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Old 09-08-2006   #1
SWJED
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Default Strategic Compression

I am working on a project that is exploring a concept that we ware calling, at least for the time being, 'strategic compression'. Thought I'd run by a brief narrative of what we are looking at and ask the Council to comment - expand on the following:

Strategic compression is a nascent term with widely used ideas such as the ‘strategic corporal’ and ‘CNN effect’ intermixed in it. Both attest to the realization that in today’s security environment, tactical actions can have operational and strategic consequences.

While both phrases are necessary for an understanding of strategic compression, neither suffices as an explanation. The former is essentially an implication of a new security environment—how soldiers will need to act under new circumstances—and the latter is a mechanism of how the environment has changed. Neither provides a complete definition or full understanding to what strategic compression is.

Our project cautiously defines strategic compression as the overlapping or merging of the three levels of war: strategic, operational, and tactical. As a result, the past distinctions between the levels have become less clear. More specifically, the role of the operational level as an intermediary and “buffer” between the strategic and tactical levels may be reduced. There are two major directions of strategic compression: strategic to tactical compression and tactical to strategic compression.

The first is that the strategic level of war—specifically strategic level actors—increasingly have the ability to directly control and manage the tactical level of war in real-time. From the perspective of history, attempts by strategic level actors to directly control the tactical level are not a new phenomenon. Only recently through C4ISR capabilities has this ability been realized. C4ISR capabilities allow strategic level actors to control and impact the tactical level of war in unprecedented ways.

The second is that at the tactical level of war units and individual soldiers have the ability through tactical actions to affect the strategic level of war through what is commonly referred to as the ‘CNN Effect’. However, a situation where the tactical level directly affects the strategic level is not an entirely new phenomenon. In fact, the tactical level of war affecting the strategic level has been a common aspect of small wars for a while. Lately the concept has been largely reintroduced as a facet of war fighting and through a relatively new mechanism—the 24 hour news-cycle. Another aspect is that tactical units have increasing mobility and firepower. Directed by the previously mentioned C4ISR, small units can have an incredible effect on the battlespace and accomplish operational or even strategic level goals.

Furthermore, it should be noted that strategic compression isn’t a term limited specifically to small wars or major combat operations. Strategic compression can occur under either context though it has many specific implications for small wars (i.e. strategic corporal) and the current security environment.
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Old 09-08-2006   #2
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Default Just trying out an idea here

Does the compression factor have something to do with changes in the war fighting environment? Is it an increasing variable due to increased communication capability? For example the unit members being interviewed on CNN disclose information that creates changes in the tactical mission or strategic objectives of leaders. Is the out of band (or in band even) discussions and granularity of communication creating non-hierarchical “compression” of the chain of command? Sorry if I’m off base here and picture included.


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Old 09-08-2006   #3
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Default Time

To me you are talking about time.
Strategic compression = Faster actions, against defined targets, to achieve faster results.
But!!! it is relative to your opponent. Fast may be very slow, but faster than your opponent.

Reminds me of a joke I heard. 2 guys are running away from a bear. The first guy stops to put on his running shoes. The second guy says why are you putting on your running shoes you can't out run a bear. The first guy says I don't have to out run the bear, I only have to out run you!!
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Old 09-08-2006   #4
Merv Benson
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Default Strategic compression

I think President Johnson's selection of bombing targets in Vietnam is a 40+ year old example of strategic interference with tactical decisions.

As for the media, the real problem is that at best our forces on the strategic defensive, being reactive and about six or seven news cycles behind most stories that shape the media battle space. The fact is there is no media strategy, beyond telling reporters that we will get back to them in a few days when we find out what happened. By the time that happens the mdia has moved on to a new story and the old one is forgotten.

A more proactive strategy would be to at least point out the enemy's media strategy and its various victimization offensives that turn out to be frauds. We should be actively discrediting the enemy media strategy and remind the media when they are following the enemy playbook.

One of the reasons none of this happens is that no one is in charge of shaping this non kinetic battlespace. It is entirely reactive.
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Old 09-08-2006   #5
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I think what you see with strategic compression is a percieved (or actual) desire on the part of higher commanders or echelons to control all aspects of warfare down to the tactical level. As was pointed out, tactical decisions and events have had an impact on higher levels of warfare for some time, especially when the war is viewed as more political (historical small wars, for example) than military in basic nature, and of course the reverse has also been true.

The basic problem to me occurs when higher levels attempt to inject their opinions and desires at levels where it is not appropriate. "Leadership by Charlie-Charlie bird" as seen in Vietnam has been replaced by the video conference, but the results are the same. Undermining the confidence of tactical leaders does not contribute to them making good decisions, and increases the possibility of a tactical decision that will have negative strategic impacts. Higher level commanders are frequently not aware of the realities on the ground. This does not mean that tactical commanders have a superior knowledge of the strategic situation, but that this sort of compression makes it easier for such interfearence to occur.

Strategic compression is to me a matter of timelines. Where previously one could count on a delay with press matters, now it's a matter of hours or minutes. Fear of reacting badly delays a response on the part of strategic leaders, or leads to a hasty response. In either case you have a compression that forces leaders onto the defensive and gives those who make hasty or sensational accusations an advantage in the media cycle.

Last edited by Steve Blair; 09-08-2006 at 05:35 PM. Reason: Timeout on post
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Old 09-09-2006   #6
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Default Good concept

Compliments to your efforts to define an very relevant concept. It seems to me that strategic compression is in some ways the antithesis to what we try to instill in our warfighters on the battlefield that being the idea of tactical patience. Strategic compression often pushes leaders at many levels to "do something, anything" rather than appear hesitant or worse impotent.

Tactical patience is of course the art of judging when conditions for sucess are set and when acting takes the initiative from the opponent.

Personally I have seen or been involved in ops at once both strategic and tactical. My favorite example of such was the "Goma baby clothes" airdrop driven exclusively by that "do something, anything impulse" and "do it on CNN." Near fiasco is the best face I can put on it and the "near" only applies because I did my best to convince the media that nothing was really going to happen and many of them left.

Keep chewing this bone...it is worth the effort!

Best
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Old 09-10-2006   #7
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Default Thanks All...

... but keep at it - looking for much more detail and discussion. Counting on you guys.
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Old 09-10-2006   #8
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If I am not mistaken, strategic compression is the whole point of 4GW. The various non-state actors don't have the resources to have significantly effect the US or Israel at the operational or strategic level. All they are able to do is engage in various relatively small scale tactical actions which, in the absence of the media would be largely inconsequential. The enemy, however has learned to use I/O as a force multiplier. The use of the media and the proper application of rhetoric can lend a great deal of strategic weight to relatively small scale tactical actions. In the West the enemy seems to be aided somewhat by the rabid partisanship on both sides of the aisle and by the fact that many do not have a proper frame of reference to understand what is going on. At least that is the way I understand it.

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Old 09-10-2006   #9
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It would seem that when considering compression of the strategic environment it would have more to do with the political, resources, and large world view rather than the tactical unit level. However, we know that strategic choices have incredible impact on the tactical capability at the unit level, and further that actions at the unit level have substantial consequence on the strategic choices. It would appear that with small world communications (global, ubiquitous, instantaneous, and broadband) and the ability to have instant access from anywhere that strategic compression is a communications control issue.

The good side of strategic compression is that operational commanders would seem to have a better understanding of the current operational environment. The bad thing is that operational commanders can see set pieces and not realize the actual situation with a dirt in the teeth world view. This would seem to create an environmental disconnect between capability/sustainability and realization. I would think that constant inputs on current missions by commanders to the unit level would create feed back loops of indecision and overload commanders with requests for further direction while halting unit operations.

Unlike historical conflicts the ability to move information around the battlefield is only controlled in limited ways. Any cell phone, DVD Camera, or other transmission device in the environment is going to dispense with operational superiority in information operations. The way that information is viewed is contextual and when the context is not made apparent the message can be skewed and changed substantially. Whereas we can talk about “yellow journalism” and “bias” it is much harder to apply that to the selectivity of the images presented by either side of a conflict. Never mind the veracity and legitimacy of the information. This might suggest that strategic compression factors affecting command decisions might be infested with inappropriate information and create command error in assessment.

Inherent in the idea of compression is the concept that it is finite, and more importantly with compression comes inflexibility. You can only compress a command structure, tactical environment, or communications conduit so far. When compressing the structure a certain amount of loss occurs (common concept in communications and communication compression technology). The loss partially would appear to be in the flexibility of the operational entity. The flexibility that could be considered lost is the creative capability of the field commander to overcome issues through creative measures. We might not want field commanders becoming “artistic” in the field, but we most assuredly want them using higher order thinking skills to accomplish their objectives. Slightly inconsistent with the above analogy strategic compression suggest that more information is available since the single lines of communications loose some information through compression, more information is provided to the strategic commander as an overall broader understanding.

Just some simple thoughts early on a Sunday…
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Old 09-11-2006   #10
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http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/pdf/johnson_cognetics.pdf

Strategic compression as articulated here sounds like the result of cognetic effects on military decision making and operations. AF MAJ Bruce Johnson wrote a great piece about the effect of the democratization of communications technology (nod one to Friedman) on public perception of world events, ie the Cognetic Effect. Due to rapid world wide comms, people can get their message out worldwide, real-time The article is posted on Chet Richards' DNI site.

As a result of Cognetic Effect, the levels of war that we are comfortable with are truly compressing. The levels of command that we use to exercise C2 are becoming redundant and may hinder rather facilitate effective battle command. A by-product of strategic compression is the need to flatten our hierarchies (nod 2 to Friedman). We have integrated technolgy into our structure without questioning whether the structure itself may need to be modified for more effective C2.
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Old 09-11-2006   #11
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Just trying to expand on the thoughts I put in my first post. Hopefully it may stir some discussion and/or debate as well.

I think that strategic compression is a result of 3GW methods being combined with modern media capability (sorry, but I'm becoming more and more convinced that “4GW” is just a more advanced form of 3GW and not something new and different). As operations become more and more “real time” in terms of their impact within reporting circles (witness the level of instant feed both in speed and scope we had with the WTC, for just one example, and then compare that to the lag with Pearl Harbor – even Tet '68 pales in comparison), the decision-making process struggles to keep up. And since this is really an OODA loop, strategic compression is just another way to get inside the OODA loop. What happens is that the time pressure created by media attention shrinks the envelope available to higher commanders to make decisions.

Having said that, I think that certain cultural trends within the US armed forces make the process worse than perhaps it needs to be. Since World War II, centralized control has been the unspoken goal of most military leaders, as demonstrated by actions and not words. In my earlier post I mentioned the “Charlie-Charlie bird” syndrome in Vietnam and its replacement by the video conference in more recent conflicts. We may talk and write a great deal about empowering and enabling our lower-level commanders to make their own decisions, but in practice it seems that the higher command levels (the Army in particular, although centralized command is really a way of life with the Air Force) like to take any chance they can to try to reclaim control of the battlefield and decisions made there. Sean Naylor's book about Operation Anaconda explores this in some detail, but commentary on it can be found throughout the literature on Vietnam and some of the writings about Somalia. Some crucial decisions regarding force structure were made for what could be called cosmetic reasons, ignoring the needs of the commanders on the ground. Of course, we've seen this before. But strategic compression (as defined as the pressure of instant media attention shrinking the time available to make what could be called standoff decisions) seems to increase the reluctance on the part of higher commanders to allow their subordinates to actually command and lead.

How do you deal with strategic compression? Frankly, I think one of the starting points is to trust your commanders in the field to make correct decisions and then support them. I/O campaigns are nice, but the reality is that we cannot conduct one properly because the U.S. mainstream media isn't disposed to play along. We can force out information, but that doesn't mean anyone will listen. I think the important part is to develop I/O campaigns that target local populations and not so much the home front. Higher level commanders need to recognize that their impact on local operations is naturally limited and that meddling simply because you have the technology to do so is counterproductive. Total situation awareness is a myth, and strategic compression (defined as time compression) makes this myth even more damaging.

Just some Monday morning thoughts.
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Old 09-12-2006   #12
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Default What About the Future of Strategic Compression?

Would appreciate comments on the following and any additional thoughts on the implications of strategic compression...

Since strategic compression is largely technology driven new technologies will likely exacerbate the effects of strategic compression and further blur the lines between the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war. Advanced systems like the Land Warrior will give guidance and integrate the individual soldier into an increasingly complex command and control network. Improvements to ISR capabilities through better and more UAVs, satellites, and other means will give commanders on all levels of war a greater ability to see the battlefield and destroy targets through precision guided munitions and increased maneuverability. These examples show how units will be more prone to direct control by strategic actors.

The CNN effect is also unlikely to diminish. Inexpensive, ubiquitous cameras and the ability to post images and video on the internet by amateur reporters will increasingly contribute to this phenomenon. Sources of news will likely proliferate and instances of media responding to tactical mistakes are likely to grow. This will place greater emphasis on General Krulak’s strategic corporal idea as tactical actions should be expected to receive hyper-scrutiny in the future. The CNN effect will play an increasingly important role in small wars relative to major combat operations (MCO), because unlike the enemy in MCO, the two major centers of gravity in small wars—the occupied population and the American public—depend upon news media to gain information and formulate opinions about military actions. Ensuring that tactical actions are well understood by both audiences is essential. Small wars are also likely to be increasingly fought in urban environments. The likelihood that collateral damage will occur during operations and be documented by international media is dramatically increased. As such, the CNN effect is additionally exacerbated when American forces are operating amongst urban civilian population centers.
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Old 09-13-2006   #13
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Quote:
Having said that, I think that certain cultural trends within the US armed forces make the process worse than perhaps it needs to be. Since World War II, centralized control has been the unspoken goal of most military leaders, as demonstrated by actions and not words. In my earlier post I mentioned the “Charlie-Charlie bird” syndrome in Vietnam and its replacement by the video conference in more recent conflicts. We may talk and write a great deal about empowering and enabling our lower-level commanders to make their own decisions, but in practice it seems that the higher command levels (the Army in particular, although centralized command is really a way of life with the Air Force) like to take any chance they can to try to reclaim control of the battlefield and decisions made there. Sean Naylor's book about Operation Anaconda explores this in some detail, but commentary on it can be found throughout the literature on Vietnam and some of the writings about Somalia. Some crucial decisions regarding force structure were made for what could be called cosmetic reasons, ignoring the needs of the commanders on the ground. Of course, we've seen this before. But strategic compression (as defined as the pressure of instant media attention shrinking the time available to make what could be called standoff decisions) seems to increase the reluctance on the part of higher commanders to allow their subordinates to actually command and lead.
Quote:
Would appreciate comments on the following and any additional thoughts on the implications of strategic compression...

Since strategic compression is largely technology driven new technologies will likely exacerbate the effects of strategic compression and further blur the lines between the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war. Advanced systems like the Land Warrior will give guidance and integrate the individual soldier into an increasingly complex command and control network. Improvements to ISR capabilities through better and more UAVs, satellites, and other means will give commanders on all levels of war a greater ability to see the battlefield and destroy targets through precision guided munitions and increased maneuverability. These examples show how units will be more prone to direct control by strategic actors.

The CNN effect is also unlikely to diminish. Inexpensive, ubiquitous cameras and the ability to post images and video on the internet by amateur reporters will increasingly contribute to this phenomenon. Sources of news will likely proliferate and instances of media responding to tactical mistakes are likely to grow. This will place greater emphasis on General Krulak’s strategic corporal idea as tactical actions should be expected to receive hyper-scrutiny in the future. The CNN effect will play an increasingly important role in small wars relative to major combat operations (MCO), because unlike the enemy in MCO, the two major centers of gravity in small wars—the occupied population and the American public—depend upon news media to gain information and formulate opinions about military actions. Ensuring that tactical actions are well understood by both audiences is essential. Small wars are also likely to be increasingly fought in urban environments. The likelihood that collateral damage will occur during operations and be documented by international media is dramatically increased. As such, the CNN effect is additionally exacerbated when American forces are operating amongst urban civilian population centers.
As much as talk of 4GW makes me grind my teeth, all the responses are on the mark. As a former battle captain of a task force, I can confirm that the C4I networks available can at times drive an unrealistic "pull" of information from higher headquarters. Something along the lines of compression is occuring, because there is a never-ending need to "feed the machine", so to speak. Until we recognized the downside, the reporting requirements to higher drove us to request a sitrep from 1) the wrong Marine on the ground (a radio operator) 2) too soon after the contact for a clear picture of exactly what happened (just the facts). The outcome was that the RTO would embellish raw information, or someone other than the commander on the ground (but still in a leadership role) would pass what he thought was a complete report. We learned that this was not the way, and adjusted accordingly. Telling higher that they are advised to do the same isn't usually an option.

We can expect longer, and more detailed lists of CCIRs, almost to the point that subsets of the larger CCIR list will have to be managed by individual watch standers, because the senior guy won't be able to do it alone. I've read the Naylor book, and if accurate, it is a warning of the potential mess that we can get into as a result of strategic compression. I know a MGySgt who can tell horror stories of the shenanigans at the CENTCOM COC, so I believe Naylor's accounts to be credible.

To counter the negative effects of compression, branches will need to maintain an aggressive embed program, and perhaps become more transparent, almost to the point of exposing OPSEC risks.

The Sago Mine and Haditha incidents are closely related, considering the repercussions that stemmed from inaccurate initial reports, and I think they typify "strategic compression" if I'm getting the concept right. How does Haditha, and Abu Ghraib for that matter, reconcile with compression if the model presumes small incidents have strategic implcations? Is it merely force of leadership and will from the POTUS that has prevented these and similar incidents from crippling our friendly center of gravity (American public)? Is the degree of the "CNN effect" a measurable variable? Can actors only hope to mitigate, but never completely control, this variable?

Last edited by SWJED; 09-13-2006 at 07:43 AM.
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Old 09-13-2006   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcustis View Post


As much as talk of 4GW makes me grind my teeth, all the responses are on the mark. As a former battle captain of a task force, I can confirm that the C4I networks available can at times drive an unrealistic "pull" of information from higher headquarters. Something along the lines of compression is occuring, because there is a never-ending need to "feed the machine", so to speak.
I think part of this can be traced to the fact that as commanders progress through the ranks to higher levels of repsonsibility, they do not receive corresponding training and education in how to exercise tactical patience and implement directive control over operations. You can read all you want about Leonhard's theories of maneuver warfare, or the decentralized handling of Combined Action Platoons in Vietnam at the Command and Staff or War Colleges, but if in your practical experiences handling small units you have succeeded through being a hands-on, "I make the decisions" kind of leader (which is the type of personality I have seen succeed more often than not in my career) you will continue to command like that as you advance. The stress of having units in contact and not knowing the situation can exacerbate a feeling of not being in control, thus leading higher to demand info NOW.
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Old 09-13-2006   #15
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Imbedding is a partial answer, but I think the biggest factor to consider with strategic compression is getting higher command levels to *not* use all their communication methods and let the lower level commanders do their jobs. Over control leads to paralysis on both the strategic and tactical levels. One reason that our advanced 3GW opponents can exploit this compression is that they have *no* higher command levels to report to in the traditional sense. They are acting as independent cells or strike units following a very general commander's intent statement. This lack of higher level accountability gives them a huge edge over us, because as the methods of control become more instant and more sophisticated, it's almost guaranteed that higher levels will use them to "help" lower level commanders.
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Old 09-20-2006   #16
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Default Historical Examples

I would like to keep the discussion going - any additional thoughts on the earlier posts and discussions would be most appreciated.

We have identified several historical examples (just the beginning of our research) of strategic compression - the overlapping or merging of the three levels of war: strategic, operational, and tactical. Please comment on these and feel free to suggest additional case studies / areas to explore....

Strategic compression has been a common aspect of warfighting throughout the past. It is not that strategic compression is a new reality to warfighting. Rather, it is the mechanisms in place in the current security environment (C4ISR, CNN effect) that are new and that exacerbate the problem. The examples below are intended to give a historical perspective of strategic compression and show how the levels of war moved closer together or further apart, as well as well as some of the historical mechanisms that brought strategic compression about.

Warrior-Kings of Antiquity

As previously mentioned, strategic compression is not new to warfare. In fact, at times, all three levels were represented in the form of single actors such as Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan. These leaders would initiate wars at the strategic level, plan campaigns, and sometimes even fight at the front. In these instances, the main mechanism that allowed for strategic compression to take place was the charismatic warrior-king who decided to follow his soldiers into battle rather than delegate that authority to an inferior. The later rise of the nation-state, the levee en masse, and the resulting approaches to administering large forces through delegation had strong effect in delineating the levels of war.

Lawrence of Arabia (1916-1918)

Lawrence of Arabia is one of the most recent pre-WWII examples of tactical level actors making strategic decisions. Away from lines of communication and under a broad mandate, T.E. Lawrence took his own initiative to seek peace between the Arab tribes and then the operational and tactical decisions needed to wage a guerilla campaign against the Ottoman Empire. Until recently, tactical actors in remote locations regularly made strategic decisions due to the inability to effectively communicate with strategic or operational actors. With the development of technologies such as the wireless field radio, tactical units in the preceding years were rarely left to make strategic or operational decisions without higher guidance. The lone tactical commander granted a broad mandate or even plenipotentiary powers such as T.E. Lawrence had largely become an anachronism by World War II.

World War II and the Cold War (1939-1945, 1947-1991)

During World War II through the Cold War, the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war became quite distinct and had minimal overlap. World War II provides an interesting example. Strategic level actors such as President Roosevelt or Truman could direct the war effort by determining war objectives and setting domestic priorities. Operational level actors such as General Eisenhower could plan and direct theater wide campaigns. Tactical commanders and units were responsible for the actual organization and fighting of individual battles. The accomplishment or failure of specific tactical actions did not necessarily determine the operational outcome of the war. Individual tactical actions rarely (if ever) had an effect on the strategic level war. Conversely, strategic level actors, while responsible for giving general guidance to operational level commanders, usually had limited or no interface with tactical level commanders or units. The state of World War II era communications technology and situational awareness made effective strategic level micro-management of the tactical level unlikely and was the mechanism for not having much strategic compression.

Highway of Death (1991)

While media coverage played a significant role in America’s eventual departure from Vietnam and the Beirut barracks bombing in 1983. The Persian Gulf War’s ‘Highway of Death’ incident stands out as a clear instance of strategic compression according to the model. American units destroyed retreating Iraqi Armor so that Saddam Hussein would be deprived of his military assets including his Hammurabi division of the Iraqi Republican Guard. Then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, wary of the fallout of targeting retreating soldiers and how it would play in the international media, stopped the air war before all original objectives were complete. The CNN effect or the fear of the CNN effect played a role in forcing changes to strategic objectives.

Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003)

More recently during Operation Iraqi Freedom, C4ISR had become a mechanism driving strategic compression. There was an instance during the war where American units that had previously made a quick advance toward Baghdad slowed and even stopped. CENTCOM commander General Tommy Franks was upset that “on the CENTCOM computer screens, the blue icons that represented the Army had not been moving north” what the screens didn’t show was that Army units were stalled because they were engaged in heavy fighting against Saddam’s Fedayeen units. The CFLCC Lieutenant General David McKiernan was at odds with Franks for not seeming to grasp the tactical situation and insisting that the units continue to advance. A telling statement showing how C4ISR technology allows higher level actors to potentially micro-manage the tactical level of war was captured by reporter Michael Gordon who quoted McKiernan as saying that the “Blue Force Tracker drives the CINC.”

Last edited by SWJED; 09-20-2006 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 09-20-2006   #17
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Default What are the Implications of Strategic Compression?

Here is another area for comment if there are any takers - again - remember we have just started to explore strategic compression and I thought I'd get Council member input before we really drill down into this subject.

The list below is not intended to be exhaustive or definitive but rather a incomplete snapshot of a few key implications from the perspective of the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war as well as another aspect that does not fit neatly into the levels of war construct, training.

Strategic Level

With current and future C4ISR capabilities, strategic level actors such as the president or the secretary of defense could theoretically bypass normal operational channels and issue direct orders to field commanders in real time while watching (and possibly directing) the action from C4ISR platforms. This ability can alter (even undermine) the traditional chain-of-command concept and compress the operational sphere of war.

Increased C4ISR can also create a temptation amongst strategic or operational level actors to micro-manage the operational or even tactical level of war. The lure of micromanagement can grow especially if tactical or operational objectives aren’t met or met in a timely fashion or if domestic public opinion changes rapidly. Similarly, operational level actors may be tempted to micro-manage the tactical level if pressure is exerted from the strategic level. [Example: Refer to the earlier Highway of Death paragraph]

Operational Level

Amount of units needed to achieve desired strategic and operational effects is decreasing. This aspect results in 1) a smaller logistical supply line infrastructure 2) smaller units can achieve goals that formerly only larger units could and 3) faster attainment of objectives.

In order to combat the CNN effect, increased information flow to the lower ranks is essential. Clear mission objectives, effectively and rapidly disseminated are crucial. Making sure all soldiers understand the strategic situation and how mission objectives fit within the strategic picture is a must. Changes and/or updates to commander’s intent need to be relayed immediately to all ranks.

Tactical Level

Because of the CNN effect soldiers are now on the frontlines of American foreign policy. Every tactical action or result of a tactical action has the potential to receive close scrutiny. This means that every soldier has increased performance expectations and needs to fully understand the strategic context and goals in which their tactical objectives operate under. Soldiers will increasingly be held accountable for their actions. Therefore it is crucial that at all times they act in accordance with strategic level intent.

Training

There are a variety of aspects of how training needs to adjust to accommodate the reality of strategic compression.
  1. Training how to operate independently/decision making
  2. Cultural training/awareness
  3. When to take act/take initiative and when to show restraint
  4. Media/public affairs training: every soldier is a potential spokesperson for the military, training of how to conduct oneself when interacting with the media is necessary to properly explain tactical actions.
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Old 09-20-2006   #18
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Default just a thought....

What about a systemic consideration of factors that exert a countervailing effect ("strategic de-compression") to disaggergate war into levels ? They could be man-made or something natural like distance/time

I would hazard that these variables always exist to some extent in tension with the forces of compression. Perhaps a comparative taxonomy ?
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Old 09-20-2006   #19
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Originally Posted by zenpundit View Post
What about a systemic consideration of factors that exert a countervailing effect ("strategic de-compression") to disaggergate war into levels ? They could be man-made or something natural like distance/time

I would hazard that these variables always exist to some extent in tension with the forces of compression. Perhaps a comparative taxonomy ?
One school of thought is that there are no "man-made" factors that could contribute to de-compression. (Short of say an EMP attack or some other counterproductive and catastrophic device).

Seems that distance-time has been regulated to the back-waters when it comes to command, control and intelligence.

This brings us to yet another focus area - command and control can be instantaneous - yet bringing to bear "physical aspects" of warfare have not yet caught up - troops and logistics stand out here. Does this force us to rely on those physical aspects that are "timely" - airpower for example?

The school of thought that there is little or nothing we can do to control strategic compression seems to be pointing towards command awareness that it does indeed exist and providing the tools, training and education to enable timely mitigation when negative incidents of strategic compression occur.

This last item raises another question for the Council – are there positive aspects of strategic compression that we can use to our advantage?

Last edited by SWJED; 09-20-2006 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 09-20-2006   #20
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What about cyber-warfare as a impetus to de-compression? If for example command and control has been over taken by the adversary and they can listen to and change the communications conduit (Hezbollah?) what happens to compression? Is compression necessarily bad or is it an asset when used appropriately?

Consider the scenario where commanders in the field are exerting up to the minute movement orders and those communications are subject to monitoring by the adversary. In that situation the adversary does not have to divine the intent of movement by a unit they can monitor changes in movement orders and be prepared.
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