FORT POLK, La. – This review of the Army Chief of Staff’s Reading List will be different from my other reviews in a few unique ways.
First, I’ll discuss three distinct titles from the Chef’s Playlist, including “Like War,” The Social Dilemma (available on Netflix), and “Faster Than You Think” (available as a traditional book or via an eBook) .
Second, I haven’t read everything. I read “Like War” around Thanksgiving last year, watched “The Social Dilemma” (as the ASC directs it) over Christmas, and listened to “Faster Than You Think” while driving to and from Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, while visiting my son and his family in January.
The CSA is deliberate in its selections for the playlist and I personally believe that it uses this playlist as one of many methods to change the way leaders in the military think and, subsequently, our culture and our approach to war and war.
The military and the Department of Defense, in general, are transforming the approach to warfare – to include cross-domain operations that bring the military into the next century and prepare us not only for the battles of tomorrow, but to ‘today.
The military has recognized that warfare is changing, as evidenced by the release of “Tradoc Pamphlet 525-3-1, The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028” in December 2018.
If you haven’t read it, I recommend you at least pick it up and get a little familiar with it before diving into any of the three CSA titles above.
The pamphlet is a good “intro” to prepare the reader for what the chef wants you to get out of these readings. This will help the leading reader know what to look for and what to take away from these readings for their training.
To drive quick, non-linear solutions in Army doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities and policy, the leader must first understand the operating environment. To understand this environment, the above three titles are essential and provide a good introduction to the highly anticipated release of the Army’s Multi-Domain Operations Manual, hopefully in June.
I’m going to give you an introduction to each of the three titles that I think the leader wants us to study as leaders to be better positioned, prepared, trained and educated to execute warfare in the multiple areas in which we must operate, not only in the future, but now — as the war in Ukraine so clearly shows.
“Like War”, by PW Singer and Emerson T. Brooking
I read this one off the list the old-fashioned way, like a traditional book, and I’m glad I did. In my opinion, this is “mandatory” reading for all leaders in our military. I have more “dog-eared” pages and underlined and overlined things than I don’t. This reading is essentially a manual on how to execute a credible information narrative through cross-domain actions that communicate and counter threats in the realm of cyberspace. While the first third of the book is devoted to how this field evolved into the “super-shaper” of the operating environment that it is today, and the last third is lightly tinged with politics, the majority of the book is full of nuggets that apply to today’s “pre-battlefield” cyber realm and the “war-like” elements that are indispensable.
As a bonus, in the conclusion of Chapter 9, the Joint Readiness Training Center is highlighted for its social media environment and Internet replication (SMEIR). This SMEIR sees the Internet as a battlefield and should change the way the military leader thinks about information. This book is superb and of the three in this review highest rated at 4.5 anvils out of a maximum score of five anvils.
“The Social Dilemma”, directed by Jeff Orlowski and written by Orlowski, Davis Coombe and Vickie Curtis
The main point of this movie, and why I think the chef put it on the list, is to demonstrate how powerful social media is and how it can be used to influence and manipulate not just a society, but also an operational environment.
Social media has been “armed” to put it bluntly. For us, as a military, not to fully utilize this medium to positively influence and condition the global operating environment would be a mistake. Take the time to watch it and see how entire generations of people around the world are influenced to act (or not act) by social media. What I liked about this film are the multiple interviews with all types of experts. The insight and perspective provided to the leader is invaluable. Today, social media makes airing “War of the Worlds” in 1938, where Americans were convinced we were being attacked by aliens, a breeze. In today’s information age, this type of EO “attack” or “conditioning” occurs thousands of times per minute across the globe. This one wins three out of five anvils on the scale.
“Faster Than You Think”, by Peter H. Diaminds and Steven Kotler
A great read that will blow your mind as the authors brilliantly predict how fast technology is advancing and how the world will change as a result. The authors address the impact of technology on just about everything in our lives – transportation, retail, advertising, education, health, entertainment, food, finance and more.
I listened to this title on an audiobook and really enjoyed the interjections and pauses they took from the book itself and chatted with the authors. Their insight and thoughts on their writing years later are insightful and worthy of thought and consideration.
All in all, a nice addition to the audiobook. What made me realize why the chef wanted us to read this book was the line; “We will see more change in the next ten years than our parents saw in their lifetime.” To me, that’s a very powerful statement, and probably accurate and telling for the leading reader.
The operating environment will change rapidly, producing more vulnerabilities and threats than the military and industry can possibly develop and procure to protect those vulnerabilities.
The OE will be expanded, wider and more dangerous than ever. It will be up to the leader to recognize and react to a rapidly changing technological environment. All in all, a great read and deservedly earns four out of five anvils on the scale.
|Date posted:||25.05.2022 10:07|
|Location:||FORT POLK, LA, USA|
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