Sunday, January 06, 2008

How A Fighter Pilot Changed The Way We Fight Wars

A couple of years ago I stumbled across this book while browsing around Borders: Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. I'd never heard of the man before but he almost single-handedly changed how we design fighters, how we use them and how we train their pilots. His Energy-Maneuverability Theory showed how the fighters we developed in the 50's and 60's were really just about sitting ducks and it is he that was responsible for the development of the hugely successful F-15 and F-16 fighters. He also conceived the theory of the "OODA Loop," short for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. It is essentially about how you get inside an opponent's decision cycle, assessing a situation and taking action before your opponent can. The OODA Loop theory also has application in business and has led to other innovations such as Crew Resource Management (CRM) in aviation and in fields such as medicine. If you like biographies, and learning about new theories, it's a fascinating read.

Bill Whittle recently picked up on the same book and has done a masterful job (as he always does) of summarizing Boyd's work and then going a few steps further and showing how Boyd's OODA loops have been applied to the war in Iraq and how, after a delayed start, we are slowly but surely wearing down Al Qaeda through superior ability to get inside the enemy decision cycle and use it against them, almost in spite of ourselves due to the political ambitions of a certain political party and its MSM enablers. That is turning out to be the biggest obstacle we face in this war. Part 1 of Bill's essay is here and Part 2 here. I wouldn't try to print them out because the comments are appended to them and that will generate a lot of pages well beyond the actual essay, but do read the essay.
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