Sunday, January 27, 2013

Assessing Operational Art: An Army Planning Primer

There is this thing called operational art, and supposedly military commanders and their staffs do it.  What is it though? And, how does it fit into the philosophical and practical realm of war fighting? Here are some thoughts to consider how this planning doctrine relates to the way military planners and commanders engage in the art of war.

            There are things we can know, and there are, currently, things we cannot know.[1] The fact that we can even know such a truism is a function of the cognitive interplay between predictability and unpredictability. In other words, we really can know that we can know things, and we really can know that we cannot know things.[2] One attempts the former through theory; they discover the latter through the experience of history. Doctrines capture knowledge of the two. In war, a commander’s genius is the missing link between the theoretical and the historical.[3] Current U.S. Army doctrine capitalizes on this rarity by emphasizing the role of commanders in the planning process.[4] Thus, in war, applying a construct for predictability to control certain uncertainty through the imagination of knowledge and experience is an intangible genius made tangible by operational art.[5]