Friday, October 09, 2009


The genius of John Boyd's OODA Loop lies in its simplicity and brevity. Developed to give allied fighter pilots an edge during WWII aerial dogfights, it proved immensely successful - even over superior pilots and aircraft. Briefly, it outlined a strategic process to "observe", "orient", "decide" and "act". And then repeat as often as necessary. Modern businesses found the process to be so understandable and intuitive they adopted it wholesale after the war. Read the full Wiki piece for clearer details.

What our current president has cleverly done is modernize that process - at least as far as the war in Afghanistan is concerned - into an endless cycle of repeated observations and orientations, thus eliminating his onerous duty of actually forming a decision and doing something about it. As pointed out in Young Hamlet's Agony published today by RealClearPolitics and by the pen of Charles Krauthammer, after a lengthy process begun post-inauguration in January our leader claims to have "decided" March 27 on a "Comprehensive New Strategy" (CNS) vis-a-vis Afghanistan and Pakistan, going so far as to publicly "outline" the CNS. Only we now find out the "decision" forming the CNS was probably announced before it was really ready.

Fast forward two months later to early May. We are told the apparently still pre-decisional CNS is now "under review". OK, we have a new military commander on the ground and he needs time to "orient" himself. Point taken.

But then, five months later on October 4, we learn "The president is currently in the midst of an involved, overall strategic review of the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan." Hmmmmmm. What happened to the CNS? Still no deciding and acting reported. Just observing and orienting. And today we learn from the president's national security adviser, James L. Jones, Jr., "you don't commit troops before you decide on a strategy." What? We STILL don't have a "strategy"? Isn't that what a "CNS" is - or was?

Egads! Hamlet would be proud. But poor Colonel John Boyd should be rolling over in his grave. At this rate a real decision might not be forthcoming until the next US administration takes office. Way to go, President International Rock Star. Keep talking - essentially about yourself. No sense "doing" anything now and besmirching your regime's reputation.