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It Ain't Just Killin' Applying influence, working with civil and private agencies, dealing with non-combatants.

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Old 12-19-2007   #1
TheCurmudgeon
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Default Problems with problem solving.

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?
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Old 12-19-2007   #2
Tom Odom
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Quote:
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?
Lord knows I am not an advocate of the MDMP but it is what it is: a systemic system for making decisions. Nothing good ever comes from an MDMP session that screws up on mission analysis. And most of the errors in MA derive from bad assumptions or self-imposed limitations on thinking.

In the case you just discussed, I saw the same thing here from 2003 into 2005 when it came to MA; we can discuss COIN until the cows come home (Gian G feels the COIN Cult has usurped all doctrinal thought in the Army). But during that time frame too many commanders saw only trees they had to cut down, never realizing they were in a forest. Offensive operations and movement to contact were common statements in missions and concepts for operations. To my view, without a near "COIN-Cult" intervention, we would still be thrashing around in the damned forest.

The problem you pose is real. My take on it is that as an institution we convert process intended to derive various ways to skin a cat into "the Way the Cat Must Be Skinned" (use of passive voice is deliberate since that too indicates a loss of genuine thought) or better yet "the Way Proper Cat Skinning Must Be Conducted" (since skinning is a process and that means it is conducted).

But getting back to Gian G's concerns on COIN, he is correct in fearing COIN thought and analysis must in our institutional drive toward sameness soon evolve towards Analysis and Thinking to be Conducted in COIN. In other words we will take COIN doctrine emphasizing thinking and convert it into another MDMP-like menu.

Sounds like the BLUFOR needed more F22s and F35s; I mean collateral casualties are just people who were too slow to get out of the way ...

Best

Tom

PS

You are right; you should have had the opportunity to win by proving the war had not ended in one battle.

Last edited by Tom Odom; 12-19-2007 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 12-19-2007   #3
wm
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To piggyback on Tom's post, I would say that in and of itself the MDMP does not restrict problem solving ability. A hidebound, uncritical application of its tenets will be what limits that ability.
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Old 12-19-2007   #4
TheCurmudgeon
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I concur that the problem is not the method itself. I am leaning toward the failure occuring in the MA phase, but I also think there are problems in our rote application of certain methods like applying task and purpose to units when you only have a limited number of doctrinaly correct tasks and purposes.

I am still looking for ideas.
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Old 12-19-2007   #5
Tom Odom
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Look at the Brigade and Battalion Planning Special Studies from CALL; we did them here as an application of the effects-based process in targeting for full spectrum operations. Again they are system and method-centric, meaning they are worthless if applied without thinking. Still they very much get at the ideas inherent in full-spec ops, COIN, effects, etc.

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