Military Review English Edition July-August 2014 - Page 18

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mikki L. Sprenkle War does not have a discipline to study it—it lies on the seams of the way academia is organized … [So to study war] I think the best skill set is diverse and multi-disciplinary. War is a complicated social phenomenon, and to understand it, it helps to be able to approach it from different directions.19 Oxford historian Hew Strachan concurs, calling strategic studies, “a hybrid—a disciplinary mix of history, politics, law, some economics, and even a little disciplines or fields that contribute to the course syllabus. This approach is beneficial in that it avoids myopic, single-discipline approaches to studying conflict. It imparts the sense of intellectual humility that retired Marine Gen. James Mattis counsels: “We need an educated, adaptable officer corps—not one married to any single preclusive view of war.”22 Strategic studies education for junior officers should embrace this philosophy. Strategic Frameworks Using many disciplines necessitates strategic frameworks to funnel diverse ideas for analysis. Some frameworks are general and can span the levels of war. Former British Army officer Emile Simpson describes a helpful tactical and operational framework he calls Can I? Should I? Must I?: “‘Can I?’ is a legal question about rules of engagement; ‘should I?’ is about the effect—does the potential action support the purpose of the wider operation; ‘must I?’ is a practical moral question which seeks especially to keep potential civilian casualties to a minimum.”23 Another framework is the well-known balancing of military (From Left to Right) Retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, president of The Association of The objectives (ends), military conUnited States Army, introduces the panel for the Strategic Landpower Forum at the Walter cepts (ways), military resources E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C., 23 October 2013. Gen. Robert W. (means), and risk, as described by Cone, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Gen. John M. Paxton, Jr, and Adm. William Harry McRaven (not shown) sit on the panel to provide remarks and answer questions. Arthur Lykke.24 Lykke’s comprehensive approach engages with mathematics.”20 Individuals serving in strategic roles many academic disciplines. tend to come from varied backgrounds; this variation More recently, Irving Lachow provides yet strengthens the collective effort. In a recent survey of another framework: “Is it legal? Is it moral? Can 234 “current and former senior government officials” it be effective? Is it wise?”25 This broader take on that regularly confront strategic challenges, Paul C. Simpson’s framework is useful for its flexibility. It Avey and Michael C. Desch found significant diversity can help leaders assess nearly any strategic or miliin academic background: 13 separate undergraduate tary action, from intervention to cruise missile strike majors, as diverse as biology and foreign language, with to humanitarian relief. The wisdom question is open another 12 percent in the “other” category.21 to interpretation, but one useful guideline might be Accordingly, in the elective military strategy achievement of sustainable ends consistent with national course at West Point, there are 14 separate academic interest—at an acceptable cost.26 16 July-August 2014  MILITARY REVIEW