Sunday, July 26, 2009

War in a time of simultaneity

In a press conference earlier in the week, Defense secretary Robert Gates might have been channeling John Boyd when he said of the troops in Afghanistan:

'And what I found was, across the theater, a much deeper appreciation and understanding of counternisurgency warfare than I found in the past…. [For example,] the Marines down in Helmand … reported not one civilian casualty up to that point in their operations and were using and were espousing a very disciplined and deliberate amount of care for the Afghan people.

'And the soldiers we are looking to add to our force will no doubt give us some breathing room, but they will also give us room to run in what I believe is an even faster-paced war against an even more adaptive enemy. It's the right thing to do.

'I told the troops we're living in a time not only of great change, but also great simultaneity. Many things are happening all at once in many different places; and though we may be tired, we must stay focused. Now, particularly in Afghanistan, is no time to lower our gaze or pull back our outstretched hands.'

‘A time of simultaneity’ isn’t exactly a catchphrase on the order of ‘Damn the torpedoes!’ or ‘Remember Pearl Harbor!’, but it does capture an essential feature of the war we find ourselves fighting. John Boyd would have felt right at home with it. Blue skies! – Dan Ford


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