Military operations must be prepared to conduct so-called “great power competition” as well as big and small wars just as complex. In all cases, we need to implement superior strategy to defeat clever competitors.
Plan with a winning strategy. Follow through with activities to bring about superior effects. Anticipate what competitors will do. Reimagine and repeat.
Abraham, 4 millennia ago, was not placed favorably into the contested region on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. No wonder. As the first monotheist guided by the instructions of Yahweh, he was rejected by all sides.
Security challenges on the African continent are diverse and acute. Threats are more than military, requiring all of the skill sets and partnerships that special operations forces possess.
This sortie is a follow-on to ICSL Paper #28 which showed how critical thinking errors lead to exploitation. Our focus here is on freely available platforms and programs that can track and destroy disinformation.
Disinformation is a global threat. Pervasive digitized technology and social media provide rich opportunities to distort public perceptions at scale. Authoritarians assail democracies incessantly.
Authoritarian states are weaponizing supply chains into all-effects warfare while democratic states compete with inferior strategies. We can be more competitive and wage superior complex warfare in kind.
If strategy means anything, it should have definition and purpose. US strategy toward the current Russia regime, and just about any competitor, continues to be described simplistically as deter and defend.
The Mekong Infrastructure Tracker launched today, providing a public platform that creates transparency on nearly 4000 ongoing or planned infrastructure projects in this strategic region.
Supply chains are vital to socio-economic well-being and military success. They have become arenas where authoritarians wage complex warfare while democracies compete with inferior strategies.
As a follow-on to China’s strategy, we show how Russia’s use of narrative reorients decisions in an Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) Loop. The distortion of information is not just divisive. It envelops the “when-deterrence-fails” US approach to warfare.
Colonel John Boyd’s OODA Loop—Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act— is a powerful model for making decisions in contested environments. Strategic use of information can defeat it. Understanding narrative strategies can protect it.
COVID-19 is an advanced threat against humanity, requiring a broad-based combination of effects to defeat.
This Note uses critical thinking to analyze complex linkages in a YouTube video from the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics: The Corona Virus and the Impact on the Global Supply Chain.
Warfare has become all-domain, all-effects, and all-information. This reality is thriving in a comfort zone outside our entrenched concept of a “threshold of armed conflict.”
Let’s explore how to gain advantages by comparing analog and digital characteristics of the Information Environment (IE).
The Department of Defense (DoD) spends much time and effort trying to make sense of the Information Environment (IE). This effort is not new.
US Joint Operations doctrine about the Operational Environment (OE) omits the agency of artificial intelligence (AI). How is this a problem?
Both North Korea and South Korea seek self-reliance and alignments with main powers. From that take-off point, I recommend this basic US strategy toward the Koreas:
Waiting to retaliate against use of force is a losing strategy by itself. The problem is, reacting to attacks fits prevailing outdated expectations of warfare.
In August 2019 (Note #11), while waiting to see if Iran’s shootdown of a US drone would prompt a counterstrike, I noted the apparently contradictory US policies.
Using complex warfare concepts from Papers #13 (East Asia), #14 (China) and #16 (Japan), we apply and compare that holistic approach to Korean security strategies.
Using complex warfare concepts from Papers #13 (East Asia) and #14 (China), we apply that approach to Japanese security strategy, with comparisons to China and Russia.
State-sponsored cyber attacks against critical infrastructure are increasingly pervasive. Their global presence and effective methods are asymmetric, coercive, and debilitating.
This paper uses concepts of complex warfare established in ICSL Paper #13 to analyze the world view, threat assessment, and combined effects strategy of China.
Complex warfare is a high stakes competition in learning and we are being out-thought.
In 1983, Project Socrates began as a Reagan initiative to develop technology-driven competitive advantage. Then it ended.
The essence of Chinese strategy consists of waging complex wars that exploit opponents’ expectations of warfare. The operational design creates preventative and causative effects that blend confrontation with cooperation, imposing dilemmas on opponents. Such asymmetric effects win wars via information that changes opponents’ behavior.
We are well into complex, hybrid, grey zone warfare that dynamically blends confrontation with competition. Victory in the form of relative advantages tends to be temporary, requiring a systematic yet supple all-domains all-effects approach. We have to be able to produce all of types of effects and in superior combinations to compete against other relatively-great powers.
We must also seek solutions that limit the effects of disinformation. This effort starts with leaders recognizing and publishing Russian exploits as they are discovered. Overt exposure of Russian methodology goes a long way in limiting the effectiveness of false narratives. Investigations should identify who is targeted in hacks, why they were chosen as targets, what information has been stolen, and the extent of related penetration.
The question of what and whom to trust applies to all situations because uncertainty is pervasive. In the information environment (IE), the overriding context of trust is that it’s contested. Actors fight for the kind of information and people they need to compete and prevail. Four types of competition become apparent when we consider four contested purposes of strategic and anticipatory analysis:
As a detailed follow-on to The US National Security Strategy Needs Combined Effects, this paper integrates combined effects with the US National Defense Strategy (NDS), too.
The Trump administration’s apparently contradictory actions this week toward Iran are not contradictory if we look at cooperation and confrontation as a strategy of combined effects.
In response to chronic shortcomings, the President, Congress, and senior leaders of our intelligence agencies and service components demand original, prescient and accurate analyses.
Since 9/11 intelligence analysis and its shortcomings have been widely discussed. What has been done?
Note #8, “Mirror Imaging Iran and the World,” brings strategic culture to the forefront of today’s anxious discussion about how best to coerce Iran into cooperation with international norms.
We tend to mirror image our competitors by using clock-world analogies that apply less and less to today’s cloud-world.
How should the US compete under the restraint of using armed force as a last resort against Iran, a pseudo-democratic theocracy that wages complex warfare in ways the US eschews?
The Iranian regime’s shoot-down of an unmanned, non-stealth, hyper-expensive US reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace today was a highly anticipate-able event.
The first plenary of the US National Defense University’s Asia Policy Assembly today noted the tendency of US grand strategy to react to threats.
Previous notes introduced combined effects strategy for complex warfare. We can understand this form of warfare as a competition that blends cooperation and confrontation.
While preparing a conference talk on situational awareness (SA) in the international environment, I was struck by the higher-order outcomes term implies for those who study its application.
Winning is not a static end-state. It’s a continuous process of gaining and maintaining advantage through combinations of effects.
While teaching sense-making in the information environment, I began to apply previous work on complex warfare strategy in East Asia to other regions. Russia is a critical case — a declining nuclear power using combinations of effects to regain a perceived loss of prestige.
Pyongyang’s firing off of two more short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, and the seizure of the Wise Honest vessel, beg a strategic question.
Strategic leaders blend theoretical and applied thinking to realize goals.
Operations are difficult and dangerous, but too easy. It’s too easy to get distracted from thinking about how to lead strategic operations. Let’s focus on two fundamentals of strategy.
Winning complex competition and warfare requires both theoretical and applied thinking.
Smart competitors are using tactics of strategy to achieve broader-than-military objectives, while US policies produce strategies of tactics that deploy forces for ambiguous purposes.