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Cognitive Dominance: A Historical Perspective

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2014,23 May 2015

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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Cognitive dominance is not a new concept. Commanders throughout history sought to gain a position of intellectual advantage over their adversaries. Present day army leaders can follow the example of past generals and achieve cognitive dominance through intense personal study before campaigns, focus on visualization during campaigns, and effective communication throughout the operations process. Napoleon Bonaparte, Ulysses Grant, and Norman Schwarzkopf used similar methods to gain this position of advantage. Each used a combination of self-study and intelligence collection to prepare before campaigns. During campaigns, all three focused on visualization of the battlefield. Maps played a critical role in their understanding and allowed them to take prudent risks. Personal understanding is not enough to ensure battlefield victory. Each commander built winning teams that worked well together, and each developed a concise style of oral and written communications.

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