The President v. Colonel John BoydThe President made a good speech last night, but I still question whether he said or did enough to sway public opinion per the Iraq War. Before the war began, some of you will remember that I cautioned (when people asked-it was before I began this blog) that Iraq had the potential to bog our forces down, not because I thought they could not overcome the insurgency that we all knew was bound to happen, but because our military was not holding to what has popularly become known as "The Powell Doctrine." "The Powell Doctrine" is really "The Boyd Doctrine," because General Powell really got most of his ideas from the late Air Force Colonel John Boyd. Boyd's brilliant military strategy is what helped us win the first Gulf War so quickly. Boyd's principles are simple:
1. Overwhelming numerical force: We had over 400,000 troops in the first Gulf War. We've cut our military to the bone and now we have just over 200,000 in Iraq. We're also fighting on a second front in Afghanistan. While the Navy, Marines, and Air Force are at or above their recruiting goals, the Army, which is the backbone of the war effort, is way below effective manpower for a two-front war. In addition, Guardsmen and Guardswomen are not re-enlisting when their tours are over, and the Guard, which in addition to being vital to the national war machine, is the great engine of home defense, is nearing a recruiting emergency.
2. Think like the enemy: Our enemies are terrorists. They do not fight according to the regular established "rules" of warfare. They use antiquated ways of fighting, and some of our forces still aren't used to these ways. We not only need to think like the enemy, we need to fight like him, too.
3. Give our forces the best of everything: The latest weaponry, the best uniforms and equipment, the finest in technology. Not only is this good for morale, but our forces knowing that they'll always have the best means that more people will likely enlist, because the military can teach them more than any classroom could.
What we have done is the opposite of Boydian thought. We did not send in forces in overwhelming numbers, despite the recommendations of sounder military minds to the contrary, when the war began. The President is right that sending those forces now may send the wrong message. They needed to be sent when this invasion started to begin with. Because we failed to do so, we are now in an uncertain overall military situation.
We have not yet learned that we must fight in the same way our enemies do. Some of our present military geniuses seem to think that holding enemy combatants at Gitmo without giving them proper POW status is fighting like the enemy. This is, quite frankly, a load of bull. We need to do what the enemy does...we must go after him and those who may harbor him without discrimination. That is the only way to win with certainty.
While our forces are overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have to worry about things like whether they'll be transferred to another base, or whether they might not get the veterans' benefits that they have earned for their service to our country. We are closing bases and cutting military spending while our nation is fighting what amounts to a world-wide war. This is really intelligent.
These principles are far from the effective military strategies promoted by the late great Col. Boyd. It is obvious that Boyd's formula works...so why doesn't DoD use it?
SOURCE for bookjacket cover photo: School of Industrial and Systems Engineering-Georgia Institute of Technology