War, Chaos, and History

War, Chaos, and History

War, Chaos, and History

War, Chaos, and History

Synopsis

War, Chaos, and History considers the implications of the emerging field of research in chaos-complexity-non-linearity for the study of war. This study examines the special dependence of military professionals on history in their shaping of doctrines, style, and attitudes in spite of the wide gap between the portrayal of war in military history and the far greater intricacy of its reality. Special foci in the analysis include: the fragility of doctrine; the chronic confounding of plans and expectations in actual operations; the congruences of chaos and creativity theoretics; effects of war on the environment; and problems of evidence and reportage. Three cases--battle cruisers, tank destroyers, and heavy fighter aircraft--are presented to illustrate paradoxes, especially the gap between vision and realization, and the tension between the urge to control and the impulse to create chaos in war.

Excerpt

At the outset, I must stipulate that contradictions to some things I have set forth in this work may be found in my previous writings, and that I recognize the paradox in relying on history to question the use of it for didactic or prognosticative purposes, at least. Also, in deference to my wife, Penny, who read the manuscript carefully, I concede that I have tended to make heavy use of a fractal mode in relying on strings of nouns and adjectives. As for the conceptual roots of the work, I can only say that many elements fitted into this study came into view long before I knew of the field of chaos-complexity-nonlinearity-ergodics. From the early 1950s to the mid-1960s, my experiences in the army and in business, and the reading of military history raised my awareness of ambiguity and imprecision in historical description and military operations. My service as a military police officer offered special perspectives on the varieties of human behavior, the deficiencies of memory-based testimony, the general tendency in complex organizations to oversimplification, and the prevalence of gaps between rational-linear models and reality.

From 1965 to 1974, further horizons were opened to me at the Center for Advanced Study in Organization, under the mentorship and tutelage of Bernard James, and the many ad hoc faculty in CASOS's various institutes and seminars. There, aside from my administrative duties, under the guidance of Frank Steggert, my task was to develop cases from military history to illustrate principles and effects in phase with the conceptual "three-legged stool" on which CASOS seminars were built: General Systems Theory, organization thought, and creativity. Sailing many figurative seas and entering many strange ports as my . . .

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