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Discursive Maps at the Edge of Chaos

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Postmodernism and systems thinking indicate biases in military conceptualizations of the operational environment. Military planners, as operational artists, tend to see the map as the territory. Their cartographic choices during operational design coordinate systems, scales, borders, and other visual perspectivestie space and time together as a deliberate representation of a truth rather than one of meaning, tied to a purpose, and representative of the tensions that inform discourses. Most particularly, common boundaries depict exclusivity in a binary manner. They constrain operational design with excessive linearity and simplicity for the complex operational environment they aim to depict a square peg for a round hole.These biases can be mitigated through understanding maps as artifacts imbued with meanings, rather than ontological depictions of constrained realities. Such maps are discursive they are constitutive and suggestive to the synthesis processes that occur during operational design. Fundamental to discursive maps is the understanding of how identity and space are invariably tied together. Politics then come to exploit this relationship in ways that create feedback, which when positive reinforcing tends to increase the meaning of boundaries and polarize conflict towards violence.The edge of chaos is the fine line between disorder and coherence. Discursive maps embrace complexity towards the latter they empower the arrangement of tactical actions in time, space, and purpose in the pursuit of strategic objectives.

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2016,31 May 2017



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Approved For Public Release;

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