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    Registered User RobSentse's Avatar
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    Sep 2008

    Default Time to review the military mindset?

    Conflicts are complex and non transparent, which will require a nation’s military to respond with flexibility, creativity and speed. Our traditional military way of thinking has evolved into an interagency way of acting.

    In our present and future environments of operations it will be hard to find a clear distinction between permissive, semi-permissive and non-permissive elements, as these three concepts tend to emerge at the same moment.
    The primary behavior we would like to influence lies in urban areas. Future conflicts arise in part from the need for political freedom, power, water, food, energy and living space.

    In such an environment many variables influence the outcome of our actions. One thing is clear; the way in which democratic countries choose to deal with insurgents and terrorists, is related to the increase or decrease of support for this issue from their policy makers and their troops. One needs to take this into account and try to positively influence the perceptions of the local population, potential supporters of the insurgents abroad, allies and neighboring countries; thus increasing resilience against insurgents to ensure support for our own efforts. Dealing with different variables in a concerted manner requires a balanced approach to coordinate how efforts and information flows are to be organized.
    So, what does this mean for command and control?

    Currently we bring together several elements of maneuver units, CIMIC battalions, ISTAR battalions etc. into a module tailored for the operations. When we are “back home” we then fall back in the “known pattern” of line-staff organized units. We should consider organizing our armies into a permanent modular organization.
    Instead of deriving units from a battalion or a company we then derive strike power from a module. Although, a modular organized army may seem to be one step too far. This would mean that every brigade sized unit will exist of all units taking part in a module; working, practicing and training together and that will have consequences for the current line-staff army organization and its employees.

    The limits of present line staff organization require changes be made. One solution may be a process organization consisting of modular units. One of the positive effects of this model would be a decrease of restraints whilst solutions and creativity will be magnified causing desired effects immediately. A modular process organization could be the answer to current line staff organization difficulties.
    A modular organized army will be able to embed influence operations more fluently thus being better prepared for the growing battle for the information domain. The centre of gravity in present and future operations aims at influencing the capabilities, will and understanding of all elements and actors and we have to adapt our mindset and organization towards that purpose. Influence Operations and Information Operations as a component of it, apply to a systematic and targeted approach to ensure that an opponent has the information we want him to have and which will lead him to make the decisions which act in our favor and to his disadvantage.
    It’s important to realize that the increasing population growth, combined with an ever-expanding urbanization, will have a decreasing effect on maneuver space for traditional warfare. The control of the information domain will be one of the important targets.

    Influencing perception might be more important then facts in the future fight for energy, water, food and living space. In such a perception there is no space for stove piped visions like “kinetic elements” or “non-kinetic elements” as the interconnection and the mutual influence of these concepts are fundamental in a coexisting permissive, semi permissive and non permissive environment.

    In current and future conflicts we will most likely find ourselves in a fight which is put up against a hardly determinable opponent who uses a tuned combination of politic/economic activities, criminality, conventional activity and terror to accomplish desired objectives.
    An environment in which alliances exist, by the day, between legitimate and illegitimate organizations; alliances which apparently are not linked but at the same time seem to find each other at corresponding areas to achieve common goals.
    Instead of a military being the commander of a taskforce this should be a member of Foreign Affairs. (Try to comment about the advantages
    If so, he would have, amongst others, a Development advisor and a Military advisor at his disposal.
    In such a structure NGO’s and IO’s can be included at crucial stages without compromising them.

    If we follow this thought, than the interdepartmental staff element would consist of members of Foreign Affairs, Development, Defense, Economic affairs.
    Such a staff element should be a permanent board.

    So, where do certain advisors come from?
    For instance:
    Besides “our own Policy Advisor” we also need a Policy Advisor from the “area of operations” (the "local" government) to make "them" responsible.
    Obviously it is “their” end state to reach and with a proper coordinated and synchronized Influence Operations Campaign Plan this will also be beneficial to “our” end-state.
    There will be some challenges to overcome as such a concept will influence the current personnel, material and management systems.

    As far as influence operations are concerned, a “modular” organization also needs another staff and support organization. Now you see that the several directorates of material work in a stove pipe, tuned to army, navy or air force. Also this, amongst others, has to change.

    In fact the biggest challenge in this is the military.
    The military comfort zone is one of linear thinking and our eagerness to create visible achievements for we find changes in attitude and intrinsic motivation more the soft "tree hugging" side.
    The mental change being the most important because mental changes within the population create reconsiderations on support for opponents. The operational environment has to be viewed in a behavioral context.

    At any level there could be more interest for Influence Operations. People seem to be more concerned for short time achievements (mostly ego related) than for cohesion. In the current chaos of reorganizations and “the way to go ahead” it is wise to organize our “way of thinking” into an organization which will be more tailored for current and future challenges.

    Read my articles about “Fusion, a behavioral approach to COIN” and “The Battle for the Information Domain” to be found at my profile. Combine these with “the marketing approach” en “unrestricted warfare” and let’s discuss the way ahead. Read them at

    Moreover, it is time for departmental staff levels to share knowledge, power and progressive thoughts to create comprehensive answers for coming challenges.
    As said, the biggest challenge in this is us, the military as until now we still feel comfortable paving our road for our career path with "organization blindness" as a result.

    Now the time is there to create a “think-tank” to shape the conditions for another mindset and another organization ….. a “think-tank” at MoD level as part of an interdepartmental “think-tank”.
    Last edited by RobSentse; 01-01-2011 at 06:31 PM.


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