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April 12, 2006


Don McArthur

Well, good luck. But if I had to bet, I'd bet on the sheer inertia of something like the $419 Billion DoD Budget for 2006. The crumbs from that amount can enrich vast numbers of soon-to-be-retired decision makers.

I think they'd rather make initiative and innovation an indictable offence under the UCMJ.


To what extent could your open source DOD doctrine piggy back the public blogosphere's infrastructure and toolset?

John Robb

Don, you are probably right. It's a pipe dream.

Eric. In every way I and others can think of. There is so much great software to borrow/employ from it boggles the mind.

mark safranski

Lind's post really had me thinking yesterday because he's really talking about scenarios that enable creative thinking (or discourage them). And you have considerably expanded on it John. Great post !

Perhaps the best option to get the result you are talking about is to encourage the growth of this wiki/blog junior officer mil network from the grassroots, outside of official sponsorship with what we have. There already are active duty military personnel who blog and want to think deeply and seriously about these issues - they just need to find one another to get started.

John Robb

I agree. To do it right though, it needs funding. Ad hoc efforts would be a long ramp.


Guys, come on, ! ;-)

If I may be allowed a shameless plug, we've had groupintel blog, wiki and forums up for a couple of months. Mostly current and ex-IC, current LE, and private practitioners. Success has been small, but the key word here is success. We all know this CAN work because 90% of the time it is how we ACTUALLY work. You pump your network of friends and colleagues . . . think "Peter-san" from The Green Berets.

John is right: the software to make this happen is out there. It is so thick you have to watch where you walk for fear of tripping over it. Bad guys are using it, but the good guys are still stuck with the decades old procurement process . . . and we wonder why they continue to eat our lunch.

I think the biggest drawback to any such effort is time. We've all got mortgages to pay and unless this sort of work is part of the job or compensated in some fashion, for most folks it is going to come after work, spouse, kids, lawn, night school, etc., etc. Who is going to make it work: the guys willing to fire up a pot of coffee after they put the kids down so they can stay up till 02:00 to contribute.

John Robb

Michael, you are exactly right. I could build an amazing system (with one or two programmers) that would make it easy for junior officers with experience in Afghanistan and Iraq to make contributions in their spare time. Sure, I could do it in an ad hoc way in my spare time, but that would take so much longer to ramp (feature functionality, guerrilla marketing, integration, composite Web apps, etc.). We just don't have that kind of time, particularly if Iran explodes.

To do it right takes time and time is money.

John Robb

It also needs to become a platform. And that requires some deep development.

tim fong

Have you considered doing this buildout for the PMC community? They seem flush with cash right now...perhaps a group of them (Triple Canpopy, Blackwater, Dyncorp...you'd know the big players better than I would) could fund this?


I think the big pity here is that if someone doesn’t come up with something a lot of these lessons-learned are going to disappear as guys separate and get on with their lives. Those that gut it out _might_ get a chance to articulate their hard-fought knowledge _if_ they get a slot to Carlisle or Newport or Maxwell, what, 3-5 years down the road. Great strategy if we're still worried about decades passing by before the next great conflict.

Supposedly, connecting people leads to better understanding, hence the Negroponte (the other one) idea to push cheap IT to third-worlders. No one but geeks like us think he’s aiming too narrowly. Giving a Kashmir goat herder the opportunity to read Drudge is nice, but I think we all would rather give LT Duty Bound the opportunity to reach out and teach the next OCS/ROTC/Academy class from a real-world schoolhouse. Prejudice against warriors?

I give a good hand-waving argument because I know nothing about fund raising. Is this not closer to reality because no foundation or tank has heard of it, or that no one is pitching it? There is always the 501(c) open source route, but as we’ve already driven home, it isn’t enthusiasm that is our enemy, it is time.

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