Derp Wars: The Phantom Doctrine
As an exclusive to my loyal readers, I am sharing some excerpts from the draft script of the newest installment of the Derp Wars saga, Derp Wars: The Phantom Doctrine.
Previous Derp Wars films tackled the subject of drones (Derp Wars: Attack Of The Drones), counterinsurgency (Derp Wars: A New, Ambiguous Yet Massively Overhyped And Misunderstood Hope), Iranian nuclear programs (Derp Wars: Return Of The Munich Analogy), Iraq (Derp Wars: America Strikes First), and the home front (Derp Wars: Revenge of the Battalion Family Readiness Group).
Derp Wars: The Phantom Doctrine is a thrilling adventure that deals with the most dangerous threat to the military-industrial complex yet: the national security establishment’s inability to coherently explain a new set of military concepts. Not even the long-suffering Bothan spies can get a hold of plans/blueprints that would explain this concept in any coherent detail.
The confusion caused by the new concept has created a powerful disturbance in the force, causing many otherwise intelligent defense analysts to stray to the Derp Side. Such is the power of The Phantom Doctrine.
DERP WARS: THE PHANTOM DOCTRINE
OPEN WITH A TEXT CRAWL OVER A BLANK SCREEN:
CRAWL: A long time ago, in a PowerPoint deck too long and confusing for anyone to understand and filled with squiggly lines……
Turmoil has engulfed the defense galaxy. Sequestration has fallen upon the Galactic Republic, and many in a distant and forbidding star system begin to doubt the Republic’s staying power. Hoping to resolve the matter with an array of deadly and cheap weapons concentrated in one geographical location, A Great Power That The Republic Will Only Refer To With Vague Euphemisms (AGPTTRWORTWVE) threatens to deny the Republic strategic access. Planets within the system are worried that the Republic lacks staying power and are already beginning to hedge. Other planets react to the challenge by making threatening moves towards the AGPTTRWORTWVE that could draw the Republic into a conflict it seeks to avoid at all costs.
While the Congress of the Republic endlessly debates over whether or not it will pass a budget, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched Republic Navy and Republic Air Force graduates of SAMS (otherwise known as Jedi), the guardians of dense and abstract theories of operational art and strategy, to settle the conflict…..
CUT TO A MEETING OF THE AIR-SPACE BATTLE OFFICE, WITH TWO JEDI TALKING TO THE CHANCELLOR VIA HOLO-CONFERENCE. THE TWO JEDI HAVE WORKED LONG AND HARD TO DEVELOP A SET OF OPERATING CONCEPTS THAT CAN HELP DEAL WITH THE CHALLENGE. WHILE THE OPERATING CONCEPTS ARE NOT A STRATEGY OR A POLICY, LIKE GOOD FOLLOWERS OF SAINT CARL THEY HAVE OBVIOUSLY TAKEN SUCH THINGS TO INTO ACCOUNT…
CHANCELLOR: Welcome Jedi. I have been expecting you. I have handpicked you due to your mastery of the way of the Force. I sent you to SAMS for a reason, despite the fact that you would be mostly among men of the ground forces. I intended for you to gain command of the ancient arts of operations through your interpretation of old Soviet and German artifacts, and become proficient in the ways of the Force.
Yes, it was a difficult challenge. You encountered individuals such as the Doctrine Man who gave you the most difficult of tasks, you drove armored vehicles over vaguely humanoid teddy bears, and communed with the Floating Clausewitz Head. But you mastered the art of devising military operating concepts and doctrine. You not only know Design, but you even understand Systemic Operational Design — a feat that few of the most skilled warriors have managed.
And now I am eager to hear your report on the situation that I have tasked you to resolve.
JEDI 1: AGPTTRWORTWVE is increasing its strength. It can regionally concentrate forces, and is maximizing cheap but effective battle-network guided systems. We, on the other hand, have a bunch of expensive platforms strung out on the edge of their logistical tether, ambivalent partners, a few partners that we fear could start a crisis, and a vast body of operational space to cover. And we are currently undergoing sequestration. I’ll turn over to my colleague, who has done background research on the crisis.
JEDI 2: My review of regional history and relevant academic literature in the Jedi library suggests that this may be an star system where — in our absence — the regional planets will bandwagon with a rising great power rather than balance against it. While Interstellar Relations theorists continue to debate if this system has rules distinct from the galaxy as a whole, the possibility exists that history will repeat itself if our power declines.
However, we were unable to gather more information on the situation because budget cuts have limited us to just to JSTOR — we need more access to other scholarly databases. Or at least an unpaid intern in college or graduate school that we can exploit for his database access and have him supply us with coffee.
CHANCELLOR: As you know, our great Republic has declared a pivot to this system, and we will exercise our complex adaptive, smart power-centric…..
CHANCELLOR PAUSES, AS IF HIS BUZZWORDS HAVE GIVEN SOMETHING AWAY HE WISHED TO HIDE…..
CHANCELLOR: ……We will demonstrate our strength, and show the regional planets and AGPTTRWORTWVE that we are here to stay! So what do you propose we do? How can we best marshall our ways and means given the strategic end?
JEDI 1: Well, you see sir, that’s the problem. We’ve looked at the official policy documents produced by our Republic diplomats„ the Republic National Security Strategy, and a backlog of all of the speeches made by various authority figures about the regional balance in this system. There’s nothing really to go off.
Beyond a series of vague platitudes, I’ve found very little specific and useful things about our security relationship with AGPTTRWORTWVE. Hell, I’ve never been told why we can’t call it by its actual name instead of a series of euphemisms…..
THE CHANCELLOR’S HOLOGRAM IMAGE BEGIN TO FLICKER AND DISTORT, AND SLOWLY WE COME TO SEE THAT HE IS A MAN IN BLACK ROBES THAT COVER HIS EYES, NOT A POLITICIAN DRESSED IN USUAL REPUBLIC GARB.
JEDI 1: …..There’s really very little concrete thought about how we are actually going to manage the diplomatic, military, and security issues in this region with the objective we currently have. It’s true that Republic diplomats have been energetically shuttling around regional planets, but it’s still hard to parse exactly what we are doing beyond a vague “pivot.” I’m at odds to see how our policies in this region connect to larger Republic National Security policies, and if official documents, budgeting decisions, and our frequent involvement in a star system we were told that we were drawing down from are evidenced — everyone else is confused too.
THE CHANCELLOR’S IMAGE IS NOW COMPLETELY TRANSFORMED TO A ENIGMATIC, FRIGHTENING-LOOKING FIGURE IN DARK ROBES. HE BEGINS TO RAISE HIS HAND IN THE AIR, PREPARING TO DO SOMETHING.
JEDI 1: Yes, I’ve done what you’ve told me to do. Me and my colleagues have worked on what is within our purview, generating military concepts that maximize the capability of our existing platforms in the region and the new ones about to come on line. We’re working to ensure they cooperate better together, and also are better suited to the range of tactical scenarios that might come up in a regional conflict given the opposing force weapons. And we believe that these capabilities are fundamentally sound and will help our military adapt to regional conditions.
But I must stress that these capabilities are modular. They are meant to be plugged into an existing policy and strategy context and customized for purpose. And for the life of me I can’t see what we’re trying to do, and my conversations with my regional counterparts suggest they aren’t getting it either. And without someone who explains the larger purpose that these tools would serve, I’m afraid that Air-Space Battle will be misinterpreted as a coherent strategy or even a policy. So let’s think abt—-
THE CHANCELLOR SUDDENLY SHOOTS A STORM OF MILSEC BUZZWORDS AT JEDI 1, WHICH APPEAR AS LIGHTNING BOLTS. JEDI 1 IS ELECTROCUTED THROUGH THE HOLOGRAM. JEDI 2 SUDDENLY REALIZES HE IS NOT DEALING WITH A REPUBLIC OFFICIAL, BUT DARTH OBFUSCATIOUS — A POWERFUL SITH LORD WHOSE COMMAND OF DOCTRINAL BUZZWORDS, ACRONYMS, AND EUPHEMISMS HAS BEEN LONG CHRONICLED BY LEGENDS OF OLD. BUT WERE THE SITH NOT DEFEATED LONG AGO? HOW COULD THIS BE?
DARTH OBFUSCATIOUS: “Continue, Jedi.”
JEDI 2 ADJUSTS HIS COLLAR AND GULPS.
JEDI 2: Well, as my colleague said, we have the operational concepts. We can optimize our platforms, technologies, tactics, and so on…..So I think we’re set. We don’t need any more policy or strategic input. But we will need to explain these technologies to the interagency community, the Republic Congress, defense reporters, etc so we can make sure that what we’re trying to do isn’t misunderstood……
DARTH OBFUSCATIOUS: You do not understand the way of the Derp Side. We are not even going to name the state that cannot be named. Instead we are going to refer it to with a serious of vague and ridiculous euphemisms like the AGPTTRWORTWVE — despite the fact that it is perfectly aware that we consider it one of the major use cases for these capabilities!
JEDI 2: So we’re not going to explain the military capabilities to the interagency and the public? I don’t get it……
DARTH OBFUSCATIOUS: That is not the way of the Derp Side either. We will explain to the interagency and the public, but we will make it so deeply convoluted that people find it impossible to understand. They will be unable to avoid completely taking it out of context. And then they will fear it. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate….hate leads to suffering.
As a result of their confusion, the defense community will give in to the Derp Side and fill the Internet with out-of-context critiques that do not even remotely engage with the concept as you have formulated it. In fact, I suspect we could generate more Derp on the Internet than even drones.
JEDI 2: *shudders* Even drones??? How is it that possible?
DARTH OBFUSCATIOUS: Oh, but it is. Believe in the Derp Side, and together we will rule the galaxy as father and son.
JEDI 2 CONSIDERS BRINGING UP THAT HE ISN’T ACTUALLY RELATED TO THE SITH LORD, BUT HESITATES OUT OF FEAR HE WILL BE FORCED TO LOG IN TO HIS COMPUTER WITH A CAC CARD.
DARTH OBFUSCATIOUS: Brave men will seek to explain that your Air-Space Battle is not a strategy or a policy. They will try to tell the public that it is a banal set of optimization procedures and tactics that have no inherent strategic or political form. But to no avail…..we will have made it so confusing and opaque that the concept will be taken grossly out of context.
It is not for nothing that we have called it Air-Space Battle. This has confused many defense analysts by tying it to an Army-Air force doctrine from a completely different political and strategic context! Now you see how long and intricately we Sith have planned our return. The Derp Side will spread throughout the galaxy, and we will will crush the Jedi Order.
JEDI 2 MAKES A QUICK CALCULATION AND REALIZES HIS SITUATION IS HOPELESS.
JEDI 2: Right-o. So what will I say when I speak “off the record” to my favorite defense reporter that I always leak to? How will make it convoluted enough? Surely you will give me a PowerPoint with talking points? A read-ahead?
DARTH OBFUCATIOUS: Turn off the targeting computer and let the Derp Side guide you. Embrace its power. You will soon find yourself speaking with sentences as long, confusing, and meaningless as those of a PhD student that has just read Judith Butler for the first time while taking an acid trip. You will create acronyms so long and confusing that even the Introduction to Algorithms authors will not be able to design an method to compute your buzzwords with a running time that ends before the Great Heat Death. Forget the man who trained you, only by following me will you become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
And this is the beginning. I am building a battle station so horrible, terrifying, and powerful that all the star systems will cower before us when it is fully operational. All I can tell you at the moment is that it involves Listcles that you cannot reduce to a single page. What better way to demonstrate the futility of resistance to the Sith than by forcing people to scroll through an article with a range of 5-30 different pages…..and each page only displaying a single list item??? We must carefully protect knowledge of such a doomsday weapon from the prying eyes of the Bothans, daughters of the nobility with strange hairstyles, nerf herders, and landspeeder jockeys with outsized ambitions…..
CUT TO A OVERPRICED BAR POPULATED WITH COLLAR-POPPING INDIVIDUALS SOMEWHERE IN THE ARLINGTON SECTOR OF THE GREATER REPUBLIC CAPITOL. JEDI 2 WATCHES AS THE REPORTER HE HABITUALLY LEAKS TO WALKS IN. MONITORING THE CONVERSATION, DARTH OBFUCATIOUS LAUGHS MANICALLY AND MOVES TO THE NEXT PHASE OF THE PLAN: DESIGNING THE MOST IMPLAUSIBLE ROMANCE IN SCI-FI HISTORY.
1. There isn’t actually any point to them being SAMS graduates except being able to use the term Jedi routinely and make a bunch of bad jokes about obscure military theory.
2. As you can likely tell, I’m writing mostly out of pure frustration with the ASB debate and also because I need a break from finals….
3. And yes, this is supposed to be as absurd and weird as possible. My inspiration is Crispin Burke’s old Transformers parodies…. http://www.thewire.com/politics/2010/08/how-transformers-3-explains-counterinsurgency/19031/
4. No, I don’t literally believe that Sith Lords are responsible for ASB being so poorly explained. This is an overwrought, overly nerdy satire. It also goes without saying that this is an intentionally absurdist post that does not really seek to explain how the ASB office actually works relative to other parts of the defense bureaucracy.