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Understanding Systems Theory for U.S. Marines
MARINE CORPS UNIV QUANTICO VA SCHOOL OF ADVANCED WARFIGHTING (SAW)
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In the future, it will be necessary for all Marines to apply systems theory. War has always been complex. However, contemporary complexity is accelerating toward increasing future complexity. On this basis, this paper argues that in the future Marines of all ranks will require a fundamental understanding of systems theory in order to operate in the accelerating complexity of the future. Toward this end, this paper explains complexity in three layers dynamic complexity, generative complexity and social complexity. Dynamic complexity is a function of structure and inter-relations. More structure and more relationships result in complexity that is more dynamic. As energy and matter pass through the nodes and links, dynamic complexity separates cause and effect across time and space. This distance between cause and effect is the mark of dynamic complexity. Generative complexity describes the dynamic relationship between problem and solution. Social complexity describes the complexity arising from differences in the ways people think as a function of culture, language, history, etc. In each case, appendices and links to downloadable software provide practical tools. Accelerating complexity in the operational battlespace clearly implies a need for Marines to increase capacity to design, plan and operate in the ever more chaotic future warfighting environment.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE