Discrete Paths

Larry Dunbar • ” It doesn’t account for incumbent (defender) advantage over new entries (attackers).”

If we pretend for a moment that the OODA loop is different than the OODA process, and say that the OODA process is mostly structured as a series of time-steps, while the OODA loop is structured as a parallel circuit, with discrete paths running parallel with each other. Under this pretence, the advantage Venkatesh Rao is talking about is running on a different, but parallel, path than the example you talk about.

Rao’s advantage is in the structure path of the loop, while your advantage (the advantage of the incumbent) is on the path I label D&C,(Destruction and Construction) after Boyd’s concept.

Although I believe that the math in Rao’s concept is flawed, the concept follows the strategic path.

The strategic path deals with structure, or form, that the loop will eventually take, and because Rao’s concept deals with structure (“executive decision” function) there is definitely an exponent. The exponent represents the structure of the loop and the exponent is the advantage of his concept.

The path of D&C does not have a exponent. Although D&C deals a lot with the culture of the loop which has an exponent, the model of the D&C path only says C=-D, so C+D=0.

In your example C+D did not equal zero, and that is the advantage of the incumbent.

In other words, if the incumbent force is in command of D&C, the advantage it has is the normal fact that the insurgency that is trying to control the D&C is never able to have complete command of the logic in the D&C, which leaves the OODA loop with a serial circuit.

This means the loop is left partially “open” in series.

I am not sure this is bad.

While it leaves open a path the “winner” doesn’t really want to leave open, the advantage represents growth (a well known growth) and, possibly, another way out, if your loop goes horribly wrong.

What’s Boyd say about that? If you are not will or unable to take the necessary steps to win, then you need to switch sides?

So while Rao’s strategy is trying to tear up structure, with the fight between who is in command on the straight-aways and who is in control at the corners, the incumbent advantage is leaving a door open, just in case Rao has his math wrong.

A Successful Landing

Much of Hector’s success in building a manufactured home that will withstand a drop from 10 feet has to do with the crossing of a quantum amount of energy across a gap into another dimension.

From my study of Boyd’s work with the OODA loop, I have determined that there is only one “way” into the next dimension, but 3 paths. So, while you may not agree with the “way” into another dimension, you still have to follow all 3 paths at the same time. So now the game gets interesting.

OODAAs the diagram shows the next dimension is perpendicular to the Past and Future and there are three ways across the gap between the Past and Future. If you guys can’t get it, go virtual.

It should be noted that when you are in the gap, you are in another dimension, so these paths across the gap between the Past and Future are very important.

At least they are important if you believe in another dimension–a dimension somewhere between heaven and hell, perhaps.

I am thinking that an answer to that question is worth looking into.

The Missing Operational Level

CAAT and Red Team

ISAF has a Counter Insurgency Assistance and Advisory Team (CAAT) as an in-theater think tank about the conduct of COIN. This CAAT could provide the vital link between the conduct of the campaign and the appropriate theory and doctrine behind COIN, in order to point out the lack of a cohesive operational plan. Instead, the CAAT conducts courses for low level coalition force commanders in COIN tactics, as noted above. This is no doubt influenced by the conclusion that COIN, in its current conception, is only a tactic, lacking an operational aspect. CAAT thus becomes a lessons learned and teaching center for tactical level COIN.

The red team, of which one is attached to IJC, analyzes operational plans in order to identify critical and decisive points, and to point out those where the risk or the consequence is highest. The analysis of the plan is still based on the soundness of the general plan and concept, not questioning the approach as a whole, but rather identifying the points of severe risk. All analysis is based on the premise that assumptions and facts of the original order are correct. The Red Team can thus not alter or suggest changes and flaws in the overall campaign concept, but only point at individual parts of the plan that are associated with risk or grave consequence at failure. This stays well in line with the rest of IJC focus on singular efforts and tactical level operations.

Where the CAAT and the Red Team effectively could have provided a sanity check to the overall concept, or pointing out the lack of cohesion in plan and the lacking overall operational plan, it becomes, rather as the rest of IJC, predominantly focused on individual, isolated efforts.

Not only a “sanity check”, but the gaming between the CAAT and the Red Team (which is really what the above article is talking about) produces a re-orientation of anyone Observing.

The Destruction, caused by the feed-forward of critical and decisive points not Observed by CAAT, by the Red Team, combines with theConstruction, caused by feed-back of the advantage observed by the Red Team, by CAAT’s Action of  re-orienting to that advantage (the D&C in the OODA loop).

As the above narrative in quotes is telling us that there is no reorientation by CAAT in the environment of the game. My guess is that this is not a mistake, but a tactic.

In other words, the Small Wars Journal isn’t explaining a flaw in the plan, but a tactic in the strategy of those Observing the environment of the war.

For whatever the reason, those observing don’t want the CAAT to reorient. This tactic (of limiting the Destruction and Construction in the processing of the OODA loop) is a way of controlling reorientation in the operation of the war.

via The Missing Operational Level | Small Wars Journal.