>One of my fellow bloggers in Iraq, Boss Mongo, has commented on a number of personalities well-known in the counterinsurgency field. many of whom have proven to be quite eccentric characters.
Last month, Mongo commented on an article from Small Wars Journal which discussed the various character attributes of T.E. Lawrence, whom I’ve commented on a number of times before. (By the way, the author of that article is awesome) My fascination with his character goes back a number of years. I knew of Lawrence largely from his role as a recurring character in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (circa 1990), where he assumes the role of an archaeologist specializing in the Middle East. Years later, as a lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division, I attended the 3 1/2 hour long movie Lawrence of Arabia at, believe it or not, an art-house theater in Fayetteville, NC. Yeah, there actually is one of those theaters in downtown Fayetteville, believe it or not. Anyway, what struck me about the character is that he, like I was at the time, was a bored lieutenant on someone’s staff–over-educated and under-employed; he had a far greater sense of Middle Eastern politics and military strategy than his peers, and he was stuck with a mundane job. In his case, his job was to re-draw maps for briefings (which, in today’s terms, would probably be akin to making PowerPoint slides).
Well, Mongo has introduced us to a new personality for all of us in the counter-insurgency/hybrid/4GW/pentathlete camp: a British intelligence officer named Orde Wingate. Mongo links to a book on Amazon about him (which, unfortunately, is not in Kindle format, so there’s yet another book to lug around Iraq). Wingate had fought against the Arabs in Palestine, and had fought the Italians in Ethiopia alongside a brilliant strategist named Halie Selassie, a man who would gain future fame under the name “Ras Tafari”. (Halie Sshould be no stranger to those who read The 48 Laws of Power and The 33 Strategies of War). He designed unconventional campaigns to prevent the Japanese from taking India and guerilla campaigns in Burma.
Now with brilliance comes a certain level of eccentricity. Lawrence had his peculiarities, but Wingate has him beat hands down. One tale described Wingate lying on his cot naked, combing his body hair with a toothbrush. Which, of course, is strange to us in the year 2009 because we’ve all discovered the art of manscaping. (Yes, admit it)
So thanks to Mongo, I have yet another book in my reading cache. I swear, I haven’t been able to catch up on all the reading I want to do here. Looks like I’m going to have to finish off a few books when I take my mid-tour leave in a month or two.
Focus: We’ve discussed Lawrence and now Orde Wingate as leadership vignettes for counter-insurgents and “pentathlete warriors“. Who else would you suggest as a pentathlete soldier?