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The Operations Targeting and Effects Synchronization Process in Northern Iraq

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Journal article

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IN THE EARLY 4th century BCE, more than five centuries before the great philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius made the observation quoted above, Gallic tribes sacked Rome. Faced with the first real threat to its existence, the young Roman state recognized the need to rethink how it organized for combat. Of the various changes adopted, the most important and extreme transformation was the abandonment of the Greek-style phalanx. This military organizational structure had been long-established as the most effective way to achieve success against opponents with a similar operational paradigm. However, the Romans understood that unlike Greece Italy and Gaul were not governed by city states, whose armies met on large plains deemed suitable by both sides to settle disputes. Rather, they were a collection of hill tribes adept at using the complex terrain to their advantage. Accordingly, the Romans acknowledged the need for something more flexible than the unwieldy, slow-moving phalanx to achieve their operational goals. Faced with a newly complex operating environment, the Romans took the transformative step of adopting the more flexible infantry formations of their most tenacious enemies, the Samnites. Today, America is experiencing an analogous military epiphany as its military adapts to complex, adaptive, and asymmetric operating environments that defy accepted military conventions. In January 2008, in the wake of its final after action review from its 2006-2007 deployment to northern Iraq, the U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division Headquarters found itself revising long standing organizational thinking to adapt its structure to the new demands it would face in northern Iraq later that year. The divisions new operational milieu presented an increasingly complex operating environment, an adaptive asymmetric threat, and a traditional staff organization ill-suited to deal adequately and effectively with either.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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