Netcentric Hubris and the Challenges of Netcentric Leadership, a War College Thesis by Kurt Schlichter invokes in the mind of the author the image of the novel Ender’s Game and it’s associated movie; conjuring images of child generals using technology to pull the strings of the automaton soldiers below.
by Jeremy Griffith
Creator of the American Millennium Online
Kurt Schlichter, conservative columnist and close friend of the late Super-blogger Andrew Breitbart.
Recently I embarked on a journey to test FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act, probing the government like a curious kid with a stick, stabbing at a gator. What I’ve found stunned and surprised me, as so far I have found the government gate-keepers I’ve dealt with amazingly helpful and uncharacteristically polite.
Let me backtrack to the beginning. In a previous missive I wrote on Storify, I wondered out loud and with amazement how easy it is for the New York Times and Judicial Watch to obtain and publish online the graduate work of one General El Sisi of Egypt, now that nation’s president. While still a military officer, El Sisi attended our own US Army War College and wrote a thesis as his final project where he opined on Democracy in the Middle East, a document the New York Times obtained and published without comment. Intrigued I wondered how I would fair as a poor blogger who does not buy ink by the barrel. I selected a document I wanted by an author I knew, not knowing the exact title or even if the item requested in fact existed. I expected to be sandbagged by the government, and frankly I was ready to blast their inefficiency for what I believed would be a long and winding run-around course.
Not so. I was after all, dealing with the US Army War College, and apparently, they do things differently there. After sending a couple of stray e-mails to departments who had nothing to do with my request who had no idea what I was talking about, I was politely directed to the right “desk”. The reply I got was timely and polite. “Yes Mr. Griffith,” the fellow said. “You can have that. Would you like it in digits or on paper?” It was like the gentlemen was a clerk at Walmart asking if I wanted paper or plastic.
Two days ago I received the document I had requested and since then I have devoured the contents with glee and was not disappointed. The accompanying note read, almost apologetically, “Not sure if this is the final draft. It was all I could find. Regards!” I tore open the plain envelope and perused the thesis I found inside. I was a kid at Christmas.
I knew anything written by this author had to be good. Kurt A. Schlichter is known to me and is probably well know to you as well from his popular, snarky columns on Red State and Townhall. In my previous edition, I even theorized aloud what the title of the project would have been, something patriotic and heartwarming to conservatives who love America and equally disgusting and stomach wrenching for those who don’t. I reflected that feeling in the title of that article, a little tongue in cheek. I found myself learning something new just discovering the actual title of the document, which was not a disappointment. And yes, It was about leadership, just as I knew it would be.
Netcentric Hubris and the Challenge of Netcentric Leadership by LTC Kurt A. Schlichter. How about that for a title? I immediately googled “Hubris” and “Netcentric”.
- excessive pride or self-confidence.
- (in Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.
Net-centric or netcentric refers to participating as a part of a continuously-evolving, complex community of people, devices, information and services interconnected by a communications network to achieve optimal benefit of resources and better synchronization of events and their consequences.
In military connotation frequently associated with terms “Net-centric Operations (NCO)” and “Net-centric Warfare (NCW)”. Many people use the terms “net-centric” and “network-centric” interchangeably. Some consider “network-centric” to refer to activities within a particular network and “net-centric” to refer to activities that cross networks.
Many experts[who?] believe the terms “information-centric” or “knowledge-centric” would capture the concepts more aptly because the objective is to find and exploit information, the network itself is only one of several enabling factors.
A great read. I found out from COL Schlichter that the Army with all its technology and information systems is better able to micromanage its junior leaders, something Schlichter believes is a habit to be resisted. Leaders at the top are using the tools at hand to micromanage, working the levers of control and making dancing automatons out of their captains, lieutenants, and sergeants. Like marionettes on a string, those junior leaders execute the plans of their masters and introduce no decision making of their own.
Schlichter masterfully illustrates in his argument that the Army should refrain from this practice, instead leaning upon the time tested leadership style of centralized planning and decentralized control. Yes, the leader at the top can better see the battlefield from where he stands in the OP Center. But is that sight picture true? Does it cut through the fog of war? No. Instead, the leader must accept a certain amount of risk, depending on the junior leader to make the appropriate decision at his level. I was so impressed with the logic of this document that I published it online for you to read for yourself. There are the footnotes at the end, like breadcrumbs. You can follow the trail to the source, where you can read for yourself, testing for yourself if the author’s conclusion is true. Unclassified? Yes it says that at the top, so no problems there.
The experience I’ve had with the War College is like going on a camping trip with your family to the source waters of the mighty Mississippi River. You pile into the family station wagon and you go. When you arrive, you park, and you walk down to the river. You cross the narrow inlet, where the water slows to a trickle. Dipping your hand into the cold rushing water, you lean down and drink. Cool. Refreshing. Clean.
It’s like the Army is saying. “Yes citizen. You can have the final projects of our warrior leaders, and at no charge! We are proud of what we do here and in the leaders we train. You have the right to know what it is we are doing in your name. Read the words of the warrior leaders we’ve trained, be enlightened, and enjoy.” Wow. Just, wow.
I get an altogether different feeling when I try to find the educational documents written by some of our political leaders, which are as elusive to find as the Holy Grail.
To their credit, Mother Jones, that leftist publication, has done a little footwork for us. Very little. They got half of Ted Cruz’s Princeton Undergraduate work, Clipping the Wings of Angels: The History and Theory behind the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. A doughnut stained operative wandered into the Princeton’s Mudd Library to the place where student theses are stored and with camera phone in hand, photographed 48 pages of the 115 page document. It’s like the operative didn’t want the conservative politician’s undergrad thesis bad enough to get the whole thing! Was he/she interrupted during their surreptitious photography session by a roving security guard? One wonders. Maybe they were just too cheap to pay the $0.35 per page fee to get the whole thing? “That’s enough of this pro-constitution, flag-waiving crap! Our readers will get the point. Cruz is a juvenile, nationalistic scumbag. Let’s go.” Is that what they told themselves on their way out of the library, angry security guard in pursuit? Hmmm. Well, fear not, dear reader. I’ve paid the fee and hopefully I will get the full document here shortly.
Check out what one commenter said about the Cruz document at CNN iReport here!
Meantime, good luck trying to FOIA a similar document from Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Hussein Obama II. The president apparently did some kind of project for graduation when he matriculated through his various schools. FactCheck.org assures us that is so. But it wasn’t the kind of thesis that is required to be retained by the school and indeed, the professor who advised the young Barrack on this thesis doesn’t even retain his copy. Lost it in a move, he says. Oh well.
Hillary’s thesis on the other hands isn’t quite so difficult, to get your hands on, but a little bit of a challenge, at least according to Bill Dedman, MSNBC Investigative reporter, who details his adventure with the seldom seen document. (Dedman? Good name for a writer who accidently crosses the Clintons. One wonders why an investigative reporter is necessary to find this document of Hillary’s? Wouldn’t the Lifestyle editor be better?)
Dedman admits in his article from May of 2007 that Hillary’s thesis, based on an interview with vaunted socialist thinker and activist Saul Alinsky, was sealed for a brief time for convenience when the goddess Hillary was in her role as First Lady, at her own request. But since she started running for office of President the record was unsealed once more so the peasants can view it, if they can afford the plane ticket from Rochester Minnesota or Phoenix Arizona or where ever you’re from to come to the library and seek an audience with the aforementioned manuscript. Like a high priest going into the temple, Dedman has graciously volunteered to read the holy scripture for us, a line of rope tied around his ankle in case for whatever reason he upsets the gods and is struck dead in the process. He has pierced the veil to enter the holy of holies for us and has interpreted the document to save us all the trouble and hassle. How good of him.
You and I can’t judge for ourselves the tenure and structure of the article for ourselves, that is just too awkward. We’ll just have to take Dedman’s word for it. Footnotes? Really, what good are they? Why test the research acumen of the goddess, what Hubris you have, peasant? I like that word, I learned it earlier.
No there seems to be a definite trend here that is not surprising. If you are a right wing wacko bird like Ted Cruz who is running for president, or a war-mongering former comedian turned lawyer, columnist like Kurt Schlichter, an operative of the left will get your documents and use your own words to smear you. But, If you are Barack Obama, or Hillary Rodham Clinton, special care is taken by the gate-keepers to protect your college work so as to tamp down the unfair criticism of the unwashed masses.
And that really is the point right? There is a ring around the leftist prophets of progressivism that doesn’t extend to the lovers of the constitution. No, not for you. But there is still hope. We are told that Hillary and Barack got Ivy League educations and are more than qualified to be our leaders, even though we can’t judge their work for ourselves. We can judge them. Both have works of literature that has been edited and vetted and put out for the masses after the approval and polish of the acolytes. And we have their promises and words on the TV. Yes we can judge them and we will.
Happily Barack is not running for office again, although I predict he’ll be around in the wings for quite some time. As for Hillary, if she gets past her current dilemma with the press over her missing emails and private server, with the help of the press, then she is well on her way to be the presumptive nominee.
The democrats have cause for concern this time around, however. The GOP has a deep bench filled with conservatives as well as a moderate or two and with luck the right guy or gal will rise to the top to challenge the goddess. Ted Cruz, cum laude from his respective institution of Princeton and a champion debater with a record for excellence, leads the way. I can’t wait to see a debate between Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz. It’ll be better than fireworks.