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John Boyd may be the most remarkable unsung hero in all of American military history. Some remember him as the greatest U.S. fighter pilot ever -- the man who, in simulated air-to-air combat, defeated every challenger in less than forty seconds. Some recall him as the father of our country's most legendary fighter aircraft -- the F-15 and F-16. Still others think of Boyd a John Boyd may be the most remarkable unsung hero in all of American military history. Some remember him as the greatest U.S. fighter pilot ever -- the man who, in simulated air-to-air combat, defeated every challenger in less than forty seconds. Some recall him as the father of our country's most legendary fighter aircraft -- the F-15 and F-16. Still others think of Boyd as the most influential military theorist since Sun Tzu. They know only half the story. Boyd, more than any other person, saved fighter aviation from the predations of the Strategic Air Command. His manual of fighter tactics changed the way every air force in the world flies and fights. He discovered a physical theory that forever altered the way fighter planes were designed. Later in life, he developed a theory of military strategy that has been adopted throughout the world and even applied to business models for maximizing efficiency. And in one of the most startling and unknown stories of modern military history, the Air Force fighter pilot taught the U.S. Marine Corps how to fight war on the ground. His ideas led to America's swift and decisive victory in the Gulf War and foretold the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On a personal level, Boyd rarely met a general he couldn't offend. He was loud, abrasive, and profane. A man of daring, ferocious passion and intractable stubbornness, he was that most American of heroes -- a rebel who cared not for his reputation or fortune but for his country. He was a true patriot, a man who made a career of challenging the shortsighted and self-serving Pentagon bureaucracy. America owes Boyd and his disciples -- the six men known as the "Acolytes" -- a great debt. Robert Coram finally brings to light the remarkable story of a man who polarized all who knew him, but who left a legacy that will influence the military -- and all of America -- for decades to come. ..


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John Boyd may be the most remarkable unsung hero in all of American military history. Some remember him as the greatest U.S. fighter pilot ever -- the man who, in simulated air-to-air combat, defeated every challenger in less than forty seconds. Some recall him as the father of our country's most legendary fighter aircraft -- the F-15 and F-16. Still others think of Boyd a John Boyd may be the most remarkable unsung hero in all of American military history. Some remember him as the greatest U.S. fighter pilot ever -- the man who, in simulated air-to-air combat, defeated every challenger in less than forty seconds. Some recall him as the father of our country's most legendary fighter aircraft -- the F-15 and F-16. Still others think of Boyd as the most influential military theorist since Sun Tzu. They know only half the story. Boyd, more than any other person, saved fighter aviation from the predations of the Strategic Air Command. His manual of fighter tactics changed the way every air force in the world flies and fights. He discovered a physical theory that forever altered the way fighter planes were designed. Later in life, he developed a theory of military strategy that has been adopted throughout the world and even applied to business models for maximizing efficiency. And in one of the most startling and unknown stories of modern military history, the Air Force fighter pilot taught the U.S. Marine Corps how to fight war on the ground. His ideas led to America's swift and decisive victory in the Gulf War and foretold the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On a personal level, Boyd rarely met a general he couldn't offend. He was loud, abrasive, and profane. A man of daring, ferocious passion and intractable stubbornness, he was that most American of heroes -- a rebel who cared not for his reputation or fortune but for his country. He was a true patriot, a man who made a career of challenging the shortsighted and self-serving Pentagon bureaucracy. America owes Boyd and his disciples -- the six men known as the "Acolytes" -- a great debt. Robert Coram finally brings to light the remarkable story of a man who polarized all who knew him, but who left a legacy that will influence the military -- and all of America -- for decades to come. ..

30 review for Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sean Gibson

    It's been a loooonnnngg time since I read this book (11 or 12 years ago, back when I was a single man on the prowl in Manhattan...and this is how I spent my time); I came across it in a friend's feed today and remembered, "Ah! That's a quality book!" It was one of those, "I have no idea who this guy is and turns out he's insanely fascinating"-type books. Not for everyone, but if you have a remote inclination toward military history and tactics, worth checking out.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Wow, this is an obnoxious book. There's no question that Boyd is an influential and important figure, but Coram has written this in his usual style--find a military man who can be painted as an under-appreciated, persecuted genius (punished for his straight-shooting and truth telling to the careerist brass), write in breathless hyperbole (Boyd is the greatest strategist since Sun Tzu) and use no citations, so no once can figure out who said what about Boyd when. The Amazon and Goodreads reviews Wow, this is an obnoxious book. There's no question that Boyd is an influential and important figure, but Coram has written this in his usual style--find a military man who can be painted as an under-appreciated, persecuted genius (punished for his straight-shooting and truth telling to the careerist brass), write in breathless hyperbole (Boyd is the greatest strategist since Sun Tzu) and use no citations, so no once can figure out who said what about Boyd when. The Amazon and Goodreads reviews show that the formula works--people identify ferociously with Boyd, and anyone who doesn't is an enemy, an idiot or should have his tie set on fire.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Holiday

    Biographies of military figures are a tricky business. The core audience for the books is so passionate that they are willing to forgive lousy books in their thirst for more information. For that reason there are a lot of mediocre war books. Because of the title and the subject, it's easy to glance at this book and think of it has a Costco war biography or a decent Christmas present for a military buff. Don't. It is instead of a truly peerless book on military strategy. Coram's chronicle is artfu Biographies of military figures are a tricky business. The core audience for the books is so passionate that they are willing to forgive lousy books in their thirst for more information. For that reason there are a lot of mediocre war books. Because of the title and the subject, it's easy to glance at this book and think of it has a Costco war biography or a decent Christmas present for a military buff. Don't. It is instead of a truly peerless book on military strategy. Coram's chronicle is artful, so well-researched and so informative that it brought John Boyd to the forefront of military strategy well after his death and many years of neglect. Compared to his fellow writers in this field, Coram is a god among men. This book's strength is its ability to make complex, strategic theories that fundamentally shifted the art of war understandable to the average reader. Believe me, that is not an easy task. If the book inspires you to read some of Boyd's academic papers you will quickly discover how artful Coram has translated them. In journal form, Boyd's Creative Destruction is obtuse and confusing. Coram's book is the primer to its understanding for those of us who don't have ranking military professors to explain it. Lastly, Coram doesn't shy away from the negative sides of Boyd's genius bubble. We see how it torn at his family life and how he bore little of the consequences. If it wasn't for the endless patience of his wife who subsidized and tolerated his lifestyle with her support, the world would have been deprived of his insights.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Otis Chandler

    A very interesting book about John Boyd, who was a crack fighter pilot, and then later military strategist and reformer. Boyd flew as an instructor in the real life version of Top Gun, and beat everyone in 40 seconds or less. But later in his life he really studied military strategy, and this is where the interesting parts of this book are. Boyd was literally the designer of the F-15, and a theory of maneuvering called Energy-Manueverability (E-M), which mathematically gave a chart for each aircr A very interesting book about John Boyd, who was a crack fighter pilot, and then later military strategist and reformer. Boyd flew as an instructor in the real life version of Top Gun, and beat everyone in 40 seconds or less. But later in his life he really studied military strategy, and this is where the interesting parts of this book are. Boyd was literally the designer of the F-15, and a theory of maneuvering called Energy-Manueverability (E-M), which mathematically gave a chart for each aircraft that gave pilots an idea of the ideal speeds and altitudes they could use to pull off various turns and tactics. One interesting thing I noted was that throughout his career, like everyone else in the military, Boyd was getting reviewed by his superiors, called ER's. It was interesting to hear, and relevant to business, how you had to "read through the lines" and how even a positive sounding ER could be a career-killer if the person wasn't recommended for promotion. Reading this has definitely made me think twice every time I've read (or written) recommendations for people. Another Boyd tidbit I liked was when fighting bureaucratic battles in the Pentagon, he had a mantra to "use the other persons information against him". Starting with the other persons argument and data, and working backwards, you can make pretty compelling arguments. Perhaps the biggest idea Boyd came up with is what is called the OODA loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. A key quote defining the OODA loop: "Thinking about operating at a quicker tempo - not just moving faster - than the adversary was a new concept in waging war. Generating a rapidly changing environment - that is, engaging in activity that is quick it is disorienting and appears uncertain or ambiguous to the enemy - inhibits the adversary's ability to adapt and causes confusion and disorder that, in turn, causes an adversary to overreact or underreact. Boyd closed the briefing by saying the message is that whoever can handle the quickest rate of change is the one who survives." Another great quote that helps explain it: "Boyd said the strategies and bloodbaths of World War 1 were the natural consequence of both the vo Clausewitzian battle philosophy and the inability of generals to adapt new tactics to nineteenth-century technology: line abreast, mass against mass, and linear defenses against machine guns and quick-firing artillery. The bankrupt nature of that doctrine was demonstrated on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, which the British suffered sixty thousand casualties. After more than three years of the meat-grinding form of war, the Germans began engagements with a brief artillery barrage with smoke and gas obscuring their intentions, then sent in a special infantry teams. These small groups looked for gaps in the defense and advanced along many paths. They did not hit strong points but instead went around them, pressing on, always going forward and not worrying about their flanks. They were like water going downhill, bypassing obstacles, always moving, proving, and then, when they found an opening, pouring through, pressing deeper and deeper." Getting your lieutenants to the point where they can do this kind of infiltration successfully requires great communication and men who can think fast on their feet. In other words, you had to enable every leader to be able to follow the OODA loop, and just arm them with the overal goals, and trust them to make their own decisions. Very different from previous military structures, where "the need to know" remained at the top. Why is this empowerment valuable? Because: "The key thing to understand about Boyd's version is the not the mechanical cycle itself, but rather the need to execute the cycle in such fashion as to get inside the mind and the decision cycle of the adversary. This means the adversary is dealing with out-dated or irrelevant information and thus becomes confused and disoriented and can't function." And: "Understanding the OODA loop enables a commander to compress time - that is, the time between observing a situation and taking an action. A commander can use the temporal discrepancy (a form of fast transient) to select the least-expected action rather than what is predicted to be the most effective action. The enemy can also figure out what might be the most effective. To take the least-expected action disorients the enemy. It causes him to pause, wonder, to question." This makes sense. You can almost picture the commanders of old, who used to have to get on the phone with their boss in order make any decision. "Take the bridge, blow it up, or wait?". Hours and days could be spent waiting around for generals to make up their minds. This form of maneuver warfare is what the Germans used in WWII - they called it blitzkrieg - and it's what we used in Iraq the first time. In business we have a word for the above - micromanagement. In a sense, it sounds like empowering business leaders and their lieutenants to have an effective OODA loop is what will let a business move faster and win marketshare. I bet somebody has written a book about that - I will have to look.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy

    Awesome book covering the life and ideas of John Boyd. I profess to knowing nothing about this man prior to reading this book, and it seems I am in the majority in that respect unfortunately by planned intent. Boyd was a US Air Force fighter pilot turned engineer and scholar, who wrote the Aerial Attack Study that shaped the fighter tactics of not only the USAF but air forces all over the world, pioneered the Energy-Maneuverability Theory that impacted how fighter pilots fought and had a monumen Awesome book covering the life and ideas of John Boyd. I profess to knowing nothing about this man prior to reading this book, and it seems I am in the majority in that respect unfortunately by planned intent. Boyd was a US Air Force fighter pilot turned engineer and scholar, who wrote the Aerial Attack Study that shaped the fighter tactics of not only the USAF but air forces all over the world, pioneered the Energy-Maneuverability Theory that impacted how fighter pilots fought and had a monumental impact on aircraft design, and also developed the OODA loop and Patterns of Conflict that among other things contributed to the executed plan of the Gulf War. This was a man of conviction that tenaciously pursued his goals and ideas whilst being ostracized by most of the military. His stated beliefs regarding "to be somebody or to do something" is a climatic decision every person must make in this world, and that is the point I have taken from this book. Recommended reading for everyone, but military officers in particular. I look forward to reading more about Boyd's theories in the future.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nooilforpacifists

    This bio is a 3-for. John Boyd was the top-gun US fighter pilot in the era between Korea and Vietnam. When his Air Force flying days were over -- after returning from Georgia Tech with an engineering graduate degree -- he moved to the Pentagon, designing some of the best fighter aircraft ever flown, and laid the ground work for the "A-" series ground-support aircraft. Later, trying to out-guess Soviet capabilities in dogfights, he invented the OODA (Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action) lo This bio is a 3-for. John Boyd was the top-gun US fighter pilot in the era between Korea and Vietnam. When his Air Force flying days were over -- after returning from Georgia Tech with an engineering graduate degree -- he moved to the Pentagon, designing some of the best fighter aircraft ever flown, and laid the ground work for the "A-" series ground-support aircraft. Later, trying to out-guess Soviet capabilities in dogfights, he invented the OODA (Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action) loop for military strategy (then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney employed it in Gulf War I)--and the OODA loop was adopted as a management tool, where it's still taught today. Still, Boyd was a misanthrope, ill-suited to command, and anything but a family man. Coram's excellent book presents Colonel Boyd, warts and all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    Great bio of John Boyd, the fighter pilor who pioneered the use of Energy Maneuverability theory that dominates fighter design. He then went on to become a force for reform within the Pentagon, influencing the F-15, F-16, and A-10 programs. His final contribution was on the overall theory of learning and operations, including the now-famous OODA loop. A fascinating iconoclast-I normally don't like biographies that much, but this one was very good.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    I only rated Boyd 3 out of 5 stars. The reason for this is that I think that the author has not done full due diligence on some of the material that he has been given, most likely in interviews, before writing it as fact. One particular 'fact' that really grated on me was Coram writing the F-4 Phantom off as a fighter because it did not meet Boyd's criteria for a fighter - the are numerous similar examples in the book which I believe are just the result of either inadequate research or a desire I only rated Boyd 3 out of 5 stars. The reason for this is that I think that the author has not done full due diligence on some of the material that he has been given, most likely in interviews, before writing it as fact. One particular 'fact' that really grated on me was Coram writing the F-4 Phantom off as a fighter because it did not meet Boyd's criteria for a fighter - the are numerous similar examples in the book which I believe are just the result of either inadequate research or a desire to canonise Boyd as some sort of voice in the wilderness. One comes through very clearly to any military reader of this book is that one of the main reasons behind Boyd's isolation by the USAF was Boyd himself - if he had played a long game, it is likely that he could have both realised the fulfilment of his dream AND achieve 'stardom' in the military sense. Instead he opted for tactical engagements that did much to turn the system against him. That notwithstanding, this should be compulsory reading for anyone who glibly prattles on about the OODA Loop and the odds are positive that they probably neither understand it or where it comes from: THAT message is what makes this book worth reading regardless of whether you are in business, aeronautical engineering or aspire to be a fighter pilot. Apart from the flaw detailed above, Boyd is well-written and a good study of a man who probably changed the world in more ways than he realised (or probably anyone else for that matter). I read the Nook version and I think that this is lacking any of the drawing or other images that may be in a print version.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rich

    A very detailed biography of a vastly misunderstood man. Coram's description is mostly of the man himself, rather than his ideas. Boyd was an extremely flawed husband, father, and yes even officer. But despite his lumps he was a morally courageous officer and brilliant thinker. Coram only gives you a basic overview of his theories (of which his minor theory is the oft-quoted mostly misunderstood OODA loop), but really this is only enough to pique your interest. Hammond's "The Mind of War" is more A very detailed biography of a vastly misunderstood man. Coram's description is mostly of the man himself, rather than his ideas. Boyd was an extremely flawed husband, father, and yes even officer. But despite his lumps he was a morally courageous officer and brilliant thinker. Coram only gives you a basic overview of his theories (of which his minor theory is the oft-quoted mostly misunderstood OODA loop), but really this is only enough to pique your interest. Hammond's "The Mind of War" is more effective at describing Boyd's theories. But Osinga's "Science, Strategy and War" is most exhaustive at providing the reader with Boyd's intellectual context and foundations. Boyd's most important and novel addition to humankind is his theories on learning in within uncertainty, adaptation, and synthesis of new novel strategies, theories, and concepts for application in the future. This goes well beyond the OODA-loop! For those readers who desire further insight in how successful learners overcome and adapt to change these texts are must-reads!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gene

    I loved this book, as well. There's a phrase in there that frames the type of paradigm breakthrough that occurs about once per century -- the author describes what Boyd did with analysis of fighters as moving the world from "Copernican to Newtonian." I was stunned at how much Boyd achieved, and where he ultimately took his research, but at the cost of neglecting his family and potentially a little bit of his sanity as well. An amazing book, for sure.

  11. 5 out of 5

    TK Keanini

    Boyd was one of the greatest thinkers and his OODA loop is referenced today by many diciplines. This book captures who he was and how he approached problems. It is behind the scenes with a person who wanted to understand the strategy of strategy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dustyn Gobler

    I just finished the excellent biography of John Boyd. Don’t let the title fool you, because Boyd was more than a fighter pilot. He was a great thinker who developed the Energy-maneuverability theory, that would change aeronautics; and the OODA Loop, that would change the way we’d look at conflict. (For example: see this post about surviving an active shooter situation by breaking the shooter’s OODA Loop.) Anyway, the book was excellent and I highly recommend the read. In regard to John Boyd’s lif I just finished the excellent biography of John Boyd. Don’t let the title fool you, because Boyd was more than a fighter pilot. He was a great thinker who developed the Energy-maneuverability theory, that would change aeronautics; and the OODA Loop, that would change the way we’d look at conflict. (For example: see this post about surviving an active shooter situation by breaking the shooter’s OODA Loop.) Anyway, the book was excellent and I highly recommend the read. In regard to John Boyd’s life, I’m conflicted of his story as a role model. Despite the excellence of his work, the bureaucratic military machine never made Boyd a General. Despite the work of his peers, the military industrial complex keeps churning out more expensive weapons of questionable value. And despite negligence and ‘hillbilly armor‘ and four useless wars, people still join the Army, while the press and the American public don’t really care about waste in the armed services. Against this backdrop of apathy; I can’t help wonder why? Why did Boyd sacrifice his relationship with his family in exchange for indifference? Why be a part of power structure, if you’re only going to curse off your superiors and antagonize them at every opportunity? And most importantly, why did he not follow the very core of his own message about being an “elusive sword” when promoting his ideas and theories? “The nail that sticks out, gets hammered down.” Boyd had to come across this dictum during his years of study. So I don’t understand what he was hoping to accomplish with his life and living it the way that he did, at such a high personal cost.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tom Stamper

    Many people see themselves as reformers and idealistic and think the world will celebrate them for their reforms because they are logical and beneficial. The problem is that actual reform stops the inertia of systems that benefit the people who have a lot to lose. The better the reform the greater the attempt to buy off the reformer. If buy-offs don't work then the system itself puts its resources into ruining the reputation of the reformer. It's how idealists become realists or how innocents be Many people see themselves as reformers and idealistic and think the world will celebrate them for their reforms because they are logical and beneficial. The problem is that actual reform stops the inertia of systems that benefit the people who have a lot to lose. The better the reform the greater the attempt to buy off the reformer. If buy-offs don't work then the system itself puts its resources into ruining the reputation of the reformer. It's how idealists become realists or how innocents become cynics. Every so often a reformer comes around that can't be defeated in a conventional way. Even when he is personally defeated his work and legacy live on. John Boyd was such a man. From the air it would look like Boyd sacrificed everything to be a reformer, his career, his family, his finances. The truth is that none of these things were a sacrifice for Boyd because his work was all that really mattered to him. In many ways that's a tragedy, but it's also a great lesson on how our lives are the sum total of the trade-offs we make to balance our values. It's easy to see the fruits of someone's success, but its not easy to see the sacrifices necessary to get there. I came away admiring the hell out of John Boyd, but I can't imagine the strain of trying to live his life. This is an important book that explains the evolution of warfare in the 20th century, the dangers of conventional wisdom, the enemies of reform, the spirit of the warrior, and the tenacity of an air force pilot that never rose higher than colonel because he would rather do something than be someone. Most importantly, if you just focus on how Boyd prepared himself better than his adversaries you can understand why his unpopularity could not undo his ideas. The lessons here go way behind the military to any entrenched system you may encounter. Here are some of the things that made Boyd Special: -He was nicknamed 40 second Boyd when he was an instructor at the Elite Air Force Flying School because he said he could kill any other pilot in a dogfight in 40 seconds or he would give them $40. He never paid the $40. He killed most in under 20 seconds. - Boyd would run the numbers on every American military plane and compare them to the equivalent Soviet plane and could show how ours were inferior and it would costs lives. This made him enemies of people who should have cared more about these deficiencies than he did. - Boyd tried to influence building smaller lighter airplanes that could win in dogfights. He didn't succeed but he did help the F-16 and the F-17 become better planes than they would have been if the committee approach had their way. - He synthesized the knowledge of warfare into an overarching theory where he explains that Sun Tzu's theories were superior to Clausewitz because winning at war is as much about how you get into the head of your opponent as it is what you do offensively. - He called the common Infantry attack, "Hey Diddle Diddle, right up the Middle." It was the kind of conventional wisdom that created wars of attrition and caused unnecessary casualties. Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, sought Boyd out before our invasion of Iraq in 1991. Boyd influenced the decoy of amphibious assault on Kuwait and a sneak attack through the dessert. This brought a swift resolution of the conflict with few American casualties. It would have been even more successful except that the army slowed down to find symetry and cost itself a bigger victory. Boyd explained how Eisenhower made the same mistake with Patton in 1945 and it kept Patton out of Berlin. - There were a lot of people who come off poorly in the book, but two politicians from the opposite sides of the aisle come off well. Gary Hart and Dick Cheney appreciated the candor of Boyd and his team when others like Cap Weinberger, Nancy Kasslebaum, and even Sam Nunn to some extend gave in to the political system in the Pentagon.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Relstuart

    I got this book in the mail yesterday and finished about 2:30 this morning. John Boyd had many personal flaws. He was arrogant, loud, profane, rude, and uncouth. (And the book reflects that.) He sacrificed his family to his job. Not acceptable. However, his greatest characteristic was that he was willing to do what was right for the Air Force and the military no matter what it took or who disagreed. When he knew he was right he stood on it, waiving his cigar, and preached. My favorite quote: "Ti I got this book in the mail yesterday and finished about 2:30 this morning. John Boyd had many personal flaws. He was arrogant, loud, profane, rude, and uncouth. (And the book reflects that.) He sacrificed his family to his job. Not acceptable. However, his greatest characteristic was that he was willing to do what was right for the Air Force and the military no matter what it took or who disagreed. When he knew he was right he stood on it, waiving his cigar, and preached. My favorite quote: "Tiger, one day you will come to a fork in the road, and you're going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go. If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments. Or you can go that way and you can do something - something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors but you won't have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference. To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That's when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?" His contributions to the American fighting man and the Armed Forces are so significant that he did indeed change the face of war. And his contributions often had to be shoved down the throat of the military as they resisted kicking and screaming. He wrote the book on fighter tactics. On his own initiative He created the Energy-Maneuverability Theory (E-M Theory) for the first time using mathematical principles to create an accurate grading system for the overall performance of airplanes resulting in winning the highest awards for scientific achievement the Air Force gives out. (The Air force was and still does spend millions on some of the brightest scientific minds to further American Air Power. You can bet they were red faced when a nobody Fighter pilot created a new theory that changed the face of air war forever and he did it without any help from the bureaucracy.) He developed and re-emphasized Sun Tzu's Maneuver Warfare possibly becoming the greatest influence in winning the Panama conflict and Desert Storm. He invented the OODA loop* which is used not just by the military but has broad application to all human interactions and endeavors. The Marines re-wrote their war fighting manual because of him. The remember and honor him and his contribution though the Air Force while teaching his discovery and application of his E-M Theory are doing their best to keep him one of the most influential forgotten men in recent history. His work was directly responsible for the F-15, F-16, and the A-10. The main portion of the AF brass at the Pentagon fought very hard against these planes for various reasons. This book is worth reading especially if you are part of the military industrial complex, interested in the military acquisitions process, care about how tax payer monies are spent in the military, are interested in the history of fighter pilot tactics, or are interested in the OODA loop* which can be easily applied to business. Because Col Boyd was a very controversial person and not a great team player I doubt this book will be on the CSAF's recommended reading list. But Perhaps it should be. It takes about a third of the book before you get beyond the man to the legend. * See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bikewriter

    A well-researched, remarkable book about an exceptional man and warrior, a man who is still shamefully unacknowledged or disrespected by the high-ranking managers of the Pentagon who spend careers protecting their turf and trying to squelch his ground-breaking work as an original thinker. Boyd devoted his life and career to improving the U.S. military forces' tactics, strategy and equipment. He gave us the O-O-D-A Loop ("Observe, Orient, Decide, Act"); "Aerial Attack Study"; the Energy-Maneuvera A well-researched, remarkable book about an exceptional man and warrior, a man who is still shamefully unacknowledged or disrespected by the high-ranking managers of the Pentagon who spend careers protecting their turf and trying to squelch his ground-breaking work as an original thinker. Boyd devoted his life and career to improving the U.S. military forces' tactics, strategy and equipment. He gave us the O-O-D-A Loop ("Observe, Orient, Decide, Act"); "Aerial Attack Study"; the Energy-Maneuverability Theory; "Destruction & Creation"; "Patterns of Conflict," and so much more. There is no room for doubt about his dedication to his nation and his work. In my estimation, the depth of his character is best illustrated by what came to be known as his "To Be or To Do" speech. Here it is: “To Be or To Do” By Col. John Richard Boyd, USAF (1927 - 1997) “Tiger, one day you will come to a fork in the road. And you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go. If you go [pointing] that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments. “Or, you can go that way [opposite direction] and you can do something – something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference. “To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?”

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike Raymond

    Just completed ‘Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War.’ Wow! Incredible read! This one appealed to my inner ‘fighter jock,’ and it might appeal to yours, as well. It’s going to be difficult to summarize succinctly. Before I go on, if you don’t fully appreciate the military-industrial complex that is the Pentagon*, or that key military figures like Norman Schwarzkopf’s “hi-diddle-diddle, right up the middle” battle plan in Desert Storm was sent to the trash heap, and that he never cre Just completed ‘Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War.’ Wow! Incredible read! This one appealed to my inner ‘fighter jock,’ and it might appeal to yours, as well. It’s going to be difficult to summarize succinctly. Before I go on, if you don’t fully appreciate the military-industrial complex that is the Pentagon*, or that key military figures like Norman Schwarzkopf’s “hi-diddle-diddle, right up the middle” battle plan in Desert Storm was sent to the trash heap, and that he never credited the source of the “Hail Mary” plan, then this book may not be for you. If you believe that highly principled men who want to do the right thing in the military, but are forced to retire early, then such nettlesome facts may not be what you want to hear. But, if you like badassery and ‘fighter jockery’ in its many forms, including holding yourself to the highest standards of ‘duty,’ then this is the book for you. When the Air Force became its own separate branch of the military, John Boyd was there. He was there in the beginning, and at the end of his career, he was there during one of the biggest transformations in the history of the Air Force. And he caused the transformation. He was the singular genesis behind the Reform movement that swept through the Pentagon, post-Vietnam. Oh, and by the way, he transformed the Army and the Marines along the way. Although his personal life was a mess, and he had the personal charm of a Honey Badger, his professional accomplishments were pretty darn good for a fighter jock! Boyd flew F-86’s in Korea, but got there too late to record a kill. After the war, be came back to teach fighter pilots at Nellis Air Force Base, outside Las Vegas. This is the Air Force’s version of Top Gun. There, he became known as ‘40-second Boyd,’ because in aerial combat training, he could ‘kill’ anyone in under 40 seconds. Not only did he do it time and time again, he always started with his opponent on his six o’clock. He was known as the best fighter pilot in the Air Force. But, this is just the beginning of his remarkable career. It then takes a strange, but interesting turn. At the time, air-to-air combat was taught almost anecdotally, in story-telling fashion. The lessons they taught at Nellis, mostly from WWII and Korean vets, were more art than science. Think ‘more speed, come at them from their 6 o’clock, preferably with sun behind you, etc, etc.’ Hopefully, you get the idea. Similarly, aircraft at that time were designed with speed at all costs, and to heck with maneuverability. Boyd became obsessed with turning air combat into a science, and he spent countless years, and several years at Georgia Tech developing his theory. He called it the ‘energy-maneuverability theory,’ and it was used to describe an aircraft’s performance as a function of kinetic and potential energy, and specifically a function of an aircraft’s thrust, weight, drag, and wing area. Mathematically-speaking, his formula looks like this: Energy = Velocity * ((Thrust – Drag)/Weight) This was a game-changer. Boyd then fed these same inputs into computational models and graphically displayed the combat capabilities of U.S. aircraft throughout the aircraft’s performance regime. In other words, he defined an airplane’s ‘envelope.’ But, he didn’t stop there. He then fed into his computational models all the data from Soviet aircraft. Although the analysis could then be used to exploit the advantages that the American aircraft had over the Soviets, the results shocked the Air Force establishment when it was revealed that, on average, the Soviet aircraft could outperform their American counterparts. And all this during the height of the Cold War! Time and time again, the Air Force establishment tried to silence Boyd or get him fired for what they deemed his heresy. But, he was right, and the generals didn’t want hear the truth. Oh, did I mention that he did all of this in his spare time, while holding down his regular job? He, and his acolytes within the Pentagon became known as the Fighter Mafia. His analysis and persistence led the military to retire the F-111, and to build the F-15, F-18, F-16, and A-10, with the latter two being his prized darlings – the F-16 because it was more consistent E-M, and could perform a better ‘buttonhook,’ and the A-10 because the Air Force needed an aircraft with high loiter time. Boyd insisted that the aircraft manufacturers design their weapons using his E-M Theory, and they do to this day. But, did he stop there? No, no. He applied his out-of-the-box thinking to combat, as a whole, and developed what becomes known as his thesis, ‘Patterns of Conflict,’ which became known simply as ‘Patterns.’ It can get a little complicated, so I’ll just quote was ‘Patterns’ was all about:** “Patterns of Conflict was a presentation by Colonel John Boyd outlining his theories on modern combat and how the key to success was to upset the enemy's "observation-orientation-decision-action time cycle or loop", or OODA loop. Patterns developed the idea of a "counter-blitz", a blitzkrieg in reverse, with numerous attacks followed by withdrawals to the rear. The aim was to confuse the enemy by presenting no apparent strategy, reveal the enemy's intentions through the strength of the response, and present a misleading picture of the defender's own actions in order to disrupt the attacker's future plan of action.” The combatant with the fastest OODA loop will be victorious. The success of Desert Storm was a direct result of the Patterns’ theory. Cheney was a convert, and he and Boyd worked out the strategy. There was nothing “Hail Mary” about this plan, it was classic Boyd: the Marines feign an amphibious landing in Kuwait, and then the Army performs a wide sweep around the Iraqi forces, enveloping them. Execution of the plan resulted in so much confusion (classic ‘Patterns’) for the Iraqis that they surrendered to a much smaller force of Allied forces. (The Marines, more so than any of the branches, embraced ‘Patterns.’) And Boyd’s A-10 Warthog during Desert Storm was coined the “Cross of Death” by the Iraqis. Sadly, ‘Colonel’ Boyd is quite likely the most unknown leading military strategist/theorist in American history. Oh, and a dozen or so other NATO countries, like Israel, adopted ‘Patterns,’ as well. The business community also benefited from Boyd’s work through books like Tom Peters’ Thriving on Chaos. His legacy lives on! * I’m referring to the largely procurement function of the five-sided building here. ** ’Patterns’ was in some respects a modernized adoption of Sun Zhu’s Art of War, but this doesn’t diminish the importance of this seminal work because a great deal of the thesis wasn’t Sun Zhu.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

    Excellent read. A quote from Boyd's early childhood really pulls the human side together: "[Boyd's] family was poor and bore the stigma of having a child with polio. John's clothes were so tatty that a teacher once asked him in front of the class if he could not wear more presentable clothes. He held back his tears until he could get home and tell his mother what happened. She wrapped her arms around him and said, "Don't let it bother you. Say it to yourself over and over, 'It doesn't bother me. Excellent read. A quote from Boyd's early childhood really pulls the human side together: "[Boyd's] family was poor and bore the stigma of having a child with polio. John's clothes were so tatty that a teacher once asked him in front of the class if he could not wear more presentable clothes. He held back his tears until he could get home and tell his mother what happened. She wrapped her arms around him and said, "Don't let it bother you. Say it to yourself over and over, 'It doesn't bother me. It doesn't bother me.' Remember you have something no one else in the class has. You have principle and integrity. That means you will be criticized and attacked. But in the end you will win. Don't let it bother you." part of the breakthrough: "The MiG was faster in raw acceleration and in turning ability, but the F-86 was quicker in changing maneuvers. And in combat, quicker is more important." and a fun one: "Boyd was in the office about a week when he called the first meeting of his department heads. ... "Everything you are doing is meaningless. ... Not a goddamn thing coming out of this office has any importance. ... But that's what the Air Force wants. So keep on doing nothing. Just don't bother me with the bullshit." He dismissed everyone but one officer, a man he judged particularly ineffective. "If I never hear from you, you will get outstanding ERs [evaluations]. ... Talk to me and your ER is downgraded. In fact, your ERs are going to be inversely proportionate to how often I hear from you."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fraser Kinnear

    In some other universe, John Boyd might have died while still a fighter pilot in his 30's (he was undefeated... the uncontested greatest pilot of his age), and he would still have been a great biography subject. To think that he had an entire other two enormous, impactful journeys in his life is just incredible. There's so much to cover, but here's a brain dump: Boyd's influence while a pilot included: -Boyd developed energy-maneuverabilty theory, which was the first quantitative means of evaluat In some other universe, John Boyd might have died while still a fighter pilot in his 30's (he was undefeated... the uncontested greatest pilot of his age), and he would still have been a great biography subject. To think that he had an entire other two enormous, impactful journeys in his life is just incredible. There's so much to cover, but here's a brain dump: Boyd's influence while a pilot included: -Boyd developed energy-maneuverabilty theory, which was the first quantitative means of evaluating fighter jet performance, and revolutionized how the planes were designed and employed in dog fights. The story of this development alone is fantastic, as he managed to steal $1M of computer time from the air force, and deflected the inspector general's investigation of this theft - At the end of his life (in the early '90s), Boyd consulted with Cheney, who credited his tactics as one of the key successes of the first Gulf War - Boyd also wrote the Aerial Attack Study, which was soon after adopted as the primary tactics manual for air forces around the world, and hardly updated for 40 years after Boyd wrote it in his early '30s Boyd retired as a pilot and entered the Pentagon, where he was a polarizing reformer who fought waste and graft. Coram argues that, due to the perverse incentives of promotion in the US military, the Pentagon exists not to defend America, but to procure weapons systems. -At the Pentagon, Boyd founded the "Fighter Mafia", who were influential in the development of several generations of Fighter jets, arguing that simpler, cheaper, lighter designs would be more competitive -Boyd had several acolytes at the Pentagon, many famous in their own right for the battles they fought against the Pentagon's corrupt apparatchik. James Burton was one, who famously revealed the dangeous Bradley APC. Another was Franklin Spinney, who authored the infamous Spinney Report, which claimed that "the unnecessary complexity of major weapons systems was wrecking the Pentagon's budget". Some examples: adjusting for inflation, the Army was spending the same amount of money in 1983 on new tanks as it had in 1953, but the number of tanks produced declined by 90%. Aircraft was even worse, spending several billion more on 95% fewer planes in the same window of time. - Reagan's throwing money on the Pentagon nearly exascerbated their already existing problem. The B-1 bomber was a pork-barrel program that Reagan push for because it was fabricated in California. The bomber itself was almost unusable. - Why the F-14 was a terrible performing jet, as Boyd predicted (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman...), and how the F-15 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonne...), which was amazingly designed by Boyd and 3 others in secret, and the F-16, which Boyd was partially responsible for, but he lost the design war over - Uncovered the B-1 bomber program cost After (mostly) retiring from the pentagon, Boyd wrote some incredibly influential military strategy: - Boyd wrote OODA loop concept, which was adopted with great success by the Marine Corps - Destruction and Creation (http://www.goalsys.com/books/document...), slaps together Godel, Heisenberg, etc. for what seems like an epistemological theory on the military. Funny seeing Godel after I had read about the many abuses of his theory a few years back. - Boyd also consulted with Cheney (who was Sec Def under H.W. Bush), and influenced the highly successful strategy for the Gulf War Boyd was pugnatious, abrasive, and tireless. Proof by example scatters every page, and his personality overwhelms every facet of the story. Perhaps not surprisingly, he appears to have been a terrible father and husband, despite being a great mentor and leader in his professional life. Perhaps the greatest lesson from this book came from his challenge to his mentees regarding whether they wanted to be someone or do something: Tiger, one day you will come to a fork in the road. And you are going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go." [he raised his hand and pointed] "If you go that way, you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises, and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club, and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments." Then Boyd raised his other hand and pointed another direction "Or you can go that way and you can do something. Something for your country, and for your air force, and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted, and you may not get the good assignments, and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won't have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference. To be somebody or to do something. In life, there is often a role-call. That's when you'll have to make a decision. I'm still thinking about this lesson, and the example Boyd left of his career. If one choses to work as part of a large organization, I can't think of a more important question one can ask themselves about their professional life. Other miscellany: - If your leader demands loyalty, give him integrity, but if he demands integrity, give him loyalty - Leaving a legacy: pick what you want your legacy to be early, because if you wait too long you will be pulled into the politics and macinations of the Building -"One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been" Sophocles - Lewd fighter pilot bar songs

  19. 5 out of 5

    Austin W

    This book is about the life of John Boyd, a famous and talented Air Force fighter pilot. The authors purpose for writing this was to tell about how in some ways, the military can be pretty corrupt and that John Boyd was one of those who refused to conform to the corrupt system, even though it meant getting passed up for promotions once or twice. The only plot that there is in this book is the lifetime of Boyd and his great accomplishments. The very interesting part of how Robert Coram write this This book is about the life of John Boyd, a famous and talented Air Force fighter pilot. The authors purpose for writing this was to tell about how in some ways, the military can be pretty corrupt and that John Boyd was one of those who refused to conform to the corrupt system, even though it meant getting passed up for promotions once or twice. The only plot that there is in this book is the lifetime of Boyd and his great accomplishments. The very interesting part of how Robert Coram write this; is that he sides with Boyd and describes him like is a hero in a corrupt world. The author is very descriptive on certain key events that are vital to how he changed the military and people lives. The pace of this book is slow because although it is stretched over this man’s life, it focuses on the key points for a while depending on how important they are. A type of person that would enjoy this book is someone that likes history, aviation, military, and has patience. Someone that wouldn’t like this book is anyone who cannot sit still and/or open a book that they have been reading, find their place, and read as interested as they were when they picked it up.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gary Misch

    John Boyd was a superb fighter pilot who never had a single kill. He evolved into an analyst who developed an entirely new way of looking at war. His insights became important beyond just warmaking. Today they are studied as part of business strategy as well. Boyd's Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) Loop lies at the hear of successful decision making. How he derived the OODA loop through his study of energy/maneuverability theory is at the heart of this fascinating book. Along the w John Boyd was a superb fighter pilot who never had a single kill. He evolved into an analyst who developed an entirely new way of looking at war. His insights became important beyond just warmaking. Today they are studied as part of business strategy as well. Boyd's Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) Loop lies at the hear of successful decision making. How he derived the OODA loop through his study of energy/maneuverability theory is at the heart of this fascinating book. Along the way, the reader is treated to the wars of the "Fighter Mafia," as they tangle with the Pentagon bureaucracy. You might think that such a superb pilot and thinker became a general - you'd be wrong. Mavericks fare poorly in the Pentagon wars. This is a great read, and you don't have to be a fan of military books to enjoy it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    A fun story about an amazing man. In his "interesting" ethical approach to life, as well as his game-changing thoughts on warfare and creativity, Boyd struck me as a thinker every bit as valuable as my other intellectual heroes, despite his own label as a "dumb fighter pilot". Boyd's energy-maneuverability theory, and his later work on destructive creation, OODA loops, and maneuver warfare are the products of a brilliant mind not concerned with supporting the status quo, and his stories about "h A fun story about an amazing man. In his "interesting" ethical approach to life, as well as his game-changing thoughts on warfare and creativity, Boyd struck me as a thinker every bit as valuable as my other intellectual heroes, despite his own label as a "dumb fighter pilot". Boyd's energy-maneuverability theory, and his later work on destructive creation, OODA loops, and maneuver warfare are the products of a brilliant mind not concerned with supporting the status quo, and his stories about "hosing" generals are by themselves worth the read. A lot to process here, and there is more meat to these ideas than might be evident from what is superficially military thinking.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Nolden

    One of the best biographies I have read. This was my first introduction into Boyd and I'm hooked. I really liked how deeply this book delved into Boyd's personal life and how it affected his work. The explanations of his major contributions were excellent primers for beginning to read the briefings on my own. It made me especially interested in the application of the OODA Loop to business strategy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    John

    Way too much inside baseball for my liking. Oscillates in tone between hero worship and sour grapes. It was great to get more background on how OODA etc evolved, and also the comparisons of the A-10 vs F-15 makes a good companion to reading F.I.R.E, but beyond that it was mostly whining about how shit the pentagon is.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Coram does the Boyd Legacy justice. Having met and worked in Pentagon in final years of Boyd's tenure, I can attest that author nails the emotions, impact, counter influences at play and cast of characters during that heady time. A must read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris G

    A near perfect biography.

  26. 5 out of 5

    sinamatrix

    it's a good book ,, but a bit hard to underestand,,

  27. 4 out of 5

    Beth/Chuck

    Didn't realize how much his theories changed aerial warfare and also how they were successfully applied during Desert Storm.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kars

    Enjoyable read on a truly remarkable doer and thinker.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nick Lloyd

    This is an amazing book that should be required reading for all military officers and defense policy professionals. I truly wish I would have read this before joining the Army.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is the story of a man who bucked the system and made the world a better place because of it. The book is written well and does not immortalize Boyd or gloss over his failings. Give this book to anyone who says that "the System is too big to fight" or "the Man's too strong." Johnathan Boyd was America's greatest fighter pilot. He also happened to revolutionize warfare. F-15, F-16, F-18, "Aerial Attack Study", Energy-Maneuverability theory, maneuver warfare, OODA loop, "Destruction and Creation" This is the story of a man who bucked the system and made the world a better place because of it. The book is written well and does not immortalize Boyd or gloss over his failings. Give this book to anyone who says that "the System is too big to fight" or "the Man's too strong." Johnathan Boyd was America's greatest fighter pilot. He also happened to revolutionize warfare. F-15, F-16, F-18, "Aerial Attack Study", Energy-Maneuverability theory, maneuver warfare, OODA loop, "Destruction and Creation", "To Be or To Do" I cannot do justice to this man or his biography. Quotes: "Tiger, one day you will come to a fork in the road, and you're going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go. If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments. Or you can go that way and you can do something - something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors but you won't have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference. To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That's when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?" "John Richard Boyd - as is often the case with men of great accomplishment - gave his work far greater priority than he did his family. The part of his legacy that concerns his family is embarrassing and shameful." "She hammered in to John that as long as he held on to his sense of what was right, and as long as his integrity was inviolate, he was superior to those who had only rank or money. She also taught him that a man of principle frightened other people and that he would be attacked for his beliefs." "If someone belittled his ideas, they were instantly and forever dismissed from his life. They ceased to exist. He never spoke to them again." "'Peace is Our Profession' was the SAC motto as it prepared for Armageddon." "To be called a tiger meant you had stainless-steel testicles that dragged the ground and struck sparks when you walked. To be called tiger meant you were a pure fighter pilot and that you would not hesitate to tell a bird colonel to get fucked." "And just for the hell of it, fighter pilots occasionally attempted to burn down the place." While older and senior Air Force officers fumed at their failures, Christie quietly achieved his goals. His voice was so soft and his manner so self-effacing that few saw him as a potential rival. He was such a brilliant navigator of bureaucratic swamps that one of his nicknames was the 'Finagler.' He could get anything done. And he could do it in such a gentle unobtrusive way that few ever became angry or jealous." "Often, when a man is young and idealistic, he believes that if he works hard and does the right thing, success will follow...But hard work and success do not always go together...Those who do not conform will one day realize that the path of doing the right thing has diverged from the path of success, and then they most decide which path they will follow through life." "These people had lost battles with Boyd, but they won the war. They affected his career and his life in the most hurtful way possible." "Christie shook his head in dismay. Not for Boyd, but for those in the Pentagon. They were bureaucrats. Boyd was a warrior." "There are officers of great patriotism, however, who are appalled by what they see in the Pentagon. They say to themselves, 'I'll go along for now. But when I get to be colonel, I'm going to change things.' What they don't realize is that they will be promoted to colonel only if their superiors think they won't make changes. Study after study shows that the higher in rank a military officer ascends the less likely he is to make changes. It is sad indeed to look upon a patriot whose ideals have been destroyed by the Pentagon. But even sadder are those who simply stand aside and do or say nothing, allowing those who sold their souls to have their way." "Sir, I've never designed a fighter plane before. But I could fuck up and do better than that." "You gotta challenge all assumptions. If you don't what is doctrine on day one becomes dogma forever after." "Stroking the bishop. You're just stroking the bishop." "I have found the dripping cock." "If you insist on getting credit for the work you do, you'll never get far in life. Don't confuse yourself with the idea of getting credit." "It was all the things that careerists fear. It signified change." "This knowledge gave him a big stick. Usually if a man in a bureaucracy has a big stick, he uses it. But Boyd decided to hide his. He knew there would come a time perhaps in a year or even two years, when the stick could be used to greater advantage." "'I'm giving you a direct order to screw her every night until you are transferred out of here.' 'Sir, I don't believe that is a lawful order.' 'Goddammit, I issued it and you better obey it. We're at war and bigger things are at stake here than your guilt. Your dick can cause you problems but it is not going to cause problems for America.'" "Men in their twenties whose lives have been spent in academics sometimes have a childlike naivete. This seems especially true of those who study mathematics. And for reasons only psychologists can explain, many young people of extraordinary intellectual gifts and accomplishments also have a deep sense of insecurity." "Boyd did not want to take these numbers to the Air Force, not yet. He ordered Leopold to recompute everything as a "best case," that is, to get the B-1 advocates the benefit of every doubt. Every time Leopold had a choice of numbers, he was to use the most conservative. This meant that under scrutiny...the numbers would only get worse; that is, any adjustments would show only higher costs." "Judge people by what they do and not what they say they will do." "The Vietnam War had humiliated America's armed forces. The greatest superpower on earth used almost every arrow in its quiver, everything from multimillion-dollar airplanes to laser-guided bombs to electronic sensor to special-operations forces, and still was defeated by little men in black pajamas using rifles and bicycles. Yet there was little soul-searching among senior general. They were managers rather than warriors. And when managers lead an army it is their nature to cast blame rather than to accept responsibility." "Boyd knew he had to be independent and he saw only two ways for a man to do this: he can either achieve great wealth or reduce his needs to zero. Boyd said if a man can reduce his needs to zero, he is truly free: there is nothing that can be taken from him and nothing anyone can do to hurt him." "Sun Tzu tried to drive his adversary bananas while Clausewitz tried to keep himself from being driven bananas." "Civilians unacquainted with the ways of the Building have only vague ideas about what it is the Pentagon does. They think the real business of the Pentagon has something to do with defending America. But it does not. The real business of the Pentagon is buying weapons." "You must never panic. When they surprise you, even if the surprise seems fatal, there is always a countermove." "'Jim you can never be wrong. You have to do your homework. If you make a technical statement, you better be right. If you are not, they will hose you, you've had it. Because once you lose credibility and you are no longer a threat, no one will pay attention to what you say. They won't respect you and they won't pay attention to you.' The second thing Boyd told Burton was not to criticize the Bradley itself. 'If you do, you are lumped in with all the other Bradley critics. It is the testing process you are concerned with.' ...By staying focused on the testing methodology, Burton was protecting the lives of American soldiers; he held the mental and moral high ground."

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