Small Wars Journal

Learning to Eat Cheerios with a Fork

Mon, 09/09/2013 - 10:09am

Move over John Nagl: "A second senior official, who has seen the most recent planning, offered this metaphor to describe such a strike: If Assad is eating Cheerios, we're going to take away his spoon and give him a fork."


Bill M.

Wed, 09/11/2013 - 3:02am

In reply to by SWJED

He killed EBO because it was complete nonsense, as he stated in his memo the military has always conducted operations to achieve effects. It was an anti-intellectual concept that further enabled micro-management despite claims the contrary. The desired effects was previously captured in a well written commander's intent statement. If we're ever going to get to mission command we need to get back to the basics where we assume our soldiers are smart enough to think on their own and not list 3-10 effects for each objective to guide them. It was only in the 90s that I recall seeing orders with poorly written intents, partly based on the assumption that the military assumed it could carve out a military specific objective that had no relevance or connectedness to anything else (political, economic, etc.); however, the answer to fix this was not EBO. It just made it worse in its own way.


Tue, 09/10/2013 - 6:32am

In reply to by tomkinton

To be fair to Mattis, he killed JFCOM's bastardization of Effects Based Operations.


Tue, 09/10/2013 - 4:04am

And since Mattis (love the sinner, hate the sin) killed EBO, nothing matters except for the prime mover's first action...........


Tue, 09/10/2013 - 4:03am

We are doomed.

See the Zinni video re. Balkans etc.... where he talks about the vagueness of these DoS terms.

Can't find it on the internet but we used it in CA course curriculum.

We are truly, as William Lederer wrote, 'A Nation of Sheep'



Mon, 09/09/2013 - 11:10pm

That metaphor is almost frightening in it's vapid stupidity

Bill M.

Tue, 09/10/2013 - 3:40am

In reply to by SWJED

Yes, but can you drink tea without a cup?

Sorry I couldn't resist, once the stupidity starts it triggers a compelling urge to join in the fray.

I'm convinced strategy development and operational planning is largely a lost art, but at the tactical level we can kick butt until we get tired and decide to go home.


Mon, 09/09/2013 - 9:57pm

In reply to by Mark O'Neill

Yep. Why do the hard stuff if you can sound-bite. BTW, as an experiment, I ate a bowl of Cheerios today with a fork;-) Worked quite well, enough milk had soaked into the cereal and... I guess NSA provided the intel on Assad's breakfast meal of choice.

Mark O'Neill

Mon, 09/09/2013 - 8:11pm

No wonder the policy debate about Syria has been so sensible... It is being run by people who think Assad eats Cheerios. No need for design here... we really understand this environment. Just like '03.