Mick, your ability to synthesize the need for observation, learning, and adaptation for the military makes your articles a must read for anybody interested in understanding the current RU invasion of UKR and beyond to any organizational structure.

One thing that seems implicit here, but unspoken is how well can military planners, field commanders, and NCOs take seemingly disparate pieces of information and find patterns to learn and adapt at strategic and tactical levels short-term and long-term.

Much of that is cultural, as you have noted, and permeates down to the NCO level that allows decentralized decision making, and trust in that decisions making, to take advantage of immediate battlefield conditions and opportunities. Those lessons should flow up the chain of command as easily as flowing down the chain of command from the top.

Trust, independent thinking, and “risk taking” as you call it are all culturally driven. This puts a premium on critical thinking and an intellectual approach to war as well as openness to change and competing ideas. UKR and NATO training exemplify this. It is also no coincidence this has evolved in pluralistic, democratic. societies.

In contrast, viewing war as brute force without thinking (just watch Fox News to get this knuckle-dragging view of what the military should be in the US) and strict adherence to a one way chain of command where failure is not tolerated or seen as opportunity to learn leads to disaster or unnecessary losses and suffering. This tends to occur is authoritarian, closed, hierarchical, and oligarchic societies such as RU, Iraq under Saddam in more recent times.

What comes from this, from an economic and game theoretic point of view (as a trained Ph.D. economist) is the incentives created by these cultural norms. In open and pluralistic societies, the incentives and reward systems encourage reasonable risk taking and looking for solutions to problems at all levels. That is how one advances in any organization like the military. In contrast, in a society like RU, which is economically an oligarchy based on mafia like principles, corruption pays off far more easily to advance and make money as well as hiding the true condition of business, military supply, and military preparedness. To tell the truth, which is a necessary condition learning from failure, is punishment (if you saw it, you will be blamed for it). Hence, the incentive structure leads toward hiding the truth about actual conditions and to profit from it. The optimal strategy is always hiding the truth.

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Thank-you for this essay, and for your other publications which have helped me to understand the conflict in Ukraine and to have a more practical grasp of conflict in general.

If you're revising the essay, I ask you to consider revising the phrase 'spawned in February 2022 by Russia’s invasion'? As you later point out, in the eight years since the invasion of Ukraine [in 2014], tho' they were difficult for Ukraine, the resistance to RF invasion helped the Ukrainian Armed forces to prepare for the all-out invasion of 2022.

Martin Arnold

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Hi Martin, thanks. You are right. I will look to revise this wording.

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On your About page you write this:

"War, unfortunately, is a core element of human existence in this planet."

One thing we can learn from the war in Ukraine is to observe who started it. Yes, Russia. Yes, Putin. Yes, of course, but keep going...

Who starts and continues almost all the violence underway all over the planet? Who has been doing this for thousands of year. The source of planet wide violence can't be narrowed down to a single person or nation of course. But it can be narrowed down to a single gender. At least 90% of the violence we see at every level of every society all over the world is caused by men, male humans.

To a very significant degree, war is not a human problem. It's a male human problem.

This will sound like a largely useless insight until we squarely face the following:

1) The marriage between violent men and an accelerating knowledge explosion is unsustainable, a continuation of this marriage will result in the collapse of this civilization.

2) No society in human history has figured out how to keep the majority of peaceful men while ridding itself of the minority of violent men. To have any men, is to have violent men. And to have violent men in the 21st century is to not have a 22nd century worth living in.

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Here's the positive side of a world without men story.

1) If we could eliminate 90%+ of the violence in the world that would lift unspeakable suffering off the backs of many millions of innocents all over the globe. Think about this every time you read yet another violence story in your news feed. It didn't have to happen.

2) If we could eliminate 90%+ of the violence in the world that would liberate trillions of dollars now needed to manage male violence for reinvestment in life affirming projects like health care and education.

3) The combination of these two factors would usher in something pretty close to the "world peace" that's long been dreamed of, but assumed to be impossible.

The only reason world peace is impossible is because we lack the vision to see it, and the commitment to make it happen. We don't have world peace because we've chosen to live with violent men instead.

This is what we could be learning from the war in Ukraine. This is going to keep happening over and over and over again, until we blow up the world, or chose peace over men.

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