Catching up to Jeff Davis

John Robb's Global Guerillas blog presents the next wave of Boydian analysis at a level that does great credit to the foundations Col. John Boyd laid.

A new post, Global Guerillas in the UK, ties a couple of Robb's advanced "fifth generation of warfare" themes, open source warfare and networked guerillas, to news from Britain.

For the advanced Civil War reader these concepts might evoke Jefferson Davis's May of 1865 plans for continuing the war.

When Britain's chief of MI5 says, "my officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or [guerilla] networks," and characterizes them as "resilient networks," we are immediately reminded of Winik's argument that Davis envisioned networks sustaining a small Continentals-style CSA field army that would travel the South striking at fixed Union positions, property, and collaborators until Northern will collapsed.

The "open source" part of Rebel warfare of late 1865, then, might take the form of bands of men capable of organizing new, temporary militia units ("flash mobs"?) based on opportunity and local conditions in parallel with the sustained effort of Davis's small band of "Continentals."

The war ended under the only terms it could: the physical apprehension of Jeff Davis. Even that was not final because members of his government (Kirby Smith among them) were determined to continue the fight. Happenstance precluded Davis's "fourth generation" warfare experiment.

As I have said many times in this space, the Army we have today is "second generation" - a Civil War institution overwhelmingly concerned with synchronization, alignment, hierarchy, direction, control. Actually, I said it better in an earlier post: it is a system committed to "alignment, synchronicity, spatial management, and the micromanagement of undertrained subordinates," and all new technology is put at the service of these values. In that same post we saw John J. Pershing proposing a third generation alternative: "Open warfare had irregular formations, comparatively little regulation of space and time, and the greatest possible use of the infantry's own firepower to enable it to "get forward ... [with] brief orders" and "the greatest possible use of individual initiative."

Despite Davis and later Pershing, we see yet another Armistice Day with the same ancient "second generation" values holding sway in our armed forces.