Monday, November 09, 2009


This might not resonate for most of you, but it is accurate in its description and dead-on in its interpretation of the current discourse in the U.S. armed forces.

William F. Owen, "The War of New Words: Why Military History Trumps Buzzwords," Armed Forces Journal, November 5, 2009.

Here's the opening:

War isn’t just transforming — it’s ushering in a whole new language to describe conflict, and this language is used in a way that pays little attention to logic or military history. Thus the forces we used to call guerrillas are now “hybrid threats.” Insurgencies are now “complex” and require “complex and adaptive” solutions. Jungles and cities are now “complex terrain.” Put simply, the discussion about future conflict is being conducted using buzzwords and bumper stickers.

The evidence that the threats of the 21st century are going to be that much different from the threats of the 20th is lacking. Likewise, there is no evidence that a “new way of war” is evolving or that we somehow had a previously flawed understanding. In fact, the use of the new words strongly indicates that those using them do not wish to be encumbered by a generally useful and coherent set of terms that military history had previously used. As war and warfare are not changing in ways that demand new words, it is odd that people keep inventing them.
Read the whole thing.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Love it.