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Center-of-Gravity Analysis in COIN: A New Way to Problem-Solve

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Research paper

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A poor understanding throughout the Army on how to define and exploit the enemys center of gravity COG is driven by an outdated analytical framework still rooted in conventional thinking. This problem is two-fold in nature first to blame is the failure of U.S. military doctrine to relate the links and nodes of COG to intelligence activities from the bottom up. The result is a gap between what is studied and what is practiced in todays counterinsurgency environment. The second part of the problem is an institutional failure by the Military Intelligence MI branch to refocus analytical methods to meet the demands of a complex, multi-dimensional battle space. The intelligence community writ large is slowly beginning to realize that the term national security has taken on a new meaning, one that requires a fundamental change to how we conduct war. Central to this change is the complete understanding of enemy COG. Perhaps one of the most contentious terms in the military today, center of gravity is the focal point upon which all U.S. military power converges. It represents the basic level of understanding in warfare, but remains a nebulous concept for many junior MI officers because the military branches cannot come to a consensus on what COG actually means. Much debate has centered on the proper role of the military in an evolving threat landscape. As conventional boundaries between war and peace, offense and defense, lethal and non-lethal, domestic and foreign, and other dichotomous concepts continue to blur, MI officers are under increasing pressure to find, fix, finish, exploit, assess, and disseminate the requisite information to defeat the enemy. Equipped with outdated guidance and an incomplete tool-kit, the junior MI officer must rely more on her wits and critical thinking skills to succeed. Herein lies a golden opportunity for improvement.

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  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Intelligence
  • Unconventional Warfare

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