Abstract: The U.S. defense community regularly acknowledges changes in the character of modern warfare. These observations are often coupled with a variety of recommendations, such as creating more strategic thinkers and cultivating more agile service cultures. This article highlights the tangled interactions between these two challenges as well as a third: harnessing the power of storytelling. First, stories both reflect and influence an organization’s culture, and are therefore a useful tool for strategic thinkers. Second, when it comes to strategic thinking, the typical descriptions and illustrations used by defense professionals are incomplete and biased. Missing from this list of examples, for instance, is someone from the origins of Western civilization who personified the wisdom to convert “insight into a decisive asymmetry.” This ancient role model not only exemplifies the strategic sense necessary to prepare the joint force’s culture for modern operating environments, but is also closely linked to the third element of this trinity – storytelling.Read more
The U.S. has been working with collation partners for decades to address matters of global and national security. Alongside over 80 partner nations, the U.S. has accomplished milestones in the Global Fight against ISIS, which would not have been possible without such a combined front. Part of these successes are due to the DoD’s shift a decade ago to incorporate partner nations in our military processes to fuse holistic intelligence for decisionmakers through multiple coalition intelligence cells around the world. As the battlespace continues to shift from years of counterinsurgency to face revisionist powers and rogue states, the personnel identified to fill critical positions that interact with coalition members will determine the successes of future conflicts. This essay will describe some recent advances the US Air Force has made toward improving coalition intelligence operations and recommend ways to improve selection and training programs in the future.Read more
In a pervasive and complex information environment, analytics are vital to understanding advanced threats. As we rely more on machine-learnt results, asking the right questions and visualizing deep analysis are key to grasping and solving problems. These skills are also vital 21st century leadership tools that can forge a common focus among otherwise stove-piped specialists.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents an urgent threat that requires both scientific understanding and decisive leadership. The cause of the disease is SARS CoV-2, a mutating virus that thrives in conditions difficult to control at scale. To counter this threat, this article demonstrates in detail the potential of human-led case method and machine-provided visual analytics.Read more
Joint operations doctrine omits the agency of artificial intelligence (AI) in the operational information environment, which is a problem. This commentary discusses why, and recommends effective changes. Key points are as follows. AI is becoming an autonomous cause of unanticipated effects. Humans are not the most effectively intelligent actors in all environments, yet our doctrine draws lessons from the past rather than anticipating emergent futures. Machines currently excel in experience-based learning and can discover relationships in data that we cannot discern. Humans can intuit, deceive, somewhat control, and manufacture and destroy machines. In time, AI will be able to perform those cognitive, informational and physical functions as well. As out-thought becomes out-fought, we need proactive doctrine now.Read more
The ability to make and execute timely and effective decisions has been the foundation of military success for millennia. In the next decade, however, Combined Force Air Component Commanders (CFACC) planning, decision, and execution (PDE) cycles will be confronted by unprecedented challenges emerging in the constantly evolving digital ecosystem. The era of unrivaled access to the electromagnetic spectrum and dominance in multiple domains is rapidly coming to a close for the US airpower. As more and more state and non-state actors gain access to advanced technology, the CFACC’s PDE cycles will transition from an observe, orient, decide, act (OODA) loop to an OODA point. This phenomenon will also have a significant influence on the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) measures necessary to shape and execute preplanned and emergent decisions in contested operational environments. One way of mitigating these nascent vulnerabilities is to develop a deliberate framework of operational design focused on airpower to provide a proactive form of vision for future CFACCs.Read more
By: Tom Drohan Approximate Reading Time: 17 minutes Excerpt: Strategic leaders blend theoretical and applied thinking to realize goals. Competitive strategy isRead more
Editor’s Note: This is one of our favorite articles we wanted to re-post to keep the conversation moving. We willRead more
Militaries need to introduce design education as early as possible; cadets and privates need to experience design.Read more
Military design is about constantly changing, transforming, challenging, and disrupting.Read more
Many of the seemingly successful mechanical planning processes of the last two centuries are now holding us backRead more
A strategic design framework may be the point of origin for fostering “whole of community” solutions.Read more
In OTH’s fifth podcast, Ben Zweibelson connects an international group of scholars and practitioners of design from Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Australia, and India to discuss: the military design movement.Read more
In this upcoming week, OTH will turn its attention to design-thinking, featuring an article from Dr. Jeff Reilly and OTH’s fifth podcast!Read more
As part of our anniversary celebration series, we present the third most read article of 2017.Read more
Welcome to OTH’s first podcast! For this debut episode we discuss the evolution of military design and how we might bridge theory to practice.Read more
It is incumbent upon commanders to develop purposes for subordinate operations first and subsequently build the tasks. The “why” trumps the “how” both in importance and in priority.
By Tom Flounders
Multi-domain strategy therefore requires patterns of thought characterized by focus on affecting human cognition, distilling clarity from complex environments, and planning and executing operations within the uncertainty of future conflict.
By Wilford Garvin
If America expects to maintain its economic and military advantages around the globe, it must also reinforce existing diplomatic, economic, and military relationships to avoid a premature end to US global primacy.
By Aaron Sick and Mark Nexon
“The Navy’s intelligence operations writ large and cyberspace operations, specifically, are on the precipice of being able to fully capitalize on the variety and velocity of data coming from both organic sensors and Open Source to create battlespace awareness and inform decision making in ways we never imagined in the past.”Read more
Reflexive control theory encourages patterns of strategic thought that increase a leader’s ability to shape environments and defeat an adversary’s strategy.
By Wilford Garvin
Design, as a multi-disciplinary concept for normative approaches to human decision-making, emphasizes ‘what is possible’ and ‘how a military ought to function’ rather than a highly descriptive and conforming model (termed positivism) where militaries seek to predict future system behavior through past experiences, reductionism, and mechanistic logic.
By Ben Zweibelson