Small Wars Journal

The Whole Enchilada

"The Slide"

Dynamic Planning for COIN in Afghanistan - The Entire Brief

And a blast from last year by our good friend LCol John Malevich at the COIN Center.


Eugnid (not verified)

Sun, 05/02/2010 - 8:53pm

Sooooo, unemployed taxpayer's lunch money goes on a PowePoint to show the onvious to Command...that Afghan War is complex....or maybe command needed to see it this way to realize it? Is that it?

But isn't it true that if you tell officers that it's complex they overheat and seize? Don't they need that "Let's go! It's that simple" to function? Isn't that what the "Whiz Kids" were saying about them, per the LBJ files? Sometimes the other slides don't count as, according to Woodward, when the slide for the White House back at the start read:THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX-- POISON AFGHANISTAN'S WATER AND CROPS...that sure made things simple!

Wargames Mark

Sun, 05/02/2010 - 5:35pm

My take on this slide when I first saw it was that it was meant to illustrate that the situation in Afghanistan is complex. That's it. Nothing else.

However, the Comedy Channel "Afghanistanland" spoof (which used the slide) was hilarious.

I have yet to see a single PowerPoint slide made my ANYONE in the military which was well put together. Every single one of them has had way too much information. There are a couple of other programs in Microsoft Office. One of them is Word (ahem,ahem).

That may be the whole slide deck, but it's not the whole brief. The brief includes a speech (or maybe a document), which we don't have.

I can kind of keep track of it for the first four, maybe five slides (and this includes the title slide, by the way), but after that, I have no idea how all of these fit together.

Eugnid (not verified)

Sun, 05/02/2010 - 1:53pm

Bravo Dave! WAR teaches you that there are infinite ways to kill a man and infinite squared ways to lose. But reading the slick military literature one noted far more verbal thug brawn that debater's brains!

The recent "unconventional war" debate leaves one with lower jaw flapping. Would you grade "A" or "D" such papers in a Community College? And what about that thuggish pomposity while admitting that they as "experts" on the other side of the Potomac of the river ADMITTED BY THEMSEVES have rendered the issue into the realm of absurd?

Thats the nice thing about the Internet. If youre willing to pay for the space you can see your name in lights--it might even get you a cushy job as a scribe for some general running for president.

Anyone professing to be an "intellectual" or an "expert" is suspect in my humble opinion. We can merely be students of war and conflict (whether conventional, hybrid, or irregular and all of the above) striving to understand and make sense of the complex situation in which we find ourselves while developing the best strategies and campaign plans to achieve our nation's objectives - Students still learning because the complex situations are ever evolving.

Eugnid (not verified)

Sun, 05/02/2010 - 1:19pm

There are so many problems with this diagram. It smacks of entering a chemistry exam without having done your homework. The elements and their prosperities-- the "stuff" that dictates the interactions-- is hazy at best so one makes stuff up. Here the nodes and the paths to those nodes are all a schematic based on something, as Mao put it, "that looks good," but alas doesn't "taste good" because you wouldn't see stuff like this if it were not an attempt to stay employed in a severe recession or trying to demonstrate that "my" war is not just how badly it is going but was conceptually sound when first conceived. The trouble with this diagram is that it smacks of Rumsfeld Era when everything was kicking the other guy in the knee and waiting until he fell to keep constantly kicking him in the head while he's down. That's no way to win a debate. Nor is a diagram that needs to be perceived in whole but that makes the text size to fit it in visual field unreadable--deliberately to make the reader "brain blind." But then, as a consumer of military literature one has this feeling that one "just cranks it out" and lets rank give it validity by force majeur!

Yet there's a certain inferiority complex that seems to jump at you when authors of these slick military journals and pamphlets keep using words like "intellectual" over and over again as clubs with which to bludgeon their readers, to deride others and then equivocate to the point that they are at the level of a blank page except that now they've created a lot of scribbled litter. So, well, duh, we've got to say something....And so the old myth of the 60s, when the anti-intellectualism of the 50s had passed and "intellectual" was assumed to be intricate and incomprehensible. But that's from the outside, not from the inside. It would be nice if the Pentagoners now so well endowed reached out to what's left of McNamara's "whiz kids" and asked them what they think of this crop of colonels' scribblings. Is it bureaucratize like this PowerPoint or is it substantial like the quantification that, believe it or not, makes understanding what went wrong in Vietnam understandable?

Bob's World

Sun, 05/02/2010 - 10:08am

Dave, ditto.

At PASOC a few years back a guy schooled in this techinque was very excited to draw one of these connecting a bunch of similar common-sense facts about the Pacific with swoopy lines. I wasn't smart enough then to pull anything of value from it, and I apparently haven't evolved much.


And the "so what" is???? It is not the whole enchilada until it provides something useful. Everything in these charts is basic and little more than common sense. How do these charts help planners, decision makers, policy makers or practioners on the ground? None of this is new or ground breaking information. What are we supposed to get from this? Everything send in these charts could have been said in a much simpler way but then again, "so what"? And how much of our tax money went to the firm that produced these charts?