Experience vs Theory

Experience vs Theory

Postby BornCryppie » Thu May 07, 2015 3:45 pm

Hello, all! I have a JPME-inspired question for you big brains in the room.


When looking at these classical strategic thinkers, most of them discuss the balance between experience, theory, and strategy. One of the critical issues we face today is that revolutions in military affairs are happening at a faster rate than have wars with opponents exercising technological parity. In fact, I believe the last time the US faced a techonogically competent adversary in one of the traditional domains (i.e. land, sea, air), really, was probably WWII, so actual experience against technologically advanced potential adversaries outside of the cyber/information domain is lacking. Thus, our strategies have been developed for these potential conflicts completely absent of empirical data.

Also, consider Clausewitz's assessment that "only the experienced officer will make the right decision in major and minor battles at every pulsebeat of war," and that "theories ... must stick to categories of phenomena and can never take account of a truly unique case; this must be left to judgment and talent."

Opinion Question:
Is our community spending more time on developing strategy in a void against a limited-scope (cyber) adversary and neglecting the SELECTION and TRAINING of experienced officers who have the judgment and talent to conduct integrated warfare against a traditional, but highly technologically advanced adversary?

Since I believe this question leads down a well-trodden rabbit hole, I'll also ask a different question:
Within our current structure, what books and resources would you all recommend to learn IW theory and history in order to refine a young officer's judgment and talent?
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Re: Experience vs Theory

Postby COMEVIL » Fri May 08, 2015 10:14 am

BornCryppie wrote:Since I believe this question leads down a well-trodden rabbit hole, I'll also ask a different question:
Within our current structure, what books and resources would you all recommend to learn IW theory and history in order to refine a young officer's judgment and talent?

Regarding books, shamelessly stolen from another thread that has since gone dry, and still a work in progress...

- Leadership and ethics

-- Front Burner: Al Qaeda's Attack on the USS Cole by Kirk Lippold

"On October 12, 2000, eleven months before the 9/11 attacks, the USS Cole docked in the port of Aden in Yemen for a routine fueling stop. At 1118, on a hot, sunny morning, the 8,400-ton destroyer was rocked by an enormous explosion. The ship?s commander, Kirk Lippold, felt the ship violently thrust up and to the right, as everything not bolted down seemed to float in midair. Tiles tumbled from the ceiling, and the ship was plunged into darkness, beginning to sink. In a matter of moments Lippold knew that the Cole had been attacked. What he didn?t know was how much the world was changing around him."

-- Halsey's Typhoon: The True Story of a Fighting Admiral, an Epic Storm, and an Untold Rescue by Robert Drury and Tom Clavin

"Halsey?s Typhoon is the story of World War II?s most unexpected disaster at sea. In the final days of 1944, Admiral William ?Bull? Halsey is the Pacific theater?s most popular and colorful naval hero. After a string of victories, the ?Fighting Admiral? and his thirty-thousand-man Third Fleet are charged with protecting General MacArthur?s flank during the invasion of the Philippine island of Mindoro. But in the midst of the landings, Halsey attempts a complicated refueling maneuver and unwittingly drives his 170 ships into the teeth of a massive typhoon. Halsey?s men find themselves battling 90-foot waves and 150 mph winds?amid the chaos, three ships are sunk and nearly nine hundred sailors and officers are swept into the Philippine Sea. For three days, small bands of survivors battle dehydration, exhaustion, sharks, and the elements awaiting rescue at the hands of the courageous lieutenant commander Henry Lee Plage, who, defying orders, sails his tiny destroyer escort, the USS Tabberer, back into the storm to rescue drifting sailors. Halsey?s Typhoon is a gripping true tale of courage and survival against impossible odds?and one of the finest untold World War II sagas of our time."

- Strategy

- Organizational behavior

-- The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin

The old saying is wrong?winners do quit, and quitters do win. Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point?really hard, and not much fun at all. And then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle. Maybe you?re in a Dip?a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it?s really a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try.

-- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as enthralling and instructive as his first two best-selling books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. This time, he turns his keen intellect and storytelling power to the fascinating, complex world of teams. Kathryn Petersen, Decision Tech's CEO, faces the ultimate leadership crisis: Uniting a team in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. Will she succeed? Will she be fired? Will the company fail? Lencioni's utterly gripping tale serves as a timeless reminder that leadership requires as much courage as it does insight. Throughout the story, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.

- Turn the Ship Around: How to Create Leadership at Every Level by David Marquet

Stephen Covey inspired millions with his writings but where did Dr. Covey get his inspiration? This is the story of one such source, one that Dr. Covey himself called the most empowered organization he had ever seen - and a nuclear powered submarine no less. From the vantage point of the commander of the USS Santa Fe, read how the crew completely turned the ship around, going from worst to first by questioning many of our basic leadership assumptions and shifting from take-control authority to give-control empowerment. Share the author's insights as the crew gains unprecedented decision making authority, the risks of doing so, and the reward of an exponentially more effective and more resilient organization.

- Technical competency

- IDC History

-- Joe Rochefort's War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway [Hardcover] by Elliot Carlson

Elliot Carlson s biography of Capt. Joe Rochefort is the first to be written of the officer who headed the U.S. Navy s decrypt unit at Pearl Harbor and broke the Japanese Navy s code before the Battle of Midway. The book brings Rochefort to life as the irreverent, fiercely independent, and consequential officer that he was. Readers share his frustrations as he searches in vain for Yamamoto s fleet prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but share his joy when he succeeds in tracking the fleet in early 1942 and breaks the code that leads Rochefort to believe Yamamoto s invasion target is Midway. His conclusions, bitterly opposed by some top Navy brass, are credited with making the U.S. victory possible and helping change the course of the war. The author tells the story of how opponents in Washington forced Rochefort s removal from the decrypt unit at Pearl and denied him the Distinguished Service Medal recommended by Admiral Nimitz. In capturing the interplay of policy and personality and the role played by politics at the highest levels of the Navy, Carlson reveals a side of the intelligence community seldom seen by outsiders.
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