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  1. 1. T RADITIONAL APPROACHES to the decision- making process have employed analyticalmodels that generate and compare options based on The Recognition-Primed Decision (RPD) model asserts that decision makers draw uponweighted features. This is often referred to as multi- their experience to identify a situation asattribute decision making. The deliberate procedures representative of or analogous to a particulardeveloped by the Armed Forces for operational class of problem. This recognition then leads toplanning—the Joint Operational Planning and Ex- an appropriate course of action (COA), eitherecution System (JOPES)—represent a systematic directly when prior cases are sufficiently similar,application of this approach.1 Figure 1 illustrates the or by adapting previous approaches. Thebasic components in this approach to the decision- decision maker then evaluates the COA throughmaking process. a process of “mental simulation.” Recent studies in real-world settings, includingtactical commanders in field environments, haveled to a different model of the decision-making In general, RPD reflects the ubiquitous influenceprocess.2 These studies of naturalistic decision of analogy in human perception and problem solv-making (NDM) have resulted in the development ing.4 Such analogical thinking has demonstratedof the Recognition-Primed Decision (RPD) model.3 both its positive and negative effects at the highestThe RPD model asserts that decision makers draw levels of national security decision making.5 Theupon their experience to identify a situation as emergence of this new model of decision makingrepresentative of or analogous to a particular has direct implications for issues such as training forclass of problem. This recognition then leads command, evaluating the expertise of commandersto an appropriate course of action (COA), either and designing decision-support systems.6 The modeldirectly when prior cases are sufficiently similar, suggests markedly different decision-support sys-or by adapting previous approaches. The decision tems, focusing on accurate situation assessmentmaker then evaluates the COA through a process and case-based reasoning (recalling similar cases)of “mental simulation.” Figure 2 illustrates the as opposed to the feature-based comparison ofbasic structure of the RPD model both in its sim- options inherent in systems such as JOPES.plest version and when the decision maker eval- However, one must recognize that both the ana-uates options through use of mental models. lytic and the recognitional modes of decision mak-66 November-December 2000 l MILITARY REVIEW
  2. 2. LEADERSHIPing are desirable and, indeed, complementary. Infact, studies of decision making in natural settings The emergence of this new model ofhave demonstrated that decision makers employ decision making has direct implications forRPD and analytic strategies at different times, de- issues such as training for command, evaluatingpending on the problem situation, their level of ex- the expertise of commanders and designingperience and other factors.7 decision-support systems. . . . Both the analytic Figure 3 compares the strengths and weaknesses and the recognitional modes of decision makingof the two strategies. The strengths of each approach are desirable and, indeed, complementary.essentially mirror the weaknesses of the other. Asa result, optimal decision making tends to involve l Ill-structured problems.some combination of both modes. For example, in l Uncertain, dynamic environments.operations planning, initial COAs may be generated l Shifting, ill-defined or competing the commander based on analogous situations l Multiple event-feedback loops.(RPD-based decision making), and the COAs can l High stakes.then be assessed (by the staff) via analytic methods. l Knowledge-rich environments.Conversely, once the staff generates COAs for the l High decision complexity.8commander via analytic methods, recognitional de- Each of these factors is present to varying degreescision making may influence the commander’s se- in military planning at the strategic, operational andlection of the one(s) to implement. Figure 4 illus- tactical levels. In general, the strategic and opera-trates these “mixed” modes of military planning, tional levels certainly allow more time and tend toindicating the interdependent and complementary have greater resources for the planning process andnature of the two approaches. thereby favor analytic planning to a greater degree. However, such factors as the increasing pace ofDecision-MakingModels warfare, extended battlespace, ability to mass effectsandtheLevelsofWar and target strategically, near-instantaneous sharing Factors characterizing naturalistic decision- of situational information and the increasing politi-making environments include: cal sensitivity associated with even tactical actions l Time pressure/constraints. are causing these levels to merge.9MILITARY REVIEWMILITARY REVIEW l l November-December 2000 67
  3. 3. not feasible in the past. Conversely, real-time or Technology is driving the levels of war closer faster-than-real-time decision-aiding technologiesin terms of the capability and ease of applying the allow COA analyses at the tactical level to a degreetwo methods. . . . The increasing pace of warfare, not possible previously, enabling more effective extended battlespace, ability to mass effects and analytic planning and replanning. As a result oftarget strategically, near-instantaneous sharing these factors, these two complementary modes of of situational information and the increasing decision making will likely become increasinglypolitical sensitivity associated with even tactical interwoven and interdependent. Selecting the domi- actions are causing these analytical and nant mode of operations will depend on both situ- recognitional levels to merge. ational factors, such as time constraints and size/ makeup of staff, and personal ones, including decision-making style, level of expertise and In addition, technology is driving the levels closer management terms of the capability and ease of applying thetwo methods. For example, the situational under- Implicationsstanding now available at higher echelons and the Significant implications of the merging levels of warcommensurate ability to visualize the battlespace and the supporting technologies affect training andallow recognitional decision making to a degree systems design. In the training arena, commanders68 November-December 2000 l MILITARY REVIEW
  4. 4. Tyler Wirkenand staff personnelmust be trained to em-ploy both analytic andrecognitional decision-making strategies appro-priately, either singly orin some integrated form.This dual application willrequire changes to cur-rent training practice,which emphasizes ana-lytic planning.10 With re-gard to systems, futuremilitary planning anddecision-aiding systemsmust be flexibly de-signed to support bothdecision-making modes.This design will requiredatabases and decisionaids that can interactive-ly adapt to the desiredmode and display meth-odologies optimized toselect and format infor-mation compatible withthe task at hand and thepreferred strategy. The importance of in-corporating such capa-bilities has been mostclearly demonstrated inpast failures to design In-depth analyses of the incident in the Persian Gulfsystems to be compatible involving the shooting down of an Iranian commercial airliner by thewith the information- USS Vincennes identified a number of key problems with the designprocessing and decision- of the human-system interfaces that contributed to the error. . . .making characteristics of A human-machine mismatch occurs between modern computerthe operator or user. For systems, which can process and display information at phenomenalexample, in-depth analy- rates, and the comprehension capability of users, which hasses of the incident in the remained almost static for thousands of years.Persian Gulf involvingthe shooting down of anIranian commercial airliner by the USS Vincennes rates, and the “comprehension capability of users,identified a number of key problems with the de- which has remained almost static for thousands ofsign of the human-system interfaces that contributed years.”12to the error. One author discussing the Vincennes Similar problems have been identified in signifi-incident maintains that “the system was poorly cant incidents in the nuclear power industry, suchsuited for use by human beings during rapid mili- as Three Mile Island.13 Emerging approaches totary action.” He says a human-machine mismatch 11 decision making offer the potential for increasedoccurs between modern computer systems, which understanding of such errors and for mitigating thecan process and display information at phenomenal factors that contribute to them.MILITARY REVIEW l November-December 2000 69
  5. 5. vides commanders with situational awareness, the The computer applique system is a ability to see on video displays the location of forcestactical intranet that provides commanders with in the field, artillery postures, aviation and air de- situational awareness, the ability to see on fense activity, intelligence estimates, supply levels, video displays the location of forces in the field, weather reports and even live news broadcasts. Sim-artillery postures, aviation and air defense activ- ply by touching a keyboard, a commander can di-ity, intelligence estimates, supply levels, weather rect troop movements or order fire, and a gunner reports and even live news broadcasts. By on the battlefield can relay reports or requests. touching a keyboard, a commander can direct Army planners expect the tactical intranet to havetroop movements or order fire, and a gunner on profound implications for the rhythm and tactics of the battlefield can relay reports or requests. battle. For instance, the ability to know the location of friendly and enemy forces as a fight unfolds should permit advancing infantry units to disperse Less dramatic, but no less significant, is the Army more widely and move more quickly across a battle-experience at the National Training Center (NTC), field, accelerating the pace of battle. In turn, thisFort Irwin, California, with a Force XXI Advanced speed will require commanders to revise cumber-Warfighting Experiment (AWE). The AWE was to some procedures for issuing orders, which now in-assess the impact of advanced digitization, technol- volve the time-consuming preparation of staff esti-ogy and newly developed doctrine on the capabili- mates and options.”14ties of the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (the To assure these advanced information technolo-Army’s Experimental Brigade) in engagements with gies provide maximum benefit to the user, the Armythe NTC’s Opposing Force (OPFOR). Results of the needs to incorporate the types of adaptive decision-AWE demonstrated both the advantages and limi- aiding capabilities discussed above. These technolo-tations of state-of-the-art digital communications gies will achieve their optimal effectiveness only iftechnology. As Graham describes it, “At the core they are compatible with the cognitive capabilitiesof the new design is what the Army calls its com- and limitations of the commanders, staff and soldiersputer applique system, a tactical intranet that pro- who will use them. MR NOTES 1. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval Operational Planning, NWP-11 7. Gary A. Klein, “Strategies of Decision Making,” Military Review (May 1989)(Revision F), Draft, November, 1989; Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, 56-64; Gary A. Klein, “Recognition-Primed Decisions” in W. Rouse, ed., AdvancesCommand and Staff Action, FMFM 3-1, May, 1979; and US Army Command and in ManMachine Systems Research, Vol. 5 (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, Inc, 1989),General Staff College, Command and Staff Decision Processes, CGSC Student 47-92.Text 101-5, January, 1994. 8. Janis A. Cannon-Bowers, Eduardo Salas and John S. Pruitt, “Establishing 2. Gary A. Klein, “Strategies of Decision Making,” Military Review, (May 1989), the Boundaries of a Paradigm for Decision-Making Research,” Human Factors56-64; and Gary A. Klein and Roberta Calderwood, “Decision Models: Some Les- (June 1996), 193-205.sons From the Field,” IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, 9. Douglas A. Macgregor, “Future Battle: The Merging Levels of War,” Param-September-October, 1991, 1018-1026. eters (Winter 1992-93), 33-47. 3. Janis A. Cannon-Bowers, Eduardo Salas and John S. Pruitt, “Establishing 10. MAJ John F. Schmitt, “How We Decide,” 16-20.the Boundaries of a Paradigm for Decision-Making Research,” Human Factors, 11. William P. Gruner, “No Time for Decision Making,” U.S. Naval Institute Pro-(June 1996), 193-205; and Gary A. Klein, Naturalistic Decision Making: Implica- ceedings (1990), 39-41.tions for Design (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH: Crew Station Ergonomics 12. Susan G. Hutchins, Principles for Intelligent Decision Aiding, Technical Re-Information Analysis Center, 1993). port 1718 (San Diego, CA: Naval Command, Control and Ocean Surveillance 4. Keith Holyoak and Paul Thagard, Mental Leaps: Analogy in Creative Thought Center), 14-15.(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995). 13. Jens Rasmussen, On Information Processing and Human Machine In- 5. Richard E. Neustadt and Ernest R. May, Thinking in Time: The Uses of His- teraction: An Approach to Cognitive Engineering (Amsterdam: North Holland,tory for Decision Makers (New York: The Free Press, 1986). 1985). 6. MAJ John F. Schmitt, “How We Decide,” Marine Corps Gazette, (October 14. Bradley Graham, “Army Trying Out Electrons to See If It Can Get Smaller1995), 16-20; and LTC George E. Rector Jr., “Leadership and Decisionmaking,” and Faster: 2-Week Dry Run in the Mojave Desert Ends in Something of a Draw,”Marine Corps Gazette (October 1995), 21-23. Washington Post, 31 March 1997, A4. Thomas H. Killion is the acting deputy director for Research, Office of the Assis- tant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, Washington, D.C. He received a B.S. from St. Mary’s College, Minnesota, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. He is a graduate of the US Naval War College. His previ- ous positions include executive assistant to the director, US Army Research Labora- tory, Washington, D.C.; advanced technology team leader for the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Joint Project, Washington, D.C.; and principal scientist in electronic com- bat training for the Operations Training Division, US Air Force (USAF) Human Re- sources Laboratory (now the Aircrew Training Division, USAF Armstrong Labora- tory), Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. His article “Army Basic Research Strategy” appeared in the March-April 1997 edition of Military Review.70 November-December 2000 l MILITARY REVIEW