Saturday, July 14, 2007

Just returned from the Boyd 2007 conference at Quantico and I have to say that I felt the conference was immensely rewarding on both an intellectual as well as a social level. Dr. Chet Richards and Mr. Bob Howard are to be commended for their organizational efforts in putting Boyd 2007 together with additional thanks to the United States Marine Corps for allowing the use of the Gray Center for the event, which seemed to have been enjoyed by all. If you missed out this year, I highly recommend trying to reserve a slot for Boyd 2008. It's well worth it.

I thought I would give a review of the conference in two parts and, to paraphrase Colonel John Boyd, " People and ideas...in that order!". First the people.

The official conference presenters were outstanding; they included noted authorities on John Boyd, 4GW , COIN and defense policy, such as Colonel Dr. Frans Osinga (Science, Strategy and War), Dr. Chet Richards ( Certain to Win), Colonel T.X. Hammes (The Sling and the Stone), Colonel Eric Walters, William Lind (Manuver Warfare Handbook), Frank Hoffman (Decisive Force: The New American Way of War ), Don Vandergriff (Raising the Bar) and Bruce I. Gudmundsson (Stormtroop Tactics). Robert Coram, the biographer of Colonel John Boyd, was also on hand throughout, signing many copies of Boyd and talking to his readers.

The conference also featured a discussion panel of very distinguished retired generals, General Anthony C. Zinni , Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper and General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., the former Commandant of the Marine Corps after whom the Gray Center was named. General Van Riper in particular, impressed me with the acuity of his intellect, though each managed to project some of their formidible personalities that made them influential senior leaders of the American military. Dan of tdaxp saw some of these generals in action up close during a break-out session while I watched William Lind and T.X. Hammes debate 4GW/5GW.

The audience was, as one might expect, heavily populated by military personnel (active, former, retired and SOF in mufti), especially Marines, along with some defense scholars, military contractors, academics from nearby universities, grad students and a scattering of bloggers. Everyone seemed friendly and deeply engaged in the topics at hand; books were signed and business cards and email addresses flew fast and furious in the corridor inbetween the sessions.

Speaking of networking, it was a delight to meet so many individuals in person with whom I have interacted online as well as new friends. A few ppl, like Isaac and Morgan, came up to me and said " Hey...Zenpundit!" which was amusing (More amusing was the confusion of Colonel T.X. Hammes when I had to explain to him that I was not in special forces but that I taught history and "blogged" - I'm not entirely sure he knew what that was) . It was a particular pleasure for me to meet Dr. Richards of DNI and Dave Dilegge of the SWJ, which was well represented at Boyd 2007, additionally, by Ski and Frank Hoffman.

Lunch was fantastic - Shane Deichman of Enterra, Dan of tdaxp, John Robb, Shloky, Isaac and myself discussing 4GW, physics, platforms, books, careers and such over steaming bowls of pho saigon (thanks Dan ! The charge of "cheap bastardy" is hereby removed). Shane's son, Deichman the Younger, who is about the same age as the Son of Zenpundit, not to be left out of the grown-up talk, entertained us with his original theory of the "Jedi Ninja", which should probably be filed under at least "5GW".

The socializing continued after the conference at the officer's club ( where I managed to lose my cell phone - requiring that Dan and I make a late night return drive to Quantico - sorry, Dan!) with A.E. , Gustave, Fidel and others. Chet Richards graciously invited us to dinner but we (Shlok,Dan,Isaac and myself) continued our bull session for several more hours before adjourning to a nice Italian restaurant where we narrowly missed connecting with Shane thanks to my lost phone.

It was a great, great, time marred only by my consistent inability to navigate the highways and roads of greater Washington, DC - give me a grid, my kingdom for a grid!

Next, PartII: The Ideas and (hopefully) a few Pics.


It truly was fantastic on many levels. I'll be RSVPing for next year, oh, maybe next week! I just got back to Yuma - so more later. It was great to meet you and I enjoyed our 'bull sessions' immensely. No pretension, no pageantry - I felt like I was back in college: Friday afternoon with beers on Sproul Plaza with my classmates. Good times. It was odd to come face to face with bloggers (we think we KNOW them) and have a real person materialize on top of our cyber-induced preconceptions... Cool, that.
Talk soon.
How many bloggers are buff enough to be mistaken for SOF soldiers? Mark, you should get some kind of award for that one.
Hi Isaac,

Yeah, it had that dorm room debate over beer feel, didn't it ? Except most of us were drinking far better stuff than I had to consume back in college. Great to connect with you - give me a buzz if you pass through Chicago.

Hi Lex,

Gracias! The look on Hammes face, and you have to picture a kind of bullet-headed, no-nonsense, guy was more like "WTF is a 'blogger'?".

Evidently I don't match ppl's preconceptions very well. :o)

BTW, Are the Bald Cows going to continue their reunion tour ?
Hammes seems like a very down to earth guy in his writings, which is a great strength in an area that sometimes seems to get lost in too much abstraction.

That reunion was a one-off.

Video here:


A fun time was had by all.
I planned to attend but backed out. If two certain worthles assholes would have attended and been in the same room as me, I'd kill em.


Your blog still suck btw

"I planned to attend but backed out. If two certain worthles assholes would have attended and been in the same room as me, I'd kill em."

Not sure whom you mean. Deserved or not though, chances are that reaction would have gone over poorly with the crowd at the Gray center.

"Your blog still suck btw"

Opinions vary. Go read something else if you don't like what I offer up here or start your own blog.
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