The Rhymes of History: OODA Edition

156635-ISIS-largeThis is pretty interesting, and we would be well to file it in the “Rhymes of history” file. Whatever happens-it has before, probably often. Here’s Thomas Fleming bringing advice from George Washington to our present problems.

Another way to phrase this, that I use, it was developed by an Air force officer, is the OODA Loop. It’s a good guide to gaining and maintaining the initiative. I wrote some about it here. The problem here is mostly with the ‘Observe’ part. our NCA seems to be totally oblivious to anything except fundraising, and when he does do something it is too little-too late, and often the wrong thing anyway.

Channeling George: Regaining the Initiative

“By the spring of 1972, President Nixon’s decision to ‘Vietnamize’ the war was in full swing. He had withdrawn almost all our combat troops. Only a few hundred advisors remained behind, working with various South Vietnamese divisions. The overconfident North Vietnamese launched an offensive aimed at ending the war. It was a disaster for them. They were defeated everywhere. Their worst humiliation came in the town of An Loc, where a South Viet force, outnumbered five to one, held out while American airpower pulverized the attackers. Suddenly we saw a way to seize and keep the initiative without recommitting large numbers of American infantry.”[…]

“Like President Truman in Korea, President George W. Bush found a commander who knew how to deal with the situation. General David Petraeus saw that the real problem was our inability to retain control of towns and cities where we had defeated the enemy. As we moved on to other embattled sites, the enemy, in standard guerilla fashion, infiltrated men and weapons into the supposedly pacified territory, and resumed their destructive tactics, with the help of the intimidated local population. Petraeus’s answer to this was “The Surge.” With forty thousand reinforcements, he was able to keep the places we pacified under our control, and the peace-hungry majority soon turned pro-American. That is how we regained the initiative in Iraq and won the war.”

“But it hasn’t stayed won, alas.”

“That’s because President Obama, pressured by the left wing of the Democratic Party, withdrew too many troops too soon, and there were enough guerrillas still in the game to take advantage of it. When a President listens to domestic politicians instead of to his generals, we have a veritable formula for losing the initiative.

– See more at:

via History News Network | Channeling George: Regaining the Initiative.

He’s indisputably right, of course. What he doesn’t talk about is the parallels with Carter as well. Especially the utter inability to see that not everybody in the world is like them, some are far more ruthless, and likely motivated by things that we do not even start to understand.

To me, our biggest problem here, though is that we have utterly lost the initiative to a bunch of rabid barbarians, and the Iraqi minorities are paying a horrendous price for out cluelessness. Obama can blame the intelligence agencies all he desires, it’s an utterly transparent lie. It has been obvious for months, if not years, even in the middle of the country. The only reason for not seeing it, is an unwillingness to face reality.

Unless, and until, we regain the initiative, it is going to get worse, maybe much worse. This is not the mostly rational Soviet Union we are (sort-of) fighting here.

Cavafy comes to mind again.

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.

And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution


About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

12 Responses to The Rhymes of History: OODA Edition

  1. the unit says:

    Interesting poem. The last two lines. The Germans were defeated while I was an infant, so I grew up with the Russians as the barbarians. I felt euphoric when the Berlin Wall came down, really experienced a “high.” Thought peace at last.
    So yeah, what would we do without barbarians? No solution without adversity at the border?


    • NEO says:

      Can’t know we’re winning unless somebody’s losing. My Brit friends introduced him to me. Interesting guy as well.


      • the unit says:

        I be a bit confused though. NCA? Is that… Founded in 1884 in Chicago by representatives of 69 confectionery manufacturing firms, the NATIONAL CONFECTIONERS’ ASSOCIATION is one of the oldest, most respected trade associations in the world.
        They doing candy coated “Down Lo” lollipops in D.C. nowadays?
        What did Ridgway do?” “He went to work on telling the men in the foxholes and dugouts that they had a commander who intended to win the war. He flew up and down the lines in a Piper Cub, a plane extremely vulnerable to enemy bullets, and repeatedly landed under fire to talk to ordinary soldiers – sergeants and corporals and privates –face to face. He listened to their gripes – no mail for weeks and no hot meals– and made sure they were quickly corrected.” – See more at:
        Your link.
        Wasn’t done from Martha’s Vineyard.


        • NEO says:

          Sure wasn’t. It was done right out there in the mud, and the blood, and the tears, with a couple of Pinapple grenades on his web gear.

          Damned few were men enough then to do it, let alone now.


        • the unit says:

          And more and more with potential being relieved of duty and run out before they wish to leave the service. I read some with fifteen years under their belt, won’t get to retirement.


        • NEO says:

          Yep, that’s about what most of those majors you heard about have, and no pension till twenty. It purely sucks, they’re likely some of the best ones as well, but never bothered sucking up.


        • the unit says:

          I does purely suck. Some would say they are only 35 -37 so plenty of time for new careers. Sure…the recession ended in summer of ’09 according to Uncle Joe.


        • NEO says:

          Yeah. If I had any jobs to give, I’d grab ’em in a heartbeat; best of the best. But the way the economy is, I’m having trouble feeding myself. All I can do is pray for them, and honor them.


        • the unit says:

          These majors may be service academy grads with various degrees, some maybe not. Depending on those backgrounds, if I didn’t have commercial skills from military training I’d stay away from corporate and govt. job fairs. I’d go local to vo-tech for advice. Recently hired a young man, vet, as plumber and did top notch job. Couple hours work, $1300. Then tree trimming foreman over crew was Iraqi War vet, saw to it for another top notch job using heavy equipment. And he worked maybe harder than his crew.
          Maybe instead of leaving all the equipment to the Muslims, bring it home for the vets to use.


        • NEO says:

          If I recall a major would be required to have a bachelor’s degree, either BS or BA, a lot would have at least a masters. but the real point is, they know how to lead and how to manage. I agree with you, corporate these days is insane to try to deal with, much more screwed up than the military. Unless i know your skills, I won’t even consider non vets anymore, there’s no comparison.


  2. the unit says:

    To a vet there is no excuse for a mission not completed. That’s those I’ve worked with, for, and employed…right down to a proper shoe shine. Ridgway told the general he replaced to be gone in 24 hours, we’ll send you your trunk of stuff.


    • NEO says:

      Yep, and that’s exactly why they are so valuable.

      The mission,
      The people,

      The formula for success, that no one in Washington ever read.


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