I have been working on a long-term book-length project that is tentatively titled "The Septivium" ("The Seven Ways"). It's really the culmination of a number of interests that I have held for much of my adult life in one form or another, and the premise is that there are seven fields of lifelong study which, collectively, give a man great leverage in terms of developing his human potential.
Please conceptualize this as a set of comments and observations from the journal of someone who believes strongly in the material, but who cannot claim to be an expert or authority on any of the components.
1. Building a Metabolic Dominance Platform. High-performance "biohacking" lifestyle design and physical performance based on taking proactive steps to control six areas of life:
-Food & Supplements
-Movement & Exercise
-Recovery & Sleep
-Habitat Serenity & Aesthetics
2. Building a Cognitive Dominance Platform: Developing powerful mental models for social systems using six "universal acid" analytical disciplines:
-Game Theory and Decision Science
-Microeconomics and Political Economy (particularly the Austrian school and Public Choice school of political science)
-Classics of Military Strategy
3. Learning How to Fight
4. Learning How to Influence and Persuade
5. Developing an "AAPLE" (my own acronym for Alternative investment strategies, Asset Protection, and Lean Entrepreneurship) Capability
6. Developing a Survivalist Capability
7. Becoming an Adventurer
The elements of the Septivium are by no means exhaustive, and I believe that having a list---virtually any list---of core study areas with which to focus and articulate your lifelong search for knowledge is far more important than adopting someone else's list for yourself. However, in the future I will attempt to persuade you that the Septivium does in fact present a very powerful, potentially life-changing set of tools.
I want to get into all of these things in a series of monster blog posts this year, but one immediate application for me has been the design of the courses that I teach undergrads. I basically have been teaching pieces of the Septivium and will continue to do so as long as students find the information useful.
This term I will be teaching a course that focuses more on military strategy than any that I have taught previously. For anyone interested, here is the syllabus that I am using...
THE ART OF WAR
The New Art of War is a course on strategic thinking that will take an interdisciplinary "Intelligence Fusion" perspective. My efforts will be directed towards the students gaining both analytical tools for academic research and practical tools that they can apply to their own lives and decisions that they confront.
This course will feature discussions on how factors such as globalization and changes in technology have forced an evolution in national security planning. As we intellectually frolic amidst an academic wonderland of entertainment, showmanship, camaraderie, bespoke tailoring, and, as always, great laughs, we will nonetheless get down to the serious work of cultivating a strategic mindset and associated toolkit. During the next several months, we 1) will examine both Western and Eastern classics on military strategy to look for enduring truths about the nature of the battlefield, 2) will study the science of how the stress and uncertainty of combat affect the human mind and body and what can be done to mitigate these factors,3) will learn the basics of mission planning and tactical operations and apply them to case study scenarios, 4) will analyze emerging hotspots and potential conflict areas, and 5) will consider how these all integrate with modern warfighting platforms such as elite military Special Operations Forces (SOF), drones, and cyberwarfare tactics and techniques..
A) Strategy: A History by Lawrence Freedman
Optional Supplement (Highly Recommended):
B) SH 21-76. US Army Ranger Handbook
I will occasionally also issue supplementary handouts and direct you to cool videos and links.
Attendance Policy: Please attend class. I miss you when you aren't there, and I can become emotionally fragile and lash out.
Assessment: Grades will be based on 50% Class Participation and 50% Written Assignments. Class Participation is subjective, but will generally reflect your level of engagement. The Written Assignments will consist of three papers: Papers 1 and 2 are worth 25% of this Written Assignments portion each, while the Final Paper is worth 50% of the Written Assignments portion of the grade.
SCHEDULE OF CLASSES/TOPICS (SUBJECT TO CHANGE OPPORTUNISTICALLY):
16 JAN/(1) Why Study the Art of War? Introduction to Strategic Thinking
-Strategy v.s Tactics.
-Concerns: the Strategy Paradox and the Halo Effect.
-Basic Strategy Types: Frontal Assault, Indirect/Maneuver, Turning the Flank (Frontal + Maneuver Element), War Behind the Lines.
-Strategy and Popperian Falsifiability.
-Core Elements: A) Strategy=Uncertainty; B) Strategy=Tradeoffs; C) Strategy=Managing Strategic Reserves
-Morale: Existential and Non-Existential Threats, "The War Curve"
-METIS vs. BIE
ASSIGNED READING: NONE
23 JAN/(2) "Could Captain America Exist?" Supersoldiers, biohacking, epigenetics, and training.
-War as an apocalyptic study of human nature and human potential
-Physiological, psychological, and cognitive demands of the battlefield.
-Body alarm reaction.
-BIE: Metabolic Dominance. Human metabolism 101. Ketogenesis, autophagy, metabolic conditioning/hormone cascades, supplementation.
-METIS: Cognitive Dominance. Situational Awareness and decision science for strategic supremacy. Adaptive heuristics for tactical supremacy.
-Psychological Dominance. -Sensorimotor Rhythm, Para-Sociopathy, and Predatory Aggression
ASSIGNED READING: Freedman Chapters 1, 2
30 JAN/(3) Tactical Basics: Force Multipliers vs. Lanchester Combat Model
-The Holy Trinity: Fitness, Land Nav, and the Rifle
-Patrolling, Reconnaissance and Situational Awareness.
-Advantage of the Prepared Defense. Concentration and Isolation. "Range Me."
-Surprise: Raids and Ambush. Types of Ambush. Time decay, options, and Relative Superiority (RS)
-Overwatch and Support. Rear Security.
-Deceptions and Camouflage.
-Contingencies, Redundancies, Immediate Action Drills, E&E Plans.
ASSIGNED READING: Freedman, Chapters 10 and 11
6 FEB/(4) Mission Planning 101.
-Commander's Intent and Concept of Operations
-Warning Orders, Courses of Action, Operations Orders, Briefbacks, Frag Orders.
-Mission Profile Templates and Phase Diagrams.
-Scenarios and Pre-Mortem Exercises. De Bono and Lateral Thinking. Creativity.
-Rehearsal vs. Planning
-The Importance of SOPs and Battle Drills
IN CLASS EXERCISE: Planning A Bank Robbery
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT: "Hit the Bellagio". 3-5 pages. Be ready to brief it to the class.
13 FEB/(5) Class Discussion: "Hit the Bellagio"
Watch Movie: "Act of Valor."
ASSIGNED READING: Freedman, Chapters 3, 4, 5
20 FEB/(6) Western Lineage
-Thucydides, Vegetius, Machiavelli.
-Achilles and Odysseus: By Strength or By Guile?
-the Melian Dialogue and Geopolitical Realism
-Hanson on the Western Way of War
-Condottieri and Private Military Corporations
-Featured Battles: Gaugamela, Cannae, Teutoburg Forest
ASSIGNED READING: Freedman, Chapters 21, 23, 24
27 FEB/(7) Eastern Lineage
-Sun Tzu, Musashi, Hagakure, Bansenshukai.
-Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield
-The Devil's Horsemen
-Featured Technology: Mixed-Martial Arts and Combatives
ASSIGNED READING: Freedman, Chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9
6 MARCH: SPRING BREAK: :)
13 MARCH/(8) The Napoleonic Revolution: Clausewitz, Jomini, von Moltke.
-Fog and Friction, The Role of Chance
-Morale and Political Support
-9 Enduring Principles of War
-The Power of Combined Arms
ASSIGNED READING: Freedman, Chapters 16, 17, and 22
20 MARCH/(9) Movie: "Master and Commander."
Homework: Case Study: "Leave No Man Behind?" Scenario Exercise. 2-3 pages.
27 MARCH/(10) Discussion: "Leave No Man Behind?" Sea Power and Air Power.
-Mahan and Corbett
-"From the Sea" and Expeditionary Warfare
-Douhet, Trenchard, Billy Mitchell
-Supporting Role or Leading Actor?
ASSIGNED READING: Freedman, Chapters 12, 13, 36, 37
03 APRIL/(11) Game Theory, Operations Research, Weapons System Analysis
-Nuclear Weapons 101
-Decision Trees and Game Trees
-Chicken, the Prisoner's Dilemma, and MAD
-Axelrod and Simulation
ASSIGNED READING: Freedman, 14, 15, 18
10 APRIL/(12). Counterinsurgency, Counterterrorism, Nation-Building, and Humanitarian Missions.
-Intro to Development Economics: Sacks, Stiglitz, Easterly, Collier.
-The Maoist Template
-Killcullen and the Accidental Guerrilla
-Terrorist Cells as Social Networks
-F3EA and Phoenix Program
- Movie: "Tears of the Sun".
ASSIGNED READING: Freedman, Chapters 28, 29, 30
17 APRIL/(13). Corporate Strategy.
-Learning Curve, BCG Matrix
-Porter's 5 Forces
-Blue Ocean Strategy
-Du Pont Strategic Profit Formula
ASSIGNED READING: Freedman, Chapters 31, 32, 33
SPECIAL NOTE: UFC COMES TO ORLANDO ON APRIL 19th!
24 APRIL/(14). Maneuver Warfare.
-Liddell Hart, Rommel, Boyd.
-"Decapitate the Snake"
-Decentralization and Rapid Exploitation
-OODA and Fast Transients, the Pivot--Orientation
-Criticism of Boyd
-Taleb and Anti-Fragility
-DISCUSS FINAL PAPERS
ASSIGNED READING: Freedman, 26 + Fun, Take-Home Short Answer Assignment
1 MAY/(15). "The Way of the Knife": Commando Operations, Cyberwarfare, Drones.
-SOCOM organization and unit specialties
-"Who would win in a fight between..."
-Capabilities and limitations
-Analysis: Son Tay Raid and Neptune Spear.
ASSIGNED READING: None, Work on Your Papers
8 MAY: FINAL PAPERS DUE