Sunday, 30 October 2011

Creating a peaceful insurgency

I'm going to stick a proviso right up front here, when I say insurgency, I do not mean a violent insurgency. I mean an attempt to reshape the state through the use of widespread civil unrest. I don't believe there's any need for there to be violence in a democratic society. So...

It looks like the Occupy movement in London is approaching a critical point in it's development, as Church authorities meet with protesters this morning, and Christian groups begin to declare their support for the protest. In the background the police and Government are clearly working to create a legal basis to remove the camp from its current site.

Support is starting to flow in from other sources too. When I was there the other night there were a couple of Union spokesmen there, pledging their support. I was slightly disheartened to hear the phrase "Tory scum" coming over the megaphone, but it's not like thats wildly unexpected, and certainly doesn’t change my support for the movement. It remains to be seen if the big Unions will come out officially in support and start sending their members down to the protest.

Everyone seems to be preparing for the big showdown with police, but in my opinion, that's a distraction. As has been shown in the US time and again, police tearing down tents doesn't end the protest, it just means everyone moves around a bit and then sets back up again. It's nearly impossible to arrest someone on any meaningful basis for protesting after all.

Now is the time to look beyond the police action, and indeed see police action as an opportunity. It will draw public attention back to the protests again, and hopefully start to shift the poisonous perspective which many have of the protests.

Recently Egyptian activists visited Occupy Wall Street, and were, by all accounts, slightly disappointed by what they found:
A few hundred demonstrators fell in line behind her and Maher, who gamely joined the English chants. The police allowed the march onto Wall Street itself, and at each corner the American leaders consulted an officer about the preferred route. Weary of the somewhat stilted slogans, which lacked the umph and rhythm of Egyptian chants, Mahfouz and Maher taught the crowd the iconic cry of the Arab uprisings: "Al shaab yurid isqat al nizam," or "The people demand the fall of the regime." The crowd adopted its own hybrid: "Al shaab yurid isqat Wall Street."

As they wound back to Zuccotti Park, demonstrators awaited a cue from the police before crossing Broadway. It was too much for Mahfouz. She stopped in the middle of the intersection, stopped traffic, pumped a fist in the air, and demanded the fall of Wall Street. Nervous demonstrators skittered to the sidewalk, leaving Mahfouz with just the cameras and a few dozen stalwarts who seemed willing to accept her invitation to be arrested.

For a few seconds, there was a palpable crackle of tension. But the police, it seemed, didn't want the hassle. They stepped back, and without a confrontation, the moment subsided. Mahfouz joined her comrades back on the sidewalk.

"I wanted to show them that they need to be tough, even if they get arrested," she said with her trademark toothy smile. With that, she repaired for a private session with Occupy organizers -- she had finally found them -- and the long trip back to Cairo the following day.

I write this almost wincing, as I know people will froth at the mouth at my next point. One of the most important lessons learned by Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in recent years is that Western structures of law and order allow people to work against the state in meaningful ways, without going outside the boundaries of the law. Abu Mus'ab al-Suri used this principle throughout his life, using the British legal system as a shield, whilst retaining his identity as a pen jihadi.

It goes without saying that there is no similarity between Occupy protesters and Al Qaeda, however, the principle of using the law as a shield remains true. Peaceful protest is protected in a half a dozen ways by laws, both at the national and the international level. The only tool the police can use is to make the protest as inconvenient as possible, like taking generators from Occupy protesters in New York the day before it snows.

The more aggressive the policing, the higher the cost for the police, both in financial terms, but also in terms of morale. In the wake of the shocking actions of police in Oakland the Occupy movement there couldn’t be in a better position. The movement there has had an injection of public support in the wake of the brutal attack by police on war veteran Scott Olsen.

More importantly it has driven a wedge between the city government and its police. The local government has been forced to back down and allow the protest back, which the police are saying is a mistake. With these two forces deadlocked, the protesters are in control. That is insurgency, putting the institutions which are seeking to remove you in conflict with each other.

The raw cost of policing these outbreaks of protest will also start to show itself in the near future, particularly if police where police start to take a heavier hand. Police in the UK, when being drawn into policing civil unrest, are paid extra for their time, by a large margin. All the logistics cost money. And it wears down police to have to go head to head with people day after day. Again, a core part of an insurgency, creating a situation where it is simply too expensive, in terms of finance and manpower, to prevent the insurgency running its course.

The key problem for the movement in the UK right now is mobilisation of support. Its always a problem in the UK, people are apathetic about pretty much everything. Right now the movement needs to stop making its case to traditional supporters, and start making its case to people. This requires a change in mindset, away from being inwardly looking, towards the external audience which right now is largely turned against protesters (another feature of the great British public).

At the core of any insurgency is the removal of people from supporting the Government to your own side. In this case it means turning people away from their apathy about the financial sector.

Right now unemployment in London is sitting at around 6%, maybe a little lower. Thats a staggeringly large number of people sitting around, with little to fill the day. My question, and my challenge, to protesters, is how do you get them on their feet and to come out to support you? Occupy in the US has shown it is possible, and I believe it would be here too.

As winter closes in, the challenges of Occupy around the globe will proliferate. It will be the most difficult time. However, it is also the critical time. It will show whether the movement is truly self sustaining at this point, or whether it is simply a bunch of kids with nothing better to do with their time.

Disclaimer: I'm a supporter of Occupy, I've donated food and time to the protests in London and money to protests in the US. I'm proud of that. This piece is written in part as a call to action and partly as a thought piece.

People have asked me how I reconcile my support for Occupy with my Conservative views, and here's my simple answer, I don't have to agree with the other guy's solutions to recognise we both have a problem with the same thing.

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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Disruptive innovation

I've been thinking a bit recently about the importance of disruptive vs iterative change. I recently moved to a job where I get to work a lot with blue chip clients, whats interesting about the technology sector however, is that rather than striving for the bleeding edge, most companies operate on the basis of iterative improvement.

There are of course companies which do well at being innovative and disruptive. Apple is probably the one which would spring to the minds of most people. In the last few years they have done more to re-invent the technology field than any other company. Moving us away from static PCs towards light weight mobile technology. That technology has proliferated through the world, driving down cost and enabling a boom in communications into areas of the world which previously struggled to access these types of technology. From the Guardian article:
In 1998, there were fewer than four million mobiles on the continent. Today, there are more than 500 million. In Uganda alone, 10 million people, or about 30% of the population, own a mobile phone, and that number is growing rapidly every year. For Ugandans, these ubiquitous devices are more than just a handy way of communicating on the fly: they are a way of life.
And how are these devices altering the way people live?
Four years ago, in neighbouring Kenya, the mobile network Safaricom introduced a service called M-Pesa which allows users to store money on their mobiles. If you want to pay a utilities bill or send money to a friend, you simply dispatch the amount by text and the recipient converts it into cash at their local M-Pesa office. It is cheap, easy to use and, for millions of Africans unable to access a bank account or afford the hefty charges of using one, nothing short of revolutionary.
Thats not just a change, that's a shift in the rulesets of entire countries, contained in devices which fit in a pocket and are within the financial reach of the vast majority of the world's population.

A hat tip to Dan Tapscott for the next piece, the piece which really locked me in to the idea of disruptive technology in this context. Amazon posted some disappointing results recently, and the market reacted badly:
On Tuesday, Amazon.com reported third-quarter earnings that fell far short of Wall Street's expectations. Its earnings were down 73% from the quarter a year earlier and it missed the analysts' consensus estimate of $0.24 per share by nearly a dime. By all accounts, this was a sizable earnings miss and the stock responded as such, dropping as much as 20% in afterhours trading.
Now even to my limited understanding of finance, that seems like a bad day for Amazon, but as it transpires, the reality is significantly more complex, and in that complexity lies the more important story:
Amazon missed its earnings because the company has been investing more heavily than Wall Street expected. And these investments are being made in the infrastructure to support not just a single disruptive business, but a number of disruptive-growth opportunities. Below is a snapshot of Amazon's portfolio of disruptive businesses:
  • Amazon Retail — disrupting traditional retailers
  • Amazon Kindle — disrupting the paper book format and paper book retailers
  • CreateSpace — a self-publishing solution that disrupts traditional publishing houses
  • Kindle Fire Tablet — a new market disruption enabled by business model innovation
  • Amazon MP3 and streaming audio and video — disrupting traditional content distribution companies
  • Amazon Web Services — disrupting the companies that sell on-site servers and native software applications
Now, like Google, Amazon pursues a policy by which some of its innovations will fail, but there's little sense in the market punishing either company for investing in technologies and ideas which will fundamentally alter the way in which different businesses work.

There's something fascinating in the market's response to this situation, which deserves its own analysis, but the simple question is, what does it say about the financial market, that a company which is investing vast amounts in new ideas is punished. It seems to me that the idea is to promote the mundane, because that leads to smoother curves on balance sheets. But there you go.

Disruptive change is a tool which is nigh on impossible to factor into strategy, because it involves changing rulesets. Altering rulesets is something which is much easier to have applied to you, or to take advantage of, rather than to develop yourself. Yet iterative change is so rarely truly successful, you end up relying on others having a slower cycle of improvement than you.

Building disruptive change into strategy also means being able to adapt your strategy on the fly, whilst keeping a keen eye on the final objective. Only changes which move you closer to the goal at greater speed should be adopted, whereas others must be dis-guarded, no matter how fascinating their employment might seem.

New ideas also aren’t necessarily the only way of implementing disruptive change. Old and traditional techniques, applied at the right time and in the right way, can shift the course of a campaign. On this topic, its worth reading on this topic is Rick Perry and His Eggheads, which details some of the ways in which the Perry campaign for Governor of Texas used a disruptive technology (real statistical analysis of the outcomes of campaign advertising) to change the way traditional technology (campaign advertising) was implemented.

The mundane will always be more appealing, mainly because it works. But the more disruptive the approach, the greater the impact.

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Thursday, 27 October 2011

The need to protect hacktivism

I've been pondering a lot (as if this wasn't already evident) on protest. Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights has this to say:
  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
  2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. this article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.
I post the full text so as to make clear I'm not selectively choosing. But the important thing to note here is the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association. Here's my issue, whilst these protections have traditionally been used to as the basis for public protest, no one has truly made the case that these same protections would also apply to hacktivism.

Another definition is really needed at this point, hacktivisim is "the use of computers and computer networks as a means of protest to promote political ends". (Its sad the best definition of this underdiscussed topic is in Wikipedia). However, hacktivism and hacking have become more or less percieved as the same thing, as if defacing a website (hacktivism) is comparable to stealing people's identities off a website (hacking)

Of course its not. In September of this year hackers defaced Syrian Government websites, in January hackers reputed to be part of the Anonymous collective did much the same to Egyptian Government websites, the same has happened in the US, UK, China... lets just say the list goes on and on.

Theres a case to be made that peaceful hacktivism is about the type of protest least likely to have an impact on people's lives. Its like putting up a banner thats hard to get down, and leaving it there. You know eventually someone will pull it down, but lots of people will see it in the interim, and it doesn't hurt anyone.

Of course theres a darker side. Often data is also stolen during the hack. Its hard to break into a website and not have access to more than its graphical layout. Often hackers will take and make use of this access. Witness Anonymous's campaign again Aaron Barr, in which dedicated hackers not only undertook acts of hacktivism, but also destroyed his company and his personal reputation. I've got little sympathy for Barr, he's a man who clearly hates personal privacy and free speech, and he bit off a lot more than he could chew, so that happened.

The problem is that the law has yet to mature enough to recognise that if there should be a distinction drawn between acts of peaceful hacktivism and acts of malicious hacking. People have the freedom to associate, and the freedom to act collectively on their beliefs, the idea that an outdated concept like geography should have any bearing on that association is absolute foolishness. Protests transcend borders, the Arab Spring and Occupy being the two best recent examples. The internet drives this capacity, and there should be an enshrining in law that these networks can be used to peacefully disrupt the person you are protesting against.

The issue ultimately, is that Governments are opposed to protest. That's simple fact. Its disruptive, expensive and ultimately annoying, hence why protests are so severely constrained in this country and most of the Western world. The way in which the right to protest is framed in most cases barely takes into account the idea people can make telephone calls, let alone co-operate with people on the opposite side of the planet to achieve a single end goal.

The reason hacktivism is almost certainly never going to get legal protection, is that its actually an effective form of protest. Standing outside someone's corporate HQ and shouting is more or less a worthless endeavour (most of the time, sometimes it works). However, shut down a company's website and replace it with something that supports your cause, and that could be seen by millions of people.

Its a flaw in our political system, and indeed almost all political systems, that laws are irrelevant within a few years of writing, particularly when it comes to communications, the internet, and technology. But the one area where we could make meaningful progress is the use of technology to inspire and protest freedom of thought, expression and action. Protest is an integral part of that. We should, and must, seek to find ways in which people can protest peacefully online, to continue to criminalise such activity is a sign of a society uncomfortable with the idea that people should be able to act freely, when no harm is caused to another.

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Blogging delayed

Have two pieces in the pipeline delayed by a sudden surge in work. Will be on the case soon!


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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Occupying London

So, I've spent the majority of the last two days down at the Occupy encampment outside St Pauls. I've been curious as to how the movement would translate over here and I'm glad I managed to get there.

Overall it was an extremely positive experience, the people there have a proactive attitude and theres none of the anger amongst protesters which you might expect. You get the sense that most people there genuinely want to make the world a somewhat better place.

As with the OWS movement there is no clearly defined objective, nor are the people universally of one political persuasion or type. Its honestly been a while where I've gone to a protest and felt like if I told people I was a Conservative I wouldnt be insulted or jeered at. Its a nice change, since I've had some pretty unpleasant things said to me.

Many of the tools from New York have been adapted and when I went down on the second day there was real evidence of infrastructure emerging. A food area, recycling, a wifi zone and a first aid tent were all in evidence and staffed by volunteers. The food and wifi areas were both consistently busy, both with people buying, but also with people bringing along donations. I'm seriously considering taking along an old laptop as soon as I've had a chance to format it.

The only downside was the inevitable heavy handed approach by the Metropolitan Police. Its sad because I'm a big supporter of the police, but watching them yesterday relentlessly try and provoke a peaceful crowd into an angry confrontation was deeply disappointing. Repeated claims that they didnt kettle protesters are a flat out lie.

However, the protesters were well prepared and made sure that they dealt with police pressure without confrontation. I saw a couple of people "disarm" one protester who got angry, putting their arms around him and leading him away from the police lines to make sure he didn't give officers an excuse. I did see one arrest, I've got no idea whether it was deserved or not. It was very unpleasant to watch, I'll say that much.

On the second day the picnic atmosphere had continued. Apparently St Pauls have given the protest their blessing (no pun intended) and as such they'll be able to stay more easily on the site. I hope they do. I'm going to try and get back during the week to see further whats going on.

The London protesters have taken the best of whats worked in the US, speed and flexibility of response, avoiding confrontation, including infrastructure to support the protest in the longer term, and implemented it here. Whether or not that is enough to build a lasting and growing protest in the heart of London remains to be seen.
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Sunday, 9 October 2011

Occupy all of the things!

I've been following the Occupy Wall Street protests pretty much since they started, and despite an early rocky start, with little media attention, they have finally started to penetrate the mainstream media and the public consciousness. The American press is still somewhat resistant to covering the protests (with cries of "but its too difficult to figure out what they want" in abundance), however the Guardian and Al Jazeera have done sterling work covering the issues.

Ultimately refusing to cover the protests because its hard to pin down what the protesters want is an incredible cop-out. Thematically they are pretty simple, people in the US (and increasingly abroad) have given up on their Governments, seeing them as a barrier to progress, and have instead decided to go to the institutions which they see as being responsible for the ongoing decline they see around them, banks.

What makes these protests interesting is how teched up they are, and how that technology is fuelling a growing protest movement which is steadily spreading to other cities. John Robb has done an excellent write up of the structure of the protests and how they've been organised:
Open source protest is an organizational technique. Probably the only organizational technique that can assemble a massive crowd in today's multiplexed environment. Essential rules of open source protest include:
  • A promise. A simple goal/idea that nearly everyone can get behind. Adbusters did pretty good with "occupy wall street." Why? Nearly everyone hates the pervasive corruption of banks and Wall Street. It's an easy target.
  • A plausible promise. Prove that the promise can work. They did. They actually occupied Wall Street and set up camp. They then got the message out.
  • A big tent and an open invitation. It doesn't matter what your reason for protesting is as long as you hate/dislike Wall Street. The big tent is already in place (notice the diversity of the signage). Saw something similar from the Tea Party before it was mainstreamed/diminished.
  • Let everyone innovate. Don't create a leadership group. The general assembly approach appears to work.
  • Support anyone in a leadership role that either a) grows the movement or b) advances the movement closer to its goal. Oppose (ignore) anybody that proposes a larger, more complex agenda or those that claim ownership over the movement.
  • If a new technique works, document it, use it again, and share it with everyone else. Copy everything that works.
  • Spread the word of the movement as widely as possible.
So far pretty much all of these points are covered, and the movement appears to be self sustaining. Interesting fringe support groups have emerged, particularly amongst people who can't participate directly. The 99 Percent blog for example is providing an outlet for people to describe the misery of living in a society where someone with a degree can't find work and has become convinced they never will. It also breaks down some of the ideas that the supporters of this movement are young disenfranchised people.

Increasingly the movement is growing to represent the original Tea Party, before it was hijacked by the Koch Brothers and their ilk to garner support for the Republican Party (a very smart and successful attempt to both disarm something annoying and re purpose it). This post on the FedUpUSA site (hat tip to Charles Cameron) sums it up nicely:
There are a few nuts in the OWS crowd, but from what I hear “Occupy Wall Street” is about bringing the fraudsters to justice. Its about changing the banker/government dynamic that runs this country. It’s about free markets. It’s about ending endless debt. It’s about stopping the wars. It’s about the rule of law. It’s about the libertarian soul of America.

Since the TP lost the focus of addressing the root problems of America, they remain unresolved.

It’s sad, really. The TP talks about sewer legislation, redistricting, and supporting House Speaker Boehner’s plan to add $2 trillion in debt, while the real issue is Congress has spent more than it takes in, and the costs of the promises outweigh the means to pay them. In the process, you and I are less free than we used to be.

There was no place left for folks to go.

This raises an interesting concern which I think is going to be increasingly important in our society as time goes by. Networks are growing increasingly tamper proof. Once upon a time it was tough but not impossible to take ahold of a protest organisation and redirect it, people are increasingly savvy to attempts to do so, and whilst they can't stop someone like the Koch brothers, they will simply leave and set up their own new mechanisms. As the recent Kickstarter fundraiser for Occupy shows, even money is growing to be less of an object. $73,000 and counting makes for a good chunk of cash to use to keep people sitting outside Wall Street and shouting.

Self sustaining and self reinforcing networks are a key component in any insurgency, and increasingly this movement appears to be a (peaceful) insurgency. As it continues to spread there are more opportunities to out manoeuvre the police and others who want to shut the protests down. The movement will also start to bleed police dry after a certain amount of time. How long can the police lock down Wall Street? Its a huge drain on resources, manpower and time, and the protesters have significantly more of all three.

And lets say that the one outside Wall Street gets shut down and moved on... well what's to stop them turning up at Times Square the next day, and outside the 9/11 memorial site the day after? The police can only move so fast, wheras the protesters can simply check online and see where they should be going for greatest effect. What happens when New York has 2 protests, or 3, or 5, all going on simultaneously. Its not like the city is lacking for unemployed people with time to burn and an axe to grind.

Two interesting things are likely to happen in the next few weeks and months, first, its going to get cold, second, the financial system is likely to undergo further shocks. Both these factors will have implications for the protesters. Can they keep people out as the weather grows brutually cold? And how many more people will turn out the next time the Government pours vast amounts into the financial sector to no appreciable effect?

The OWS movement increasingly resembles the protests in the Middle East and sub Saharan Africa, where the protesters never went home, because... well why would they? They have no jobs, they have no prospects under the current system, and a life living in a tent city isnt much worse than what they left behind.

I'm going to write some more on self sustaining networks soon, as my brain is still working out some of the things I want to say, but suffice it to say OWS is here to stay, and its here to spread. London kicks off next weekend and I fully intend to take a look. Anonymous masks to the ready and such.
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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Book Review: Architect of Global Jihad

A slight confession, I'm a couple of dozen pages off finishing Architect of Global Jihad by Brynjar Lia, but I have a couple of other things on my reading list at the moment which I'm also keen to finish, so I'm going to jump the gun and write a review. This is probably bad luck or something, but I'm a brave enough man to risk it all.

Recommended by ZenPundit the book charts the life of Abu Mus'ab al-Suri, a profoundly intelligent and compelling character who was a key component in the creation of a true intellectual underpinning for global terror. He is the dark side of writers who have helped write the 21st centuries counter insurgency doctrines, indeed he is one of the reasons we need such comprehensive new strategies.

The book chronicles his life, taking us through the various phases of his development, which are both rich and varied. His meanderings through the Middle East and Europe serve as a powerful reminder of the ability jihadis (and all terrorists) have to move through society, often without leaving a trace.

In my opinion the insight this book gives the reader into the life of a jihadi (albeit a jihadi thinker, rather than perhaps a do-er) are just as valuable as charting the construction of the theories al-Suri is responsible for. Often the media and others describe these men as if they are quite literally sneaking down darkened alleyways at the dead of night, but this book shows that a man can hold extreme views and live a life which is at times shockingly normal.

This book also shatters the idea that jihadis are frothing madmen clawing at Western civilisation. Al-Suri is clearly well read and understands not only his own cause, but the cause of his enemy and is more than willing to learn about them in order to achieve his own goals. He reads widely throughout his life, and uses publicly available information on counter-insurgency to theorise on how to improve insurgency as a discipline.

His theories describe what modern al-Qaeda almost became, before its near complete collapse in recent years, a wholly decentralised entity subscribing to a set of principles and interacting as little as possible. This self sustaining entity is truly worrisome, if only because one day, it could be created and set loose on the world. Indeed it has been suggested that Mexican cartels are busy adapting the al-Qaeda model to further their own activities against the Mexican Government.

Probably one of the most important books on jihadism. Detailing as it does the sheer diversity of what that truly means. It paints a vivid picture of a movement struggling to find its own identity, and finally having one imposed upon it by America in the shape of Al-Qaeda. The characters are rich and fascinating, three dimensional in a way which is rarely seen even in the better pieces of scholarship.

Highly recommended to anyone.
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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Afghan Obsession

The BBC has recently done a series of shows about the UK military, including the truly excellent Our War, as well as Sandhurst and Young Soldiers. These shows provide a degree of access which goes well beyond what I've seen before, and serve to demystify army life. Giving this type of access to the realities of training and combat is a bold move on the part of the army, and I think its worked out well for all concerned.

For those who haven't as yet had a chance to see them it's well worth taking the time. If you're American I'm sorry the BBC is so crap at providing you with access and obviously I don't think you should go and have a look at the various sites which specialise in putting BBC documentaries online for non-Brits to view.

What has been most striking to me is the fact that one word occurs about every two minutes in every episode of every one of these shows, that word is "Afghanistan". In fact, as I was typing this, one of the Sandhurst trainees said something incredibly telling (slightly paraphrased)

The place is changing in response to Afghanistan
Every one of these soldiers is submerged in a world in which they are training to fight one enemy, in one place, for one reason, and that to me could be a huge problem for the future.

Obviously these is a lot of the training which is clearly usable in any environment, but the amount of training which focusses on the Taliban is quite staggering. Every simulated enemy is a Taliban soldier, every hypothetical exercise is about them too. No one talks about anything other than going to Afghanistan to fight.

As military budgets continue to shrink, and the military itself trains its soldiers to deal only with one set of circumstances, what implications will not only reverberate through a generation, but will be exacerbated over time. When reading Defeat into Victory I was struck by how powerfully Slim argues against the idea of special forces soldiers, instead believing that all soldiers should be trained in as many types of combat as possible, leading to greater flexibility, but also higher morale across all the forces, since there is less sense of an "elite" who are "better" than the average fighting man.

In the future it remains to be seen whether our military is able to deal with the wars of the future, and view them through something other than the lens of Afghanistan. Will soldiers who have been trained in counter insurgency warfare be able to cope with a massed tank assault (recognising this is currently unlikely, but wholly possible), or a battle against enemies who have been professionally trained (possibly even at Sandhurst, which trains plenty of troops who could one day be on the 'other side').

Flexibility of approach is a key to victory, in any campaign (and I include the political in this), and there is a worrying theme emerging that the next generations of our soldiers are not being trained to fight in anything other than the current war, one we are already looking to end.
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