It’s raining again…


..after a nice day yesterday, where I chopped  most of the wood and filled up the shed, dried the carpets after they got caught out in the last storm, and recovered a dozen+ eggs from the chooks latest covert nest – maybe their yard is too big?

After all that – it was a fairly respectable wood pile that had accumulated over 2-3 months – my poor old body wasn’t up to the challenge of blogging, and even less so after Carmen slipped me a glass of wine over dinner (very nice too: steak, tabouli and cold roast vege salad with a rosemary and honey dressing). I was out to it on the couch (also very comfortable: they are two big flat-tops that I can easily stretch right out on, named Nimitz and Ark Royal) by the time the Monday movie started: I have brief flashes of Brit crims knocking each other off (The Take…?)before I negotiated the stairs to bed…

Anyway…

Coming Anarchy has an interesting item on media bias and reliability which has turned into a bit of a cable-bashing session. While I share the concern raised in the actual blog entry, I don’t have much time for the hobby-horsing in many of the comments. As per my own comment, the issues in the blog entry are how it is now: the internet and our ablility to self-publish pretty well whatever we want have decreased our reliance on the media for impartial information to the extent that most media outlets now have to follow commercial imperatives or go under: simply, they are now in the same ratings game as the rest of the media business; no longer the voices of knowledge and wisdom, but catalysts for people (‘the people’?) to further not only explore but contribute to an issue, for better or for worse…

Hence the Information Militia: informal, disorganised, often at cross purposes and following their own agendas even when in support of a common goal (have you ever noticed how a ‘common goal’ can have so many different meanings?) but a force none the less to be reckoned with. From Twitter to Crimestoppers to the most stridently hard left/right (is there really a difference or do the meet in the middle?) blogspace, we have access to growing mass of information upon which to make our own decisions, to shape and guide our actions and our worlds. The choise is ours whether we meekly accept that which is served up to us on a spoon, or take the plunge to ferret out as much supporting and contrary (what sort of loser only seeks that which agrees with them? Possibly we don’t want the answer to that question!)  information to deal with.

So the first level of the Information Militia are those who feed information in; is the next level those who take that information, reprocess it and serve it up again, perhaps in support of a specific objective…?

Steven Pressfield is on the road this week and has reposted his One Tribe At A Time article to keep the dialogue alive. Of all the online discussion regarding the way ahead, this particular discussion is the first that I have seen that may be sowing the seeds of a successful campaign in Afghanistan (which would be a historical first!) . Key elements are:

  • Prevent Afghanistan from passing into a condition that would allow Al Qaeda to use it as a resource in creating threats to our security and national interests.
  • The best that we can hope for in Afghanistan is a “loose confederation of tribes.” Think of a congress composed of elder members of each tribe that comes to represent issues of import to that tribe at some set dates/times each year. The only hope for a “traditional” government is found in the bigger cities; but…Afghanistan is mostly tribal villages, not big cities. Such gatherings would not put an end to inter-tribal fighting, however, the tribes might be able to get some assistance from the central government for basic services and the like. Generally, the tribes don’t want the “modern” conveniences – they want to stay the way they are, but some can benefit from help with drilling wells, medical care, etc…
  • Adopt and implement NOW a campaign based upon direct integrated engagement with the tribes (‘the people’ in popular COIN parlance).

The catalyst behind this proposal is MAJOR Jim Gant’s One Tribe At A Time paper which articulates the Tribal Engagement Team concept although it will seem all too familiar to anyone with knowledge of traditional ‘hearts and mind’s campaigns like the classic campaign waged in the Highlands of Vietnam by US Special Force in the 60s. This mission used to be SF bread and butter before the glitz of Special Operations took over in the 80s and 90s. Gen McCrystal has the ‘get out amongst the people bit right’; Jim Gant has provided the ‘how’ of this…small units, living with the tribes in an enduring and long-term relationship…Anyone wanting to do some background reading on this could do worse things than read Robin Moore’s The Green Berets – the very good book upon which the entertaining but conceptually accurate John Wayne movie was based…Here is someone who has read FM 3-24 and then adapted it to the current situation; hopefully the full text of this paper will be posted soon so that we can get our teeth into it instead of being fed these tempting titbits…

My last link today is to the developing discussion on The Strategist on historically incorrect war movies, initiated by King Arthur on the weekend…it’s a good discussion with a good nugget or two…and of course my comment above re The Green Berets movie will spark off some more…

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