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Old 09-22-2009   #1
Westhawk
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Default The Army Capstone Concept: the Army wants your comments

Brigadier General H.R. McMaster has sent to Small Wars Journal the latest draft of Army Capstone Concept version 2.7. McMaster leads a team at TRADOC that is charged with revising the Capstone Concept, which provides fundamental guidance to the Army’s doctrine and training efforts.

By December, McMaster and his team will complete their work on the Capstone Concept. Between now and then, he wants to hear from you. So please open this file, read it, and provide your comments, either here or at the Capstone Concept post at SWJ Blog. McMaster and his team will read these comments and use them to improve this important document.

(You will note that the Capstone Concept draft we received is marked “For Official Use Only.” I assure you that we received this document openly from the Army and for the purposes explained above. McMaster and his colleagues at TRADOC want Small Wars Journal’s readers to help them improve the Capstone Concept.)

Last edited by Westhawk; 09-24-2009 at 08:36 PM. Reason: Insert PDF file without "For Official Use Only" notation
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Old 09-22-2009   #2
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Default First Cut, Looks pretty good.

Attached is a Word document with some initial comments / recommendations.

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Old 09-23-2009   #3
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Default DoD Buzz Lends a Hand

Greg Grant at DoD Buzz has posted a long commentary on this effort titled Army Wants Ideas on Future Wars.
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Old 09-23-2009   #4
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Default An excellent exercise...

First, I will strongly second Ken's recommendation to add "Disrupt" (see his file, upthread).

Secondly, I will heartily commend the theme of "Complexity and Uncertainty" and the emphasis upon adaptive thinking.

Thirdly, my rec:

Re: IO, PSYOPS, PD, etc. in light of "uncertainty" and "complexity"

Adaptive response to uncertainty and changing conditions require that commanders have flexibility and autonomy. Generally, the amount of flexibility/autonomy they have is inverse to the amount of media attention their operations generate because media attention is a valuable currency that attracts political actors ( domestic and foreign, state and non-state).

The military has attempted to "manage" the media with limited success. The infosphere is now global, networked and viral and many major players (BBC, al Jazeera etc.) begin from a stance of critical hostility toward USG foreign policy/military objectives. The greater the degree that a US operation is the subject of media attention, the worse our strategic starting point is in terms of information. Under such conditions, trying to "spin" or court media influencers is like the Dutch boy putting fingers in the leaking dike.

The media in its varied forms but particularly major TV and print media have very finite resources. They can as a system, give one global crisis tight scrutiny but when the number of newsworthy events coincide, they quickly demonstrate the effects of exceeding "cognitive load". The volume of information cannot be effectively juggled or processed either by the media filters ( reporters, editors) or the audience. This has immediate policy implications.

Even in the simple media era of the early Cold War, simultaneous crisises degraded the ability of superpowers to respond effectively to either. Case in point, the Suez Crisis intersecting with the Soviet invasion of Hungary resulted in Dulles and Eisenhower waffling on Hungary and delivering a sharp elbow to France and Britain. Khrushchev, by contrast, had no realistic possibility of aiding Nasser had Ike sided with the British, Israelis and French. The number of officials in any great power who make key decisions on the use of force are too few to manage multiple intersecting calamities. If the amount of "noise" in the system is increased, their job becomes more difficult.

U.S. war planners need to conceive of campaigns in terms of a global "attention economy". The greater the number of competing stories that exist to suck up media attention during military operations, the wider the latitude that U.S. ground commanders will have to "adapt" to circumstances. The competing stories do not have to be another geopolitical crisis either - a sex scandal or death of a celebrity figure like Princess Diana or Michael Jackson serves just as well. The crux is that the story needs to be attractive to key media decision makers from a business standpoint.

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Old 09-23-2009   #5
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Default Change & complexity

As a civilian, and non-U.S. national, I am a tad wary of critiqueing a document that has obviously had so much care, consideration and professional effort put in to it, predominantly from people who clearly 'walk the walk'.

That said, my immediate impression is of an inconsistency between the individual parts and the whole. While the introductory section give a succinct picture of the problems associated with scientific precision and etheral war, parts of the draft (e.g. 2-2 Future Operating Environment) reiterate or reemphasise the same flawed thinking about our human environment that has led to the constant replication of mistakes and constant cycle of retranche, reanalysis, revision, and repetition. These flaws are two - our focus on change and our misunderstanding of complexity.

Change - while the intro does acknowledge continuity, sections like 2-2 over-egg the pudding with the use of language that overemphasises what will be different, and neglect to point out that a hell of a lot in human affairs will remain the same. I was recently re-reading a USAWC publication from 2000 on the decade ahead. It was full of techie jargon and concepts relating to cybernetics etc etc. The future war was all robotics, networks etc, and not the same crude encounters with home-made explosives, simple ambushcades, hostile populations that professional armies have faced for at least a couple of generations. The popularity of Galula etc in 2003+ was they were reminding us of the continuity in human affairs.

Complexity has become an ever-handy excuse for poor performance. Yes, we live in complex times, but so did Machiavelli (he talks about the complexity of his Italy in an early part of The Prince) or Caesar, or most probably in his own mind, Ugg our great cave-warrior-ancestor. The point is that human affairs have never been anything other than complex, humans just don't do simple! By constantly emphasising complexity and change, important documents like this can create the erroneous impression, among young emerging leaders especially, that because all in front is new, they have little to learn from the past, and engagement in history is only an act of homage, not tutulage.

Two cents worth from NZ. In case you haven't seen these images Stateside, follow the link for some scary environmental images from Aussie. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news...lery_id=107575 Just another environmental incident to add to the debate about the changing nature of human security.
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Old 09-23-2009   #6
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Default Modularity in TRADOC

I'm curious to know why there isn't modularity in TRADOC. Instead of having TRADOC as a separate command; why not dissolve TRADOC and integrate it into the operational Army's G-3 and S-3 offices. Each theater in the operational Army will have a training component responsible for training soldiers for all occupations in that theater. That way, soldiers get training more specific to their assigned theater. This also allows for not only top-down management, but also bottom-up management as the units (that the soldiers eventually get assigned to) will provide feedback. input, and direction over training.

This arrangement also allows for more flexibility that allows Brigades and Divisions to adapt to change. Under the current system, TRADOC is separate from the operational Army and is unable to adapt and keep up with changes in the operational Army.

Does this idea make sense?

Comments and feedback are welcome....

Last edited by Orwell1984; 09-24-2009 at 12:03 AM.
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Old 09-24-2009   #7
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Zen mate, not having a pop but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenpundit View Post
Adaptive response to uncertainty and changing conditions require that commanders have flexibility and autonomy. Generally, the amount of flexibility/autonomy they have is inverse to the amount of media attention their operations generate because media attention is a valuable currency that attracts political actors ( domestic and foreign, state and non-state).
ALL WAR has ALWAYS been uncertain and complex. Adaptation has ALWAYS been required. Media attention is utterly irrelevant unless commanders are taking their orders from the BBC. You conduct operations in line with political guidance from your chain on command. You do not modify a plan because you fear the media. You modify a plan so as it best gains the political objective you Commander in chief is seeking to achieve.

Quote:
The military has attempted to "manage" the media with limited success. The infosphere is now global, networked and viral and many major players (BBC, al Jazeera etc.) begin from a stance of critical hostility toward USG foreign policy/military objectives. The greater the degree that a US operation is the subject of media attention, the worse our strategic starting point is in terms of information.
You cannot "manage" anything in war. You either react to it, or force it to do your will, by what ever means (ask nicely, ask, tell, and then force )

Sorry, the idea that "The media" has changed War is evidence free. The idea that modern war is complex, is progressed by those unable to understand it.

Media is only relevant in terms of it's political effect - so Clausewitz applies. Martin Luther had no modern media, and the Nazis only had radio and print - all of which was used to "political" not Military effect.
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Old 09-24-2009   #8
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Default Wilf, I generally agree with you...

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
You cannot "manage" anything in war. You either react to it, or force it to do your will, by what ever means (ask nicely, ask, tell, and then force )
and I totally agree with that.
Quote:
Sorry, the idea that "The media" has changed War is evidence free. The idea that modern war is complex, is progressed by those unable to understand it.
On this, though in reverse order -- I agree that modern war is no more complex. In fact all things considered, it's probably slightly less complex than it was a century ago due to better communication and broader knowledge.

On the media affecting war being evidence free, I agree. However, I think it does affect some, say about 10 to 20%, warfighters. The rub and the perception that media affects war can come from where in the chain of command representatives of that small percentage are found. A senior commander with a fear of adverse publicity can do strange things. I have seen good senior commanders who totally ignored the media and others, less good, who were quite concerned with their image...

Then, of course, there's the effect of media attention on Politicans. Those Squirrels tend to be quite media sensitive -- and they tend to have directive or budgetary authority...
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Old 09-24-2009   #9
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Default Wilf, I agree ....

with this:

Quote:
You modify a plan so as it best gains the political objective you Commander in chief is seeking to achieve.
But, the "political objective" of the CinC is very much likely to be modified by the media, by polling and by everything else that goes into modern politics.

The question is who does PR - as to which there will be many divergent answers.
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Old 09-24-2009   #10
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Default Hi Wilf

Always good to hear from you, Wilf and glad that you helped get this discussion flowing. Your views here on the media and warfare are neat, plausible and wrong

The media is not "irrelevant". If commanders find themselves eschewing perfectly legal and militarily efficient options because of how they would "look" under conditions of a panopticon battlefield, then the political effect of the media is one of the variables to which modern armies must adapt. If the adaptation is a continual circumscribing of military operations over time, then I submit that they are not being particularly creative in adapting.

Quote:
ALL WAR has ALWAYS been uncertain and complex. Adaptation has ALWAYS been required
Yes, but what matters here is to what degree?

Warfare has oscillated historically through periods of stability where tactics, weaponry, accepted rules of engagement and parley, treatment of prisoners went unchanged in significant ways for decades or even centuries. I agree with you that "adaption has always been required" but as institutions, militaries are often very conservative. It often takes many hard knocks for them to give up beloved but outdated practices, be they caste-based military systems, red coats, bronze cannon, horse cavalry or battleships.

This can be contrasted with periods of innovation where new ideas - for example, metal weapons, writing, the stirrup, gunpowder, close order drill, republican government, nationalism, industrial mass production, railroad timetables, atomic bombs - disrupted customary patterns of warfare. Some of these inventions amounted to game-changers for warfare.

The military that recognizes the need for adaption and executes it successfully wins a comparative advantage - for a time. The greater the number of innovations a military has to deal with at once, the more difficult that process becomes organizationally. Particularly, when the change is a societal one that is periphereal or indirect to immediate military concerns - like the information revolution.

Quote:
You conduct operations in line with political guidance from your chain on command. You do not modify a plan because you fear the media. You modify a plan so as it best gains the political objective you Commander in chief is seeking to achieve.
Wilf, what democratic government with a modern military conducting operations is not going to expect its military leaders to make an effort a priori to account for the possible political effects of global media in their planning?

This concern goes beyond the traditional political-psychological-morale effects we saw at, say, at Tet after Cronkite's infamous broadcast. In a globalized world, war news impacts "hot money" flows of currency in or out of national economies. By itself, this media-driven market reaction can have a strategic, even crippling, impact on a nation's war effort in a very short time frame.

Quote:
Sorry, the idea that "The media" has changed War is evidence free. The idea that modern war is complex, is progressed by those unable to understand it.

Media is only relevant in terms of it's political effect - so Clausewitz applies. Martin Luther had no modern media, and the Nazis only had radio and print - all of which was used to "political" not Military effect.
I do not see many examples of militaries these days successfully disaggregating political and military effects during combat, and a major reason for this is the ubiquity of media - professional and amateur.

Modernity is relative, not absolute. Luther had the printing press and the Bible in the vernacular. For his time, that was "modernity" and it had an explosive political impact that transformed the military dynamic of the Holy Roman Empire by giving rise to Protestant powers. While the Kaiser lost control over the Imperial German Army to Ludendorff and Hindenburg, Hitler's use of the radio ensured his ultimate command and control over the army and state until his very last days on earth before committing suicide. Radio was "modern enough" to permit the national political leadership to decisively micromanage the affairs of theater and army command.

To conclude, what I'm arguing for really, is greater military adaption to the effects of a global media in a way that preserves the greatest latitude for commanders to carry out their mission.
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Old 09-24-2009   #11
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Default Wilf,

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
Media is only relevant in terms of it's political effect - so Clausewitz applies. Martin Luther had no modern media, and the Nazis only had radio and print - all of which was used to "political" not Military effect.
Precisely. And since war is the continuation of politics by other means, if one side can use media to break the political will of their opponent, they win without firing a shot. (Or at any rate firing fewer.)

As an example, in Iraq the media was using the war as a cudgel to beat on a president of whom they disapproved. The result (intended or not) was to encourage our opponents while sapping public support. Even worse, the steady drum beat caused the administration to view ALL criticism of any aspect of the war as nothing more than domestic partisanship.

Add to that the difficulty partisan media hostility created in the area of Information Operations/Psychological Operations. Several attempts by the military to release favorable information, both domestically and in theater, were outed and (successfully) discredited - without regard to the impact on strategic objectives, let alone the verity of the information.

I took one of your points to be that commanders in the field can't conduct mission planning around media impact - and I agree. However, military and political leadership at national, strategic and possibly even operational levels must.
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Old 09-26-2009   #12
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I'm doing a line-by-line on it right now, but I think the point about communications really needs to be covered better. I also agree with a lot of the concerns Ken expressed over potential "misunderstandings" of words. I'm stuck in a rehearsal all day tomorrow, so I probably won't post my comments until Sunday or Monday.

Cheers

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Old 09-26-2009   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zenpundit View Post
Always good to hear from you, Wilf and glad that you helped get this discussion flowing. Your views here on the media and warfare are neat, plausible and wrong
I don't fear being wrong. I fear being confused... which currently I am not...

Quote:
The media is not "irrelevant". If commanders find themselves eschewing perfectly legal and militarily efficient options because of how they would "look" under conditions of a panopticon battlefield, then the political effect of the media is one of the variables to which modern armies must adapt. If the adaptation is a continual circumscribing of military operations over time, then I submit that they are not being particularly creative in adapting.
I never said the media is irrelevant. I said it is "utterly irrelevant unless commanders are taking their orders from the BBC." The political dimension is decided by the chain of command (civilian) - not the media. Politics is why wars occur and how they are conducted. Media influence is ENTIRELY political. The impact of the media is only relevant to the the policy being sought by force. If it is not, then commanders are asking Media permission or approval to do stuff - which is like asking an 8 years old for advice on marriage.

Quote:
Warfare has oscillated historically through periods of stability where tactics, weaponry, accepted rules of engagement and parley, treatment of prisoners went unchanged in significant ways for decades or even centuries. I agree with you that "adaption has always been required" but as institutions, militaries are often very conservative. It often takes many hard knocks for them to give up beloved but outdated practices, be they caste-based military systems, red coats, bronze cannon, horse cavalry or battleships.
So show me successful armies that failed to adapt? 1914-18 and 1936-45 saw far more radical changes in Warfare than anything seen today. Why do we now think it "requires adaptation." Kind of silly to even say it, in an historical context.

Quote:
This can be contrasted with periods of innovation where new ideas - for example, metal weapons, writing, the stirrup, gunpowder, close order drill, republican government, nationalism, industrial mass production, railroad timetables, atomic bombs - disrupted customary patterns of warfare. Some of these inventions amounted to game-changers for warfare.
Again, show me a successful Army or society that failed to notice this. What is more, where are new technologies used by our enemies since 2001? - I submit none.

Quote:
Wilf, what democratic government with a modern military conducting operations is not going to expect its military leaders to make an effort a priori to account for the possible political effects of global media in their planning?
Whose media and effect on who? You cannot please everybody. Military forces, use violence to gain political outcomes. "The Media" is not a cohesive coherent body. What play well with Fox, will be called a "war crime" with the BBC, and no one in Texas cares what anyone in Cairo things.

German media cared very little about the alleged atrocities of German troops in Belgium in 1914, yet they became a de-facto "cause for war" for the British population.

Quote:
Modernity is relative, not absolute. Luther had the printing press and the Bible in the vernacular. For his time, that was "modernity" and it had an explosive political impact that transformed the military dynamic of the Holy Roman Empire by giving rise to Protestant powers.
So why not point this out and stop panicking about complexity and media? Do we really think that the political dynamic of today is more complex than that in Europe at the time of Luther?

The critical relationship is between military force and politics. Media only bears on the latter - as CvC explained. Surely the aim here is to explain something simply and usefully, not compound the problem.
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Old 09-26-2009   #14
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Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
I took one of your points to be that commanders in the field can't conduct mission planning around media impact - and I agree. However, military and political leadership at national, strategic and possibly even operational levels must.
OK, so if we say, military and political leadership at national, strategic and possibly even operational levels must consider the overall politcal aim then I am in total agreement.

If they say "consider the impact of the media," they are totally wrong, because the "effect" depends on the action, and you cannot predict 2nd and 3rd order effects reliably or even how the media will see them. - you cannot tell the future.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 09-26-2009   #15
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Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
If they say "consider the impact of the media," they are totally wrong, because the "effect" depends on the action, and you cannot predict 2nd and 3rd order effects reliably or even how the media will see them. - you cannot tell the future.
Wilf, if it dosen't matter then how come our enemies are so good at using the media to affect the audience to achieve a desired effect?
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Old 09-26-2009   #16
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Wilf, if it dosen't matter then how come our enemies are so good at using the media to affect the audience to achieve a desired effect?
Slap, there is much contention amoungst AQ central over UBL's media exploits. He is accused of being a showboat, and his actions caused much division in the ranks.

Captured Email from Abu Khalid al-Suri (aka Muhammad Bahayah) and Abu
Mus’ab al-Suri to Bin Ladin

Quote:
The strangest thing I have heard so far is Abu Abdullah’s saying that he wouldn't listen to the Leader of the Faithful when he asked him to stop giving interviews….I think our brother [Bin Ladin] has caught the disease of screens, flashes, fans, and applause…. Abu Abdullah should go to the Leader of the Faithful with some of his brothers and tell them that … the Leader of the Faithful was right when he asked you to refrain from interviews, announcements, and media encounters, and that you will help the Taliban as much as you can in their battle, until they achieve control over Afghanistan.… You should apologize for any inconvenience or pressure you have caused … and commit to the wishes and orders of the Leader of the Faithful on matters that concern his circumstances here
v/r

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Old 09-26-2009   #17
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Wilf, if it dosen't matter then how come our enemies are so good at using the media to affect the audience to achieve a desired effect?
Cos folks do stupid things? Dunno. Al Quieda thing 4GW is insightful. That they do, does not give it any credence. - in fact, as I suggested to TX Hammes, the opposite may be true.

Any AQ broadcast ever weakened US will to fight?
Can the Taliban force the US to withdraw using any operation, not related to military effect?

So called "Media" is used as part of effecting the Political dimension. As concerns "Enemy" use of media, all you see and read is essentially a "party political broadcast." Political will is far more fragile than military.
Yes, military action must not undermine the political will to use force. That is both obvious and enduring.
Given that we all understand that, how does "media operations" take any form of primacy over traditional Political-military dynamics, in any way we have not seen before?
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- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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Old 09-27-2009   #18
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Cool I HATE homework....

Okay, here are my comments on it. There are a couple of general comments I want to make as well that I thought I'd toss out for discussion rather than leave hidden in the pdf (which I know you will all read ).

1. Personally, I think that the perception of cyberspace in the document is paranoid and, at the same time, schizophrenic. More importantly, i think that it does not capture the current uses of cyberspace as a "realm of conflict" well at all. IMO, cyberspace needs to be treated as if it were any other type of terrain in which and through which conflict and co-operation may take place.

2. In a fair number of comments, I make some pretty disparaging remarks about the underlying epistemology and, specifically, about the implications of word choice. In many cases, I haven't bothered to make comments because I happen to agree with most of what Ken wrote in the area. There are, however, a few areas where I believe the wording is artificially restrictive at the conceptual level and, since this is a concept piece, I find that disturbing. In almost all cases, the comments and suggestions revolve around shifting the language from a static "X is" to a dynamic form.

Final comment: I am really glad to see that the ACC has been put put for discussion and comments before it is officially released. I believe that this shows a real understanding of one of the positive aspects of cyberspace which, BTW, is not listed in the ACC .

Cheers,

Marc
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Old 09-27-2009   #19
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Thumbs up Good comments, Marc

There's a joke in there somewhere about Baroque typeface but it's too early on a balmy Sunday...
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Old 09-27-2009   #20
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Quote:
LN349-352 Currently reads: “ Consequently, the U.S. Army must develop the capability to think in terms of friendly (partners and allies), the enemy, and the people, and possess the flexibility to secure populations while simultaneously attacking or defending to defeat and destroy enemy forces and organizations.”

Suggested change: “ Consequently, the U.S. Army must develop the capability to think in terms of supportive (partners and allies), oppositional (the enemy) and neutral (the “population”, NGOs, etc.) groups, and possess the flexibility to secure populations while simultaneously attacking or defending to defeat and destroy or neutralize (convert) oppositional forces, organizations and ideologies.

Rationale: (I) The current wording maintains current military taxonomies (“the enemy”, “the people”) that have
caused significant problems in current conflicts. A much more flexible version of this taxonomy is based on situational motivational attitudes of groups as “oppositional”, “neutral” and/or “supportive”, a taxonomy that not only allows for but, also, is conducive of thinking that would encourage groups to shift their stance in ongoing conflicts (e.g. The Anbar Councils).

(II) Simplistic taxonomies of enemy, friendly and neutral encourage thinking by US Army forces that is contrary to the lived reality of the actual populations, sometimes producing associated “perceptions” that are completely erroneous (e.g. Of the “if they are friendly, then they will do X, Y and Z. If the don't, they must be the enemy.”).
This was the first change I was gonna suggest, but didn't have the cojones. Also Marc puts it more elegantly than I could've done.
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