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Old 03-06-2010   #224
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3-40. In understanding the operational environment, the commander and staff focus on defining, analyzing, and synthesizing the characteristics of the operational variables. They do so in the context of the dynamic interactions and relationships among and between relevant operational variables and actors in the operational environment. Often, learning about the nature of the situation helps them to understand the groupings, relationships, or interactions among relevant actors and operational variables. This learning typically involves analysis of the operational variables while examining the dynamic interaction and relationships among the myriad other factors in the operational environment.
It would be useful to see an unclassified example. I have seen classified examples that were very helpful, and I suspect we can take a historical event (maybe the Vietnam conflict) to show how this framework could have helped decision makers understand the situation (the conflict, actors, and variables that are suspected to be related to the problem set).

The key is to facilitate constant learning, versus our typical approach of creating clear objectives to get to imaginary end states, which seldom works in the real world (I anticipate hoots and howls over this remark, bring it on). We get to transition states, then we should adjust based on our goals and understanding of the environment. I tend to side with the State Department's perception of DoD planning, which is that parts of it are essential, while other parts are largely a waste of time. DoS prefers to focus on the process of diplomacy to create desired change over time, while the military wants clear achievable objectives (artifical approach to eliminate ambiguity). Our two recent military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are perfect examples where numerous variables have influenced the decision maker (not just enemy forces in the field), and the character of both wars changed over time, and we were slow to transition our approach (conventional, CT, counterinsurgency, peace enforcement, etc.) as the environment and objectives shifted.

Design can be useful, so I'm a supporter of the idea/theory; however, the our staffs are not organized to support this effort, so it is largely unachievable with our current structure. It gets back to the expression, "that nothing is too hard for the man who doesn't have to do it".

Wilf I suspect you'll make an argument that we have always done this, and perhaps to some degree you're correct, but something happened to the military starting in the late 80s and running through the 90s (the Vietnam reformist impact), where our doctrine largely dismissed the lessons of the past and attempting to "clearly" define military problems, and while giving lip service to whole of government, didn't really practice it.

More to follow, just wanted to throw out some lose thoughts.
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