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Coping with Complexity: Analyzing Unified Land Operations Through the Lens of Complex Adaptive Systems Theory

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Technical Report,25 Jun 2018,23 May 2019

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ARMY School of Advanced Military Studies FORT LEAVENWORTH United States

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In 2017, the United States Army published the latest version of Field Manual FM 3-0, Operations. The publication emphasized that victory during large-scale combat operations resulted from the destruction or defeat of an adversarys conventional capability and will to resist. However, the concepts articulated in the US Armys current operating concept, Unified Land Operations, do not provide clear guidance on the employment of combat power during large-scale combat operations to defeat or destroy an enemy force. Thus, on the surface, the US Army operating concept appears to lack a coherent basis in sound, clearly communicated theory. Complexity science offers a theoretical foundation for the development of a clearly articulated doctrine for fighting and winning in a complex operational environment. A study of complexity science concepts and a comparison to military theory and US Army doctrine suggests a need to restore the centrality of the concept of positions of relative advantage to the current operating concept, to emphasize the limitations of anticipation during planning and the requirement for adaptation in execution, and to reframe current conceptualizations of mission command in order to increase an organizations adaptive capacity.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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