A paradigm shift in Professional Military Education

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Thomas Kuhn’s classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions explains how fields of study are firmly based upon past scientific achievements through a continuous progression of ideas. This establishes a “paradigm” as Kuhn calls it, or a set of foundational beliefs upon which science is built. The problem with paradigms is that there comes a point when accepted beliefs and structures no longer match the observed reality. You can refine a paradigm with modifications and new terms, but as the world around us changes, an alternate paradigm must be created and accepted.

Kuhn’s description of paradigms is useful in the current conversation about operational planning and employment, but it also serves as a warning. The difficulty with a paradigm shift is not finding the new way to describe the world, but rather convincing the community that the old paradigm no longer works. This is where education comes in. The Air Command and Staff College has taken a new look at how to teach students about the complexity of the modern battlefield, resulting in an innovative concentration called the Multi Domain Operational Strategists (MDOS). MDOS is pushing the boundaries of future operating concepts, from Multi Domain Operations (MDO) to future weapons and operational design, in order to prepare students that are well versed in not only theoretical concepts, but also the practical application of warfare. Below is a video highlighting the course at ACSC.

YouTube Video



For more information on MDOS, contact Dr. Jeff Reilly at jeffrey.reilly@us.af.mil

The views expressed do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force or the U.S. Government.

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