Don’t hold your breath: One impediment to understanding what works and what does not work in war is an out-of-control secrecy system that clogs up DoD’s own OODA loops with over-classified needlessly compartmented information. The barriers within this system work to stretch out our own decision cycles. But, as the American strategist Colonel John Boyd showed, one of the central objectives implicit in any military strategy is to stretch out the OODA loops governing your adversary’s decision cycles. Operating inside your adversary’s OODA loops enables you to disconnect his decisions from the reality and collapse him into confusion and disorder (short explanation here, longer explanations here). So, stretching out your own loops is, ipso facto, really loopy.
The attached report by Scott Shane may seem hilarious, but it is really an outward symptom of the much deeper strategic problem posed by the compartmented nature of this self-inflicted wound. Think about the mentality that fuels a predilection to burn books that reveal harmless chickenshit details — like, for example, the widely used nickname for National Security Agency and the real name of Baghram Air Force base, a name that became well known to the entire world during the Soviet Union’s aborted occupation, or the reclassification of an unclassified citation for a bronze star medal. Is this the behaviour of decision making system that is tightly connected to its own environment and is trying to improve its performance by learning from experience? To ask this question is to answer it.
Of course, understanding how we disconnected our own decisions from reality in hot wars does not matter: The epistemological essence of a mindset ruled by the secret compartments of the military-technical revolution is that the future will be different from the past. We are leaving the hot war in Afghanistan and an intensification of the secrecy system will be necessary to extract ever larger amounts of taxpayer dollars to fund the super-secret deep strike ‘precision’ weapons which lie at the heart of the Obama’s strategic pivot to a new cold war focused on China.
By SCOTT SHANE
New York Times, January 25, 2013
WASHINGTON — In an illustration of the government’s changeable ideas of what should be secret, Pentagon censors have decided that nearly half of more than 400 passages deleted from an Afghan war memoir can be printed without damaging national security.