Sunday — Fire for Effect

Who knew? Powerpoint somewhat lacking as a military decision tool
Nifty slideshow of the “Wolfpack” in Nineveh
Flexibility is the key to chaos
Inside the USMC’s mulepacking course
Good question: Where’s the Afghan National Army?


Badass: Automatic, fully stabilized 25mm cannon in testing. H/T: Neptunus Lex (which you should be reading every day)

  • TB

    Regarding the Powerpoint essay: the military spends a pittance on teaching us how to think rather than what to think. Powerpoint in the classroom is usually used to give a broad general description of what the subject is about. The instructors then expect you to actually learn the subject matter on your own or in a field environment. Very rarely have I learned something in an army classroom. The best instructors I’ve ever had used powerpoint to say “Hi my name is” and then told you to focus on him for the next half hour. The worst instructors put everything up on the slide and expect you to read and regurgitate.

  • TDS4S

    I got out of the Army in large part because of PowerPoint. It has destroyed leaders’ ability to think in the same way that email has destroyed their ability to lead.
    I spent 6 years on the line… scout PL, recon troop XO, recon troop commander, plus time in schools. I never wanted a staff job (who does?) but I assumed that the guys who made decisions and told me what to do knew what they were doing. I assumed that they were telling me (the line in general) to do the right things. I found out differently when I was posted to a 4-star HQ and discovered that no one making decisions knows what they are doing - the medium by which information is conveyed won’t allow them to. All info is conveyed in astonishingly dense, painful, unintelligible slides. That, or emails that won’t be read unless they are a single sentance (apparently no issue is too complex to reduce to a single sentance).
    Add to that the pain of PPT Creep… once any issue is briefed on PPT, suddenly every issue must be briefed that way. Under Sanchez, we just did what we needed to do. Under Casey, se suddenly had to brief a 2-star on stuff that just wasn’t his business - stuff we used to do on our own. Simply preparing the briefing (let’s not even discuss the ridiculous visual standards that brieifngs must meet), getting on his calendar, briefing the issue (in uselssely short, uselsessly dense bursts of info), and getting his half-informed and wrong decisions took far more time than it used to take for me to think about the issue and do the right thing.
    PPT is terrible for the Army. It does not allow the subject matter experts to convey the depth of their expertise. It forces leaders to make decisions before they really understand issues. And it encourages everyone to think in single-verb, pronounless bullet points.
    The weakness of the American army (indeed the whole American system… political too) is our leadership. It is terrible. My experiences are maybe not the rule, but they are what I saw. The quality of small, daily decisions being made at the O6 / O7 / O8 level was terrible, and PPT and its corrosive effect upon thinking were a big part of the reason.

  • TB

    When I was just a lowly cadet, I was taught how to brief, give orders, and teach from 3×5 index cards in my pocket. It forced me to be succinct and have a strong presence because I was the only thing in the room they were looking at. The first time I used powerpoint I was chastized for not using hard drive-killing graphics even though I got my point across in less time than my peers.

  • ewok40k

    nice little autocannon… seems good against fast boats packed with explosives or pirates.

  • TDS4S

    That’s a Bradley cannon. Minus the “Gunner - sabot - PC - Index one-two-hundred!”