Asymmetric Warfare

I caught Skynews’ foreign correspondent Stuart Ramsay talking away overlooking the Strait of Hormuz just now.

Tension are high in the Gulf, what with Iran playing up and this particular pinch point privy to a strong American naval presence to, among other things, safeguard the 20% of world oil that floats by each day.

So we heard from the Captain of a huge aircraft carrier (the Eisenhower) and saw footage of a training exercise.

Then, some remarkable reporting.

They had to stop the previous practice wargames early, because the Yanks were about to lose.

Apparently, in the game, the ‘enemy’ surrounded the warship with a swarm of tiny speedboats and rendered it dead in the water.

(This reminds me of one of the stories in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, where a maverick retired general beat his successors in similar fashion a few years back – I blogged on other stimulating content from this work back in 2010.)

They key is apparently in asymmetrical warfare.

Especially timely since hearing about Ferrari F1 champ Alonso tweeting 17th Century samurai wisdom this past weekend, post-Korean GP:

“If the enemy thinks of the mountains, attack by sea; and if he thinks of the sea, attack by the mountains.”

The ‘asymmetric’ element is all about how ‘weaker’ forces (smaller, less well armed, that kind of vibe) defeat ‘stronger’ ones. And much stronger at that.

Guerilla, insurgent and underground tactics can prevail.

I’ve worked with and as both colossal market leader and tiny upstart. And everywhere across the range.

The larger the foe, the slower they move. The more complacent they may get. The more they may miss some vital interaction.

The message is clear. When up against a formidable competitor, don’t do what they would do…

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