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  1. 1. After tracing the history of Army decisionmaking doctrine, the author proposes wide-ranging examination of our procedures, organizations and culture. In the end, the military decisionmaking process emerges as a valuable tool for coordinating intuition with analysis, task with purpose, plans with operations, and the present with the future.R UDIMENTARY military staff organization and procedures have developed since 2000B.C., beginning probably with the armies of early movements became the business of army staffs as keys to decisive victory. In von Moltke’s time, the Germans proved that an army that could plan de-Egypt. But, according to James D. Hittle, a histo- tailed requirements, orchestrate capabilities rapidlyrian of the military staff, the modern staff system and implement them precisely would win large-scaledid not emerge until late in the 19th century, even wars of national mobilization.later for the US Army. Hittle postulates that mod- The Generalstab’s power eventually usurped ci-ern staff systems have certain features: vilian policy because the exhaustive, inflexible mili- l A regular education system for training staff tary decisionmaking process (MDMP) and planningofficers. actually drove political decisions. The best example l Delegation of authority from the commander. of this was at the beginning of World War I when l Supervised execution of orders issued by or Germany executed the Schlieffen plan. Named forthrough the staff. Alfred von Schlieffen, head of the Generalstab from l A set method of procedure by which each part 1892 to 1906, the Schlieffen plan called for swiftperforms specific duties.1 victory against France through a flanking attack Hittle’s proposed characteristics would certainly across neutral Belgium. The greatest flaw in thedescribe the successful formation of the Prussian plan was the Generalstab’s assumption that vic-Generalstab (general staff) under General Helmuth tory would come in six weeks, thereby allowingvon Moltke in the latter 19th century. The General- Germany to respond to the expected sluggish Rus-stab was largely responsible for orchestrating sian mobilization on a potential eastern front.2Germany’s rapid defeat of France in 1870. During The Schlieffen plan case shows that excellence inthe industrial age, military theory began viewing planning alone will not overcome a flawed militaryarmies as machines of the nation-state. Detailed al- strategy or concept of operations; operations “maygorithms of mobilization, rail schedules and troop fail not only by being unsuccessfully implemented,MILITARY REVIEW l July-August 2001 45
  2. 2. 1940 US Army Field Manual (FM) 101-5, Staff Of- Commander’s intent, along with ficers’ Field Manual: The Staff and Combat Orders,initial guidance and concept of operations, increased the scope and depth of staff doctrine be- introduced innovation and initiative to the yond the 1932 version. traditional, analytically oriented MDMP. A new method of using draft staff officers’ doc-Thus, for the first time, this edition emphasized trine emerged after World War II. The US Army Com-synthesis (integrating elements into a cohesive mand and General Staff College (CGSC) published whole) in the MDMP as a complementary draft staff officers’ doctrine to update frequently mental attribute to the traditional analysis changing terms and procedures. The 1949 CGSC (successively decomposing into parts). draft, for example, emphasized the planning process rather than the orders format. Later CGSC versions were published as numbered reference books andbut also by being successfully implemented then student texts under various titles and formats.7proven inadequate.”3 The July 1950 FM 101-5, Staff Officers’ Field The US form of government makes forming a Manual: Staff Organization and Procedures, theGeneralstab-like military staff unlikely, even dis- next officially published staff doctrine, added the ad-tasteful. Civil authority over the military is vested ministrative commander’s estimate, focusing onin the US Constitution, making the military pur- analysis for supporting an operation.8 This manualposely subservient to civilian decisionmakers and was a logical evolution of the 1949 CGSC draftthe Constitution itself. Nevertheless, modern nations FM 101-5.have adopted ideas from the German staff model. The November 1954 FM 101-5 made the com- mander’s estimate a part of an overall estimate ofHistoryofModernUSArmy the situation and added specific staff estimates forStaffOfficers’Doctrine personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, civil af- As the Schlieffen plan was being developed and fairs, military government and deception. Interest-the world drew closer to World War I, the US Army ingly, the deception estimate fell out as a stand-alonelacked published staff doctrine. The 1910 publica- estimate in the next version and has not reappearedtion, Regulations for Field Maneuvers, did not in- in staff doctrine. The manual adopted the basic five-clude a description of staff processes; a 1914 field step analysis associated with the commander’s es-service regulation (FSR) mentioned the need for a timate process and added conclusions or recommen-commander and staff estimating process but did not dations to paragraph five to supplement the decisiondescribe one.4 step. This version also added atomic weapons and Following World War I, the 1924 version of the chemical, biological and radiological effects as fac-FSR included doctrinal formatted orders with re- tors of analysis.9quired annexes, maps and tables. Still, the FSR In June 1968 more detailed procedures were pub-stated only that leaders should “first make an esti- lished while preserving the basic doctrinal concepts.mate of the situation, culminating in a decision upon Wiring diagrams and process flowcharts depicteda definite plan of action.”5 No procedural steps were multiple players with plans, orders and estimate pro-provided to explain this process. cesses occurring simultaneously. Estimate proce- In 1932 the Staff Officers’ Field Manual compiled dures were presented as military problem-solving“principles, information and data to be used as a techniques and further shown to be Standardizationguide for the operation of staffs of all units and ter- Agreement (STANAG) 2118; hence, US Army doc-ritorial commands, in peace and war, rather than a trine for staff planning took on an allied flavor forset of rules and regulations to be rigidly and blindly the first time. Additionally, for the first time, pro-followed.”6 The manual provided a comprehensive cedures differentiated between the operation ordercommand and staff doctrine on which modern pro- (OPORD) and operation plan (OPLAN). Also note-cedures are based. Orders formats were more de- worthy was the introduction of planning assump-tailed than in the 1924 FSR, and explanations of tions to “fill the gaps in knowledge of what condi-staff functions and the commander’s estimate were tions probably will be.”10more complete. While the July 1972 FM 101-5 contained few In 1940 the Army began expanding to prepare for substantive changes from the 1968 version, it intro-World War II, growing to more than eight million duced the administrative staff study to separate thesoldiers by the end of the war. The scale and com- MDMP for administration from combat opera-plexity of military decisionmaking and planning tions.11 Replacing the administrative commander’smade staff work proportionately more intricate; thus, estimate, the staff study outlined six steps to admin-staff doctrine expanded with the Army. The August istrative problem solving: problem, assumptions,46 July-August 2001 l MILITARY REVIEW
  3. 3. German stormtroopers in France, circa 1916. The failed Schlieffen plan aimed for a swift victory against France through a flanking attack across neutral Belgium. A contemporary observer stated that when the operation broke down, shell holes became trenches and the trenches eventually became an elaborate defen- sive system several miles deep.Imperial War Museum The Schlieffen plan case shows that excellence in planning alone will not overcome a flawed military strategy or concept of operations; operations “may fail not only by being unsuccessfully implemented, but also by being successfully implemented then proven inadequate.” facts, discussion, conclusions and action recom- Finally, the 1984 edition added a special appen- mended.12 It also introduced a model showing the dix, “Emerging Staff Techniques and Procedures,” sequence of commander and staff actions that more which provided a “forum for brief discussion of clearly developed the idea of simultaneous and in- Armywide initiatives in staff techniques and proce- teractive staff and commander’s MDMP actions. dures developed to enhance the effectiveness of staff The model flowchart separated nine staff and operations in the face of emerging doctrine and rap- commander’s actions. Actions that involved mak- idly changing technology.”14 This was an official ing synthesized decisions were on the commander’s invitation to open discussion and dialogue, espe- side of the chart; actions requiring detailed analysis cially about up-and-coming information technolo- were primarily on the staff’s.13 gies such as the maneuver control system, micro- The 1984 version, retitled Staff Organization and processor systems, teleconferencing, facsimiles and Operations, implemented no fewer than eight decision graphics. STANAGs, indicating more purposeful NATO After many CGSC student text drafts, FM 101-5 interoperability. For the first time, Army staff doc- was again updated and published in 1997. It devoted trine discussed the joint planning process and in- a chapter to staff officer characteristics, reflecting cluded a more comprehensive discussion of special- contemporary management influences; it explained ized staff roles and organization. MDMP changes the most intricate procedural aspects of MDMP with included adding rehearsals as a new doctrinal step a complex, 38-step procedure; it contained more and expanding the MDMP flowchart to show feed- detailed examples for completing plans, orders and back to the staff estimate, mission analysis and annexes; it had a separate appendix on information commander’s estimate. The MDMP doctrine now management; it introduced the concept of the recognized that while supervising decision execu- commander’s critical information requirements; and tion, emergent factors influence changes in mission it detailed the concepts, duties and responsibilities and commander’s concept—a decision that remains of liaison officers based on lessons learned from a continuous and interactive process within the coalition operations in the Gulf War. Also notewor- MDMP. thy was the absence of any link to STANAGs.15 MILITARY REVIEW l July-August 2001 47
  4. 4. The 1997 edition introduced commander’s intent formation for making that decision is inadequate orin Army staff doctrine, a concept that had been ex- unavailable. Conversely, analysis is conscious rea-perimented with at length at CGSC and in Army soning based on decomposition and manipulation ofoperations and training. Commander’s intent, along a situation. It is a methodical process that seeks knowledge in complex environments and involves a step-by-step, systematic procedure.16 Decision- Modes generally reflect patterns makers display sound judgment—a blend of intu-of military planning and when coupled with the ition and analysis—when they chose well among types of planning (detailed, functional and options despite uncertainty and ambiguity.17conceptual) give a better picture of the full scope Good decisionmakers tend to use heuristics orof planning required. The old adage “plan early speculative general rules that aid in problem solv-and plan twice” is based on failure to recognize ing by directing the search or decreasing the amount proper modes of planning required— of information searched.18 While Army profession-committing too early rather than formulating als are likely to develop similar heuristics, educa- contingencies or orienting on the threat tion, experience, intelligence and personality will or opportunity. affect differences among decisionmakers.19 Military educational institutions use historical analogies and case studies to foster heuristic decisionmaking, for-with initial guidance and concept of operations, in- mulate creative stratagems and develop criticaltroduced innovation and initiative to the traditional, thinking skills.20analytically oriented MDMP. Thus, for the first Visualization, a related concept to heuristics,time, this edition emphasized synthesis (integrating is a decisionmaker’s ability to picture what lieselements into a cohesive whole) in the MDMP as a ahead. Good decisionmakers, like good chesscomplementary mental attribute to the traditional players, think downboard to envision second- andanalysis (successively decomposing into parts). third-order effects of decisions and develop branches and sequels to current or planned opera-ModernMDMP’sMultipleDimensions tions. Often specialized staffs—think tanks or fu- Modern MDMP is a multidimensional undertak- tures groups—assist decisionmakers in the visu-ing with the decisionmaker, environment, organiza- alization process.21tion (vertical and horizontal), planning, learning and Army decisionmakers rely on learned values thatprocedures its major aspects. Many decisionmaking affect decisions and planning:models (most are procedural) have been developed l Truth (through analysis — the scientificto assist decisionmakers in other than military or- method).ganizations. However, researchers studying decision- l Power (in being part of a team that creates themaking in civilian organizations have found that national element of power).decisions appear to be somewhat arbitrary and not l Goodness and virtue (high ethical and moralnecessarily based on the best possible course of standards).action. Hence, one purpose of the Army’s doc- l Aesthetics (appreciation for the art of decision-trinal MDMP is to ensure that defining a problem making, the satisfaction and beauty of formulatingand choosing the best course of action is not ran-domly matching variables but a deliberate action. The decisionmaker is the central MDMP element.Effective military decisionmakers do not necessar-ily occupy formal leadership positions or have se-nior rank. Future military operations in a dispersedand noncontiguous battle space will likely distrib-ute authority and decisionmaking. Soldiers operat-ing remote sensing devices, uninhabited vehicles orprecision-guided munitions, for example, may op-erate autonomously and make critical decisions af-fecting the outcome of military operations. Good decisionmakers can employ both intuitiveand analytic skills. Intuition is an unconscious ap-preciation of patterns of operations—a synthesisprocess. It reflects understanding that fosters theability to achieve workable solutions even when in-48 July-August 2001 l MILITARY REVIEW
  5. 5. Members of Lockheed’s Advanced Development Projects Division, or “Skunk Works,” prepare the first F-117 stealth aircraft for an engine test, spring 1981. This team carried the project from concept to design to prototype.Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Visualization, a related concept to heuristics, is a decisionmaker’s ability to picture what lies ahead. Good decisionmakers, like good chess players, think downboard to envision second- and third-order effects of decisions and develop branches and sequels to current or planned operations. Often specialized staffs—think tanks or futures groups— assist decisionmakers in the visualization process. creative solutions to complex problems).22 and future—produce variances in knowledge and The environment. MDMP addresses three en- understanding of what has happened, what is hap- vironmental settings—the past, present and future. pening and what will happen. Future environments exist under varying conditions Vertical aspects of MDMP. Decisionmakers of certainty, so decisions have varying degrees of must understand how decisions concerning tactics, flexibility and risk. Flexibility flows from available operations, strategies or policy nest in higher-level choices—how much force should remain in reserve organizations. The same MDMP principle applies and where; how many concept plans for branches to ensuring that subordinates understand the com- and sequels should be developed; what kind of ma- mander’s intent. A recent MDMP study demon- neuver (attack or defend) should be employed. Risk strated that successful commanders best impart their is the residual variance of rational choice or the intent through a healthy command climate, telling decision’s stability —whether underlying assump- subordinates what and not how (mission-type or- tions about the environment or the effects of the de- ders), explaining how they arrived at their decision cision on the environment hold true. Risk may be (their thinking process), good feedback mecha- accepted, for example, by some measure of avail- nisms (subordinate access to the superior’s MDMP) able force readiness or the enemy’s known readi- and being familiar with their subordinates (a mea- ness. Less flexibility (stronger commitment to a sure of trust).23 single choice) and less risk (more stability) are char- Status is another aspect of vertical organizational acteristics of decisions made with certainty, while influence on MDMP. Especially under conditions the opposites may be true under conditions of of stress, those with less military rank or on a lower greater uncertainty. The availability and quality of organizational level tend to defer to others of higher information about the environment—past, present rank and organizational level. The result may be overcentralized decisionmaking.24 Horizontal (group) aspects of MDMP. Group military decisionmaking is a corollary to conflict management in various organizations. Conflict is eliminated, often incrementally, through consensus and through loosely coupled decisionmaking MILITARY REVIEW l July-August 2001 49
  6. 6. systems when efforts to seek consensus fail.25 In op- planning (creating and maintaining military capabili-erations involving joint and combined military or- ties) and operation planning (what the Army wouldganizations or other agencies and nongovernment associate with the MDMP type of planning). MCDPorganizations, consensus building and a more 5 describes a planning continuum from:loosely coupled MDMP have proven useful. l Detailed planning (the lowest level; focuses on Loosely coupled processes try to make sense of “how-to” instructions for control measures andseemingly random systems using decentralization, movement tables, for example). l Functional planning (the medium level; sup- ports plans with discrete functional activities such One danger in MDMP is being as logistics, security and intelligence). overanalytical, creating a tendency toward l Conceptual planning (the highest level; opera-premature closure in the process of formulating tional concepts, commander’s intent, goals and ob- stratagems. Decisionmakers may be more jectives).31comfortable or competent conducting MDMP’s The levels are interactive; concepts will drive procedural aspects. They may give inadequate functional and detailed planning, and details will attention to the less-structured, but more influence functional and conceptual planning. This important, step of generating stratagems hierarchy may be processed at any level of organi- in the first place. zation or war. MCDP 5 describes planning modes as another dimension of planning and also along a continuum of risk and time: l Commitment planning (resources are physi-delegation, vague language, vague expectations, and cally prepared under conditions of greater certaintycoaching and educating through talk and action.26 with a shorter time horizon).Loosely coupled operations permit greater freedom l Contingency planning (resources are pro-of action and variation in execution—allowing par- grammed for several projected circumstances—butticipants broader latitude without adversely affect- not physically committed—under conditions of mod-ing the operation. erate uncertainty with an increased time horizon). Planning aspects of MDMP. In large Army or- l Orientation planning (resources are in roughganizations, such as corps and divisions, near-term concept—continually assessing and designing pre-decisions (current operations) are always nested in liminary plans allows response to a broad varietylong-term decisions (plans). To plan is to design adesired future (ends) and orchestrate effective ways of circumstances over longer periods).32and means of bringing it about. A plan is anticipa- Modes generally reflect patterns of military plan-tory decisionmaking that involves a set of interde- ning and when coupled with the types of planningpendent decisions. The process is continuous and (detailed, functional and conceptual) give a betterhas no conclusion or end point. What separates stra- picture of the full scope of planning required. Thetegic planning from operational and tactical plan- old adage “plan early and plan twice” is based onning is largely the difficulty of reversing its effects failure to recognize proper modes of planning re-during execution.27 quired—committing too early rather than formulat- Military planning shifts the decisionmaking load ing contingencies or orienting on the threat or op-to earlier periods of relative inactivity.28 This was portunity. Another planning adage, “the truthcertainly true with the XVIII Airborne Corps dur- changes,” applies as well. Over time interpretationsing Operation Desert Shield where planners focused of the situation change. While each change may beMDMP on incremental defensive planning during small and immediate, the cumulative drift can leadthe force buildup phase. That plan changed as more to transformation large enough that few will recog-military capability deployed into the maturing the- nize history’s relationship to the current situation.ater. In addition, through implementing a viable Without recognizing patterns, projecting the futuredefense, ample time was assured to plan extensively situation is difficult if not impossible.for the XVIII Airborne Corps’ ground offensive Learning aspects of MDMP. C.S. Forester’s his-against Iraq.29 torical novel, The General, portrays World War I US Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 5 (MCDP 5), British leaders as simple- and single-minded. InPlanning, provides an extensive and valuable dis- what today’s US Army would call an after-actioncussion of the nature of planning, including plan- review (AAR), Forester depicts a British army corpsning theory and what makes planning effective. It commander and his division commanders discuss-defines planning as “the art and science of envision- ing the battle of Loos, a failed allied a desired future and laying out effective ways The September 1915 offensive was based on anto bring it about, influencing events before they oc- allied delusion that “artillery could blast a holecur.”30 Categories of Marine planning include force through the opposing wall for infantry and thereby50 July-August 2001 l MILITARY REVIEW
  7. 7. DECISIONMAKINGassure success.”33 British killed in action totaled formulation is emerging in MDMP—aspects that60,000 and the breakthrough failed. Forester de- involve intuition as well as analysis. The challengescribes the World War I AAR: “In some ways it was to changing staff organization and operations islike the debate of a group of savages as to how to clearly cultural. A decisionmaking system thatextract a screw from a piece of wood. Accustomed evolves over decades as primarily analytic devel-only to nails, they had made one effort to pull out ops a code for information about the situation. Suchthe screw by main force, and now that it had failed a code partitions all possible estimates of the situa-they were devising methods of applying more force tion into a relatively small number of classes of es-still, of obtaining more efficient pincers, of using timates. Organizational learning relies on changinglevers and fulcrum so that more men could bring that partitioning process or at least modifying it totheir strength to bear. They could hardly be blamed apply to the whole of the new situation.37for not guessing that by rotating the screw it would The Army Battle Command Training Program wascome out after the exertion of far less effort; it would designed to exercise division and corps command-be so different that they would laugh at the man who ers and staff in the art and science of staff orga-suggested it.”34 nization and operations. More attention by observers/ Even in a learning organization that conducts controllers will be placed on the art of decision-AARs and harvests lessons and observations, ap- making (creative and intuitive faculties) than theproaches can be deadly wrong if they are based on science of control (analytic).38 Additionally, a com-faulty MDMP devoid of creative thinking. Based on prehensive study of tactical commanders at the Na-such reasoning, British generals later planned an tional Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, re-even larger fiasco—the Somme offensive in sum- vealed that the most successful leaders demonstratemer 1916—where again more than 60,000 British not just analytic skills but the capacity to synthesizesoldiers perished. Caught in “paralysis through using visualization, creativity, initiative and flexibil-analysis” they decided through a commander and ity.39 Making decisions under varying conditions ofstaff estimate process that they could attain victory uncertainty in the full spectrum of Army operationsby merely improving on the same concept of op- will require more and more intuitive skills.40erations from the previous offensive. This sort of Stratagems are formulated not through a linearbehavior has been called a “competency trap,” decision process but through a nonlinear MDMP.which “arises in various forms in many adaptive Nonlinear MDMP is continuous, accounts for pro-systems and reflects the ways in which improving cessed feedback (learning) and emergent situationalcapabilities with one rule, technology, strategy or factors (such as mission, enemy, terrain, troops,practice interferes with changing that rule, technol- time, civilians) and adjusts stratagems accordingly;ogy, strategy or practice to another that is potentially hence, MDMP with adaptive learning results. Thesuperior (but with which the decisionmaker has little figure below depicts a nontraditional model ofcurrent competence).”35 MDMP with large and small arrows indicating a British Field Marshal William Slim’s leadership nonlinear performance Burma during World War II wasthe antithesis of the competencytrap. Learning from his own orga-nizational weaknesses and enemystrengths over more than two years,he turned defeat into victory: “InBurma we fought on a lower scaleof transport, supplies, equipment,supporting arms and amenities thanwas accepted in any other Britishtheatre. Yet, largely because of thislack of material resources, welearned to use those we had in freshways to achieve more than whatwould have been possible had weclung to conventional methods. We. . . in strange conditions evolvedour own technique of war, not somuch material, as human.”36 Recent emphasis on conceptualMILITARY REVIEW l July-August 2001 51
  8. 8. One danger in MDMP is being overanalytical, risk in these areas fosters learning and developmentcreating a tendency toward premature closure in the among Army decisionmakers.process of formulating stratagems. Decisionmakersmay be more comfortable or competent conducting WhatLiesAheadMDMP’s procedural aspects. They may give inad- Army organizations must achieve “decision su-equate attention to the less-structured, but more im- periority”—good decisions made faster than an op-portant, step of generating stratagems in the first ponent can react or, in a noncombat situation, at a tempo that allows the joint force commander to shape the situation or react quickly to changes and Army doctrinal MDMP must merge accomplish the mission.46 In future MDMP, the goalwith joint decisionmaking processes. The corps is to turn estimates of the situation into situational commander and staff serving as a joint task understanding—past, present and, insofar as pos- force headquarters will have little or no time to sible, future. Staff organization and operations willchange from Army MDMP and doctrinal orders be tailored to enable “enactment planning,” modi- to the joint operation planning and execution fying or creating new stratagems to control the fu-system that produces joint force orders. Until the ture situation while giving the opponent little or noprocedures match, Army theater-level and corps choice. Ultimately, friendly MDMP limits the effec- commanders and staff must translate MDMP tiveness of the decisionmaking process. so it becomes seamless with joint processes. To do so, Army doctrinal MDMP must merge with joint decisionmaking processes. The corps commander and staff serving as a joint task forceplace.41 Stratagems are generated through divergent headquarters will have little or no time to changethinking, which involves “expanding the picture of from Army MDMP and doctrinal orders to the jointthe problem.”42 Convergent thinking involves nar- operation planning and execution system that pro-rowing a problem down to a smaller, more manage- duces joint force orders. Until the procedures match,able size and casting out alternatives. Commanders Army theater-level and corps commanders and staffmust avoid letting MDMP’s procedures cause con- must translate MDMP so it becomes seamless withvergent thinking too early.43 Premature closure pre- joint processes.vents learning from other possible alternatives. It Most studies of Army commanders and staffsmay be better to continue to orient on the problem have focused on potential MDMP improvements tothan to commit to a solution too early. shorten decision times and conduct more detailed Another pitfall similar to premature closure is analyses.47 Future study must include more empha-self-imposed constraint. Preventing or removing sis on how to:unnecessary constraints permits creativity and learn- l Enhance decisionmakers’ intuition throughing. The MDMP environment contains controllable Army training, education, and current and plannedvariables, such as friendly forces, and uncontrollable operations.variables such as weather, terrain and enemy attack. l Transform Army culture from placing value onThe ideal situation does not constrain how the analytic (procedural) aspects of MDMP to givedecisionmaker controls the controllable variables equal weight to its more multidimensional aspects.and reduces or removes the effectiveness of the un- l Revise MDMP to ensure it is seamless withcontrollable variables.44 Mission statements, con- joint decision processes.cepts of operation, commander’s intent statements, l Blend Army Staff organization and operationstasks to subordinate units and similar directives must with Joint Staff organization and operations; allied,be carefully formulated to avoid self-imposed con- coalition or combined staff organization and opera-straints. tions; the interagency process; and nongovernment Army education, mentorship and organizational organizations.experience through training and operations should l Increase flexibility and speed in MDMP be-synthesize what has already been learned and ex- cause Army forces will deploy when there is onlytract a holistic view from it so decisionmakers can an orientation plan available.better convert information and knowledge into un- l Adapt MDMP for force planning and decision-derstanding. Answers that are expected cannot be making in the institutional Army.creative and therefore may inhibit innovation.45 Tra- The history of staff organization and operationsditional Army organizational culture can stifle dis- is clearly evolutionary, and for almost a century, nosent, but wise leaders question the old answers, al- major changes were made to the basic steps of esti-low freedom of action and accept professional mating the situation or providing analysis formistakes when subordinates experiment. Accepting MDMP. The current edition of FM 101-5 introduces52 July-August 2001 l MILITARY REVIEW
  9. 9. DECISIONMAKINGmore of the thinking aspects of staff organizationand operations to avert conditions that lead to a com- Traditional Army organizational culturepetency trap. can stifle dissent, but wise leaders question the When continuing current operations become in- old answers, allow freedom of action and accepteffective, innovative thinking can make a difference. professional mistakes when subordinatesEffective new stratagems may not emerge clearly experiment. Accepting risk in these areas fostersfrom established doctrine; tactics, techniques and learning and development among Armyprocedures; or past successes and failures. In for- decisionmakers.mulating innovative stratagems, MDMP will requirecommanders and staffs to suspend traditional think-ing and learn by treating: ciding and planning with a combination of intuition l Self as a hypothesis. and analysis are important to the success of Army op- l Intuition as reality. erations. As critical as the commander is, Slim rec- l Hypocrisy as transition. ognized that “There comes a moment in every battle l Memory as an enemy. against a stubborn enemy when the result hangs in l Experience as a theory.48 the balance. Then the general, however skillful and Modern staff organization and procedures recog- farsighted he may have been, must hand over to hisnize the value of innovative thinking and that de- soldiers . . . to complete what he has begun.”49 NOTES 1. James D. Hittle, The Military Staff (Harrisburg, PA: The Stackpole Company, (New York, NY: The Free Press, 1994), 230.1961), 10-11. 26. Ibid., 193-98. 2. Jay M. Shafritz, Phil Williams and Ronald S. Calinger, The Dictionary of 20th 27. Ackoff, 100-103.Century World Politics (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1993), 11. 28. Ibid., 40. 3. Henry Mintzberg, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning (New York: The 29. Robert H. Scales, Certain Victory: The US Army in the Gulf War (McLean,Free Press, 1994), 360. VA: Brassey’s Inc., 1994), 86-112. 4. Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA), Field Service Regulation 30. Department of the Navy, Headquarters, US Marine Corps, MCDP 5, Plan-(Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office [GPO], 1914), 12. ning (Washington, DC: GPO, 21 July 1997), 3. 5. HQDA, Field Service Regulation (Washington, DC: GPO, 1924), 6. 31. Ibid., 36. 6. US War Department, The Staff Officers’ Field Manual (Washington, DC: 32. Ibid., 38-41.GPO, Part One 1932 and Part Two 1933), iii. 33. S.L.A. Marshall, The American Heritage History of World War I (New York: 7. For example, a 1983 CGSC version was Reference Book 101-999, Staff David McKay Company, 1964), 123.Officers’ Handbook (Fort Leavenworth, KS: April 1983) and during the later 1980s 34. C.S. Forester, The General (Annapolis, MD: The Nautical and Aviation Pub-and 1990s as almost annual editions of Student Text 100-9, Techniques for Tac- lishing Company of America Inc., 1982), 195-96.tical Decision Making, Commander’s Estimate or other similar titles. 35. March, 96-97. 8. US Army Field Manual (FM) 101-5, Staff Officers’ Field Manual: Staff Or- 36. Field Marshal The Viscount Slim, Defeat Into Victory (New York: Davidganization and Procedures (Washington, DC: GPO, July 1950), 63-66. McKay Company, 1961), 450. 9. FM 101-5, Staff Officers’ Field Manual: Staff Organization and Procedures 37. Richard M Cyert and James G. March, A Behavioral Theory of the Firm,(Washington, DC: GPO, November 1954), 94. 2d Edition, (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, Inc., 1992), 174. 10. FM 101-5, Staff Officers’ Field Manual: Staff Organization and Procedures 38. Lussier and Saxon, 3. The authors quote Lieutenant General Leonard P.(Washington, DC: GPO, June 1968), 6-1. Wishart III when he was commander, Combined Arms Command, Fort Leaven- 11. FM 101-5, Staff Officers’ Field Manual: Staff Organization and Procedures worth, Kansas: “Command is the art of assigning missions, prioritizing resources,(Washington, DC: GPO, July 1972), 5-5. guiding and directing subordinates, and focusing the entire command’s energy to 12. Ibid., 5-6. accomplish clear objectives. Control is the science of defining limits, computing 13. Ibid., 5-14. requirements, allocating resources, identifying and correcting deviations from guid- 14. FM 101-5, Staff Organization and Operations (Washington, DC: GPO, May ance, and directing subordinate actions to accomplish the commander’s intent.”1984), H-1. 39. Ibid., 9. 15. FM 101-5, Staff Organization and Operations (Washington, DC: GPO, May 40. Ibid., 20, quoting J.C. Madigan and G.E. Dodge, “Battle Command: Lead-1997). ership and Decision-Making for War and Operations Other Than War,” ARI, Al- 16. James W. Lussier and Terrill F. Saxon, Study Report 95-01, Critical Fac- exandria, Virginia, 1994.tors in the Art of Battlefield Command (Alexandria, VA: Army Research Institute 41. Mintzberg, 360.for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI), November 1994), 32-33. 42. Karl Albrecht, Brain Power: Learn to Improve Your Thinking Skills (New York: 17. Ibid., 36. Simon & Schuster, 1992), 191. 18. Ibid., 29. 43. Ibid., 191. 19. Michael J. Bonometti and Colt A. Mefford, “An Analysis of Decision-Making 44. Ackoff, a Military Population,” Unpublished Master’s Degree Thesis, US Air Force In- 45. Ibid.,150-56.stitute of Technology, March 1985, 9-2. The authors reflect, based on their study 46. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Coordinating Draft of Joint Vision 2020 (Washington,data of 43 Air Force and Army captains and majors, that “military decisionmakers DC: GPO, 18 February 2000), 11.generally make their decisions in a standard fashion.” This author speculates this 47. Rich Rees and Steve Sorrell, “Techniques to Shorten the Decision-Makingmay be because the military way of making decisions has become so inculcated. Process at the Task Force Level,” Armor, July-August 1997, 41-45; Norbert B. 20. Notes taken during the Teaching Strategy Workshop, 14 April 2000, Elev- Jocz, “The Accelerated Task Force Decision-Making Process,” Infantry, Novem-enth Annual US Army War College (USAWC) Strategy Conference, Carlisle Bar- ber-December 1996, 33-36; Gregory T. Banner, “Decision-Making—A Better Way,”racks, Pennsylvania, 11-13 April 2000. Military Review, September-October 1997, 53-55; John Leddo, Mike O’Conner, 21. Strategic Leadership Primer, ed. Roderick R. Magee, (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Julie Doherty and Terry Bresnick, “Decision Making Under Uncertainty and TimeUSAWC, 1998), 22. Stress,” Study, Fort Leavenworth Research Unit, Kansas, January 1996; Ng Kok 22. Russell L. Ackoff, Ackoff’s Best: His Classic Writings on Management (New Wan, “Using Decision Trees to Direct the Planning Thought-Process: An Enhance-York: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1999), 138-42. ment to the Planning Methodology,” Unpublished Master’s Degree Thesis, Fort 23. Lawrence G. Shattuck, “Communicating Intent and Imparting Presence,” Leavenworth, Kansas: 1995; Richard Day Lawrence, “A Study of Quasi-AnalyticMilitary Review, March-April 2000, 66-72. Models for the Improvement of the Military Commander’s Tactical Decision Pro- 24. James E. Driskell and Eduardo Salas, “Group Decision-Making Under cess,” Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Ohio State University, 1968.Stress,” Journal of Applied Psychology, June 1991, 473-79. 48. March, 262-63. 25. James G. March, A Primer on Decision Making: How Decisions Happen 49. Slim, 460. Colonel Christopher R. Paparone, US Army, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Army War College Professorship Program at Pennsylvania State University. He received a B.A. from the University of South Florida and M.A.s from Florida Institute of Technology and the US Naval War College. He is a graduate of the US Army War College. He served in various command and staff positions in the Continental United States and Germany, including deputy G3, 21st Theater Support Com- mand, Kaiserslautern, Germany; and battalion commander, 47th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Armored Division, Bad Kreuznach, Germany. His article “Piercing the Corporate Veil: OE and Army Transformation” appeared in the March-April 2001 Military Review.MILITARY REVIEW l July-August 2001 53