once again to your own instincts. Cavalry's good at that too. What do your senses tell you? How do you react when you notice that those around you share the same instincts? Form a group/blog . . . as we have done here. Third, we all hear that storm a coming. And it's going to be a real hammer. Finally, its about perseption, intuition, knowing stuff by looking people in the eye, watching them speak, looking at their hands, knowing their language and culture, comparing what they say with their actions over time. This leading to analysis or simply judgement. Judging, oh dare I say the word!, judging people's actions in line with what they say and then exposing them as shameless hypocrites should the situation warrant. This would include telling emperors they have no clothes, that scared bonds have been ravished, that the innocent have been abused and worse, and lies spun for corrupt ends, in short rationally and with thoughtful argument speaking truth to power, while hopefully avoiding complacency or smug igorance. Something sadly in short supply on the internet.
I further assume that my fellow contributors share all these views.
Which is why I'm home posting on this blog.
Strategic Cavalry is all about avoiding as best we can, those we can, the storms, and taking advantage of good weather . . . for ours and those like us in spirit with the goal of harmony, prosperity and survival for our families, groups, communities, states and nation as a whole, starting at a basic level and slowly broadening our scope, at least in theory. Stratetgic cavalry would designate posts which touch on this type of subject.
As means of autobiographical introduction I left the US to "fight" the Cold War in 1984. Set off for Berlin to get myself an intel job, that is employed as a military intelligence officer in a civilian capacity. That was the plan since first of all I had to learn German, and where better to do that. After an interesting and surprisingly short period of time, I was successful and from the mid 80s to the mid 90s I had a front row seat as far as overt strategic Humint collection went. Berlin, until the end was of course an Allied collection effort so I worked closely with every overt Allied collection entity in the city at that time. During the first half of my military intelligence career I served as a German language interrogator and during the second as a collection ops officer. As ops officer I supervised and trained US Army interrogators to actual conditions, the chaotic result of a changing world. More military intelligence than military background, I volunteered with 18 as a Marine Corps Reservist the same month Saigon fell. Six years later I was commissioned and served one tour in the Marine Corps on active duty.
Politically, I'm a small town Southern conservative who has been shocked by the events of the last eight years.
May we band together and share our thoughts and feelings, ever atune to the situation yet to befall us.