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Understanding and Communicating through Narratives
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
Pagination or Media Count:
The military is increasingly using and relying on the term narrative in its lexicon. United States strategic guidance documents generally implore commanders to shape the narrative, doctrinal publications recommend that commanders exploit a single narrative, and operational plans direct commanders to execute an operational narrative. Although the concept of narrative is generally understood as telling a story, it is more important for practitioners to recognize narrative as a methodology for understanding and as a mode of communication. Integrating a narrative approach to military operations would be beneficial because it offers the potential to convey the meaning of our actions in a context that is relevant to a rivals understanding. A survey of current U.S. doctrine provides multiple and ambiguous definitions and functions of narrative. A shared understanding of narrative is required to prevent misunderstandings as future military commanders contemplate executing operations within a narrative framework. This monograph will provide an analysis of current military narrative development and narrative theory, and explore the current paradigm of U.S. communication efforts. The monograph makes recommendations as to the potential application of narrative theory to military operations. The monograph argues that the absence of understanding about what narrative is and what it can do limits the militarys ability to utilize the tool effectively. Applying narrative theory to military planning and communication activities will make messages and actions consonant with, and part of, military operations.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE