Imagine being Joe Schmo on main street in 1964… Sitting outside a drug store (not a Starbucks) but the fake wooden streetscape of our earlier mental conjuration still remains the same. It’s a time before ‘real’ commercial airline travel — the first flight of a 747 is still 5 years away. The closest thing Joe has to the idea of air travel is a 1st generation airliner like a De Havilland Comet and only then because he heard about it on the radio (My Grandpa worked by the way on the De Havilland Comet decompression investigation), and Black and White TVs are still sold more than colour.
Meanwhile, you tell him this: there exists a separate world of classified technology and just one of those things is a Mach 3 Stealth Plane that can fly to the edge of space.
Do you think you could tell Ol’ Joe this without his hackles being raised? Do you think he’d believe you? There would be much shaking of heads and remonstration. I’m not sure Mr Schmo would accept it at all. It would just bounce off the carefully constructed bubble of Red Reality that he’s unknowingly internalised. At the time it would be indistinguishable to him from UFO reports.
Our current hierarchical view of ourselves and of our consciousness (with “I” at the apex, and “my ideas, my emotions, my experiences, and accumulated skills, etc.”, below) can now be shown to be fundamentally incoherent in a number of ways—the central contention being that in actual fact there isn’t and there can be no centre to our consciousness the same way that there is no centre to a river. Breaking away from the cul-de-sac of the this current/common hierarchical view, this chapter outlines a new model in which conditioned responses of memory—in the form of holarchically ordered, fundamentally interconnected basic assumptions and emotional attitudes—provide a continually shifting structure of consciousness (akin to the changing (infinite, yet finite) structural patterns which may arise in a kaleidoscope)..
But the most reliable test for one’s strategic ideas is history. Or in this case, history in the making. John Boyd’s ideas are evident in three modern day strategic actors and the success they’re currently enjoying is self-evident. Despite the loyalty of his acolytes, the best advocates for Boyd’s ideas are Russia, China, and the Islamic State. Each of these actors, probably without knowing it, are demonstrating Boydian strategic methods. Each of them is using an adroit mix of ambiguity, deception, distribution, and propaganda, all while demonstrating a keen awareness of the moral plane of war and warfare in a way that is serving their ends. To those of us aware of Boyd’s ideas, it comes as no surprise. Everyone else is trying to figure out if there is even a war.
Western militaries built on industrial-era ideas are even inventing the Human Domain to remind them that we are humans. Wherever you come down on whether or not war is a thing, at the very least there is strategic competition and the preparation thereof. In fact, there are three major strategic competitions occurring simultaneously, and each of them exhibit strong Boydian characteristics.
Those characteristics are these. The first is ambiguity. Boyd stressed the need to act in such a way that your opponent can never really be sure exactly what it is you’re doing. Ambiguity is leavened by a healthy dose of deception. Secondly, in each case dispersion is used to increase ambiguity and deception. Even Russia has spread military units out in its eastern territory to distract. This is a violation of the classic principle of mass that US doctrine adheres to so closely. Lastly, the actions taken by these actors are aimed at achieving a mental or moral effect. While the OODA loop is a jumping off point, the essence of Boyd’s ideas is an inversion of an idea originating with Clausewitz: While the Prussian focused on overcoming friction, Boyd focused on increasing the opponent’s friction and thus using it as a weapon.