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Complexity, Networking, and Effects-Based Operations: Approaching the "how to" of EBO

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Conference paper

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The central tenet of effects-based operations is that we can somehow purposefully shape the interactions of players in our security environment so as to produce both individual and overall behavior that meets our needs. To do this, effects-based operations must be able to deal with complexity. The definition of effects-based operations as coordinated sets of actions directed at shaping the behavior of friend, foe and neutral in peace, crisis, and war underlines this complexity. It does not speak simply of an action creating an effect in a straightforward, if-this-then-that, cause and effect relationship, but of coordinated sets of actions, that is, the use of multiple interdependent actions. And, it does not look to a single sharply defined effect as the outcome but rather to the actions shaping a behavior end-state. This is to say it sees both a process and an end-state that are neither precise nor solely the product of the actions we ourselves take. Even more, it does not limit this behavioral outcome to the foes reactions, but sees coordinated sets of actions creating diverse arrays of effects on many different levels of many different actors in many different arenas. And, it underlines a requirement for a single set of actions to be able to create opposite effects on foes, friends, neutrals, and the domestic public. This complexity is reflected in the basic rule set for effects-based operations 1 That actions have an effect on anyone who can observe them either directly or indirectly 2 That effects have both physical and psychological dimensions 3 That they occur simultaneously on tactical, operational, military strategic, and geo-strategic levels of interaction and in multiple political, diplomatic, military, and economic arenas and 4 That all these effects are interrelated and cumulative.

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  • Psychology
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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