Today is the eleventh anniversary of Carrying the Gun.
Wow! Eleven years, huh.
Interesting that the back catalog is starting to get more traffic than the newer stuff. That wasn’t the case last year. That’s just the magic of the Google algorithm at work.
I’ve definitely settled into a better writing groove. The pieces are shorter, and the content is more focused and moving in the direction I originally intended when I relaunched. And that’s good.
Although, it seems I’ve certainly strayed from the original spirit of not blogging “about other blogs.”
If you counted the posts and categorized them, most are reactions to podcasts, which are basically audio blogs.
But that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with a little evolution.
The longer, more editorial stuff that I originally aspired to is still around. Most of it is found in external pieces. The rest can be found monthly at the top of the newsletter. Have you subscribed?
What did the past year look like?
Well, first of all, no one will ever challenge you if you write that we need to “do better” at anything. It’s also an easy way to garner attention. It’s much more difficult to find where we’re doing well.
As such, there was a string of posts late last summer as the Afghanistan withdrawal was underway tussling with “all the reasons we’re bad at irregular warfare” and some others pushing back against the common charge that “we’re getting our asses kicked in the information environment.” Also, the fact that things hit different when you can watch it in real-time. All emotion and absence of mind.
Everyone had an Afghanistan withdrawal think-piece, and I didn’t have much to add, but I fired one tiny dart into the ether trying to reconcile the 9/11 anniversary with the withdrawal. Did it matter?
I recalled a time over twenty years ago when I picked up brass with a Green Beret at a MOUT site at Fort Bragg.
I’ve basically given up on the new Star Wars universe (and the Marvel Universe for that matter). But one of my favorite scenes from the series was when Darth Vader finally flipped at the last moment? There’s always a choice.
Some of the best advice you’ll ever get – don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. It’s advice I try to live by, but don’t always succeed.
And as such, not everything was positive. As much as I try to resist, I sometimes get cynical too. Do you find yourself skeptical when someone says they are “getting after it?” It’s similar to how I feel about “threads.” It’s mostly a performance and it’s for them, not for you.
And what happens when everyone tells you to “start with why” and read Marcus Aurelius? Is that really unique knowledge or are we simply fostering groupthink?
A perennial interest of mine, there were a few posts on productivity – which was also featured prominently in a number of newsletters. In getting things done, especially when it comes to dealing with other people, you start with in-person, on the phone, and then via email – in that order. And related, there are very few things I have strong opinions on. One of those things is that “doing” email is the illusion of work. Sure, responding to email is part of a job, but with few exceptions, “doing” email is simply shuffling papers around. Have no doubt; nothing was accomplished.
We like to discuss “future war” these days. It’s fascinating that when we use the term “future war,” we kind of mean war that might happen now. I made an argument that to be effective in future war, we need to go back to what we were doing in the past – extended field training. What about leadership? What attributes do future leaders need? Are they different? Yes, a little bit I think. And we’re sure asking a lot.
Did you ever ready General DePuy’s 11 Men One Mind? It’s an infantry classic, and as relevant today as it has ever been.
Finally, future war sure seems like old war.
A friend of the blog once pontificated on Twitter: “What is something that seems like unconventional warfare but isn’t?” There is a litany of terms that are used in places where we think they make sense, but it turns out they aren’t even “real” terms or they are just being misused. It is helpful from time to time to go back to the books to see if what you think you know is what you actually know. Irregular Warfare? Real term. Hybrid Warfare? Nope. Expect to see more of this in the future.
Lots of psychology and information warfare. It all starts with the fact that “psychological” isn’t a dirty word – or at least it shouldn’t be. The primacy of video (aka ‘pics or it didn’t happen’). Smear war. When briefing, should you read off of the slide or have your audience read it themselves? I know you have a strong opinion. But there’s an actual psychological answer. Why is a lie so hard to debunk? Oh yeah, whatever you do, don’t click this link. Propaganda has no effect on you, only those other guys get duped. You’ve heard of deep fakes, but what are “shallow fakes?” They’re kind of like low-effort memes.
And I know it seems counter-intuitive, but it is behaviors that shape attitudes, and not the other way around.
Oh yeah. Lots and lots and lots of social sciences as sorcery.
And as has become the theme of this site – podcasts. There are way too many to mention, but here are the ones that got a lot of attention:
- What if the PLA doesn’t need NCOs?
- “It’s psychological warfare, just done with modern tools”
- Solid Snake Oil
Lastly, I got brave and wrote a few articles outside of CTG. This, the first, at MWI with a partner on how there is value in supporting cooperation between service-specific IO fields. The second, part two of a journey to figure out how to become a paladin. Here, an observation on observation. There are a few others out there too. And there are more on the way.
The post that I wanted to do better than it did: It has to be Social Sciences as Sorcery (and all the related posts). People don’t want to hear it, because it makes us rethink everything we’re doing. A little humility will go a long way. We don’t know it all, and thinking that if we can just get the dials right does us more harm than good.
Thanks for being here!
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