The View From Olympus: Another Move Forward for Maneuver Warfare in the Marine Corps

In late June I attended a Marine Corps conference sponsored by Training and Education Command (TECOM) on the subject of how to teach maneuver warfare. This was the second conference in a series; the first was last fall. Both have been run on a civilian-clothes, no-ranks basis, which is necessary for frank exchanges. And both have been productive.

Last fall’s conference concluded unanimously, and correctly, that the Marine Corps has not institutionalized maneuver warfare. “Islands” of it form, based on commanders who get it. But when those commanders leave, the Second Generation sea usually sweeps over the island, obliterating it. The result is an eternal sine-wave and a Marine Corps that can talk about maneuver warfare but for the most part can’t do it.

This June’s conference addressed the question of what needs to change in training and education if Marines are to learn to do maneuver warfare. Training and education are not alone enough; the personnel system must also change in major ways. But TECOM has no control over that, so it rightly focused on what it can change.

One of the highlights of the conference was hearing from junior Marines, many of them Staff NCOs, what they are doing to teach maneuver warfare on their own initiative. Using case studies, tactical decision games, and field exercises, they are putting young Marines in situations where they have to make military decisions, then have their reasoning critiqued. Not surprisingly, the students love this approach to instruction–which all too often is still based on memorizing “learning objectives” and spitting them back on multiple choice tests–and they retain what they are taught.

The conference’s findings were boiled down into a three-slide brief for TECOM’s new commander, General Iiams. As with the previous conference, the findings were not a white-wash. The brief stated the problem frankly:

Our training and education system does not bridge the gap between theory and application, that is, between our warfighting philosophy and how we apply it.

It recommended some “High Payoff Targets” to begin to change this. The list is worth reviewing (words in brackets are mine, not the brief’s).:

  • Emphasize the primacy of force-on-force free play exercises. [Free-play training is the single most powerful tool to promote maneuver warfare, because those who operate maneuver-style usually win and Marines hate losing.]
  • Increase decision-making opportunities in schoolhouses, focusing on critical thinking rather than the order-writing process. [The German training literature says, “Don’t worry about the form of the order.”]
  • Improve the quality of instructors by improving instructor development. [Instructors now get so little preparation that they are put in a position where they have to teach what they do not know. The result is the blind leading the blind. It’s not the instructor’s fault, it’s a systemic problem.]
  • Ensure manning of critical billets with highly qualified individuals. [On a visit to the Führungsakademie several years ago, the head of the Ground Tactics Dept. told me, “I have the personal support of the Defense Minister in getting anyone I want as faculty, and a successful faculty tour brings highly-sought follow-on assignment or early promotion or both.” In contrast, our personnel system just spits out a warm body for a faculty tour and it’s considered a career-killer.]
  • Establish a professional adversary force at MAGTF-TC. [I have been calling for this for decades. As it stands, Marines leave 29 Palms thinking the French fire support coordination exercise they do is real war. That’s true only if you are fighting tires. Teaching tactics requires a free-play opponent, and until 29 Palms has an “aggressor” for non-live-fire free-play, we will continue to have a Second Generation Marine Corps.]
  • Provide top cover and support to current islands of success. [Again, this requires changes in personnel policy. You can only protect islands if new commanders are maneuverists. But at present, the personnel system does not even look at tactical ability in making assignments.]
  • Conduct training and education experimentation to address hard problems. [As the conference showed, we know what works: constantly putting students in situations where they have to make military decisions. The hard problem is getting Marine Corps schools to do that instead of teaching war by process.]

The brief’s concluding slide read:

The collective impact of these immediate actions will begin closing the gap between our maneuver warfare philosophy and habitual action, re-focusing on tactical cunning rather than technique and procedure.

General Iiams has the brief. In our meeting with him he seemed to agree with it. The question now is what, if anything, he will actually do. Das Wesentliches is die Tat.

 

PS: A Navy SEAL friend who was at the conference gave a great definition of the difference between education and training: “Which would you rather your daughter get, sex education or sex training?”

Snufflegate

The headlines of both the New York Times and The Washington Post were the same. In the largest type that could run in one line they screamed in outrage, “President Trump Blows His Nose!”

The Times reported that “In an action without precedent in the history of the Presidency, or at least without any precedent we find it convenient to remember, President Donald Trump yesterday publicly blew his nose.” The Times focused on foreign reaction:

America’s allies both in Europe and in Asia were dumfounded by the American president’s latest bizarre action. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that ‘this astonishing act was obviously preplanned, because the President was carrying a handkerchief. That makes it all the more puzzling.’ Soon to be ousted Prime Minister May of Great Britain, trying to excuse the president’s action, said ‘At least he didn’t do it, then call an early election.’ President Macron of France offered the usual Gallic sneer: ‘Is his head now completely empty?’ When asked if his comment might worsen relations, he shrugged, ‘You know we French are only polite when we are occupied by the Germans.’ Russian president Putin held a mic to his ass and farted. ‘At least I give you something worth writing about,’ he said.

The Washington Post as usual tried to shape domestic political reaction. It reported the House and Senate Democratic leadership saying, “We are shocked and appalled by this heinous action and we demand a full investigation of this matter. Why did the president not use his sleeve as Democrats do? Does President Trump not eat boogers? They taste kind of like oysters. Try it, you’ll like it.” The Democratic leadership had not actually said anything at that point, since the Post had not given them their lines. There is now rumor of a slight re-write.

The Republican Hill leadership affirmed the president’s right to blow his nose. “The president’s action is not unprecedented,” said Representative Paul Ryan. “It may happen less often than a presidential campaign talking to foreign governments–Israel anyone?–but President Lyndon Johnson is reported to have done it several times in the oval office while terrified Democratic Senators fought over his snot. President Bill Clinton is also reported to have blown, forcing a female intern to wipe it up with her blue dress. It is true most of us just swallow our snot, but if the president of the United States wants to blow, he can blow.” Asked by the Post if that included blowing up the world, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Well, we hope not. Now if he wants to take out France, that’s okay. France is kinda close to North Korea, isn’t it?” Senator John McCain, Chairman of the the Armed Services Committee, added, “Is somebody talking about a war we’re not involved in? Where? Who? I want us in! I want us in now!” Senator McCain’s close associate Senator Lindsay Graham croaked, “Ribbit.”

But it was Post columnist Snidely Whiplash who broke the big story. “We have learned through our usual source, the Putzfrau who cleans our office, that the FBI is investigating President Trump for obstruction of nasal passages. Clearly, this is a much more serious matter than whether the president tried to give direction to the FBI, something routinely done by past presidents. Is there a single schoolchild in Kansas who thinks LBJ or FDR never told the FBI director to lay off? Come on. But collecting snot and putting it in his pocket, undoubtedly for nefarious purposes, well, that’s huge. Huge. White House insiders are already calling it Snufflegate. Is it an impeachable offense? Special Prosecutor Mueller is asking that question, or he will be after my column runs. Hey, so he wants good press. Who in Washington doesn’t? Is that a crime?”

The View From Olympus: Britons Strike Home?

“Britons Strike Home” is an 18th century naval song, a product of an age when Britain knew how to avenge insults to her soil and her people. She has now suffered three such insults in the last three months, and it is clear Britain’s ruling class hasn’t the ghost of an idea of what to do about it.

Of course, they have their rituals. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth, candles and flowers and balloons, benefit concerts and twaddle from politicians about “getting tough”. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gave a perfect example of the usual crap. According to the June 5 New York Times, he said in response to the London attacks,

We are all shocked and horrified by the brutal attacks in London. My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have died and the many who have been injured. Today, we will all grieve for their loss.

Weakness drips from every line.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who is to Maggie Thatcher as Napoleon III was to Napoleon I, was no better. Saying “things need to change” and “Enough is enough,” she offered no action, just words. It seems that instead of “Britons strike home,” all the British elite of today can offer is “Britons strike your flag.”

What could be done? The British government surely knows which mosques preach Islamic puritanism. Shut them down and expel their entire memberships and their families. Similarly, when an Islamic terrorist is caught, expel his entire family, down to and including his most distant cousins.

Such measures and other like them would hold Britain’s Islamic communities responsible for policing their own. If they fail to, then they would pay a price. That price could and should be ratcheted upward for as long as Moslem terrorists who live in Britain carry out attacks there. Could it reach the point of expelling whole communities? If those communities cannot or (more likely) will not police themselves, then that action might be necessary.

Of course, the British elite is capable of none of this because it would violate its doctrine of “human rights”. Members of the elite believe such rights are absolute and cannot be tied to responsibilities. But rights without responsibilities are a recipe for chaos. Just look at America’s black inner cities.

The state arose to bring order, and if a state cannot bring order it loses its legitimacy. I think Britain is on the cusp of just such a development. How will it manifest itself? In a growing number of incidents in which ordinary Brits attack members of the communities from which the terrorists come.

It is easy to forget that the British working class, and the “permanent dole” class below it, like to fight. Along with rural Brits, they have provided the hard-fighting men who made the Royal Navy a winner for centuries. (They fought equally hard in the British Army, but British generalship usually undid them.) They fight to this day, in bars, soccer stadiums, and anywhere else they can. They enjoy it.

They will enjoy it all the more when their targets are non-British centers and sources of disorder in Britain. In narrow legal terms, most such people are British subjects (monarchies do not have citizens; they have subjects). But in the real world they are not British. They are not British in their ethnicity, in their culture, in their behavior, or in their religion. They are easy to recognize, and as more incidents of terrorism come from their communities, they will become targets. Britons will strike home.

This is not a good development, in Britain or anywhere else, because it means yet another state is weakening and moving toward collapse under the pressure of Fourth Generation assaults. It may be hard to envision the state collapsing in Britain, but if it cannot maintain order and public safety, that is where it is headed. I do not know how many more massacres by Islamic terrorists it will take, but at some point attacks on British Moslems will start to happen on a significant scale. The only way to stop it is for the elite to show it can act effectively against Moslem terror. But that is exactly what it cannot do, because its own ideology (of cultural Marxism, a.k.a. “multiculturalism”) prevents it.

The View From Olympus: A Glass Half Full

With the elements in the Trump administration pushing our continued intervention in the Middle East and Korea, plus backing away from better relations with Russia, the future was looking grim for America First. America First means keeping our distance from other peoples’ quarrels.

But some recent developments suggest the glass may be half full. On his recent trip abroad, President Trump refused to bow down to the great clay god NATO. The May 29 New York Times reported,

Mr. Trump declined to publicly endorse NATO’s doctrine of collective defense or to agree to common European positions on global trade, dealing with Russian aggressions or mitigating the effects of climate change.

Quelle horreur! It seems America won’t go down for Gdansk.

As the same issue of the Times wrote, President Trump’s approach to NATO worked. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after her meetings with him, “Europe should pay more attention to its own interests ‘and really take our fate into our own hands.'” Hallelujah! This is just what successive American administrations have worked for for fifty years, without success: that Europe provide its own security, as it has the money, people, and technology to do.  President Trump has succeeded in doing what President Eisenhower expected and wanted. When NATO was formed, he said, “If we are still in this ten years from now, it will have been a mistake.” American defense of Europe was intended to be only a short-term measure while European countries recovered from the war. That happened a long, long time ago.

There’s more good news from President Trump himself: he has reportedly not signed on the idiot plan, pushed by his National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, to send thousands more American troops to Afghanistan in another doomed effort at “nation building”. The president knows sunk costs are no argument to continue what has failed. He wants to get out. He’s right and the war cabal around him is wrong.

Meanwhile, there is good news from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. In a speech in mid-May to State Department employees, he broke decisively with Wilsonianism, the notion that we can and should force democracy and “human rights” down the throats of every people on earth, with bayonets if necessary. The Secretary drew an important distinction between our values and our interests. Our values, he said, are “freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated…our values never change.”

Then came the key passage in his remarks, the one that threw off the albatross of Woodrow Wilson’s corpse:

And in some circumstances, if you condition our national security efforts on someone adopting our values, we probably can’t achieve our national security goals or our national security interests.

If we condition too heavily that others must adopt this value that we’ve come to over a long history of our own, it really creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests.

In other words, our policies must be based on our interests, just as other nations base their on their interests. This is how the international state system works. It is reality.

That’s the half glass of good wine. But the empty part of the glass is of equal importance. Neither in President Trump’s remarks in Europe nor in Secretary Tillerson’s speech is there even a hint that they get the new strategic context, that is, the threat to the state system itself posed by Fourth Generation war. Both the president and the secretary speak and seem to think of a world where the basic conflict is between states, not between non-state entities (i.e., “terrorists”) and the state system. In a Fourth Generation world, this is a fatal weakness.

It is also a weakness politically, because the American people could and would grasp a need for an alliance with Russia and China, indeed with every other state, as the only way to defeat “terrorism”. By changing the context of international relations, President Trump and his administration could leave Senator John McCain and the rest of the warhawks high and dry on history’s beach, to shine and stink like the rotten mackerel in the moonlight they are (thank you, John Randolph of Roanoke).

President Trump won office by changing the political context. His administration is now floundering because he has allowed the establishment to suck him back into the existing context, which the establishment created and within which it thrives. An understanding of Fourth Generation war and the new international context it has created offers the president a chance to again pull the rug out from under the Establishment and plunge it into a context it cannot handle. That’s how to win.

 

Leftism on the Skids

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has revealed the fundamental schism in American society: those who are believers in the system as it was, and those who realize it is time to jump off the sinking ship of Leftist social engineering.

The most controversial fact about the man is that he was elected in the first place, once we factor out the idiosyncrasies that bombastic men and strong personalities usually have, and he has united the confederacy of dunces against him with admirable efficiency. In doing so, he has smoked out the arrayed forces of the Left, including a propagandistic media and a vicious and dogmatic Establishment spanning government and industry which has thrived under Left-leaning presidents and their policies.

Media articles reveal the emotional nature of Leftist culture shock. After first insisting that the election was somehow illegitimate, Democrats seized on the hope that they could prove that Russia had somehow hacked the election. With that narrative waning, they tried to prove a connection between the Trump staff and Russian government interests. When that failed, they turned to claiming Trump had leaked intelligence or pressured James Comey to go easy on Michael Flynn.

Like a prisoner giving excuses, the Left seem to be inventing reasons on the fly to attempt to prove what they hope is true, and the reek of fixation and desperation portrays them in a morbid light.

For conservatives — whether they are Trump fans or NeverTrumpers — the Trump administration has offered a great boon, however. Trump is a red cape waved at the bull of Leftist emotionality. He represents the refutation of the Obama years and an American turn away from the socialist-leaning, Social Justice Warrior (SJW) infused, and anti-majority thread of Leftist rhetoric in the years since the L.A. Riots. Strikingly, this message resonates with not just his audience, but those proximate to them.

A recent survey reveals that Trump voters are motivated by concerns over changing American culture and identity more than purely economic concerns, although surely they have those following the disaster that was the Obama economy.

Among other details, the survey revealed that white working class voters — those without salaried jobs — were focused on the changes wrought by Leftist social engineering. 65% of them believe that American culture and way of life has deteriorated since the 1950s, 48% of them feel like strangers in their own country, 68% believe the US is in danger of losing its culture and identity, 52% believe that discrimination against the majority is as big of a problem as discrimination against minorities, and 60% of them want a strong leader who is willing to break the rules in order to fix this situation.

To Leftists, Donald Trump is a symbol of the actual threat; he represents the growing backlash against Leftist social engineering including the sacred cows of Civil Rights and bipartisanship. The Left enjoys the thought that it is above all of those ignorant dirt people out there “clinging to their guns and religion”, which is why Hillary Clinton referred to them as “a basket of deplorables.”

Now the narrative of the 1960s has flipped. The Right are opposing a Leftist establishment, and the “safe bet” for the average citizen is to go along with our increasingly Soviet-like Leftist overlords. This has been the situation since the 1990s when the Baby Boomers hit their 50s and took over. Trump has articulated this to us by following a relative moderate playbook, which has caused media and Establishment panic.

Leftist social engineering has created the world in which we find ourselves. A revolt against it is a revolt against Leftism. The parasites sense that their control is slipping, and that is why the news and government is full of apocalyptic statements and conspiracy theories aimed at displacing the rebellion against the Left. But the more the true believers demand we obey them, the more disobedient we become.

 

Brett Stevens blogs at Amerika.org

The Way Forward

For those of us on the Right who long despaired for the future of our country, Donald Trump offered an unlikely ray of hope. He defied cultural Marxism, a.k.a. “political correctness”. He promised to end the flooding of our country with foreigners and the export of its middle-income jobs. He rejected Wilsonianism and its endless wars for endless peace. In short, he promised to give us our country back.

That hope is now gone. The Establishment has launched a double envelopment of President Trump that shows every sign of succeeding. On the one hand, it has taken over his administration from the inside, giving us the usual policies of the Republican Establishment. On the other hand, it is drowning the president in a flood of mostly phony charges intended to drive him from office. Either way, it wins, and real conservatives are left with no voice and no hope in the political system. The most important lesson of the Trump presidency may be that reform through the system is impossible.

Where do we go from here? On issues such as foreign policy, trade policy, and immigration, we may be able to do little beyond wait for the disasters inherent in Establishment policy to unfold, then move in to pick up the pieces. Whether the state can survive such a monumental failure is an open question.

But on the most important issue, culture, there is a way forward. That way is Retroculture.

Retroculture is a call to revive old ways of thinking and living, with an emphasis on the latter. The basic lesson of America’s history since the 1960s is that the old ways worked and the new ways don’t. It does not require a great intellectual leap from that fact to wanting to live once again in the old ways, many of which had their origins in the Victorian period.

For millennia, when a society found itself decaying and declining, it turned back and attempted to revive a past when life was better. The Renaissance and the Reformation are both examples. The result was not an exact recreation of the past, but by drawing on the past these attempts have at least sometimes brought about a new synthesis that was an improvement.

At present, Retroculture is only a word and an idea. If we are to save and restore our country, it needs to become a movement. It will not be a political movement, aimed at gaining power in Washington and changing laws. That way has failed. Rather, a Retroculture movement will be individuals, families, and perhaps in time whole communities changing how they live. That is far more powerful than politics.

There is an obvious parallel between Retroculture and Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option”. The difference is that Retroculture is secular. Because religious faith and worship were of central importance in the lives of our ancestors–just look at the churches they built–Retroculture will tend to lead people toward religion. But they can join a Retroculture movement on purely secular grounds, i.e., wanting to create a better life for themselves and their families by doing what works.

A Retroculture movement is a central theme in Thomas Hobbes’ novel Victoria (which, as his agent, I recommend) and also in the last book Paul Weyrich and I wrote together, The Next Conservatism. More than that, it is reflected in the lives of several important groups of people. One is the Amish, who live rural lives similar to those of 100 years ago, before Henry Ford’s Model T overran the countryside. Another group that embraces part of Retroculture is the home schoolers, many of whom home school to avoid the dreadful “education theory” that has replaced learning skills and facts with psychological conditioning and babble such as “self-esteem”. A college graduate of today knows less than a high school grad of 1950.

There is no single time period that defines Retroculture. Any time up through the 1950s, America’s last normal decade, will do. Our country was wrecked by the cultural revolution of the 1960s, and any model for present life drawn from before that catastrophe will be an improvement. Emmett Tyrrell once defined utopia as the 18th century with modern medicine and air conditioning.

Toward the goal of creating a Retroculture movement, this website is establishing a Retroculture bulletin board. Anyone who has ideas about Retroculture they want to share, or wants to connect with others choosing a Retroculture life, is welcome to post on it.

Retroculture’s home truth is simple: what worked before can work again. Ideologies promise perfect future societies based on this or that philosophy; invariably, they fail. Retroculture, in contrast, is based in reality, in the concrete, specific ways of living of our own forefathers. They were real, the ways in which they lived were real, and they worked. They built the greatest country on Earth. It wasn’t perfect; no human endeavor can be. But their America worked a whole lot better than the country we now know by that name. It’s time we brought that America back.

The View From Olympus: Strategic Idiocy–and an Alternative

In a column in the May 3 Cleveland Plain Dealer Eli Lake reported that the Trump administration has decided to redouble our efforts in Afghanistan. We are to send in more troops–5000 initially is the figure I’m hearing–and commit ourselves once again to nation building based on the corrupt and ineffectual government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. This was all decided in a White House meeting where the principle voice for stronger intervention came from the new national security advisor, General H.R. McMaster.

Once again, we see everything Trump promised during the campaign go out the window as typical Establishment policies prevail. Worse, McMaster, who is a tactical genius, is revealed as a strategic idiot (the combination is not unusual; Rommel was another example). So we appear doomed to four more years of  strategic failure in Afghanistan and everywhere else McMaster is in charge. Where is Count Witte when we need him?

What makes this hopeless reprise of a strategy that has already been tried and has failed especially disheartening is that other, more promising strategies are available for Afghanistan. Two could be combined to offer a reasonable chance of an outcome we could live with, namely a coalition government that includes the Taliban but excludes al Qaeda, ISIS, and other Salafists from the country.

The first recognizes that Pakistan is the key to Afghanistan, but Afghanistan is also the key to Pakistan. So long as the Afghan government is aligned with India, as it now is, Pakistan must support the Taliban. The Taliban offers its only option for an alliance with Afghanistan, which it must have for strategic depth vis-a-vis India. Remember, India is Pakistan’s number one strategic threat. A pro-India Afghanistan threatens Pakistan with a two-front war, which is intolerable. So Pakistan is tied to the Taliban whether it wants to be or not (my guess is not).

A new strategy for Afghanistan begins with our compelling the current Afghan government to de-align with India and become a reliable (and subservient) ally of Pakistan. What if it refuses? We leave tomorrow and take our money with us. I suspect that prospect will make President Ghani see reason.

Once Pakistan can break with the Taliban, a second new strategy comes into play. The Taliban is increasingly threatened by ISIS in Afghanistan. The two are already fighting, with casualties on both sides. ISIS is also a dangerous moral threat to the Taliban, because it is more extreme, which means it appeals strongly to young fighters. In effect, among Islamic puritans, ISIS makes the Taliban look like the establishment while it represents true purity. That scares the Taliban, as it should.

So we now can offer the Taliban our aid against ISIS if it will join a coalition Afghan government. With Pakistan pushing in the same direction, the chances of success would be reasonably good–which they are not if we keep repeating what we have been doing for more than ten years without success.

To show the depth of our strategic incompetence, instead of using ISIS in Afghanistan as a lever to move the Taliban, we are trying to destroy it. We are doing the Taliban’s fighting for it, eliminating the threat to its flank and lessening the pressure it feels to do a deal with us. The “Mother Of All Bombs” we dropped in Afghanistan a few weeks ago was aimed not at the Taliban, but at ISIS. Like most air bombardments of dug-in opponents, it did very little. But why are we fighting ISIS in Afghanistan at all when it could serve our goal? Bismarck must be rolling in his grave.

It seems the new Trump administration is just more of the same old, failed, incompetent strategy, or absence of strategy. We will do more of the same and expect a different result. That’s not just stupidity, it’s idiocy. And it appears that vaunted General McMaster is the craziest guy in the madhouse.

The View From Olympus: Korea

Is a new Korean War likely? Probably not. It would almost certainly end with the destruction of North Korea’s Kim regime, and I think they know that. Dictators want to remain dictators.

On the other hand, like the major European states in 1914, both North Korea and the U.S. could back themselves into a war, not knowing quite how they got there. If that happens, North Korea has some options I fear the Pentagon is ignoring.

One is to open up a massive artillery barrage on Seoul, then turn it off after twenty minutes. The cease-fire could be accompanied by an announcement saying North Korea would only resume firing if the U.S. or South Korea took military action against it. That would leave us on the horns of a most unpleasant dilemma.

If all-out war were to break out, instead of launching its main thrust directly at Seoul from the north with the armor it has positioned there, North Korea could keep that threat open while making its operational Schwerpunkt a light infantry advance down South Korea’s east coast with a turning movement south of Seoul designed to pocket the main American and South Korean forces. The east coast terrain is favorable to light infantry, North Korea has lots of it and if you look at the movement rates of both North and South Korean light infantry on that coast during the first Korean War, you see it could unfold quite rapidly.

Steven Canby, who may be America’s best land war analyst, laid out this possibility in a paper he wrote in the late 1970s or early 1980s. When I worked for Senator Gary Hart, he sent Canby’s paper to the U.S. commander in Korea. The reply he received essentially said, “We have our plan and we are going to follow it.” That plan, I suspect, assumes the main North Korean thrust will be made by the heavy armor positioned north of Seoul. But that could well be the cheng element with light infantry in the east playing the chi role. Oriental warfare tends to avoid jousting contests.

American forces want to fight the plan rather than the enemy because their Second Generation planning is so slow, convoluted, and cumbersome. The Marine Corps’ sacred “staff planning process” takes at least 72 hours for a one-division plan. In contrast, the Wehrmacht expected a division to respond to unexpected enemy action in four hours, with action, not just a plan; a corps was given six hours. As John Boyd might have said, “We’re not even in the game.”

A third North Korean option would be to respond to a U.S. pre-emptive strike not with an attack on South Korea but with strikes on Japan. Not only might that lead Japan to deny us the use of bases there, without which a war in Korea would be logistically impossible, it could rally South Korean public opinion for North Korea. All Koreans hate the Japanese, and the South Korean navy is designed less for a war with the North than for a war with Japan. If North Korea called on the South to join it against Japan, the South Korean government might find itself in a very difficult position. What would we do at that point?

All of these actions would require a boldness and imagination on the part of North Korea that dictatorships are not very good at producing. On the other hand, if North Korea does what we expect it to in a war, its chances of winning are poor. Might there be some North Korean von Manstein going to Mr. Kim with a Korean counterpart to Sichelschnitt, the German plan for the advance through the Ardenne in 1940? If so, like our French mentors, we could get caught with our pants down and the privy on fire.

The End of the Trump Administration

After just three months, the Trump administration appears to be over. The agenda which got President Trump elected is being tossed over the side, replaced with the usual Republican establishment policies that don’t work. It looks as if we are in for more immigration, more free trade that wipes out middle class jobs, more political correctness, and more avoidable foreign wars where we have no real interests at stake. As for Donald Trump himself, he is rapidly being relegated to the role of the crazy uncle who lives in the attic.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems to know less about grand strategy than he does about Maya glyphs. He has set us back on an anti-Russian foreign policy course where the U.S. is to promote Jacobin concepts of “human rights” while bombing anyone and everyone around the world. Both actions work to the advantage of our Fourth Generation, non-state enemies. Coupled with a failure to reform our Second Generation armed forces, we are on the same road to over-extension and collapse that every other Power seeking world dominion has followed. Donald Trump ran against all of this, and won. But what the public wants counts for nothing to the Republican establishment.

The drumbeat of bad news for those who voted for Trump because they wanted reform grows louder daily. The New York Times can hardly contain its glee. On April 13 it reported that Steve Bannon, the highest-placed anti-establishment figure in the Trump administration, may be on his way out. Coming in, according to the Times, is Kevin Hassett, who will serve as head of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors and who is rabidly pro-immigration. He has denounced the Republican Party for becoming the “Party of White.” Wall Street, which wants cheap labor, will be delighted.

Just the next day, April 14, the Times reported that President Trump reversed himself on NATO. While hosting NATO’s Secretary General, President Trump said, “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.” NATO has not changed one iota since the election, and it has been obsolete and counter-productive since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

What does this massive bait-and-switch operation mean for the country’s future? In the short term, it means the Republican Party will take a huge political bath as those who have been betrayed cease voting Republican (and probably just cease voting). Both 2018 and 2020 are looking good for the Democrats, unless they nominate a black lesbian Moslem in the latter, which is always possible.

But the effects of the sell-out will only start there. The message to anti-establishment voters is that there is no hope of change through the existing political system. Anti-establishment Democrats got the same message when the party machine blocked Senator Bernie Sanders and gave the nomination to Hillary. The Sanders voters were prevented from winning. Trump’s voters won, and are now watching helplessly as their victory is stolen from them by the Republican establishment. In both cases, the message is the same: the current system has lost its legitimacy.

That system’s political strength, its closed nature, is also a fatal substantive weakness. As John Boyd, America’s greatest military theorist, often  warned, all closed systems collapse. A mindless continuation of establishment policies guarantees a cascading series of foreign policy, military, economic (i.e., a debt crisis), and political crises, which will all wrap up into one general collapse. In a Fourth Generation world, the big question is whether that multi-sided collapse will take the state itself with it.

The anti-establishment voters who elected Donald Trump, along with at least some of Sanders’ supporters, now face the strategic question of where do we go from here? How do we begin to prepare strategically for the collapse of the current closed system? Our goal–and again I include some Sanders voters–should be to preserve the state while reforming it. This election has shown that reform through the ballot box is impossible. It can only happen on a bottom-up basis, where grass roots reform movements become so powerful that they replace the current establishment, both its Democratic and its Republican wings. I think there is a way to do that, and I will discuss it in a future column.

The View From Olympus: Asleep on the Beach?

The Trump Defense department is dominated by Marines. The Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, was until recently a Marine General. His number two, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, as a Marine captain was one of my students in the seminar that put together maneuver warfare for the Marine Corps. The Chairman of the JCS, General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., is a Marine, as is his J-5 (Strategic Plans and Policy), Lt. Gen. Frank McKenzie.

All these Marines were exposed to maneuver warfare and military reform from their earliest days in the Corps onward. As the best the Marine Corps has produced, it is reasonable to think they are readers of serious military history and theory. General Mattis is notably so.

So why are we hearing nothing about military reform from any of them? So far, all the Trump administration has done in defense is add $54 billion to the budget to do more of what has not worked. Friends inside the Pentagon say it’s all just business as usual. There has not been so much as a hint of reform, a word about leading all our armed services toward Third Generation maneuver warfare.

It is not as if a well-developed agenda for military reform is lacking. That was put together in the 1980s, and most of it is relevant, mainly because we have remained as firmly stuck in the mud of Second Generation war as we were then. It begins with setting the basic components of military strength in the right order: people, ideas, and hardware. So far, DoD’s Marine leaders have continued to put hardware first with people a long way second and ideas invisible.

In personnel policy, needed reforms include vesting after ten years instead of all-or-nothing retirement at twenty; ending up-or-out promotion, and reducing the vast surplus of officers above the company grades, along with the hordes of civil servants and contractors who gum up the works. Instead, it appears that the service personnel strength increases DoD now plans will give us few if any new combat units. They merely perpetuate a personnel system that has created a Brontosaurus with three teeth.

And a brain the size of a walnut, because those Marines at the top of the system seem to have forgotten that, for about twenty years, the Marine Corps was the most intellectually innovative of our armed services. While still in uniform, General Michael Flynn testified to Congress that our problem is that we are fighting Fourth Generation wars and we have a Second Generation military. Was he the only senior official who knows this? How can Mattis, Work, Dunford, and McKenzie not know it? The Four Generations framework was first laid out in the Marine Corps Gazette in 1989. It has since echoed around the world. Did none of these Marines read it, or even hear of it? Did they all drink from the rive Lethe on assuming their current offices?

Nor is there any sign of improvement in our miserable process of weapons’ design and procurement, which continues to give us one unaffordable turkey after another, with the F-35 fighter/bomber the most egregious. President Trump himself criticized that aircraft; instead of taking advantage of his criticism to kill the program, DoD seems to have fed him the usual lies so that he now supports it.

It all brings to mind the title of the best book on the origins of World War I: The Sleepwalkers. If key DoD leaders were the usual bureaucrats and technology-hucksters, I would expect nothing else. But why are we getting business as usual from Marines? Are they asleep on the beach?

Business as usual has already given us four defeats at the hands of Fourth Generation opponents. It will give us more such defeats, plus, perhaps, defeat by state armed forces that have an OODA Loop faster than ours (and ours is glacial). With the Marine Corps now running DoD, it will bear primary responsibility, before the American people and the world, for more defeats, defeats proceeding not from what Marines did but from what they did not do. As General Hans von Seekt said, military leaders who are brilliant but who will not make decisions and act are useless. Das Wesentliche ist die Tat–the important thing is action.