Yesterday, while working through a wargame at CGSC with my fellow junior field grades, I came across an issue I would like to throw out for discussion. I was acting as the red team in a GAAT scenario. My strategy was to claim that the portion of the country I had invaded had just had a revolution due to atrocities committed by the central government and that I was invited in by the newly formed government in the southern part of the country. While keeping some of my forces along the new boarder, a large portion would be placed in and around population centers under the auspices of protecting the citizens and stopping the genocide. In addition, I would use the media as well as SOF in the local countries to help spread my propaganda and attempt to splinter support for the coalition. My plan was to trade space for time and try to get the international community to intervene or at least condemn coalition actions and thereby legitimize my actions.

The coalition viewed the problem as “how do I defeat the invading forces” in a force-on-force manner. They maneuvered their forces to destroy mine. While collateral damage was considered, nothing more than driving me back to the previously established international border would do.

In the end, we were fighting two different conflicts. I was fighting for international legitimacy for my cause and they were fighting to push me back. They might have won the battle but I could have won the war.

My question is this: does our current problem solving system, the Military Decision Making System (MDMP) limit our view of the conflict too narrowly so that we can miss the forest for the trees? Do the systems we use to solve problems limit us to a one-size fits-all solution?