Saturday, January 9, 2010
I came across this chart in an article on SWJ discussing hybrid warfare and the differences between material and cognitive approaches to warfare.
I don't really have any issues with this personally. But I say: good luck trying to get Soldiers and Marines to focus on "emotions" and "feelings". I'd argue they can buy the rest of the list on the bottom right, but those two I singled out may exceed the flexibility of military culture.
One of my favorite bosses in the Army, who had a particularly unique relationship with the English language, once asked a group of us LTs for the definition of defeat (apologies to the Ink Spots crew who have already heard this). One of the other guys piped up with the usual (and doctrinally correct) definition of reducing the enemy's capabilities to the point that he isn't able to fight. "Bullshit," said this particular major of cavalry. "Defeat is kicking your enemy's ass, pivot steering on his battle position, rummaging through his rucksack, eating his food, and rubbing your [male anatomy] all over his girlfriend's picture. That's defeat." I can attest that this guy gets COIN (or least the understanding that civilian perceptions are important), but I don't think emotions or feelings will ever enter his lexicon.
I'm not too sure why things like this are included in COIN writing (or the softer side of hybrid in this case). It's like that stupid "Love Bank" that made it's way into divisional warfighting handbooks (I really wish I were kidding). I got it. So does most of the operational force. We care about civilians and what they think. But do we really care how they feel? Shaping perceptions and mental processes to obtain desired behaviors among the population is a no-brainer. Do I care if they love me? While my former boss falls on the left side of that chart, and I understand and buy most of the right, do emotions and feelings matter if the population is doing what I want them to? How do you positively effect those attributes if you think they're important? I'd be interested in your thoughts, before DoD hires this guy as a consultant.