Iran, Venezuela, and China. Oh my!

Are the days of the Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) a thing of the past? For those that don’t know or forgot a “low-intensity conflict is a military conflict, usually localized, between two or more state or non-state groups which is below the intensity of conventional war.”1

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the eventual reunification of Germany, the Cold War came to an end. The mainstream thinking of “Mutually Assured Destruction” also “magically” came to an end. It was quickly replaced with the next great thing in war: Low Intensity Conflict. For a while there, the US military adjusted accordingly due to the lack of needing such a huge operational force thus base closures and realignments became necessary. Downsizing and withdrawing troops from “Cold War” forward positions became the accepted standard. Then came the internal breakup of several former Warsaw Pact states.

Czechoslovakia, quietly and peacefully became the Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Sadly, that was not the case with Yugoslavia which when broken up (1992) the minor players in the nation, that brought the west the Yugo automobile, became poster children for Crimes against Humanity with their acting on ethnic cleansing with impunity. US and UN forces intervened and while things still look good in that tiny corner of the world, the UNITED NATIONS INTERIM ADMINISTRATION MISSION IN KOSOVO2 remains which has been there since June 1999.

Then fast forward to the famine in Somalia, here was a great opportunity for the “United Nations” to get together and do something good on a scale not seen for quite some time in recent history. Well that went to bust when under the direction of the local Militia Warlords, Mogadishu quickly deteriorated into the wild west, it was every man (woman and child) for himself, when the famous October 3-4, 1993 “Black Hawk Down” situation in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

Small incursions throughout the globe quickly escalated after 9/11 here in the United States. However, nothing on a large scale has stuck. That is until the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea became a point of contention and enter new players.

The Spratly Islands are a small chain of islands located in the South China Ocean almost exactly between China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Vietnam and claimed by all of them. China has stationed military forces on the islands and conducts training exercises. However, because of the geographical importance of the location of the islands to shipping lane and the possibility of sitting on top of large OIL fields the area is now more of an international interest than just to the players in the local area. The growth of trade restrictions, tariffs and possible intellectual property theft a dangerous game of cat and mouse is just one misunderstanding away in that part of the world.

Nuclear deals and misdeals, state sponsored terrorism, and religious fanaticism is leading the drive to possible confrontation between the US and Iran. With the region mostly stabilized and isolated incidents of terror remain, the forces in the area are prepared to deal with Iranian Qud Forces and those backed by those in the force designed to conduct “unconventional warfare and intelligence activities and responsible for extraterritorial operations”. However, on a conventional scale operation, both sides have limited forces that can immediately project a sizable defense, let alone a considerable offense. This is why the calling any action a “low intensity conflict” is moot.

In Venezuela, the failure of the socialist or communist government or whatever you want to call them is reaching its inevitable conclusion; the fall from power of Nicolas Maduro and the installing of Juan Guaido as the rightfully elected leader. However, as long as Maduro remains in power and as the leader of the military, there will be no low intensity conflict in Venezuela as the drive of those in power, those wanting the power and the civilians who have already shown they are prepared to take up arms in order to defend those in office or support the installation of a new leader. The peaceful transition of power will mean very little to those that are grasping at the last threads of hope to remain in power. Nicolae Ceaușescu, Saddam Hussain, and Muammar al-Gaddafi come to mind as those that history has shown who refused to step down and step away before it was too late.

Now facing an impending but true humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, any military action taken by outside forces against the Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana (FANB) will involve conventional and unconventional operations. Conventional in that military force on military force will be the expectation however, the active involvement of civilian forces will be unconventional but prove to be not prudent for those civilians that will find themselves facing unknown and known opposing forces.

Using unconventional and special forces, as doctrine dictates, to prepare the civilians for any coming use of force must be applied with undue restriction and immediate as when the bullets start flying, sadly the local population will be the first to suffer as either the pawns (human shields) of a losing regime or as unexpected collateral damage because of their involvement in and proximity to the area of operations. The Low Intensity Conflict or Conventional Warfare no matter how hi-tech and high precision will never yield a non-combatant free theater of operations. All wars to date have always had civilian casualties.

These casualties have done one of two things and both hasten the end of any conflict. The casualties are, as mentioned, used as pawns to propagandize in that the “attacker” has no regard for human life, especially, innocent civilians. The other is the “attacker” shows how the regime in question continues to do what it can to stay in power, even place innocent civilians in harm’s way.

Conflicts, Civilians, Combatants are all the same. It is the size of the belligerents, the civilians, and the landscape that varies and that variation is the force multiplier or divider. Thus, the focus of large-scale military action is inevitable and unfortunate. Unfortunate, in that a plan to increase friendly forces numbers is something that may exist in an untested & unimplemented plan. At least, to the unknown to the public.

When the need arises to implement such plan, the resistance to the “call up” will lead to another inevitability; few will show to play. Then what happens? While the US military’s mission is to win wars, how can it win wars when no one wants to fight?

Looking to the future (both near and far), the need to address the potential execution of a “call up” (a.k.a. draft) will need to begin with a bit more than just a “Be All You Can Be” social media campaign. The success of a draft, if executed, will be one that will have to be won long before the first lottery number is selected. This will not be easy to do. As the buy-in might not be something as simple as waving “the flag” in the face of Americans. Those that do buy-in, may not be enough to make the leap from LIC to Conventional Warfare.

The alternate to win a Conventional War, may already be out of reach because of the buy-in needed because it may be too late to wave the flag and most definitely too late to say “Let’s Get ‘er Done”. Therefore, the only way left to do is to amplify the strategy we have used in the LICs and while fighting to win may not be out of reach. Fighting to curtail any advancement or Fighting to stalemate is most certainly better than the alternative; executing the Nuclear Option.

As a player during the Cold War, served at the tip of the spear in West Berlin, my Army bunk was well within Soviet mortar range. When it comes to Mutually Assured Destruction by implementing the Nuclear Option, I wholeheartedly agree with the W.O.P.R. computer said in the 1983 motion “War Games”: “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

Whether it is another Low Intensity Conflict or the move to large-scale Conventional Warfare it seems that those who are prepared to fight on their turf and on their rules will be the winners. Not boding well for the one side that “never loses” the option to winning is not an option, yet it will remain on the table for any of the belligerents in the next great conflict. Will that be enough to make any action taken brief, regionalized and quick to recover? We can only hope.

No matter what happens, we are now well into the 21st Century and the days of the original NATO members, Warsaw Pact, Coalition Forces, and United Nations Peacekeeping forces are become a thing of the past and not viable deterrents to any type of possible military action in the South China Sea, Venezuela, or Persian Gulf. Even the Berlin Wall and the memory of what it originally stood for is quickly starting to fade and manipulated to suit modern day politics. For those that are not sure, the BERLIN WALL was BUILT TO KEEP EAST GERMANS IN EAST GERMANY! The East German had orders to SHOOT TO KILL those that attempted to cross the barriers.

Time has certainly changed. Time will continue to change and so will the face of modern warfare change. We also, have no choice but to change with the time.

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David G. Guerra, MBA
twitter: @daveguerra
instagram: dave_guerra
facebook: thedavidguerra

In episode 138 of the Walking Leader Podcast, I continue talking about Learning Those Soft Skills series.
In 138, I talk specifically about WORK ETHIC. Work Ethic is defined as a principle that “hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward.”




Here is a video talking about that podcast episode:

You can listen to podcast episode 138 by clicking here to visit the Podcast 138 page.

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Leaders are a very special breed of people. Special in that they recognize the need to constantly work at becoming better leaders. As leaders, they know the way to become better involves a very diverse and broad reaching actions. Actions deliver huge impacts on their growth but also serve as motivating factors for their followers. These unique leaders know that it all begins when they get out from behind their desks and walk the company floor. While out and about their actions and behaviors will be under close observation. They do this because they are leaders worthy of followers. These actions and behaviors will contribute to the continued growth of the leader, her peers, her followers, and all stakeholders.

#1 Leaders Get Out From Behind Their Desks
All Leaders know first hand they cannot lead sitting behind a desk. Leaders must get up from behind their desks and not only walk around their department but also walk the company floor. A leader that wants to become a better leader knows that being visible and available all while ensuring their duties and responsibilities are met are the kind of leaders that will move up in the organization. This does not mean that a leader has to schmooze but it does mean they have to get out and meet people. By meeting people, I mean they have to meet everyone in the organization not only the C-Suite. Being one of those individuals that would rather schmooze the bosses and look down on the receptionist does not even qualify as a bad manager. Don’t do it! If you are currently doing that, just stop! Get back on track and start shaking those hands. Greet people, go to them, do not wait for them to come to you. Smile, Say Hello and most of all, MEAN IT! Do not be like that bad manager and go through the motions. No matter what you do, always make time to get out there, either schedule it or force it but remain consistent. Oh, do not for one second think you can ignore your team. They take their cues from you, so ensure you visit with them as well.

#2 Leaders Say What They Mean and Mean What They Say
Resolving to becoming a better leader means the leader is always changing and evolving. However, not all things need to change only refined. The one thing that can never be changed is the leader’s authenticity, it can only get better through refinement. The leader that never flinches with what they say and what they do is a leader that cannot waiver from his/her duty and responsibility to those she leads. A leader that can be counted on to say what they mean and mean what they say will never be questioned as to their authenticity because their track record is proven. Certainly, I am not saying anything new here. I am, however, reinforcing that through constant growth, development, and refinement of who they are, what they stand for, and how they convey that message to everyone. Leaders may find that it is not easy to sharpen and refine their level of authenticity if they were to sit down and think about how they are going to be better. Sadly, to sharpen and refine means to get up and do. It means to get up off your backside and start doing.

#3 Leaders Value The Opinions of Others, Even If They Do Not Agree With Them
As the world is full of individuals that would rather use their powers for evil or nefarious acts, those that would use their powers for good get cast to the wayside. For those individuals that use their powers for good and are in positions of leadership are the lucky few. They are lucky because using their powers and abilities for good include valuing the opinions of others, especially if they do not agree with them. In this current political climate, there are so many varying views in the home, the work place, social gatherings, you name it. Leaders that value the opinions of others are also rare, few and far between but they are out there. Those leaders that make it a point to hear all sides of the argument are the leaders that will be around for a long time. Why? They respect people. They respect that uniqueness of individuals. They respect people enough to hear them out. This does not mean leaders have to agree with everyone. Remember, leaders cannot be all things to all people. Great Leaders know this as do the people that follow the leader. A Great Leader will have to weigh everything and then act on what is best for the group and sometimes, that is not the popular thing. Even when it is not popular, the one thing that all followers will agree on is that the leader took the time to hear and listen to them.

#4 Leaders Are NOT Quick To Judge
Leaders must never be quick to judge. To be fair and impartial, leaders are always at risk of being considered bias and partial, is not easy. However, a leader that is not biased and is impartial is one that has seen more than his fair share of bias, prejudice, favoritism, and other atrocities. A leader that has experienced that form of nonsense and can come out of it a fair and just individual is a leader worthy of leading and shaping the future of others. These are the leaders that will seek, gather, collect, and assess the information needed to make timely and sound decisions. A leader such as this will intentionally withhold judgment of others, especially when the information provided seems purely one-sided. A leader that has a sense of fair play will advocate for everyone to be heard and understood. Jumping to conclusions or delivering a decision before knowing all there is to know is the fast track to becoming known as unfair and unjust. Once tagged as unfair and unjust the leader might as well turn in his title as leader and consider himself a bad manager at best. This may sound harsh but the reality is there are still many individuals out there that through their own inability to do the right thing will continue to behave in such a manner. However, as a leader that believes in fairness, justice and equity is a leader that is making more leaders to not only become like her but better. Truly that is the leader’s ultimate goal.

#5 Leaders Never Front
Leaders are ORIGINAL. Leaders are UNIQUE. Leaders are ONE IN A MILLION. To be unique, original, and one in a million a leader must never front. Never put up a façade or a false front. Leaders do not have the luxury of fronting. Leader cannot afford to be caught fronting. A leader that fronts will quickly be discovered as a fraud, a fake and once labeled a fake or fraud, a leader almost never recovers. Why is it so difficult for a leader to recover from being labelled or considered a fake or fraud? Time and the Value of time. The time, effort, energy and value given to the leader by her followers. A leader will take her time to gain and maintain the trust of her followers. When that trust is broken then it becomes a deep, emotional loss. This loss is hard to replace. Remember, we are talking about leaders, real leaders, and not managers, especially when there is no love lost between a “micro-manager” and his employees. While it may be tempting for an up and coming leader to play a little “one-up” it is most certainly not beneficial to the career of that leader to even attempt to start or sustain that type of front. A leader, especially one that wants to improve themselves must not fall for the quick hits brought on by fronting but instead will work diligently to be original, unique and someone that will work to improve the trust between him and his followers.

These five things leaders do to become better leaders are just the tip of the iceberg of leadership. To become a better leader, you have to keep trying. You have to find what works for you as an individual. While many will say you have to do this or have to do that to be a great leader. What you have to do is find what works for you, stick to it, then add something else. A true leader will always seek improvement in themselves and in others. A leader that is on her way to become a Great Leader knows that doing what it takes comes with a price. The price is simple; never slack off and always stay on course. Yes, achieving Greatness is that simple. Many do not achieve that greatness because it looks like, feels like, sounds like and tastes like work.

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David G. Guerra, MBA
twitter: @daveguerra
instagram: dave_guerra
facebook: thedavidguerra

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