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The Adolphus Complex

March 10, 2014 at 7:49 pm | News Desk


Tammy Swofford


Lethal personalities.  Every professional standing army retains leadership with lethal personalities. The doctrine of war, a command and control environment, and need for strategic depth lock these individuals into a trajectory of service. Within state-mandated chain of commands which fall under the authority of a Commander-in-Chief and parliamentary body such men are highly prized.  But asymmetrical attack is the new order of business. Eviscerating attacks are targeting civilians. The urban warfare tactics create unmanageable humanitarian crises across the Middle East and African continent. So it becomes necessary for both soldier and scholar to share their weapons. For the soldier, the basic weapon is one of lethal force. But the scholar has an equally formidable weapon. It is the pen.    Today I will profile three lethal personalities, who exhibit an Adolphus Complex.  One document will be used for each profile.

The first is the well-known “Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders”, released on 23 February 1998.  The second document is based on an interview coming out of Chechnya in June 2008.  The third offering is recent.  The time stamp is January 2014 and makes it way to my desk from a very active jihad portal. Enter the Intellectual Battlespace (IB) with me.

Gustavus Adolphus at the battle at Breitenfeld, Courtesy: Wikipedia

Gustavus Adolphus at the battle at Breitenfeld, Courtesy: Wikipedia

The triad model is a simple one.  Let’s identify the traits.

NOBLE WOLF:  Statesman

Leaders with the strength of a noble wolf have a strong sense of destiny regarding their place in the world. They consider themselves as both statesman and guardian of the greater good.  Their sense of guardianship of the values and the culture require defense at all costs. This preservation of values includes bloodshed. When they enjoin the fight they believe in the right of their cause, in fact, the utter nobility of their cause.  The belief in their own moral superiority and infallibility make them hard to subdue. They are not averse to risk. Each new risk, runs like adrenaline in their veins.  These men display strong narcissistic tendencies. As they rise within the chain of command they function as a magnet for other narcissistic personalities. The “noble wolf” personalities benefit chain of command structures.   A bifurcated chain of command doctrine of nurture and cordon keeps them in check. But the nobles wolves exist. We do not easily note their presence outside the lair.

WOMB: Doctrine of War

Men with a strong doctrine of war value the ideology which is invested within them. This ideology can be self-generated, taught in the formal classroom or formulated during the heat of battle. Out of this womb of knowledge they show formidable leadership qualities which draw others to join them from quarterdeck to theater of battle, and onward…. to the grave. Men with a heavy reliance on a doctrine of war demand unquestioning loyalty regarding their command and control of the battlefield configuration.   Good order and discipline is mission essential.  A strong doctrine of war and distinct ideological tethers are needed to maintain mission focus.


Men with an ability to unify others under a banner of common cause and mission accomplishment use a distinct skill set to build the soldier’s camp and replenish the battle lines. These men are able to instill camaraderie. As men begin to align as part of a soldier’s camp the goal is to see the development of a lethal fighting force. The United States Marine Corps has a distinct training program which first strips the individual of identity. The trainers then begin from the bottom up, and craft the Marine to a new identity, that as a member of the soldier’s camp.  Once identified with the camp, the art of war is quickly taught.

Effective professional military leadership grids efficiently corral talent pools which include lethal personalities.  When properly identified and tasked for the needs of a nation, such individuals can perform acts of great personal sacrifice and cause others to follow their lead. But the stuff of greatness is not far removed from acts of great evil, when deployed against innocent civilians. Let’s move to document analysis. 

Analysis of Jihad against Jews and Crusaders:

The percentiles for this document fall into a predictable range.


There is a strong leaning toward the need for credibility, hence, the voice of an Alpha male, a dominant guardian. The noble wolf speaks of crusader armies spreading like locusts, plundering riches, attempts at annihilation of the Muslim people.

To further strengthen the document, ideology is used to make the words of Usamah bin Ladin read like an authoritative mandate.

Although the percentile for the soldier’s camp (art of war) is small, the author identifies every living Muslim as a member of the camp.  “The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country….”  This broad-based strategy was a dangerous proposition then and continues to be a dangerous thought today. To erase the boundaries between combatant and civilian tramples on the work of Jean Jacques Rousseau and other philosophers who suggested that a medieval order of military operations which pillaged, raped and looted – was morally repugnant.

* Analysis of Document from Chechnya:   Movladi Udugov:  “It is war for the way of life….”

The percentiles for this document are statistically similar to the first:

 Tammy 2

While “Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders” maintains a revolutionary tone, the interview of Movladi Udugov has a stronger geopolitical cadence.  The noble wolf  speaks with tremendous bravado and almost a baiting tone. This is even noted within the doctrine of war.  But the title “It is war for the way of life….” clearly establishes that self-determination and national autonomy continue to drive Chechen forces into an asymmetrical battle space. The soldier’s camp has long been established within the Caucasus.  Chechen fighters are renowned for the strong discipline within their ranks and for  hardened military prowess.  So remarks which address the soldier’s camp in Chechnya  also make the jump to address the challenges and hurdles of camps outside the region.

Toward the end of the interview there is an interesting statement:  “Democracy has appropriated the monopoly to legitimate use of force.  Everybody else is denied that right.”  This calls for a response.  What is a legitimate use of force?  Does it include lethal acts against non-combatants?

* Analysis of Statement of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: Release date January 2014

The percentiles for this document fall in a different range than the prior two.

Tammy 3

Dangerous. Predictably unpredictable. Is there an inner circle quest to wrest the title of Amir from al-Baghdadi?  These are the things I ponder when reading the document and crunching the numbers.  Al-Baghdadi has little concern for real issues of state, or the fruit of diplomacy.  His strong ideological leanings have given him the ability to harness a lethal force which is highly dependent on bomb-makers to inflict maximum carnage. A wave of car bombings and targeted assassinations attest to his war standard.  But his January 2014 statement shows a consistent effort to both rally and unify the ranks which serve under his command. He addresses both the offensive and defensive posture of the soldier’s camp. Does he need to bolster the ego of his soldiers? The weeks ahead will prove interesting in Iraq.

The Adolphus Complex is a rudimentary model.  Drilling deeply into the documents after the establishment of percentages is the more tedious work. What voice does the noble wolf use in defense of his arguments?  What is the nature of his doctrine of war?  How is he able to unify a command, instill loyalty, and accomplish his mission?  Of utmost importance, what part of the personality has the biggest draw for any given demographic?  While some are drawn to message, others are drawn to mission.  There are other individuals who become soldiers of fortune because of an aching psychological lack. They want the war experience within the context of the  camaraderie of the ranks. The alarming movement of young Muslims from the West into Syria is probably driven by psychological lack and a poor sense of well-being. The stable powers  work with another weapon. It is an active denial endeavor based on legal action. The individuals who make the mad dash to war are placed on a no fly list and stripped of legal status.

War never really makes good sense. The toll on mankind and on the human spirit cannot be measured. But if there is to be war, let it be confined and contained within legally and internationally recognized chain of command structures. Simply put, the world can be a safer place when professional standing armies fulfill their duties. But the world is a more dangerous place when men with an Adolphus Complex become non-state players within the asymmetrical battle space.  When the commerce of  non-state  players is funded  from interested national entities, the civilian population is the ultimate prey. And it is men with lethal personalities who are capable to speak, instruct, and command.  The Adolphus Complex.  It exists.


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