The following spaghetti diagram has been making the round of Versailles … it purports to summarize the strategy for winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans. But this is just the tip of the systems dynamics iceberg. This diagram is based on an attempt to model the non linear feedbacks implied in General Petraeus’s Counter Insurgency Manual, FM 3-24. I do not know whether this is the product of a contractor or the military, the author of the technique was a Navy officer in 2008, but this is 2010 and the graphic has a contractor logo.
The author of the famous Afghan Spaghetti diagram is Navy Capt Brett Pierson, who worked on the JCS staff in the Pentagon. Pierson’s bis is, reproduced below:
“Captain Brett Pierson is a 1987 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1989. Fleet assignments have included VS-38, VS-33, and a command tour as the Commanding Officer of VFA-147. He has been deployed in support of Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, RESTORE HOPE, and IRAQI FREEDOM. Brett is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and was named the 1997 FORCE Test Pilot of the Year and 2002 USAF TPS Outstanding Flight Instructor. Captain Pierson has over 650 carrier arrested landings and 3,500 flight hours in 50 different aircraft. In December 2006 he reported to the Pentagon for duty on the Joint Staff where he currently serves in the Warfighting Analysis Division of J8. While on the Joint Staff, he was awarded the 2007 DoD Modeling and Simulation Award for Excellence for his work developing a system dynamics model of counterinsurgency based on the Army Field Manual FM 3-24.”
Reference A: System Dynamics and Coin Modeling 2010
Reference B: Afghanistan Dynamic Planning
The intellectual framework in the preceding briefing was then tailored specifically for Afghanistan in a the brief that culminated in the famous spaghetti Diagram. That brief is attached here. Note the explanatory comments are more in the manner of hypothecated assertions rather than empirically derived relationships.
For those of you who think these spaghetti diagrams reflect a new or innovative way of thinking about systems I refer you to the following figure of the comm links in Europe that were being designed in the mid 1970s to deal with a Soviet led attack on the Nato countries in Western Europe — the chart was produce in the mid-to-late 1970s and reached the four star level in the Air Force. The figure was later reproduced in my book, Defense Facts of Life: The Plans Reality Mismatch (Westview 1985).
This Powerpoint Briefing is the dynamics model of FM-24, the Counterinsurgency Manual for which Pierson one the award in 2007. It is converted into PDF format for easier access.
Phi Beta Iota: All of the above is earnest, well-intentioned, even brilliant in its conceptualization–like the movie Top Gun–it’s wonderful right up to the point where it crashes and burns from its complete disconnect from reality. USA does not have the collection, processing, analysis, or decision-making capacity to leverage any of these concepts. The ONLY way to get this right is to start with integrity in the first place (don’t send our troops in harm’s way based on lies, ideology, and treasonous misappropriation of the public purse), and to have hundreds of thousands of human brains that are trained, equipped, and organized for multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, and multidomain information sharing and sense-making (M4IS2) without regard to secrecy, technology, or money. The US Government is, in one word, stupid, at the same time that its leadership (both political and professional) is completely lacking in integrity.