A couple of weeks ago, I felt the council over at the great Small Wars Journal was in a rut. So I got the wild idea to post a "discussion starter" slide my organization uses on the road. It worked. What I got in response was one of the most interesting threads in awhile. Comments spanned across the blog and council. I’ve reposted the image below:

The Challenge to the Way We Think

On the blog side, it resulted in a typically lively exchange between myself and "COINtra" leader Colonel Gian Gentile, who I must compliment for keeping the "COINdinista" crowd intellectually honest and also tolerating a somewhat opinionated junior Major challenging his assertions publicly. COL Gentile worries that all this COIN learning is causing us to become "dogmatic" in our approaches to COIN, applying checklists blindly.

My response to COL Gentile has been that unthinking approaches are a vice in both conventional and irregular conflicts, and that any “dogmatic implementation” is not the fault of the doctrine. His comments imply a larger leader development and education problem, if true.

Many have weighed in with a surprisingly diverse set of opinions on what the slide does or does not imply. I’d be interested in what you think in the comments or by posting over at the Small Wars Council.

And keep in mind, there is no “wrong” answer, the discussion is where the learning points occur…