Sunday 01 July 2018
My previous article discussed “planning to win.” In complex wars, winning is not an end-state, but rather a continuous process of gaining advantage through combinations of desired effects. This competition involves relationships that are both cooperative and confrontational. Applying this “coop-frontation” to the Korean peninsula, I described strategies of persuasion, compellence, inducement, deterrence, defense, and coercion.
This article systematically describes different types of effects, using three distinctions.
Namely, effects can vary in terms of: (1) how confrontational and/or cooperative they are; (2) the extent to which they are psychological and/or physical; and (3) the degree to which they target, that is trying to influence, the will and/or capability of an actor.
Consider the following distinctions among effects, targets, and tools: diplomatic, informational, military, economic and social (DIMES) effects; will and capability targets; and DIMES-wide tools as well. Together, these analytic distinctions can encourage holistic thinking about comprehensive strategies that create superior causal and preventive effects.
Let’s look at confrontational interactions first. As in the previous article, I’ve bolded the desired effect to highlight the purpose of a strategy because this can be overlooked in the churn of current operations. A focus on overall effects may help broaden any organisational perspective on what achieving national advantages may require.
In confrontational interactions, psychologically, an actor could try to intimidate another’s will to deter or compel behaviour. Such as bullying a vulnerable neighbour into dependent trade by controlling border crossings. Or, an actor can attempt to neutralise another’s capability to perceive, such as through propaganda, to deter the development of external loyalties and to compel domestic compliance. Physically, an actor could confront a threat by punishing another’s will, in order to defend against or coerce behaviour. Such as dispatching large steel ships to ram small wooden vessels. Or the actor could try to deny another a capability, such as by cutting off energy sources, in order to defend against or coerce that perceived or manufactured threat.
What about cooperative interactions? Psychologically, an actor may use methods designed to assure the will of another in order to dissuade or persuade behaviour. Such as the confidence-building measures that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe employs to promote its agenda. Or, an actor could enhance another’s capability to perceive by providing intelligence, in order to dissuade or persuade another with respect to maintaining a mutually beneficial partnership. Physically, an actor might demonstrate the will to secure or induce a commitment, such as joint statements and strategic dialogues. Or, an actor might exercise a military or economic capability to secure or induce a commitment from an ally, a partner, a neutral, or even a competitor.
Just because combined-effects strategy talks about different types of effects does not mean we can actually achieve them. Circumstances matter. Because of the need to account for pervasive uncertainty and the need to assume risk, General Dwight Eisenhower noted, “planning is everything; the plan is nothing.” Planning and exercising helps prepare us to make decisions, assess risk, and learn to shape and anticipate change. The one certainty is the need for leadership. Crafting an inspirational vision and demonstrating determination to succeed can create opportunities out of challenges. In this spirit, strategists should continuously seek to create combined effects that are better than those of their competitors.