Effects-Based Operations: A View Through the Periscope
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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The public debate surrounding Effects-Based Operations EBO theory is intensifying. At the extremes of the debate, EBO theory is either a fundamentally flawed and overly simplistic theory of warfare or a new theory of warfare that exploits a fundamental change in the nature of warfare resulting from our mastery over new technologies. In reality, EBO theory is neither the revolutionary breakthrough ascribed to it by its most ardent proponents nor is it a totally valueless concept as charged by its most vocal critics. In an attempt to add to the overall debate, this paper explores the difficulty of successfully implementing EBO at the theater-strategic level of war due to the difficulty with a priori determining human behavior. A critical review of the terminology associated with EBO exposes critical flaws in the current definitions and also shows the incompatibility between EBO theory and the operational design process. This is followed by a historical case study that demonstrates the difficulty at the theater strategic level of war with accurately forecasting strategic effects or controlling unintended consequences.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics