15 November 2014

Lines of Effort for Information Operations

This post has been in draft form for longer than I can remember. Bateman's latest article jogged my memory that I needed to finish it.

I'm not an IO guy, but I work with IO guys.

When planning out a long term information "campaign" you need to tie in your goals to your actual operations. This is just a long way to say that information operations can't exist in a vacuum. Advertising agencies know this, which is why you get a "media blitz" for a new product that is carefully targeted to create a demand for something that was never demanded before.

So the first step of targeting is to identify your audience. I think that my audience here is mainly liberty minded individuals, so I spend a lot of time "preaching to the choir" (although sometimes I piss off some folks because I come to a conclusion that isn't proper groupthink). But if I were an advertising agent, I wouldn't put up adds for beauty products or luxury chocolates on my blog, I would stick with sporting goods, beer, whiskeys, guns, trucks, motorcycles, all of which have a price point above bare bottom, somewhere in the 2nd to 4th quintile.

Once you've identified your audience, you need to determine where they stand right now. Are they well informed? Are they ignorant? Are they ignorant but think they are well informed? Are they friendly? Are they neutral? Are they hostile?

Now that you've identified your audience, and where your audience stands, NOW you can begin crafting a line of effort to achieve an effect on that audience. Do you want to pursuade them? Gain support? Reduce support for the enemy? Simply inform them of your side of the story so they can make up their own mind (counter-propaganda)?

The delivery method can sometimes dictate the target audience. Radio messages only reach people listening to the radio. Television messages only reach people watching TV. Previews in a theater only reach the audience who got their early enough to watch the previews. Newspaper adds only reach the people who read that newspaper. A word of mouth campaign is only as good as the social network it spreads through.

Information Campaigns work best when they are not their own operation, but are tied into everything. The behavior you want from your target audience has to be worked for in every possible interaction you have with them, from giving PVT Snuffy a list of things not to do, a list of things to do, things to talk about, and things to avoid talking about, is key to being successful.

And the last thing you have to do is make sure you aren't alienating an audience that you've won over. Call this "information campaign maintenance" or something.

Now as I stated before, I'm not an IO guy. I would appreciate it if an actual IO guy (or gal) spoke up. Comments are open.

Bob Bateman's Information Campaign against gun owners

So LTC(ret) Robert Bateman continues to pen articles for Esquire. I won't link to his article from here as it would increase his relevance in the google ranking matrix.

In his latest attempt at relevance he relates going to brunch and seeing a man with a "Molon Labe" tattoo, and a suspicious bulge that Bateman assumes is a pistol (could have been an insulin pump for all Bateman knows, but never let a known uncertainty get in the way of your information campaign).

Bateman never finds out the gentleman's name, simply assuming that he is a savage, ignorant of Spartan culture, ignorant of the events of Thermopylae, and tells the tale of Sparta, where boys are separated from their family, raised by the state, and supported by a an economy based on slavery.

The problem with Bob's assessment isn't that he gets the facts wrong, his facts about Sparta are correct. But what he gets wrong is that the words "Molon Labe" aren't about Sparta. The words are about saying, "Fuck You" in the face of overwhelming odds. Of being willing to die before submitting.

But Bob doesn't want to touch that. Bob instead focuses on creating a caricature of a man, a caricature of an organization. This is the the same as the buck toothed and fanged Japanese soldiers found in WWII era comics. Dehumanize the enemy to make him easier to kill.

I do not think LTC(ret) Bateman is a stupid man. Generally you don't make LTC without some reasoning abilities, and you don't get to be a strategic planner without going through "mental Ranger school."

So Bob's words were chosen with care. His deliberate attempt to portray gun owners as ignorant rubes, and deliberately says, "molon labe is an NRA approved message." which seems to be a bald face lie. If you google "NRA Molon Labe" the very first hit is Bob's hit piece, followed by someone selling pro gun rights stickers on amazon.com.

Don't underestimate Bateman. He chose his words to have an effect on his audience. And those words were meant to sway readers of Esquire to associate gun owners with insecure, ignorant, and backwards people.

So Bateman, if I ever see you, I think I shall fix the phrase you find so disturbing. "Molon Labe, Oedipus."

14 November 2014

Platonic Ideals...

There are a lot of different rifles out there, with a lot of different intended uses in mind. Lately I've been thinking about bolt action rifles, and how there aren't any real novelties. Both turnbolt and straight pull bolt action rifles have been around for well over a century.

Ignoring the straight pull rifles, I think that the traditional turn bolt is pretty much the epitome of "rifle."

I think my "Platonic Ideal" of a general purpose "do it all" rifle is pretty close to a Steyr SSG-69. While it is used as a sniper rifle, it looks and feels like a hunting rifle. Scoped with a 6x optic, but with permanent irons installed on the barrel. The butterknife bolt handle is almost perfectly made for the "blade hand" bolt manipulation method. And the detachable magazine allows for rapid reloads. Even the synthetic stock is utilitarian and weather resistant. What really is the achilles heal of the Steyr is the process needed to replace a shot out barrel, and the shocking price tag.

Also in the "pretty close" category there is the Tikka T3 Varmint Stainless, although the magazine capacity is a tad on the limited side from the factory and back up irons are missing.

Other examples, and a step across the pond away from Europe and a huge step down in price, is the Savage Precision Carbine (detachable box mag, but no backup irons) Savage Hog Hunter (blind magazine but backup irons) and Savage Axis Heavy Barrel (no backup sights). Obviously some "tweaking" would need to be done with these three, but you could buy all three for the cost of one Steyr sold for MSRP.

If you think that I have a fondness for synthetic stocked, barrel heavy 308s you would be correct. I find that it is a good enough cartridge for anything I ask it to do, even if it isn't optimal at any single one of them. I'd hazard that any of the military small bore cartridges above 22 caliber would do just fine. The various 6.5s (Swede, Carcano, Mannlicher), 7x57, 8x57 (both bore diameters), and all the rest would serve equally as well in terms of sheer utility.

But as an American, the 308 Win is the one we use, so it is generally the one I use. I also find that barrels shorter than 20" have more muzzle blast than I care for, and barrels longer than 22" have met the point of diminishing returns for ballistics inside of 800 meters. I like a bit of weight out front for balance and recoil mitigation. You might like none of these things, and that is just fine. I know a fella who prefers to hunt with his 28" barreled 378 Weatherby, even for non-dangerous game.

Now when it comes to a specialized rifle, you either step up to "Dangerous Game" or step down to "Dedicated Varmint" rifles.

The "Platonic Ideal" for a dangerous game rifle will likely remain the Mauser M98 in 375 or larger chambering. A Ruger M77 MkII would do just as nicely as a stand in. So would a Winchester M70 Classic action.

While the double rifles have a well established reputation, simple economics keep them in the realm of "elite hunting implements" instead of "Platonic Ideal" rifles.

An Africa/Alaska style rifle built on controlled round feed action will cost pennies on the dollar over a double rifle. And while the Ruger action is investment cast, which mentally I know isn't an issue, but somehow the traditionalist part of me prefers forged steel, any of the rifles listed are perfectly adequate.

Factory offerings for new Ruger or Winchester rifles designed for hunting dangerous game are often priced in the realm of what a custom M98 would cost from a reputable gunsmith. If cost is truly an issue you could forgo the conrolled round feed and slap a new bolt and barrel onto a Savage action and go hunting for glory.

So far the only rifle I've listed that isn't a twin opposing front lug action is the Steyr (three lugs, rear locking), but the odds of me buying one are slim to none. I've honestly paid less for used cars than a new Steyr SSG.

For varmint rifles, simply take your pick. I prefer the 223 Rem for varmints myself, but the 22-250 is quite popular, and the 204 Ruger is gaining a cult following. Since these rifles are almost solely for recreation (there are exceptions of course), I think the Savage lineup wins for ease of rebarreling.

If I truly only could have one rifle, it would probably be the one of the 308s. I don't hunt dangerous game, or where dangerous game lives, although it is on my bucket list to do so. I also don't do much varminting, although I do love to put 22 caliber holes in paper.

Unfortunately, no one yet makes an aftermarket butterknife bolt handle for a Savage, I'd love to give one a try.

11 November 2014

ESR, Sarah Hoyt, and now me slaughtering the memes

This post was sparked by a conversation with Daniel Barger about the causes for international conflict. He stated the old wisdom that wars are started by people with a motive for profit. I've found that if someone has an assumption that they believe to be a truth (for planning purposes all assumptions are true until proven false, and you should be constantly trying to confirm/deny all your assumptions) all you need to do is ask the 5 W's to get to the root assumption, which is often nothing more than, "well doesn't everyone know this to be true?"

Separating Truth from Falsity is one of Joe Huffman's ongoing themes on his blog. The ability to spot an assumption, a logical failure or inconsistency, and a blatant falsehood is an incredibly necessary skill for anyone to master. Basically those skills are your bullshit detector. 

With that in mind, please peruse these two links, and while it will take some time I assure you that it will be worth it once you come back.



People like memes because it allows them to have an opinion without having all the facts. It allows the illusion of intelligence without any critical thinking to back it up.
  • There is no truth, only competing agendas.
  • All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
  • There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
  • The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
  • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
  • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
  • For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
  • When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.

The above list is a good example for playing "spot the master suppression technique" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_suppression_techniques

I would like to add the following.
  • Wars are fought over money and resources. To find the root of war you just need to follow the money. For example, "No Blood for Oil."

The first cultural meme I mention is like all good memes, in that there is a grain of truth about it. However, the last war I can think of that was fought for purely economical reasons was WWI, before that the Boer War, and before that the US Civil War. It also plays to the Christians who remember their Bible, "The love of money is the root of much evil."

Another note, one that Andrew Carnegie was prescient in addressing, was the danger of rampant nationalism leading to war. Had the allies not humiliated Germany so thoroughly by the Treaty of Versailles then a young Corporal Hitler might not have found such a ready audience for his message of national strength. Often times there are more nationalist reasons for fighting a war over resources, such as the Boer War, where colonialism is just a proxy for the clash of empires. You would see this "proxy war" again in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and all throughout South America as the clash between the US and the USSR.

So with the facade of truth, what is the reality?

What all these wars with an obvious economic aspect have in common is an empire with a mercantilism economy. The mercantilism of 1800s Europe was exactly what Karl Marx was writing against, a system of exploitation based on the conquest of lands to send raw materials back to the seat of empire, and finished goods out to the fringes of empire. By the time you get to Korea and Vietnam, the economic aspect is removed and replaced by nationalism (or other ideology).

Before mercantilism there was the economy of feudalism, and before that the ancient empires all fought for literal resources. Farmland, mines, trade routes. There really wasn't much else worth fighting for. So there is truth that some wars were fought over money and resources. But even in the ancient eras that does not explain why people fought to gain political concessions in documents like the Magna Carta or Articles of Confederation.

The mercantile economic model broke down after WWI, and WWII smashed the last vestiges of Mercantilism based Empire off the globe. The British and other European powers got around to dismantling their empire with varying success, and the new Cold War ushered in the height of the industrial age and internationalism.

The truth is far more complex than "all wars are economic." The real truth is that all wars are political, and sometimes politics includes economic drivers and policy. But the meme appeals to our desire to have some evil old man sitting in a darkened boardroom who is scheming to start a war somewhere so he can sell the government some widget or weapon and make millions on the deaths of thousands. I have no doubt that such evil people exist, but until you can prove that man exists and is capable of doing the evil described he is simply another conspiracy theory like the Illuminati or Lizard Men.

There are a lot more memes about military service and war that I could list, some with varying degrees of truth. But they are all designed to appeal to the "everyone knows" fallacy and they are not useful at all when looking at cause and analysis. But, for everything there is an answer that is short, concise, and wrong. And that short, concise, wrong answer is much more likely to become a meme than the correct answer.

Comments are open.

10 November 2014

Why attacking China from the Sea is a non starter

One of the recurring themes on this blog is that "It isn't having any one thing, it is having the right mix of capabilities" that wins a fight, a battle, or a war. The idea behind the Joint Strike Fighter was that a common airframe across three services would bring economies of scale and save the DOD money. I believe it was one of MacNamara's "wiz kids" who said, "There are really good reasons the services fly different planes, there aren't any good reasons why they wore different boots or had different combat uniforms." (and I paraphrase). But even the experience with the F-111 should have been a clue that you can't have an aircraft be all things to all clients. There are still very good reasons for the different services to fly different aircraft.

But beyond the fallacy of cost argument, there is the "never rely on a silver bullet" argument. The USAF has claimed that it needs the F-35, and in huge numbers, and the USMC's previous Commandant said it was a "die in the ditch" level of need.

Now it isn't hard to do wargame simulations. You can do it with tabletop dice based systems or Cray supercomputers, but the principle is the same. You do a comparative analysis of strengths and weaknesses, then devise a plan to negate the enemies strengths by attacking their weaknesses.

The USAF justification for "all or nothing purchase" with the F-35 was that they needed a "swarm" or "hunting pack" worth of F-35s to conduct a successful attack on China in the "Air Sea" and "Shift to the Pacific" strategy. The problem with China is that you can't get close enough to matter. And here is why you don't want to do it with a mass formation of fighters.

Here is China's game plan as I understand it. Feel free to comment if you have a different understanding.

* * * * *

The BLUFOR launches the massive wave of F-35s, F-22s, and F/A-18s from land bases and carrier platforms. At most this limits the BLUFOR to 11 attack vectors based on land strips and carriers available.

Long range, over the horizon RADAR systems pinpoint ship formations (including aircraft carriers) before they get within distance to launch even stealth aircraft. All possible airfields on islands east of China are clearly known.

Low frequency radar systems can't pinpoint a stealth aircraft for targeting purposes, but they will let Chinese Command and Control know that something is in some general area.

Low frequency radar systems don't emit enough power for HARMs to home in on the emitter.

A Chinese air force response of pretty much any fighter aircraft capable of firing a BLOS IR homing missile is scrambled, but ordered to stay in a holding pattern.

Long range "super sams" take out AWAC and Tanker aircraft.

Once the attacking wave of fighters from the sea can't refuel they have to turn back towards base (a landing strip or a carrier).

Now the fighters that were in a holding pattern head out to sea at supersonic, wasting as much fuel as they need to get into missile range, lock on to the tailpipe of the retreating fighters using IRST, and launch missiles right up the tailpipe.

The retreating fighters expend all their flares, and some using towed decoys lose their decoys.

The Chinese fighters fire again, against a target with no flares or decoys.

Long range anti-ship missiles fire on carriers as the remaining planes approach for landing.

Theater level ballistic missiles target airbases where returning fighters are heading.

Those that don't die from missiles, that don't run out of fuel, are not likely to return to a place where they can land.

* * * * *

This scenario highlights the problem of attacking China from the sea as a ground pounder sees it. I'm not saying that it can't be done, because it surely can be done, but it can't be done in the manner that the USAF has used for a mass purchase of F-35s. It just can't be done unless the Chinese are stupid, lazy, or compromised before hand.

So how do you make the Chinese stupid, lazy or compromised?

1.Take down the RADAR networks.
2.Take down the C2 network
3.Take down the aircraft before they can launch.
4.Take out the anti-ship missiles while they are still on the ground.

The first two can be done with Cyber/Electromagnetic effects. The second two require sabotage.

However, if you are going to do that, then stealth doesn't matter at that point, might as well send F/A-18s, F-15s, and F-16s without any stealth aircraft in the mix.

Now there are things like UAV based jamming systems, stealth UAVs, and such that could change the mix (for example stealth UAVs carrying AMRAAMs could target the Chinese fighters targeting the retreating fighters), but that only serves to illustrate the point, that there is no strategic or tactical need for the Joint Strike Fighter in huge quantities based on some supposed capability.

What is clear is that the traditional method of figuring out how to take out an enemy without relying on a "silver bullet" solution is here to stay. In Desert Storm the CIA implanted a virus into the Iraqi IADS by dialing into a printer, and an AH-64 followed a Pave Low CH-53 to a GPS grid (A crew member of the 53 actually dropped a bundle of chemlights out the door to give the Apache's a grid for a firing solution) to take out the first RADAR site of the war. The right mix of capabilities, not any single weapon system, is the only way to fight a war.

Of course the Pentagon is the battlefield, dollars are the weapon system, and the Air Force is the enemy.

08 November 2014

Follow on to Idjits with Soapboxes

My previous post about Idjits with Soapboxes was meant to address the basic truth that 1, nations and organizations go to war for incredibly stupid reasons, and 2, no ideology can be considered superior based on whether or not it was ever used as justification for war.

War is politics by other means, and sometimes "religion" is politics, and "ideology" is always politics.

Marko Kloos wrote, "You can't fight to "spread" atheism. It's the human default state. We're all born atheists. Only religion needs to sell its baloney at the point of a cudgel or gun."

Of course he's wrong, but short pithy answers are generally wrong in the details. The default human state is ignorance, not atheism. Ignorance could be argued as agnostacism, but atheism is a firm knowledge of the absence.

Out of idle curiousty, can anyone name a Communist country that didn't get to be a Communist country without some sort of violent revolution?

A broader point that I didn't address then, which I will do now, is that atheism doesn't need to be "morally superior" to Christianity to justify itself. Arguing that one ideology is superior to another because "Christians caused wars" and then quibbling that "Communists aren't necessarily Atheists" is a distinct lack of consistency.

Not every Christian faith took part in the Crusades, not every Atheist is a Communist. But it is true that the Crusades happened, and so did the Soviet Revolution, Chinese Communist Revolution, Vietnam War, Korean War, and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. People killed and died trying to spread an atheist ideology every bit as much as Crusaders killed and died trying to reclaim the Holy Land. That the Copts weren't a part of the Pope's proclamation seems lost on many people as "Christians" seems to become some sort of monolithic block in their mind. I've never stopped to count the various flavors of Atheists (never stopped to count all the flavors of Christians either) but I know several arguments against the existence of the supernatural.

Once an ideology become political, war is sure to follow (Mormons are some of the nicest people I know, but their history is riddled with violence). On the flip side, I don't see too many Amish up in arms, nor do most Atheists (or small "a" atheists) every adopt violence to bring about political change. But that doesn't mean that the Armish aren't "Christian" nor that Communists (specifically Marxist/Leninists) aren't atheists.

But just like someone else's gun may have been used in a murder, yours wasn't and so attacking your gun rights makes no sense. I have no doubts that Marko Kloos is a moral person, a loving father, and a decent husband. The morality of him as a person is NOT defined by atheism. If there is anything morally superior about atheism is that it takes away any excuses for immoral behavior except for the individual chose to act that way. No blaming ancient texts for bad behavior in the atheist camp.

One of my friends assumed I was an atheist because I truly believe in the separation of Church and State and that everyone should make moral and ethical choices on their own without resorting to the "well someone else told me so!" absence of logic. I thought that was a very nice compliment.

An atheist who chooses to be a moral person is a moral person. A Christian who chooses to be a dick is a dick. Using faith to justify being a dick (or terrorist) is clearly NOT a moral person. Anyone killing people to bring about a society without religion (think communist terror groups) is also being a dick. Actions matter much more than any "belief system" that is impossible to prove either true or false.

07 November 2014


The TOW and the Javelin missile systems share very similar functions. This is not surprising considering that Raytheon is the sole support for the TOW, and half of the support for the Javelin (the other half being Lockheed Martin).

The TOW is a capable system, even the Iranian Toophan TOW clones have proven themselves capable of destroying modern main battle tanks if reports of the 2006 Israeli/Lebonese conflict are to be believed. The Iranian missiles aren't exactly "state of the art" but evidently even the original 1970s technology was good enough for the job.

The Javelin was introduced more than a decade after the TOW, and the main difference is that now instead of missile flight to target being controlled by the Soldier, the missiles are "fire and forget."

The Army had a TOW "Fire and Forget" project going on for a little bit, but it was cancelled in Fiscal Year 2002.

Now Missiles are very expensive munitions, and there have been a number of "joint" solutions to try to replace a number of service specific missiles with multi-service (or international multi-service) missiles that provide the same or better performance, but at a better price due to economies of scale.

But having an installed user base of international TOW and Javelin customers, it doesn't make sense to adopt yet another munition when the ones we have are already enjoying broad adoption across services and international customers. Unless we can get all those other countries to play the upgrade for cost savings game along with us, it becomes a fools errand.

Both the Javelin and TOW have good optics (the TOW is every so slightly better mainly because it was designed for vehicular use). Both have infrared capabilities. Both have range finders. Both give the same capabilities to the boots on the ground. The difference I think at this point is in upgrade paths.

The Javelin is currently undergoing a modernization path to lighten the load further in terms of the Command Launch Unit (the optical targeting system), and the TOW is largely at end of upgrade paths with the IBAS/ITAS in my opinion. To add more capabilities to the TOW system would be nearly as costly as a new weapons platform I think, but there is not need to upgrade the ITAS/IBAS just yet.

But, one of the original uses for the TOW missile system was for helicopter use. This has largely been replaced by the Hellfire missile. This makes perfect sense to me since the original range limitation for the TOW was dictated by the guide wires, and the Hellfire is "fire and forget." The 8km range on the Hellfire is almost double modern TOW or Javelin missiles, but when you are doing air to ground, I bet having the altitude advantage really helps. The Hellfire is a Lockheed Martin product.

The question to me becomes, can we modify the Javelin (Raytheon + LM) to serve in the airborne role currently occupied by the Hellfire (LM) and the ground role currently occupied by the TOW (Raytheon)? If we could, could we do it with enough cost savings to justify the transition? Could the potential cost savings to the US Taxpayers also include no loss of profits to Raytheon or Lockheed Martin to get them aboard?

The other option that makes sense is the Griffin system by Raytheon, but I think that any "sole source" option is doomed to fail. Our procurement system really is that broken.

In some cases it makes great sense to keep three missiles in the inventory that kill tanks. We already have a lot of launchers for each system. I just don't know if we could consolidate on one system and enjoy economies of scale....