Systems Thinking: A Way to Understand Socio-political Environments
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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How can a systems perspective help military professionals understand and intervene in the world Although U.S. military doctrine recommends Systems Thinking, this doctrine 1 fails to offer a useful, robust description on the perspective and 2 simultaneously recommends the use of overly simplified frameworks that fail to convey the worlds complexity. I theorize that such approaches, which are more linear, promote incongruous interventions into the socio-political systems that compose a military units area of operation. Using a systems method of analysis that comprises both institutional analysis and complexity theory, I use a civil war case study--El Salvador 1981--to demonstrate the functionality of this method in terms of explicating systems, causal logics, and system effects. I then compare my description with the speeches and writings of policymakers and military leaders involved in this case. I show how a systems perspective conduces to analysis that is more thorough and reflective of a situations complexity. Additionally, I demonstrate that cause and effect without more complex knowledge of a system has the potential to yield counterproductive results. This study has significant implications for policymakers, strategists, and military professionals.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics