Defense and the National Interest

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Final report from the 2007 Boyd Conference; Summary by Chet Richards and Don Vandergriff

NPR interview, "A Marine Brings International Ballet to Maine." Listen to this story... by Joshua Gleason

Read the press release from the Bossov Ballet's recent trip to St. Petersburg, Russia (17 KB PDF).


Machines don't fight wars. People do, and they use their minds. - Col John R. Boyd

Military action is important to the nation—it is the ground of death and life, the path of survival and destruction,  so it is imperative to examine it. - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

March 13, 2006

Did you know that we are spending as much on defense as we did during the height of the Cold War? Yet many of our military leaders tell us they don't have enough money and that we need to buy more modern and expensive weapons to assure our national security.

Are they right? It is true that many of our current weapons were designed in the 1970s (or earlier—most of the C-130 transports flown by the active-duty Air Force fought in Vietnam). And our fighting men and women deserve the tools they need to do their jobs with minimum loss of life. On the other hand, most of our new fighters and ships were designed to defeat weapons that might have been fielded by the Soviet Union. There is no reason to believe that they will prove any more effective than their predecessors in the emerging "fourth generation warfare" that has caused us such problems in places like Vietnam, Somalia, the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center and that appears to be evolving in Iraq.

Senior administration officials are openly complaining that costs of honoring commitments to veterans are hurting their ability to fund massive weapons programs [Wall St. J., 25 Jan 2005.]  To pay for these new weapons, the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget have proposed a number of cuts in other accounts, including funding for veterans and military families. Recent proposals include closing some commissaries and dependent schools, cutting spending on nursing care for veterans, tripling the costs that retirees pay for generic medicines, and imposing $250 annual enrollment fees on veterans.

New: Most recently, the administration has proposed a 4.3% reduction in provider reimbursements for TRICARE and Medicare (which affects TRICARE for Life participants) and cuts totaling 26% over the next six years.  The proposed cuts would further reduce the number of providers willing to accept these programs for military families, veterans, and retirees. [Military Officer, August 2005, p. 30]  For more information, please contact the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).

People, Ideas, and Hardware

"In that order!" the late Col John R. Boyd, USAF, would thunder at his audiences. Modern history offers few counter examples to his trinity of effectiveness. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and the first Intifada all followed his pattern. Discouraged by the Pentagon's emphasis on machines over people and ideas, our best warriors and commanders are leaving in unprecedented numbers.

Defense and the National Interest is intended to be a resource for all citizens concerned with the roles of armed forces in the modern world, the money and people we devote to them, and the effects on the rest of our society.  Is the pressure to preserve programs and facilities, for example, having a corrosive effect on our national ethos?  Please send us your feedback via our contact page.

For Boyd's complete Discourse on Winning and Losing, along with articles and commentaries, please visit our Boyd and Military Strategy page.  If your organization would be interested in hearing the briefings from Boyd's discourse and in discussions about their application, J. Addams & Partners handles bookings for Dr. Richards.

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Latest Posts

DNI moving to new blog format!

12/1/07 Join us at, where we'll be posting most of our new material from now on.  This site will continue mainly as an archive and to hold larger files like PPTs and videos.  See you over there.

1/20/08 Adaptive Leadership Conference, March 19, 2008.

1/03/08 Destabilizing the Islamic World, by Gabriel Kolko.  An excerpt from the book Another Century of War?  Lends new meaning to the term "prescience."

11/28/07 On War #241: In the Fox’s Lair, by William S. Lind

11/28/07 Night of the Lone Wolves, by Adam Elkus.  Super-empowered individuals can do a lot of damage, but the rest of us aren't exactly helpless.

11/24/07 Will A Strategic Bombing Campaign Defeat Iran? by Chuck Spinney.  Given our history, the course of an air war against Iran is easy to predict.

11/18/07 Thinking About and Training for Long Wars, by Wilbur J. Scott, David R. McCone, and George R. Mastroianni, Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership, United States Air Force Academy.  Field experiences of two units from Ft. Carson, CO. Presentation (2.1 MB PDF) and paper (99 KB PDF).

11/18/07 DNI Editor Chet Richards has started a blog.

11/13/07 The paperback edition of Frans Osinga's Science, Strategy and War is also available on Amazon.  If they're out, you can always order from the publisher.

11/13/07 On War #240: Cops Who Think, by William S. Lind

11/13/07 Two from Martin van Creveld:

Reprinted with the kind permission of The Forward

11/12/07 Frans Osinga's study of Boyd, Science, Strategy and War, is now available in paperback for $35.95.

11/08/07 Fabius is rolling on his new blog.  His latest topic:  Is money is the new heavy artillery in a 4GW world?  If so, we're starting to look a lot like August 1914.  "The situation is unstable on many levels. Massive accumulated tensions, waiting for the weak link to snap. It could be anything, something trivial."

11/06/07 More answers about Peak Oil! (or just better phrased questions).  Part II of Fabius Maximus's series on Peak Oil - on Fab Max's new blog - check it out.  A couple of common myths.

11/03/07 The Guns of August, by Adam Elkus.  The sniper as a strategic weapon of fourth generation warfare.

11/01/07 On War #239: A Question for Would-Be Presidents, By William S. Lind

11/01/07 When will global oil production peak? Here is the answer!  First of Fabius Maximus's new series on Peak Oil.   Robert Hirsch's latest analysis [10/23/07 below] shows that peak oil is on the way; Fabius shows how you can determine when.

10/28/07 One step beyond Lind: What is America’s geopolitical strategy? Part X of Fabius Maximus's series on America's Long War. Can we have an effective grand strategy?  In theory, yes.

10/25/07 Light Infantry.  Another manual in the 4GW series by the Imperial and Royal (K. u. K.) Austro-Hungarian Marine Corps.  As the manual says, "... [light infantry] is the only one able successfully to counter the challenge imposed by the current transition towards the Fourth Generation of War." [189 KB PDF]

10/25/07 On War #238: Mahan or Corbett? By William S. Lind

10/23/07 World Oil Shortage - Scenarios for Mitigation Planning, by Robert L. Hirsch.  "The more you think about it, the uglier it gets."  Stand by for World War III.  [114 KB PDF]

10/22/07 Sideshow in the Desert, by Adam Elkus. While Israel rattles sabers against Syria and presumably Iran, real threats continue to grow.

10/19/07 4GW at work in a community near you, Part IX of Fabius Maximus' series on the Long War.  With the state in decline in so many ways, privatized entities have greater incentive to keep the Long War long.

10/17/07 Defense Acquisition & Logistics has reprinted Chet Richards' review of Dan Ward's The Simplicity Cycle.

10/17/07 On War #237: Out of the Frying Pan…, By William S. Lind

10/15/07 How to accurately forecast trends of the Iraq War, Part VIII of Fabius Maximus' series on the Long War.  FM gives away trade secrets.

10/10/07 On War #236: Not so fast, John, By William S. Lind

10/9/07 Coalition fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan, through September 2007.  [14 KB PDF]

10/06/07 Kilcullen explains all you need to know about the Iraq War, Part VII of Fabius Maximus' series on the Long War.

10/04/07 The bad news is that Lind’s good news is wrong, Part VI of Fabius Maximus' series on the Long War.

10/03/07 On War #235: John Boyd's Book, William S. Lind

10/01/07 Will the US Attack Iran? Hersh, Kolko Weigh In.   Possibly.

10/01/07 The Iraq War as a warning for America, Part V of Fabius Maximus' series on the Long War.

9/28/07 On War #234: A Ticking Bomb, By William S. Lind

9/27/2007 Jonathan Shay has won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award for 2007. Dr. Shay is the author of two books on the DNI Reading list, Achilles in Vietnam and Odysseus in America. His most recent article for DNI is “Aristotle’s Rhetoric as a Handbook for Leadership", and he has several articles on our sister site, War, Chaos, and Business.

9/27/2007 Beyond Insurgency: An End to Our War in Iraq, by Fabius Maximus.  Part IV of a series on America's long war.

9/25/2007 On War #233: A Seam to Exploit? By William S. Lind.

9/14/2007 The Unlearned Lessons of 9/11, by COL Douglas MacGregor, USA, Ret.  What the Army and the country are missing from Iraq.

9/14/2007 The Urge to Surge, by Dr. Herman Mindshaftgap.  Some things that may have escaped your attention concerning the "surge" in Iraq. [262 KB PDF]

9/12/2007 FMFM 1A-3A Tactical Decision Games for 4GW.  Try your skills, courtesy of the 4GW Seminar of the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Marine Corps. [224 KB PDF]

9/11/2007 New book:  Global Insurgency and the Future of Armed Conflict: Debating Fourth-Generation Warfare. Co-edited by Regina Karp, Aaron Karp, and Terry Terriff [True confession G. I. Wilson, Greg Wilcox, and DNI Editor Chet Richards have a joint article in this volume.]

9/07/2007 Coalition & NATO casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan; through August 2007, with 6-month moving average.  Up significantly over the same period last year. [14KB PDF]

9/06/2007 The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving, by H. William Dettmer.  The DNI Review by Chet Richards, editor.   Goldratt meets Boyd.

9/05/2007 Stories or statistics? Read and compare to find the truth!  Part III of a series on The Long War, by Fabius Maximus.

9/02/07 News from the Front: America’s military has mastered 4GW! Part II of a series on The Long War, by Fabius Maximus.

8/30/2007 On War #232: Truth-tellers, by William S. Lind.

8/29/2007 Unique Conference Explores Future of Warfare, by Chet Richards and Don Vandergriff.  summary of the 2007 Boyd Conference at Quantico.

8/27/07 The pointlessness of "Challenging the Generals," by Fabius Maximus

8/19/07 On War #231: More Kabuki?  by William S. Lind

8/13/07 On War #230: Importing More Fourth Generation War, by William S. Lind

8/08/07 On War #229: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, By
William S. Lind

8/08/07 Coalition fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan, through July 2007 with six-month moving average. [14 KB PDF]

8/06/07 Old Dogs and New Tricks: Setting the Tone For Adaptability, by MAJ Don Vandergriff and COL George Reed, both USA, Ret.  Fingerspitzengefühl (intuition and judgment) and Auftragstaktik (ability to use mission-type orders) are great things to have, but how do you develop them? [739 KB PDF - ignore the white space, from deleted advertisements]

8/06/07 Coalition Troop Strength in Iraq, by Dr. Hermann Mindshaftgap.  Slight revision of this chart by a DC- based defense analyst (in our quest for continuous improvement.  The  American surge doesn't quite compensate for drawdowns by other coalition members.  [16 KB PDF]

8/05/07 Don't go to Pakistan, by Adam Elkus. Some unintended consequences are predictable.

8/04/07 On War #228: America's Last Successful Mideast War, William S. Lind.

8/02/07 Shared Situational Understanding: A Summary of Fundamental Principles and Iconoclastic Observations, by Richard Maltz.  In order to apply the concept of OODA "loops" to groups, rather than individuals, the notion of Orientation must be generalized.  Boyd used the terms "common outlook" and "overall mind-time-space scheme" to describe the requisite expansion.  In this paper, Maltz summarizes recent work on this problem. [39 KB PDF]

7/31/07 Terror's digital jihad, by Col GI Wilson, USMC, Ret.  Is it a real threat? [1.5 MB PDF]

7/26/07 The DNI Review of The Simplicity Cycle, by Dan Ward.  OODA and E=MC2 are both simple.  This wasn't an accident.

7/25/07 On War #227: How to Win in Iraq, William S. Lind.  See also a longer version of "How to Win in Iraq" in The American Conservative.

7/24/07 America takes another step towards the “Long War,” Part I, by Fabius Maximus.  Do we know what we're getting ourselves into?

7/20/07 Final report from the 2007 Boyd Conference at Quantico.  Includes the briefing by Krabberød & Venemyr. New blogs [I'll continue to add blog links, so please send any new ones].

7/20/07 Test cases under way: U.S. Command in Baghdad Launches Bid to Rehabilitate Iraqi Detainees, by Elaine M. Grossman, Inside the Pentagon.

7/19/07 On War #226: Tordenskjold Sails Again, by William S. Lind

7/12/07 U.S., Iraq Freed Roughly 44,000 Suspected Insurgents Since March 2003, by Elaine M. Grossman, Inside the Pentagon.

7/12/07 On War #225: Not Fourth Generation War, by William S. Lind

7/04/07 Coalition fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan,  through June 2007, with 6-month moving average. 14KB PDF

7/03/07 On War #224: The Death of the RMA, by William S. Lind

7/01/07  Boyd's invitation "to be or to do?"  As reconstructed by Robert Coram.

6/26/07  On Boyd, Bin Laden, and Fourth Generation Warfare as String Theory, by Dr. Frans Osinga, Col, Royal Netherlands Air Force. (239 KB PDF).  The author of Science Strategy and War ponders the ultimate meaning of 4GW. 

6/25/07 On War #223: Legitimacy, Toujours Legitimacy, by William S. Lind

DNI suggested reading list.  Revised 20 December 2005.



CERTAIN TO WIN: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business, by Chet Richards. Boyd's real OODA loop and ancient strategies working for business today. More...
Advance Reviews;
Amazon and B&N


RAISING THE BAR, by Donald Vandergriff (U.S. Army, ret.) Published by the Center for Defense Information Press. Read the DNI review. Order from Amazon.


SCIENCE, STRATEGY AND WAR, by Col Frans Osinga, RNAF. Read the DNI Review.  Order from Amazon or B&N. New! Now in paperback directly from Routledge, $35.95.


NEITHER SHALL THE SWORD, by Chet Richards.  If you thought A Swift, Elusive Sword was too tame.  Read the Introduction and view the Briefing. Podcast review.  Available now on Amazon


BOYD: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram
Amazon & B&N.


BLUEPRINT FOR ACTION : A Future Worth Creating, by Thomas P. M. Barnett. Read the DNI review. Buy at Amazon and B&N


NOT A GOOD DAY TO DIE: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda, by Sean Naylor. Read the DNI Review; Amazon and B&N


THE WASTRELS OF DEFENSE: How Congress Sabotages U. S. Security by Winslow Wheeler.  You'll be disgusted, then just mad.
Read Comment #527.
Amazon and B&N


THE AFGHAN CAMPAIGN, by Steven Pressfield.  Read the DNI Review. Amazon and B&N.


The Virtues of War by Steven Pressfield
Read the DNI Review.
Amazon and B&N. Now in trade paperback.


The Sling and The Stone by Col T. X. Hammes, USMC
Amazon and B&N


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