Hiding Stupid Behind Big Words

Hiding Stupid Behind Big Words

As I work on a re-re-rollout of the website, I have decided to shift my focus more to where I am than where I may someday want to be. What that means is an educational / awareness focus on entry level Special Operations Forces. An aide to help young special operators prepare for a world where the lines between civilian and military operations are blurred and where work with intergovernmental agencies is routine. I have now worked over 20 years in and around special operations with the last 12 plus years (in some capacity) within the MARSOC Assessment and Selection program and found myself frustrated with how we prepare the force for the mission.

When I was a young 18D (special forces medic) my educational experience in the ‘school house’ was top notch. Some of the best training of my life. But when I got to a team, I found that there were all sorts of tasks and expectations such as: S1 duties, how to communicate with other government agencies, general awareness of who else is out there, assets that may be available and general language skills that I simply did not know. The truth is, I was taught to speak a foreign language but walked into a world where my native English became muddled by endless jargon and buzzwords.

Over the last three years I have read and written more than at any point in my life and I have been continually frustrated with what I have been reading. Articles that were written to ‘bridge the gap between policy maker and practitioners’ were generally so over laden with jargon that true understanding, especially for entry level SOF, was obscured to a point where I think most simply gave up and quit reading a large portion of the materials. For some reason, basic common language has been abandoned for buzzwords where I honestly believe most articles are not written for the practitioner but for each other in the echo chamber of academics and think tanks where authors are masking incompetence behind the facade of intellectual prowess. Here we are not afraid to ask ‘what the hell does that even mean?’ This is my own long-winded introduction to a new series of definitions that can be referenced at any time to further education where we define the common jargon in our own words (with a little help from links to articles for deeper dives) to help ensure a common baseline of understanding.


Asymmetric Warfare – Conflict between nations or groups that have a seemingly wide variance of capabilities. (here) Rich people fighting poor people.

Black Swan Event – High-impact event that is difficult to predict under normal circumstances but that in retrospect appears to have been inevitable. A black swan event is unexpected and therefore difficult to prepare for but is often rationalized with the benefit of hindsight as having been unavoidable. (here) Didn’t see that coming…but I should have.

Campaigning – Conducting military operations in a logical sequence over a period of time to achieve strategy aligned objectives. Strategic continuity. (here) War with a good plan.

Cross-Domain Operation – Operations that combine capabilities across all domains (air, land, maritime, subsurface, space, and cyberspace) which requires developing joint planning experience to enhance capabilities against a wide array of adversaries. (here) Fighting wars will all of your assets.

DFT – Deployment For Training – Leaving home station for training can be CONUS or OCONUS. Pack you s**t!

Distributed Maritime Operations – The ability to combine the effects of sea-based and land-based fires from various platforms that work together and can move to a position to mass overwhelming combat power and effects at the time and place of our choosing. (here) War on boats with help.

DIME-FIL – Non-kinetic instruments of power typically used by the state department diplomatic, informational, military, economic, finance, intelligence, and law enforcement. (here) War without bullets.

Enterprise Level Agility – Large-scale (hundreds or thousands of people) implementation of resource-intensive problem solving which requires the foresight and technological expertise to implement properly. And the ability for leadership to efficiently move through the four decision cycles of observe, orient, decide, and act in order to respond quickly to sudden external threats. (here) (here) Something other than a government agency.

Five (or Six) Domains of Warfare – Anywhere war can be fought, specifically: subsurface naval, surface naval, ground, air, space and cyberspace. (here) War by any means.

Full Spectrum Tactical Excellence – I think this is a made-up phrase that simply means being good at everything. Being good at your job.

Geography – The study of place and space where place describes the physical characteristics of an area and space describes the human interactions with the physical environment and each other (culture). (here) Space and place.

Gerasimov Model / Doctrine – “a whole-of-government concept that fuses hard and soft power across many domains and transcends boundaries between peace- and wartime. Rather than a driver of Russian foreign policy, the Gerasimov doctrine is an effort to develop an operational concept for Russia’s confrontation with the West in support of the actual doctrine that has guided Russian policy for over two decades: the Primakov doctrine.” Or “permanent conflict.” (here) Total war.

Great Power Competition / Strategic Competition – When the top world powers (U.S., China and Russia) as defined by military or economic potential, compete for influence within other nations. Influence can be military alliances or the exchange of goods. (here) The main event.

Grey Zone – Simply put, it is the area between War and Peace that can include political influence, cyber threats and attacks, economic coercion, and the use of proxies. (here) Fighting a war but denying that you are fighting a war.

Hybrid Warfare – Is a type of warfare that combines aspects of conventional warfare with information operations, political / economic coercion with other tools of subversion with the intent of staying below the threshold of direct conflict. (here) Fighting a war but denying that you are fighting a war..

Information Warfare – Information distributed through any means (internet, radio, pamphlets, etc.) where opinion is attempted to be swayed against an adversary…can be both foreign or domestic. (here)(here) Fight among yourselves…don’t mind us pouring gas on the fire.

Integrated Deterrence – Supporting fires across domains (subsurface naval, surface naval, ground, air, space and cyberspace) combatant commands, whole of government (military and nonmilitary assets) with allies and partners for defensive and offensive capabilities. (here) War with help.

Interoperability – The ability work “together coherently, effectively and efficiently to achieve tactical, operational and strategic objectives. Interoperability activities are defined as any initiative, forum, agreement, or operation that improves the Army’s ability to operate effectively and efficiently as a component of the joint force and as a member or leader of an alliance or coalition across the range of military operations.” (here) War with your friends.

Irregular Warfare – Is war with few limitations in an imbalanced struggle among state and non-state actors that favors indirect approaches in order to erode an adversary’s power, influence, and will with activities that include information operations, cyber and disruption actions that seek to influence populations in arenas of competition and conflict. (here) Poor people fighting rich people for their minds.

LSCO – Large-Scale Combat Operations – War, or war on a scale to that of the initial Iraq invasion. (here) War.

Littoral – “The littoral is comprised of “two segments: the seaward portion is that area from the open ocean to the shore that must be controlled to support operations ashore. The landward portion is the area inland from the shore that can be supported and defended directly from the sea.” (here) War on the beach.

Multi-domain Integration – Having every part of defense (air, land, maritime, subsurface, space, and cyberspace) work together to counter perceived military advantages. (here) Working together to fight a war by any means.

Multi-domain Operations – Combined arms employment from joint military capabilities (air, land, maritime, subsurface, space, and cyberspace) “to create and exploit relative advantages that achieve objectives, defeat enemy forces, and consolidate gains on behalf of joint force commanders.” (here) Working together to fight a war by any means.

Multi-Polar Arenas – Areas that defined by multiple power brokers that are in conflict with each other for influence within a specified region. (here) (highly recommended reading) Rivals fighting for influence.

Near Peer Competitor – When and adversary has similar but not quite equal capability, ‘they are close, but we are better.’ (here) Almost rivals fighting for influence.

Organizational Agility – “Agility is the ability of an organization to renew itself, adapt, change quickly, and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment. Agility is not incompatible with stability—quite the contrary. Agility requires stability for most companies.” (here) The opposite of government bureaucracy.

Pacing Challenge / Threat – In regards to China: “China is a rapidly modernizing, nuclear-armed nation that is on a trajectory to become a peer power to the United States. China is now our pacing threat in large part because it is our most technologically sophisticated adversary and effectively uses its economic clout and information operations to bolster its regional and increasingly global position at the expense of its adversaries.” (here) The new cold war.

Robinson’s Model of Warfare and Competition – (here)

Unconventional Warfare – Support to a resistance force that is a semi-organized militarized irregular force as part of an insurgency. (here) Sponsoring poor people to fight rich people.

Unrestricted Warfare – A book written by two Chinese military officers, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsuiar, who propose fighting a war against the U.S. that has no limits where the information and the battlespace is everywhere. (here) War anytime, anywhere, if fact we are already fighting.

Value Proposition – “In marketing is a concise statement of the benefits that a company is delivering to customers who buy its products or services.” (here) Trust me, you’ll like it.

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    Daily Dump: China dominates the Caribbean, Their Own, and Redraws the Map - The Cognitive Warrior Project
    September 4, 2023 at 7:32 AM

    […] you have any reservations about the existence of the Great Power Competition (which we defined here) that the U.S. is locked in with China, today’s articles should take care of all doubt. To begin […]

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