New Series: Adapting Military Strategy to Guide Scientology Activism

Unorthodox military theories can often provide alternative methods in opposing Scientology. Starting this Sunday, in a series of posts on, I’ll explain how just one of these theories can exponentially ratchet-up the heat on the church. This theory can also provide a lens in which to view the past actions of the church against the critic movement, as well as gauging the successes of groups such as Anonymous. 

Why am I writing this series?

On Tuesday, I was part of a discussion on Tony Ortega’s blog sparked by different viewpoints on the effectiveness of the Office of Special Affairs, (OSA), Scientology’s black bag dirty tricks cabal, in response to the importance of exposing more acts of chicanery by the army of PI’s in the cult’s employ.

Some people took the view that the cult’s intimidation tactics were successful in forwarding the organization’s ultimate strategic goals (presumably “clearing the planet” as a euphemism for world domination, as well as raking in as much cash as possible along the way).

I see it very differently: that whatever tactical success Scientology enjoys from silencing some critics, the church has utterly failed, from the standpoint of helping Scientology grow and helping it become more widely accepted. In other words, any victories that drove some activists off the battlefield were worse than irrelevant – they were fatal distractions that keep David Miscavige and his lieutenants from focusing on the real battle.  Not that I want him to get better at that, of course.  It’s very much in keeping with  winning a series of isolated skirmishes but losing the war… which got me thinking.  Given my experience in the intelligence community, as well as having participated in a variety of low-intensity conflicts, I tend to view the fight against the “church” in terms of a military campaign, one aimed at eliminating a particularly malevolent socio-political actor.

And of course, in looking at the military equivalent of the struggle we’re engaged in, the concepts of asymmetric, low-intensity, or unconventional warfare are obvious models.  The term “asymmetric warfare” has been co-opted by pundits, military theorists, and scholars to mean a variety of things, especially when applied to terrorism, for example the tactics of groups such as ISIS. For my purposes, I describe asymmetric warfare as:

a conflict between opponents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics also differ significantly. This is typically a war between a standing, professional army (Scientology) and an insurgency or resistance movement (critics, watchers, and the public at large).

Asymmetric warfare reflects distinct variances in the tactical and strategic approaches of two opponents within a given conflict, as they interact and attempt to exploit each other’s organic weaknesses. These conflicts may often involve a variety of non-traditional, non-linear forms of warfare, with the weaker combatants attempting to use unconventional strategies to offset deficiencies in the quantity or quality of their respective resources.

I decided to publish a series at to help people understand the concept of asymmetric warfare, and how it can be used by smaller groups to fight and win battles against larger, richer, and more heavily entrenched opposition such as Scientology, which includes OSA, an extensive information collection and “dirty tricks” operation, as well as a corps of fanatical elite “warriors” within the Sea Org, all funded by billions of dollars of cash salted away domestically as well as in numerous offshore banking havens.

So we’ll be starting on Sunday with the first part of the series, and we’ll continue on to explore how thinking like an asymmetric warrior can help us be more effective than ever before.

In the first installment, we’ll look at what comprises the battlespace.  This is the area wherein the critic movement, Scientology, society as a whole, and other actors, influencers, and random actions may occur. Rather than the traditional setting for seizing territory or altering the political landscape of nation-states, this is a battle of ideas: that of right and wrong and of faith, and while abstract at times, this battle still has very real consequences — we’re trying to shut down a long-established successful organization.

Here’s a sample of what my initial post will entail:

Many of those harmed by Scientology view this as a battle between good and evil, as do I; while this is reflective of something of a moral absolute, that doesn’t mean that in combatting Scientology, that a binary, indeed highly linear approach is best. Rather, our strategy must encompass a variety of tactics and techniques which leverage not only our collective outrage, but more so, our collective will, strengths, and resources. In short, we must fight the monolithic, highly centralized mentality of Scientology with a strategy of asymmetrical warfare.

OSA and its precursor, the Guardian’s Office, (GO), have enjoyed tactical successes in stifling a variety of individual and organized challenges to the church, using threats, intimidation, break-ins, pernicious litigation, and other tactics pulled from L. Ron Hubbard’s revenge-minded playbook. The resulting damage to individuals is real, ongoing, and spans some 60 years. I continue to believe that while these actions may indeed prolong the inevitable demise of the church, they still do not represent a pattern of success in either furthering or perpetuating the goals of the church. Some argue that these goals have nothing to do with doctrine, but more so, in perpetuating the scam, or keeping COB David Miscavige out of prison. I agree to an extent, but would also argue that COB’s existence is one of a gilded cage. Outside of the occasional org opening, or yearly pow-wow, when do we ever see him? What does he do all day, besides figure out ways to “get back” at all of us SPs? Hardly a bountiful life, though perhaps one steeped in the luxury of ill-gotten gains. While there’s a pile of cash to hand, what of it? Donations are down, whales are reticent, and at some point the church will be forced to start tapping reserves; success is relative in my estimation.

In returning to strategic versus tactical acumen, there is no doubt that OSA’s harassment playbook will continue to yield some success. However, the church still fails strategically on a variety of fronts, primarily because of the nature of its centralized command and control, which impedes its ability to respond to threats in a nimble and efficient manner. Scientology is stuck in a model of linear, almost Napoleonic-style of offense and counter-attack, wherein the default is to bludgeon critics into silence, either in the courtroom, or via ongoing, sporadic harassment. I say “sporadic” because the church fails miserably in understanding the question of scale or proportionality in warfare. OSA only has so many resources, and even by leveraging outsourcing, it only has so many resources it can direct against the far larger critic community. One need only assess it’s response to Anonymous to understand this, and we need to further exploit this form of asymmetrical, crowd-sourced, multi-resource rich mode of attack.

I use asymmetry here in the most general terms, as like many other past military concepts, its usefulness has been somewhat diminished by it’s utility in describing unconventional warfare (yet another term for non-linear battle). In Sunday’s post, I’ll be drilling-down into how the use of a multi-faceted attack maybe the ideal strategic means to expedite the church’s demise.