RANGER AGAINST WAR: When Dead isn't Dead <

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

When Dead isn't Dead

In my Liars Figure posting, I address the use of statistics as justification for a particular course of action. I'd like to extend the concept to the realm of briefings, specifically as practiced by the U.S. military. The Army is my experience, but I've also had the singular pleasure of attending joint operations briefings, as well.

A briefing is concise and addresses a topic requiring a decision, and should include only facts, with assumptions being clearly identified as such. The problem arises when assumptions or hunches are presented as facts.

"They will greet us on the streets of Baghdad with flowers" is a good ex
ample of an assumption, as was Colin Powell's briefing to the U.N. supposedly based on "slam dunk" intelligence. (loosely translated, that means, Medals of Freedom for all involved.)

The erroneous U.S. military report on a drop in August murder rates in Baghdad was based on the assumption that being killed in a mass attack by bombs, mortars, rockets or suicide bombings made the victim somehow less of a "violent kill" than being shot by an AK 47.

Hence, the murder rate was briefed by a Major General as having dropped drastically. Now, one would like to believe that a MG would be more critical, and question the presentation. But in the government, it seems that once it's briefed, it becomes true. The written minutes testify to it. But hopes and wishes are not the same as facts. If frogs had wings, they wouldn't bump their froggie bottoms on the ground.

So the Major General briefs, the press reports, and FOX news declares how successful we are in Iraq. But briefings are not reflective of reality when based upon faulty analysis presented as truth. And as we all know, Pres. Bush favors a briefer who is confident of his facts, regardless of their veracity. Alas, the decisions so derived are based on appearances rather than reality. Hence the failings in Iraq.

Briefings cannot quantify the ephemeral nature of a symbolic situation.



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