Janar Wasito attended
Harvard University where he served as the
President of the Boxing Club and competed
in the Massachusetts Golden Gloves. He completed
Marine Officer Candidate School at Harvard
and was commissioned as a Marine Officer upon
graduation. He served in the Marine Corps
for 4 years and led a rifle platoon and a
weapons platoon. He also served as a rifle
company executive officer and as an assistant
battalion and regimental operations officer.
He received his law degree from Stanford University,
and currently works for a hedge fund in San
Francisco. He serves as a staff member of
Team in Training, a Leukemia charity. He has
completed over 5 Olympic distance triathlons
with Team in Training. He currently resides
in San Diego, and is working on a book about
the 1st Marine Division's use of the Small
Wars Manual in Operation Iraqi Freedom 2.
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May 3, 2004
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The military theorist, Sun Tzu, wrote that the acme of skill in
war is to defeat the enemy strategy. In this Global
War on Terror (GWOT), what is the enemy strategy? The problem
with answering that question outright is that it is hard to define
the enemy. Is it Al
Qaeda, or Iraqi Insurgents? Is it all extremist Islamic terrorist
organizations? Nonetheless, even from a safe distance, it is possible
to discern certain patterns which seem to add up to the collective
intent of our opponents. On 3/11, a series of bombings in Spain
just before an election caused a change of political power and a
withdrawal of 1400 Spanish troops, which is being executed now.
A few weeks later, a tape
recording of Osama Bin Laden reportedly offered a "truce" to
Europe. In late March, the horrific images of 4 burned Americans
caused Coalition forces to encircle and lay siege to Fallujah.
My interpretation of these events is that our opponents are trying
to separate American Hard Power (military force, raw economic power)
from American Soft Power (economic development, education, the attractiveness
of our culture and history). Our opponents' intent is also to separate
the American military from American public support. Historically,
the United States has deep ties with Europe - but the Spanish coup,
and Osama's proferred "truce" only deepen the rift between America
and its cross-Atlantic allies. America shares the Western cultural
heritage with Western Europe and Australia. Our opponents would
like to divide these loyalties. Moreover, the images from Fallujah
seemed deliberately calculated to recall the Tet
Offensive in 1968, which decisively undermined American public
support for the Vietnam
War, and the Black Hawk Down episode in Somalia in 1993. Our opponents
would like the American public to withdraw its support for the troops
In this context, I think that it is a useful exercise to compare
two books written by the same author, but in different time periods.
The first book is The Village, by Bing West. The Village is an account
of a Marine Corps Combined Action Platoon (CAP) conducted in 1966
in the Vietnamese village of Binh Nghia. A rifle squad of 14 Marines
from 1st Battalion, 7th Marines (1/7) joins forces with about 28
South Vietnamese Popular Forces soldiers to protect the village.
The combined unit endures attacks which eventually kill 50% of the
Marines, yet the Marines chose to remain in the village voluntarily.
At least until 1970, the village succeeded in resisting Communist
domination. A website devoted to CAP
Marines testifies to the lasting impact made by CAP Marines
in the lives of the Vietnamese villagers they encountered. But,
the website also offers evidence that the CAP Marines felt that
they were "All Alone..."
Fast forward 37 years. Bing West's novel, The Pepperdogs, is a book
about a small team of Recon Marines in another Small War - Kosovo.
They encounter many of the same situations that the CAP Marines
of 1/7 encountered in The Village: ambushes, patrols, tribal feuds.
But, there are important contrasts in the context. First, because
of the ingenuity of one of the Marines, the Recon Team is never
really alone - it is posting its exploits on an hour by hour basis
through an internet enabled, global cell phone, until its fate becomes
a matter of national interest to the popular media. Also, the conflict
in Kosovo is typical of the post Cold War, "Clash of Civilizations"
described by Samuel Huntington. The Pepperdogs is set in the Balkans,
where Western, Slavic-Orthodox, and Islamic Civilization share violent
faultlines. Nonetheless, though the circumstances have changed,
it is the loyalty of the Marines to each other that pull them through
a difficult situation.
The differences between Small Wars in the era of The Village (1966),
and Small Wars in the era of The Pepperdogs (2003) are really summarized
in the original article defining 4th Generation Warfare, and the
other articles on that subject. These articles are on the web at
the Defense and the National Interest
website. Basically, technology has advanced and made the world smaller
through faster communication, travel, and general advances in mass
media. As well, conflict now is a result of ideas - which is another
way of saying we are seeing a "clash of civilizations." One interesting
phenomenon is the rise of webblogs. In a way, this column is one.
Another interesting story is the rise of the Spirit
of America foundation. (Full disclosure: I am a volunteer for
this organization.) In January, it donated about $60,000 worth of
toys, Frisbees, and other humanitarian items to the 1st Marine Division
to be given to the Iraqi people. Just today (29 April 2004), it
delivered $100,000 worth of television gear to the Marines aboard
Camp Pendleton. Moreover, it has received $1.5 million in cash donations
in 10 days following a Wall Street Journal article about 2 weeks
ago. In attendance at the event was the web blog personality, who
maintains various sites, Lt Smash.
The Spirit of America was able to raise these funds, in part, through
the word of mouth effect of web blogs. Another notable web based
effort which has originated in the past few months is the organization,
A Million Thanks which
seeks to send a million thank you letters to the troops in Iraq.
All of this reminds me of my Entrepreneurship classes at Stanford
Graduate School of Business in the hey day of the Internet boom
in the late 1990s. The buzzwords, "network effects" and "first mover
advantage" come to mind as I follow this phenomenon. Now, there
is an opportunity for individual Americans to click through a site,
to make a donation, and to see how that donation can make a difference
to a military unit in Iraq. As the Marine handbook on Warfighting
says, the moral effects of weapons are often more important than
the actual effects of those weapons. In this case, it may well be
that the moral effects on both the givers of this aid, and on the
recipients of this type of aid, is the most important aspect of
these Internet phenomenons in the ongoing history of 4th Generation
warfare. When an American makes a donation, or sends a thank you
letter, that person then has a stake in the endeavor, even though
only a small minority of Americans serves in uniform. When an Iraqi
receives a donation, then that person generally will be affected
by the act of generosity. Most importantly, through these kinds
of efforts, the American service members in Iraq need not ever feel
like they are out there, isolated, alone, and forgotten by their
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© 2004 Janar Wasito. All opinions expressed
in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect
those of Military.com.