Employing Abductive Reasoning to Achieve Understanding
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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The future operational environment is described as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous and composed of numerous dynamic and adaptive systems whose interactions produce unanticipated and disproportionate outcomes. To fulfill the Armys roles of preventing conflict, shaping the international environment, and winning the nations wars in this future environment, military professionals must cultivate an ability to achieve understanding. According to the Armys cognitive hierarchy model for achieving understanding, military professionals must 1 process data to form information 2 analyze information to create knowledge and 3 synthesize knowledge and apply judgment to develop an understanding. Yet, according to top military leaders, Army professionals are not doing this, which has contributed to poor strategic outcomes. To address this gap, Army mid-career Professional Military Education needs to cultivate among students the habit of abductive reasoning, which requires the integration of mature theories into military work. To test the utility of abductive reasoning, the Armys cognitive hierarchy model for achieving understanding is applied to five Command and General Staff Officers Course student groups PowerPoint presentations of the Syrian conflict four completed by groups which do not explicitly employ abductive reasoning and one which does. While not conclusive, the results of this study suggest that the group employing abductive reasoning achieved an understanding of the complexities of the Syrian conflict while the other four groups did not.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics