Academic journal article Military Review

Design Extending Military Relevance

Academic journal article Military Review

Design Extending Military Relevance

Article excerpt

DESIGN IS A U.S. ARMY conception for the practice of strategic and operational art in the 21st century.1 Design enhances battle command and decision making, and its incorporation into doctrine is the subject of much recent professional dialogue. I wish to contribute to the debate from an ally's perspective, based on insights gained during design experiments at the U.S. Army School for Advanced Military Studies in 2008 and 2009. I pursue three goals here:

* To provide an analysis of the current U.S. Army design debate and introduce the methodology.

* To call for a multinational expansion of the design methodology and to open up a debate in the German armed forces about the doctrinal usefulness of design.

* To propose a logical expansion of design from the operational domain to the domain of the institutional military [institutional domain].2

The "value added" of design to U.S. military doctrine will have mid- to long-term implications for NATO and German doctrine. Early multinational collaboration is necessary to define doctrinal trade-offs and to ensure interoperability.3 These goals should also help to solve a challenge that affects both German and U.S. forces: how to create a comprehensive military culture that enables the military institution to learn and adapt in an era of persistent conflict and uncertainty.

Why Design?

Design initiates change in man-made things; it is a sequence of distinct, predictable, and identifiable activities.4 In the current U.S. Army debate, "design is a [way] to think critically and creatively, and it enables a commander to create understanding about a unique situation and, on that basis, to visualize and describe how to generate change."5 Design thus addresses the need for deep appreciation of the contemporary operational environment that pushes operational art down to even the battalion level. Guidance provided by political and higher military authority may be insufficient to frame complex situations. Where political, social, economic, and ideological boundaries are blurred, particularly in Joint and coalition operations, such guidance could even do more harm than good.6

Design aims to overcome the deficiencies of industrial-age tools for operational art and planning that - like one author expresses - "have been nearly impotent for making any sense of the Iraq and Afghanistan missions."7 Design will complement the traditional forms of military planning, the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) and the Joint Operations Planning Process (JOPP), which can have reductionist, simplifying, and mechanical effects inappropriate for war's political and moral dimension. Design enables the blend of military art and science in a creative way in order to harvest the corporate genius of an organization in an effort to manage and solve the complex problems that confront today's military practitioners.

Design thus builds on intellectual and academic rigor and emphasizes cognitive skills. Design thereby aims to achieve shared understanding among superiors, key subordinates, partners, and allies based on varied viewpoints. Stakeholders leam about the different interpretations of a situation and where they can use their collective intelligence to manage it.8 Critical thinking undergirds design as a precondition for self-initiated learning to achieve an evolved understanding of the relevance of military operations. This evolution reflects a group approach to organizational learning and management over time. Design in the military will stimulate a cultural change and will be a significant paradigm shift from the power model of military leadership and bureaucratic compartmentalization. Design recognizes that no one perspective is sufficient in a complex environment, so design propagates a model of emphasizing servant leadership and social integration. This paradigm shift is the necessary condition for the military to succeed with design. Design means to take responsibility for a moral imperative that results from awareness of the complex social fabric of the 21st century security environment. …

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