The Operational Narrative in Wars of Choice
Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS FORT LEAVENWORTH United States
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The US military is strong in battle but weak in influence. Because wars of survival are the reason for the militarys existence, the military must be able to do what only the military can do apply force. In wars of choice, however, the application of force and its poor utility in achieving political outcomes has been a problem for the US military. National character constrains the US military to persuade conflict populations without force. As the military increasingly takes direct responsibility for achieving political goals without force, the ability to influence foreign audiences becomes more important. This monograph describes the benefit for the operational commander of clearly communicating a narrative to the conflict population that accounts for culture and aligns with the US governments explicit reasons for military involvement. The case studies of the Philippine War and the Vietnam War show the plausibility of the hypothesis while cautioning against looking to the operational narrative as a panacea. It is impossible to appeal to every audience, be understood all the time, and always effect behavior change in target audiences. However, to communicate the operational commanders vision is better than letting the adversary win the conflict of narratives by default.