November 28, 2007

John Boyd and the Neo-Taliban

Abu Muqawama attended a book launch tonight honoring this man's latest work. Some of you Afghanistan-watchers may recognize Antonio Giustozzi's name from earlier books and journalism, but his latest book -- Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop: The Neo-Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan-- looks particularly promising.

Giustozzi was, on the whole, pessimistic toward the possibility that Afghanistan's central government might get their act together, saying it might take an ultimatum from NATO before they move on key reforms. But Abu Muqawama was, as always, more interested in what he had to say about the battlefield behavior of the Taliban insurgents. On the one hand, they have a strong motivating ideology that binds them together. On the other hand, though, they are comfortable in decentralized operations and push decision-making authority down to small unit leaders, encouraging initiative and independence on the battlefield. In short, they behave more like the U.S. Marine Corps than the traditional state armies of the Middle East and Central Asia.

This ties into some of the research Abu Muqawama is doing at the moment, studying the way in which decentralized operations reduce the length of the insurgent small unit leader's OODA Loop on the battlefield -- thus allowing him to make rapid decisions in the same manner that small unit leaders in advanced western militaries make tactical decisions. Specifically, Abu Muqawama is trying to figure out how this makes Hizbollah more effective opponent against the IDF than, say, the PLO or the Egyptian Army.

Now you know what Abu Muqawama thinks about all day in the library (aside from the Red Sox).