Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Published Airpower Journal - Winter 1998
|An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.|
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security edited by David S. Alberts and Thomas J. Czerwinski. National Defense University Press, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C. 20319, 1997, 381 pages.
Complexity theory is something that business and science have been using for quite some time, but the theory has only recentlysince the end of the cold warbeen used by national security strategists. Complexity theory is used to investigate systems and the behavior of the dynamics of nonlinear systems. Most Air Force readers will recognize the observation, orientation, decision, action (OODA) loop of John Boyd fame.
This book is a collection of essays presented at a National Defense University conference on complexity theoryor chaos theory as it is sometimes called. The presenters include Alan Beyerchen, an Ohio State University professor who has spent years examining Clausewitz in nonlinear ways and demonstrating that Clausewitz is as valid today as he was in his own time; Zbigniew Brzezinski, who discusses worldviews; and Murray Gell-Mann, the founder and most prolific writer of complexity theory. In all, 11 articles are presented, and the reader gets an excellent understanding and overview of the theory, as well as realistic and current themes that show the utility of the theory.
Zbigniew Brzezinskis piece, which points out that the world cannot function without the United States, lays out a variety of policy options that all require American leadership. In addition to supporting Russia, he feels that the United States needs to pick two other republics which may not yet be democratic to maintain access and force the Russians to operate in a democratic way. In addition to the Ukraine, these two would be Azerbaijan and Uzbekistanthe latter because it is the core of an independent Central Asia and that is in the interest of the United States, and Azerbaijan because it provides access to Central Asia and the United States should not allow the Iranians and Russians to operate in collusion and prevent the United States that access. While there are other points he deals with, ranging from weapons proliferation to a united Europe, the avoidance of large-scale social collapse raises some real long-term policy problems. Mexico is the country he has chosen, and his arguments seem not only to be sound but based on current reality inside that Central American country. In addition, he urges that the United States government finally (after 50 years) establish an effective, global, political planning mechanismnot another bureaucracy, since national strategy and policy are not being planned at any level within the White House.
After the end of the cold war, James Rosenau writes that if there are enemies to be contested, challenges to be met, dangers to avoid, and responses to be launched, we are far from sure what they are. At the core of the complexity theory is a complex adaptive systemnot a cluster of unrelated activities but a systemwith unfamiliar feedback loops, and it is here that complete theory helps a participant to grasp the system. The role of the policy maker is not to understand the systemwhether it is domestic or internationalbut to master it, and it is here in the post-cold-war era where most have failed. Steven Mann, writing about the current international system, points out that we are in an environment in which unperfected transformations lead to constant change in the international environmentwitness Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Central Africa, and Chechnya.
The cornerstone of this collection of essays is Beyerchens work on Clausewitz; the key here is that Clausewitz understood political participation as a stimulus for exercise of, and constraint upon, power. Using his great knowledge of German, Beyerchen examines key parts of On War and points out that politics and military action interact in a complex, continual feedback process. War cannot be a linear system since it does not behave predictablyhence Clausewitzs reference to the friction of war. This shows that war, even as Clausewitz understood it in his time, was not linear but complex. Thus, complexity theory is the appropriate way to study war. By thinking about this nonlinearity, one can design a more robust system of analysis, allowing the military to adapt to the twenty-first century.
Other writers take up the theme that as the world moves to a knowledge-based society involving the production, dissemination, storage, and use of information, we are entering an era of rapid change. If institutions and business patterns of the industrial era fall to the side, so must national security doctrine and the way the Pentagon prepares for war. One of the more controversial points is to leapfrog an entire generation of weapons systems to develop one to fight this new wave of warfare, which currently no one has been able to definenot in this book either. Speed, agility, synergy, information dominance, and lethal, long-range precision strike are cornerstones of this revolution in military affairs. Given budgetary shortfalls, doctrinal differences, and the unlikelihood of a major upsurge in defense spending, leapfrogging is viewed as the only viable alternative to obsolescence of the Department of Defense.
Readers of this book should have some background in complexity theory and its uses in national security, since the essay writers assume some fundamental knowledge. Theories are in vogue in the Pentagon, so staff officers and defense planners may find this collection a useful primer.
Capt Gilles Van Nederveen, USAF
RAF Waddington, United Kingdom
Lady GI: A Womans War in the South Pacific by Irene J. Brion. Presidio Press, 505B San Marin Drive, Suite 300, Novato, California 94945-1340, 1997, $18.95.
A Piece of My Heart: The Stories of 26 American Women Who Served in Vietnam by Keith Walker. Presidio Press, 505B San Marin Drive, Suite 300, Novato, California 94945-1340, 1997, $15.95.
I initially perceived that World War II memories were happier than Vietnam memories and wondered why. I surmised three possible reasons: (1) more time had passed since World War II; (2) World War II was a more popular war, and (3) Vietnam was a different type of war. In A Piece of My Heart, a variety of womennurses as well as United Service Organizations (USO) and Red Cross workers reported trauma from their experience. This was the general theme until I read Doris Allens story. Doris was a Womens Army Corps (WAC) intelligence operator. Her story of Vietnam read similarly to Irenes as a cryptanalyst from World War II.
Ms. Brions memoir reminded me that some things never change about military life. Her latrine queen and white-collar bed stories were timeless. Although Brions memoir speaks largely of pleasant things, she does address some of the hardships of being a woman in a service geared entirely for men. For instance, the women had no PX available to them and had to rely upon male soldiers and packages from home to provide sundry items and basic toiletries. Although Brion does not discuss problems she encountered after separating from the service, she alludes to them in her closing paragraph. I wonder if her story would be similar to those of the Piece of My Heart interviewees?
Keith Walker, in A Piece of My Heart, collates taped or written conversations with women who served in Vietnam as Army and Navy nurses, Army WACs, American Red Cross workers, USO workers, entertainers, International Catholic Voluntary Services and Catholic Relief Services workers, American Friends Service Committee workers, Armed Forces Radio show workers, and civilian airline flight attendants. Most people are not aware that 15,000 women served in Vietnam. Most people probably do not consider the carnage encountered daily by hospital workers in a war zone. The competency and ingenuity someone develops when working in that environment, day in and day out, rise to the level of doing what must be done to save a life. No one prepared them to deal with returning to a peacetime environment. Many of them encountered problems with supervisors because they exceeded the bounds of what they were authorized to perform in a civilian environmentthey had problems readjusting to the office politics of working in a civilian hospital.
For several years, I wondered why Vietnam vets couldnt just get over it and move on. Several years ago, I asked a friend who had served in Vietnam why that was. He replied that the age of people serving in Vietnam ranged from late teens to early twenties. During World War II, the average age was in the late twenties. That five-to-10-year gap made a big difference in how they were able to deal with their experiences. The experiences of the older group were no less traumatic, but they had more coping tools available to them. Someone in Walkers book addresses the issue of modern air travel as a contributing factor. In World War II, troops were moved by transport ship. When they were returning, they had up to two months to sit around, talk to each other, and decompress. After Vietnam, the airplane made it possible for a combat veteran to leave a combat zone in the morning and be in downtown San Francisco less than 48 hours later. I suspect that cultural and political changes also played a role.
Finally, pre- and postdeparture preparation was nonexistent. How could we adequately prepare someone for the shock of mangled bodies flowing nonstop into a triage area? A benefit from the techniques learned in Vietnam was civilian shock trauma centers such as the one in Baltimore. Im acquainted with the life-saving qualities afforded by Baltimores shock trauma configuration. As a San Antonio resident, Im also aware of the benefits of trauma centers at Wilford Hall and Brooke Army Medical Center to both military medical teams and the community.
Ms. Brions book enlightens the reader to one womans experience in the WAC during World War II. Informative and interesting, she has produced a well-written, readable book. I couldnt put it down and finished it quickly. I enjoyed comparing her experiences to my own and noting not only how things have changed since World War II, but how they have remained the same. Walkers book contains much more pain and is less enjoyable reading. Since its divided into 26 chapters, its easy to read a segment at a time. I recommended it to a military nurse friend of mine. Both books are useful for gaining perspective.
Capt Jean Schara, USAF
Bronx, New York
Hit My Smoke! Forward Air Controllers in Southeast Asia by Jan Churchill. Sunflower University Press, 1531 Yuma, Manhattan, Kansas 66505-1009, 1997, 220 pages, $41.95.
Mission accomplished! Jan Churchill succeeds in this attempt to tell the reader what it was like to be a forward air controller (FAC). Admittedly not a rigorous history, this is a documentary tale of the men who flew low and slow over Southeast Asia, searching for targets to mark for destruction. Virtually every air strike in Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam had FAC direction. In this theater, the FAC became the de facto local air commander.
The books large format accommodates over one hundred photographs of people, places, and fighting machines. Medal of Honor wearer George Bud Day provides an introduction, and the book offers a historical background. Tales from people who were there dominate these pages and add authenticity, even if the reader dismisses some of the melodrama. Common threads of sweat and danger link the stories across the evolving war years when the FACs flew. Just at the point where the war stories begin to sound alike, the author shifts to another facet of the busy FAC mission.
Churchill devotes a chapter to the machines flown by FACs. The list includes several unlikely craft, although the O-1, O-2, and OV-10 predominate. One chapter tells of Raven FACs, who operated in blue jeans from unmarked airplanes with a high casualty rate in the secret war in Laos. Still another section focuses on fast FACs. In each case, there is a story of pushing and sometimes exceeding limits. Ironically, in order to find targets, FACs frequently had to present themselves as targets.
Authenticity also emerges from Churchills recognition of the horrendous weather phenomena, searing heat, and thick jungle cover that challenged every FAC. The author demonstrates her grasp of a fundamental driving factor: FACs fought hard for each other and for their brothers on the ground. She even touches on careerism, which grew among more senior participants later in the war. She describes frequent FAC clashes with other Air Force subcultures.
Toward the end, the author provides the moving stories of Capt Hilliard Wilbanks and 1st Lt Steven L. Bennett, two FACs who received the Medal of Honor posthumously. There is an appendix containing actual FAC training manuals and a decent bibliography.
Hit My Smoke! is a good bedside companion. Portions contain enough detail to hold as a reference. This book belongs on the shelf with other tomes of what really happened in the war.
Col James E. Roper, USAF, Retired
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Citizen Warriors: Americas National Guard and Reserve Forces & the Politics of National Security by Stephen M. Duncan. Presidio Press, 505B San Marin Drive, Suite 300, Novato, California 94945-1340, 1997, 317 pages, $24.95 (cloth).
If generals always prepare for the last war, Stephen Duncan deserves a star. As assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, he was in the middle of the first (the only) test of the total-force conceptOperations Desert Shield/Storm. Because the war was successful, he argues, we should learn from it and reestablish our forces as they were on that occasion. Perhaps so; probably not.
Citizen Warriors has potential as a major study of the effectiveness of the reserve structure and missions established in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Veterans of Vietnam, determined that never again would American forces fight without public opinion in their corner, created an active force incapable of fighting a war without the help of citizen soldiers. This book has promise, due to the authors inside position, to present major insights into the politicsinternal and externalof Desert Shield/Storm. We should be able to learn much about the new model Army and its Vietnam-wary commanders, charged with first containing the aggressor and then liberating the victim. We shouldand to an extent, we do.
Duncan is a veteran of Vietnam, a long-time reservist, a Republican, an advocate of a strong and cheap defense, and a bureaucrat. He is not shy about taking credit for improvement. Nor is he reluctant to point out shortcomings in the reserve forces and to explain why he could not overcome those weaknesses. He notes, legitimately, that training on high-tech weapons takes more time than the weekender normally has, that training in large group maneuvers is completely different from small-unit training, and that mission shifts create the need for changes in skills without providing the time to acquire proficiency. He makes a case against using his citizen soldiers without long postmobilization training; he demonstrates their incapability for rapid mobilization into combat. He is careful to point out that one selling point of reserves is that they are cheaper than active duty forces, but the trade-off for economy is a force less skilled and less capable of fighting without additional individual and unit training. Duncan sees both sides of the issue and understands the generals reluctance to use round-out brigades in combat and their lukewarm appreciation for the citizen soldier.
Duncan ably treats the back-and-forth of the deliberate preparation for the war. He discusses the bureaucratic memo writing, the meetings, and the press conferences. He addresses the legal process in Congress and the courts. He shows above all that there remains a great deal of preoccupation in Washington, D.C., with minutiae better addressed at lower levels. He talks of the endless details of taking care of dependents, personal matters, and, occasionally, the troopsmore than a half million of them moving thousands of miles into a war zone without infrastructure but with an enemy force the fourth largest in the world.
Then we win. The war itself is almost an afterthought, as Duncan shifts quickly to his prescription for the future. Having won the Republican way, he doesnt like the Clinton approach of downsizing, sending the reserves out on new domestic missions, and so forth. He fails to note that the war in the sand was a fluke, an anomalous coming together of conditions for one last set piece, the mobile technology of Rommel and Guderian against the mind-set of the Maginot Line, which in 1940 was the ultimate preparation for World War I. He also ignores that the victory was less complete than first reported, the weapons less effective, and the enemy less lethal. And he ignores the sad reality that there will be no more multi-trillion-dollar arms races. No more will we test and manufacture almost simultaneously and hang the expense. Duncan notes that the militia concept was obsolete long before Lexington and Concord. He might consider that nothing has changed.
Dr. John H. Barnhill
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
|A fanatic is one who cant change his mind and wont change the subject.|
Sir Winston Churchill
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
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