I am a PhD student in political science at the University of Washington. I
am writing an MA paper on decision-making and doctrine in conventional wars, a topic that has been largely neglected in the political science literature. I am proceeding to test Scott Sigmund Gartner's "Strategic Assessment in War" (<http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0300060343/sr=8-1/qid=1146245151/ref=sr_1_1/002-0390783-5384836?%5Fencoding=UTF8>); the other work in political science that deals with the topic is Stephen Rosen's "Winning the Next War: Innovation and the Modern Military" (<http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0801481961/qid=1146245218/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/002-0390783-5384836?s=books&v=glance&n=283155>).

The crux of Gartner's argument is that key metrics ("dominant indicators")
drive decision making. In the Battle of Atlantic, for example, key metrics
may have been allied ships sunk, supplies successfully convoyed, submarines
successfully sunk, etc. Andrew Krepinevich's "How to Win in Iraq" <http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20050901faessay84508/andrew-f-krepinevich-jr/how-to-win-in-iraq.html> is an example of metrics that specifically deals with small wars.

Gartner's particular spin is that *acceleration* in key metrics drives change. Decision-makers don't change tactics/operations/strategy because metrics hit some good/bad absolute value, nor do they change tactics/operations/strategy because things are getting better/worse; they change tactics/operations/strategy because things are getting better/worse at a (seemingly) faster or slower rate. For example, a certain period of time may have exhibited the most convoys attacked, but if the number of convoys attacked seems to be slowing (decelerating), one might not be inclined to make changes.

To use a few non-military examples, if the Gap continues to sell more shorts vice earier periods, but the rate is decelerating (two quarters ago they sold 300,000, one quarter ago they sold 400,000, and this quarter they sold
450,000), Gap may change its marketing strategy. Conversely, if Bush's approval ratings hit 50% on May 1, 40% on June 1, and 20% on July 1, the negative trend is accelerating, and he may make changes.

This is intended for my MA Paper (writing it is part of the PhD program), and I'm also hoping to polish it into something publishable at some point. For my immediate purpose, an assignment for my Qualitative Methods class is to interview someone with knowledge relevant to my project. My focus is, for various reasons, on the evolution of defensive tactics in the World War II air war over Europe (e.g., the evolution of the "box" formation, and the
equipping of long-range fighters with drop-tanks), but I'd be curious to
hear any insights anyone might have. Moreover, I find the field this seems least appropriate for is conventional ground warfare; air and naval warfare seem somewhat amenable to "dashboard" assessment of metrics, and one can develop metrics for counterinsurgency, be they good or bad (body counts, villages deemed secure, schools operating, etc). How one "measures" progress in conventional war, though, seems especially elusive to me. Logistics seems the most likely candidate for this to be an approach that might work; I think of the "combat pause" and 5 attacks during the initial phase of the Iraq War, or perhaps the choice to halt Patton during September 1944.

I'd be curious to (hopefully) talk with somone, or perhaps "interview" via email, sometime in the next week or two. If you're interested, if you could please email back, I'd be very appreciative.

Jeff Wolf