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The Military Application of Narrative: Solving Army Warfighting Challenge #2

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Technical Report

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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This paper attempts to answer Army Warfighting Challenge 2. It presents the research with the following understanding The U.S. Army has a problem. This problem is made evident by 14 years of sustained combat and no victory in sight. The problem is that the Army lacks any significant means of engaging its enemy where the enemy is fighting, namely, in the narrative space. The narrative space has always existed within warfare. The difference today is that western societies are adamantly opposed to the violence caused by war since WWII and in representative governments the passion of the people impact the conduct of the war. The U.S. Army has acknowledged it has a problem evident by multiple studies concluded and ongoing. It is currently working on identifying what capability is needed to be successful in future conflict. These efforts, while including some aspects of narrative, are failing to identify the significant impact narrative is having now and thus they are unable to accurately predict how the use of narrative in the future is needed. The U.S. Army could mitigate this by adopting new doctrinal terms that provide a solid understanding of how narrative is applicable to military operations. It could also make small adjustments in its professional military education curriculum in a way that informs soldiers what narrative is, why it is applicable to warfare, and how it is used to achieve the commanders intent. If changes like these are not made it is difficult to see how the U.S. will achieve any greater margin of success against an enemy in a foreign land that is drastically different from the success or lack thereof that has been achieved across the Middle East today.

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