by Anonymous US National Security expert, as part of a new series of posts providing insights into the policy-making process
Per your request at the 0500 stand-up, I have compiled the full set of analogies developed to wrap around the pending National Military Strategy. Staff were told to supply a framework analogy appropriate for supporting the following: Because we cannot be certain when, where, or under what conditions the next fight will occur, the Joint Force must maintain an [insert analogy] stance—with the strength, agility, endurance, resilience, flexibility, and awareness to fight and win against any potential adversary. Staff stand ready to expand on these for 10-20 pages to make the strategy really sing, whatever it ends up being.
MAJ “Servie” Von Connu VI
***“We come now to the region dominated by the powers of intellect. War is the realm of uncertainty . . . . War is the realm of chance. . . . Two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead. The first of these qualities is described by the French term, coup d’oeil; the second is determination.“*** Carl von Clausewitz.
The Joint Force must maintain the preternaturally ready and agile posture of a housemate who always leaves the cabinets open, the orange juice partially closed, the freezer cracked, the windows unlocked, utterly unphased and unburdened by the judgment of others, in the event he needs to access these areas and items with tremendous speed and little forethought, like a Zombie Apocalypse where you really need some OJ.
The Joint Force must maintain the posture of a lone woman walking home in the dark after happy hour, keys threaded in her fingers, phone dialed 9-1 in her hand, attuned to any whistles or hisses with the agility of a ninja, her alert posture and swivel-head the platform from which offense and defense derives, able to judge the relative safety of the dimly lit acrid smelling bus shelter on one corner vs the glow of the chicken wing strewn sidewalk by 7-Eleven on the other as she texts every friend she knows might be awake that she’s getting into a black Toyota Corolla Uber and will post when she gets inside her apartment.
The Joint Force must maintain a readiness to respond to anything, like a thirty-something reply guy perusing social media who has read the unexpanded part Axios newsletter and listened to ⅔ of the Daily; he is agile, able to shift topics with the wind, utterly unphased by the experience of his chosen opponent; ready, waiting to reply to a tweet with his superior unfathomable knowledge.
The Joint Force must be prepared and ready like a baby watching it’s slightly anxious mom start at important professional conference call, her first in months, as she settles it into a bouncy chair; it is hyperaware, able to initiate an audible diaper explosion at a decisive moment.
The Joint Force must be ready, enduring and resilient, like George RR Martin as he commits with a straight hirsute face that the Winds of Winter is just over the horizon; he ready, ready as it is possible for a lone man to be, to open Microsoft Word at a moments notice, when the moment does strike him.
The Joint Force must be ready and agile as the buzz cut sweaty guy in the elevator jumping in without prelude about his CrossFit WoD, pouncing on unsuspecting new arrivals to announce his newfound skill at burpees, flexible in shifting seamlessly between that new blister on his left thumb and the superiority of the box he joined on that long trip to Florida, adapting rapidly between testosterone laden braggadocio and what he believes to be smouldering displays of his pecs in his unfortunately transparent business shirt.
The Joint Force must be agile, as agile as an minor innovation office deep in the Pentagon bureaucracy is at inserting agility into every document they offer their coordination on; just as flexible in as they in their ability to a insert both agility and flexibility where one might do; it must be resilient; as strong and enduring in their persistence in evading “efficiencies” reviews and headquarters cuts at every turn; just as aware as said office when they correctly read the room that now is not the time to break out the post its and pipe cleaners.
The Joint Force must be ready, as ready as a soldier in the second week of online ILE course to insert a Clausewitz quote into every engagement he has and particularly into his seven line signature block.
The Joint Force must be as ready as a woman complimented on her dress while preening in a public bathroom to exclaim effusively, with no prior thought or preparation, and with enormous pride that she bought it on sale.
The Joint Force must be flexible, as flexible as the lower button holes on desk bound milaide’s shirt; as resilient as his food container as he meanders through the Market Basket buffet for a robust meal of orange chicken, mashed potatoes, banana pudding, meatballs, an enchilada and the steamed vegetables he reports on his fitness app; as flexible as his sense of smell as he persuades himself that dry cleaning can wait one more week.
The Joint Force must be ready, as ready as a prima ballerina for her debut in Swan Lake, as flexible as she gracefully executes an awe inspiring grand jete, as resilient as when she smiles sweetly and indulgently as the gentleman at the bar inquires if she’s also one of those kinda dancers har har, as strong as when she breaks his nose with a left hook and a loud, crunchy, gory, Tarantino-esque explosion of blood and cartilage.
The Joint Force must maintain the primed stance of a general officer testifying before Congress; with the agility to attest to a readiness crisis no matter the question; the endurance to never quite define readiness for human ears in the face of legislative pleading; the flexibility to lay quiet blame at the feet of civilian micromanagement regardless of the challenge; the awareness of when his total incomprehensibility is wearing thin so as to pivot to a story about a minor defense installation in the interrogators district; the strength to be thanked for his service 75 times in 2 hours by people playing Candy Crush on their iPads.
The Joint Force must maintain a boxer’s stance, but not just any boxer, oh no (that would be pretty silly); instead a boxer who is never told of his bouts, whose opponent keeps their greatest moves hidden, who operates without a referee and in the middle of the crowd rather than in a ring, where the lights often go off and the only people keeping score seem to like the other guy a lot better.