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 Post subject: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:48 pm 
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US generals have been given a baffling PowerPoint presentation to try to explain the Afghanistan mess, reports The Daily Mail.They are, we are told, struggling to understand it - and that is really worrying. From the look of it, this is the over-simplified version, for military use. The reality is much more complicated.

View full article here

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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:01 pm 
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Image
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I'd choose leave.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:03 pm 
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It's a MindMap. Get a free version Here

A very useful tool I use frequently, but one needs the software to be able to click on the different fields to collapse them. The slide only gives the overview.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:44 pm 
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Bagua wrote:
It's a MindMap. Get a free version Here

A very useful tool I use frequently, but one needs the software to be able to click on the different fields to collapse them. The slide only gives the overview.


As in we don't mind, and you don't matter?

That aside, I have difficulty with the idea of "military" and "brainstorming" in the same sentence.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:45 pm 
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Bagua wrote:
It's a MindMap.


It's a mess.

Not saying it's not enlightening or clever. It is both those things. But if you have got Einstein on the case in Afghanistan, and what Einstein produces for the Generals to explain what is going on is that chart, it's time to leave.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:55 pm 
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therewaslight wrote:
Bagua wrote:
It's a MindMap.


It's a mess.

Not saying it's not enlightening or clever. It is both those things. But if you have got Einstein on the case in Afghanistan, and what Einstein produces for the Generals to explain what is going on is that chart, it's time to leave.


The serious point is that it is an over-simplification ... there is danger in believing it is a comprehensive overview. It isn't.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:05 pm 
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POWERpoint........... don't you just love the irony.


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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:09 pm 
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Yes, surely there are a lot of questionable assumptions embedded in the chart, as to where links go and where they don't and what other nodes and regions might exist. But I find it hard to get past my first thought that it is not going to be influential. Those sorts of charts are produced to excite the nerd doing the research. At the business end you need simplification. An ability to simplify a complex issue is a sign that you understand that issue. If you cannot you don't. Nobody understands how to win when the object of the game is "Afghanistan." I think that chart is further proof of that.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:09 pm 
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Anoneumouse wrote:
POWERpoint........... don't you just love the irony.


It almost qualifies as goldy.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:30 pm 

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Is that supposed to be a magic eye picture?

I'll admit I may have missed it but I see no inclusion of green issues there. No carbon reduction plans. No emissions targets. No subsidies for hybrids or feed in tariffs for renewables. For a start all that steel lying around in the Daily Mail pictures could be the start of an Afghan recycling industry.

The mind map looks terrifying. Not that it might not cover all the issues but that it covers too many and that the Command think that if they can plot it out they will magically understand it all. They seem to be trying to micro-manage the insurgents to death and Afghanistan into something approaching a modern society and have produced a map that convinces them that everything needs to be in place for it to happen. Are they aiming for perfect when good enough would do? Do they even know what good enough looks like?

Special Forces types apparently do okay when it comes to COIN so presumably they are a whizz when it comes to Powerpoint...


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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:31 am 
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gareth wrote:
Is that supposed to be a magic eye picture?

I'll admit I may have missed it but I see no inclusion of green issues there. No carbon reduction plans. No emissions targets. No subsidies for hybrids or feed in tariffs for renewables. For a start all that steel lying around in the Daily Mail pictures could be the start of an Afghan recycling industry.

The mind map looks terrifying. Not that it might not cover all the issues but that it covers too many and that the Command think that if they can plot it out they will magically understand it all. They seem to be trying to micro-manage the insurgents to death and Afghanistan into something approaching a modern society and have produced a map that convinces them that everything needs to be in place for it to happen. Are they aiming for perfect when good enough would do? Do they even know what good enough looks like?

Special Forces types apparently do okay when it comes to COIN so presumably they are a whizz when it comes to Powerpoint...


Possibly, Powerpoint is becoming a substitute for thinking. Reality is difficult to get on one slide, and looks terribly messy. Hence, you get a Powerpoint reality ... it is only real if you can sum it up on a slide.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:29 am 

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therewaslight wrote:
Yes, surely there are a lot of questionable assumptions embedded in the chart, as to where links go and where they don't and what other nodes and regions might exist. But I find it hard to get past my first thought that it is not going to be influential. Those sorts of charts are produced to excite the nerd doing the research. At the business end you need simplification. An ability to simplify a complex issue is a sign that you understand that issue. If you cannot you don't.
Alexander the Great had a way of simplifying things:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alexa ... n_Knot.jpg
Quote:
Nobody understands how to win when the object of the game is "Afghanistan." I think that chart is further proof of that.

How is winning defined is part of the question. I suppose some people just prefer the martyr factory to be in Afghanistan, rather than in Manhattan.


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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:31 am 
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Ideinostre wrote:
therewaslight wrote:
Yes, surely there are a lot of questionable assumptions embedded in the chart, as to where links go and where they don't and what other nodes and regions might exist. But I find it hard to get past my first thought that it is not going to be influential. Those sorts of charts are produced to excite the nerd doing the research. At the business end you need simplification. An ability to simplify a complex issue is a sign that you understand that issue. If you cannot you don't.
Alexander the Great had a way of simplifying things:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alexa ... n_Knot.jpg


What is needed is a way of simplifying the conflict that everyone understands. I think a Powerpoint slide of a picture of a huge, steaming pile of shit and above the down arrow the words "We are here" would simplify it in a way everyone could understand.

Quote:
Quote:
Nobody understands how to win when the object of the game is "Afghanistan." I think that chart is further proof of that.

How is winning defined is part of the question. I suppose some people just prefer the martyr factory to be in Afghanistan, rather than in Manhattan.


That is the myth that we are fighting Al Qaeda - we are not fighting Arab terrorists, we are fighting Pashtuns. We would do better to deploy the Pashtuns, against whom we are now fighting, in our service against Al Qaeda. But in doing so we might actually realise we could afford to sell off our Joint Services Command and Staff College to Pontins and get the war gamers real jobs advancing British industry.

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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:10 pm 
I go sea angling and recognise the diagram as a line bird's nest caused by allowing too much line to come off the spool after the cast hits the water surface by not flicking the reel's baler arm over in time. In short it's caused by putting in too many resources too quickly and ignoring the braking effect of the sea. The problem can be solved given a couple of hours but it's usually best to cut ones losses, bin the tangle and start afresh. To complete the analogy between Afghanistan and angling, you had a much better chance catching big fish fifteen or twenty years ago.


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 Post subject: Re: What is the problem?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:34 pm 
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GallimaufryandChips wrote:
I go sea angling and recognise the diagram as a line bird's nest caused by allowing too much line to come off the spool after the cast hits the water surface by not flicking the reel's baler arm over in time. In short it's caused by putting in too many resources too quickly and ignoring the braking effect of the sea. The problem can be solved given a couple of hours but it's usually best to cut ones losses, bin the tangle and start afresh. To complete the analogy between Afghanistan and angling, you had a much better chance catching big fish fifteen or twenty years ago.


Not fifteen or twenty years ago ... 1896 was the key date, with 1947 when we locked in the mistake for perpetuity. We are not responsible for the sins of our fathers, but we are certainly paying for them.

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