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What I am reading: October 2017 – Hybrid War, Conflict Theory, Information War, Cyber War, and Old School Hip Hop



Here are articles I found most interesting for the month of October.

The Poet Laureate of Hybrid War –, 10/26/2017

This article is a review of a new book on the Ukrainian war against Russia. Like other first-person books, according to the article, Pawel Pieniazek doesn’t hold punches on the reality of war, giving a first person account of the people, trauma, and confusion that reigns in a warzone. Although there is no doubt Russia used a smorgasbord of tactics against the Ukraine, the article really doesn’t cover how the conflict is a “hybrid war”, outside of brief mention of misleading media. But then again, the military/people aspect of war is always the sexiest. It might be a good idea to pick up The War that Changed Us and see for myself how good the book is.


It’s Time for Special Operations to Dump “Unconventional Warfare” – War On The, 10/7/2017

There is a lot in this article that I have opinions on. First of all, all wars in the foreseeable future will be “unconventional” as massive troops movements are expensive and can be seen miles away. Unconventional war, or anything that is not Clausewitzian “Total War” has a much higher return for a much lower cost. That’s just smart business. So we should do away with the title Unconventional War, because it is redundant.

That said, writer Doug Livermore’s idea to call layered, multi-faceted conflicts “political warfare” is also misleading and not effective. Livermore states national power is Diplomatic, Economic, Military, and Informational (I would add Cyber for MEDIC). Isn’t Diplomatic and Political the same thing, especially for policy makers who aren’t well-versed in conflict?

With that in mind, I do agree with Livermore’s conclusions that in order to confront and defend against the layered, multi-faceted conflicts of the future, a Cold War, stovepiped methodology of funding is not effective. We need blended policies, operational teams, and lines of funding.


Disruption in the Trinity – The Strategy, 10/31/2017

Another deep philosophical post on conflict and society. And again, I have a lot of opinions on this. Almost too many for this write-up. But to sum up this article, writer Craig Beutel explores the philosophy of Carl Von Clausewitz and looks at our modern society as it pertains to Clausewitz’s ideas of trinities. I liked how Beutel used Clausewitz and then steered the article into the words of Locke and Hobbes, who are both essential in understanding the foundations of democratic society.

I will probably have something far more in depth on this article soon.


The Intelligence Cycle is Broken – Modern War Institute, 10/24/2017

This was an interesting article. While the author brought up some good points about the overflow of data in intelligence, that was the only good point he had. First and foremost, the Intelligence Cycle is a model, not unlike the Scientific Method. It can’t be “broken”. The processes that are used inside the model can be fortified, if necessary. The author insinuates that more social science needs to be integrated into intelligence work and good analysts need to not rely solely on quantifiable data. But that is the case in business, health care, and anywhere else that uses data.

Everyone wants “highly skilled front-line personnel who can leverage technology as a force multiplier of human expertise”. Other than that, the article didn’t say much.


A Perpetual Conflict of Ideas? – The Strategy, 9/28/2017

Miah Hammond-Errey deep-dives into Russian disinformation strategy, tactics, and effectiveness. In this well-sourced article, Hammond-Errey gives great examples of Russia’s battle to influence narratives and sow division and distrust. She then attempts to determine where disinformation falls in Grey Zone/Hybrid Warfare.

In my opinion, the answer to where Russian disinformation falls in the spectrum of war and peace is very simple: Stop thinking about war and peace. In business, companies are always jostling for position. With conflict increasingly moving at the speed of innovation, states of war and peace no longer exist. Organizations – be they nation states or non-actors – are jostling for global power and influence, just as companies jostle for market share. When a company enters a market, there is no peace, only a battle for market share. Hammond-Errey is correct that these tactics are low-cost and high-return, but she should continue to think of Russian actions as marketing and business decisions.


Russia Succeeds by Playing into Our Deep Fears – The Cipher Brief, 11/1/2017

A good article on the recent Congressional inquiry into how Russia used Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels to spread distrust and division among Americans. Todd Rosenblum discusses the background into Russian operations, why it was effective, and most importantly, what America can do mitigate Russian information operations in the future. The most important part of the article were Rosenblum’s four suggestions. Unfortunately, none of which advocated bringing back Schoolhouse Rock.


Insinuation and Influence: How the Kremlin Targets Americans Online – The German Marshall Fund of the United States Blog, 10/16/2017

Another short article on Russian influence in American social media. This article discusses how Russia’s goals apply to their grand international strategy in Ukraine and Syria. By influencing political ideals, Russian can influence how people vote, which in turn may dictate international objectives for many nations.


A Portrait of Cryptocurrency World Dominance – Hacker Noon, 9/7/2017

Admittedly, I know very, very little about Bitcoin and Blockchain. I am not clear on how they work. However, this article discusses the initiatives nations are taking to accept Bitcoin and Blockchain and integrate them into the Global Market. Nations are also of course vying to gain from accepting Bitcoin and Blockchain, doing mining themselves or working with the innovators of crypto-currency.


Cyber Policy and the 19th Party Congress – Center for Strategic and International Studies, 10/26/2017

A quick analysis of Chinese political goals in technology and cyber policy. China is pushing forward and fast.


Paul C. McKasty: the Legend, the Tragedy, the Story of an Era – MicroChop, 9/20/2017

A very interesting, long, detailed look into the life of Paul C. McKasty, one of hip-hops first producers. McKasty worked with Eric B. and Rakim, Biz Markie, Pharoahe Monch, Queen Latifah, and many, many others. Sadly, he was 24 years years old when he was murdered in his sleep. This article is a great introduction to the work that has been done to preserve McKasty’s legacy.

The McKasty project is an inspiration to me as I continue to gather information on Tampa’s first hip-hop pioneer, Kenny “Kenny K” Waters.