Unleash the Swarm Part 1: How the Swarming Technique Can Eradicate Human Trafficking within the Seven Pillars of Society.

swarming birds

Unleash the Swarm Part 1: How the Swarming Technique Can Eradicate Human Trafficking within the Seven Pillars of Society.

100,000 children are sexually trafficked every year within the United States of America (Allen, 2010). In the Seattle area of residence, where I call home, 300 – 500 documented teenagers will be sexually trafficked every night (The Genesis Project, 2015). How does society even begin an attempt to confront this horrifying problem within our communities across America? How do we fight such a behemoth?

I believe the answer lies within a well known military tactic, which can be adapted to the abolitionist cause, known as the Swarming Technique.

This blog post’s purpose serves as an introduction to an eight part series in which I will expand upon the adaption of the swarming technique within the seven pillars of society discussing strengths, weaknesses, and practical applications for readers.

What is the Swarming Technique?
“Swarming is a battlefield tactic designed to overwhelm or saturate the defenses of a principal target or objective” (Wikipedia, 2015, n.p.). Swarming techniques are used when the enemy has a bigger military advantage while opposing military forces are substantially weaker. To counter this military might, the weaker forces use overwhelming numbers to relentlessly assault the more powerful enemy eventually wearing them out, dividing their might, and conquering.

The History of Swarming
“Many examples of military swarming at the tactical level come from the ancient world and the Middle Ages” whose technique was adapted from the observation of the insect world (Edwards, 2000, p. 13). Many of us have viewed a nature documentary in which a giant ant colony takes down some other deadly insect ten times larger than themselves and in some cases animals too that are posing a threat. Some of the most well known swarming techniques were used by mounted archers of the past “[including] the Scythians, Parthians, Huns, Avars, Bulgars, Magyars, Turks, Mongols, and Cossacks” (Edwards, 2000, p.13).

In discussing the swarming approach to warfare within his book entitled Swarming on the Battlefield, Edwards (2000) shares a story about how the Parthians were able to overpower Alexander the Great by luring him into an ambush, surrounding his soldiers with mounted archers, and then saturating the soldiers with numerous volleys of arrows. Due to Alexander the Great’s military might of the Iron Age, his defeat under the Parthians proved a titanic blow to the confidence of his military as well as physical damages.

So how does this military tactic of warfare apply to the antihuman trafficking movement?

Simply stated: I believe a united front of nonprofits, religious organizations, and community activists can use this same tactic of swarming to defeat the behemoth problem of human trafficking by swarming the seven pillars of society simultaneously.

What are the Seven Pillars of Society?
The phrase Seven Pillars of Society was first established by Os Hillman who also refers to them as the Seven Cultural Mountains. Hillman (2015) states that to bring about change in a society, these seven pillars must be individually conquered and changed internally to bring about a grander overall change. Hillman (2015) identifies these seven pillars as business, government, media, arts/entertainment, education, family, and religion. Below is a broader explanation of each pillar.

Business – refers to the private sector of employment including corporations, employees, consumers, and producers of material goods or services.
Government – refers to elected officials, elected offices, law enforcement, military, social services, laws that govern towns, states, and the nation, and any other service instilled by the government of a country.
Media – refers to print/digital news outlets, bloggers, news anchors, talking heads, and any other influential medium by which individuals obtain their news.
Arts & Entertainment – refers to the music and film industry, video game industry, authors, painters, photographers, and any other artistic medium used to entertain individuals. Arts & Entertainment also focuses on the role individual celebrities play within the context of their artistic medium and the influence they have over the population.
Education – refers to preschool, elementary, secondary, colleges/universities, and the curriculum they teach. Education also examines the relationship between teachers, principals, superintendents, professors, and how they manage to administer education to their students.
Family – refers to family unit consisting of parent(s), children, extended relatives, foster families, adoptions, and/or all other relationships within the family structure.
Religion – refers to the religious/philosophical communities within cities, their leaders, and the impact they have within the cities.

Now that the mission field is understood, in later posts I will examine the seven pillars more in depth individually in blog posts two through eight, later this year.

Drawbacks of the Swarming Technique
With every method of solution to a massive problem, potential weaknesses arise that must be addressed, countered, and adapted to if the purposeful solution is to succeed. Alexander the Great had to develop such a countering technique to the devastating losses he was suffering under the onslaught of the Parthians. How could Alexander the Great counter such warfare from what appeared to be innumerable numbers of enemies constantly harassing his forces? The answer lies within counter-swarming techniques, which also identifies how antitrafficking movements can counter swarming techniques offered by organizations, policies, and leaders within the seven pillars of society unwilling to address the atrocities of human trafficking and how they play a role in the process.

In the battle against the Parthians, Alexander the Great used his cunning to inflate the egos of his enemies. Dividing his forces into two groups, Alexander the Great used a small phalanx to lure the Parthians to attack him once more knowing that the Parthians would saturate the smaller phalanx with mounted archers. Blinded by their past victories, the Parthians took the bait and began to overwhelm the phalanx. Once the Parthians were drawn out, Alexander the Great surrounded the Parthians with light cavalry and used a cyclical rotation pattern to squash the Parthians. The smaller phalanx would rotate in a counter circle, pushing the Parthians into the rotating light cavalry. The light cavalry would then force the enemy into inescapable terrain and finish them off. Thus the Parthians’ swarming technique was defeated.

Learning from Our Mistakes
So what does this mean for nonprofits fighting human trafficking? If the swarming technique can be defeated, why bother employing it as a method? Because the swarming method continues to work; it is what the leaders in the seven pillars of society, whom refuse to confront the human trafficking problem within their pillar of influence, continue to use to thwart any grassroots change that must occur to transform our society. By employing swarming and counter-swarming methods against the behemoth problems within the seven pillars of society, communities can begin the restorative process of making their communities safe again and thwarting trafficking from occurring within their neighborhoods.

Below are four general actions I believe can be employed within each pillar of society to bring about this grassroots change needed in our community.

1). Use the overinflated egos of toxic organizations, faulty policies, or stubborn leadership against their influence within a select pillar of society. Research and data will be heavily used in this method followed by methods needed to sanitize the issue and remove the emotionalism that is rampant within current social injustice movements. Many of the leaders and organizations within these spheres will most likely be used to the idea of “too big to fail” so applying swarming pressure against them on multiple fronts will catch them off guard.

2). Establish unification of purpose and goals within the abolitionist coalition within each community. “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” To the Christian, this passage of Scripture is well known in structuring church communities but this simple statement in Mark 3:25 (NIV) is also applicable to the antihuman trafficking movement. Nonprofits, religious communities, and activists must unify under a banner of purpose and goal. All these different community groups bring different strengths and perspectives vital to tackling the human trafficking problem. We must learn to glean the wisdom of each others’ experiences and teachings and then apply it as methods that produce results. Like the human body, when one part of the community suffers it effects the rest of the community, too.

3). Concentrate swarming tactics on specific areas within the seven pillars of influence. If possible, conduct this approach on multiple fronts. This tactic can be applied to a single pillar or multiple pillars at once; the key to saturation success is for the community to continue to apply increased pressure upon the seven pillars of society to force change.

4). Create a contingency plan to counter opposing swarming tactics. When countered with trafficking supporters (whether they be through individuals, actions, or policies), the unified force of abolishments must divide and conquer specific targets through swarming. Examples of these targets could be pressuring elected individuals who do not support passage of antihuman trafficking legislation, showing up in overwhelming numbers for political/community protests, boycotting businesses/products that use human trafficking labor as a means to produce a good or service, and engaging in spreading awareness within the community. These different tactics used simultaneously or in a continued rotation pattern would create enough countering pressure to produce change within the specific pillar of society.

Though this blog post is just an introduction to one of many methods applied to the antihuman trafficking cause, the most important information I hope you glean from this transcription is the ability to develop a method that produces physical/measurable results as well as being able to replicate it in individual communities. Based upon my observation of antihuman trafficking activism within the Seattle area, swarming appears to be the best method of application whether in part or whole. In the next blog post I will discuss application of swarming in regard to influencing the societal pillar of business.


Allen, Ernie. “Testimony of Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.” Testimony, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives. Washington, DC, September 15, 2010.
Arquilla, John, and Ronfeldt, David. “Swarming and the Future of Conflict.” RAND | National Defense Research Institute, 2000. Accessed July 8, 2015. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/documented_briefings/2005/RAND_DB311.pdf
Bonnybbx. Flock of Birds Swarm Mountain. Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/get/8abfd08e731a97d02474/1440016401/flock-of-birds-392676_1280.jpg?direct (accessed August 18, 2015)
Edwards, Sean J. A. “Chapter Three: Historical Cases.” Swarming on the Battlefield, 2000. Accessed August 11, 2015. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1100/MR1100.chap3.pdf
The Genesis Project. “The Problem.” http://genesisnow.org/the-problem/ (accessed August 18, 2015)
United Nations Office of Drug and Crime. “North America.” Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2015. http://www.unodc.org/documents/human-trafficking/Country_profiles/North_America.pdf
U.S. Department of State. “Country Narratives: T-Z and Special Cases.” Trafficking in Persons Report 2014, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2015. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/226849.pdf
Wikipedia. “Swarming (military).” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swarming_(military) (accessed July 8, 2015)
Hillman, Os. “There are 7 Mountains of Influence in Culture.” http://www.7culturalmountains.org (accessed July 22, 2015)


2 thoughts on “Unleash the Swarm Part 1: How the Swarming Technique Can Eradicate Human Trafficking within the Seven Pillars of Society.

  1. Catherine B. says:

    A great idea.

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