Military Review English Edition July-August 2014 - Page 52

U.S. Army soldiers discuss the plan of movement for a patrol through Petawa Village, Parwan Province, Afghanistan, 13 June 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. George Huley) War as Political Work Using Social Science for Strategic Success Matthew J. Schmidt, Ph.D. Dr. Matthew J. Schmidt is an assistant professor of national security and political science at the University of New Haven. Previously he taught at the School of Advanced Military Studies. He holds a Ph.D. in government from Georgetown University. In 2012, Fast Company Magazine placed him 22nd on its list of the 100 most creative people in business, for his work bridging public- and private-sector approaches to strategic thinking and planning. This article is based on a report originally written for the Army Research Institute’s 2011 Strategic Thinking Initiative Conference. W ar is not just about defeating the enemy. War is about creating social and political order when past systems of order have disintegrated or been broken down intentionally by the use of military force. Good military strategy demands that the role of enemy forces be considered within the context of the larger social and political order, and its failure. Sound operational planning depends on this. 50 Defeating an enemy force is not the strategic aim of any war. The strategic aim should be to recreate a stable order that can be sustained without major ongoing military participation from the battlefield victor. Defeating enemies militarily is merely the prerequisite to strategic victory, not its conclusion. Real war, of course, is complicated because the end of a war is not the end of the strategic task. The way in which battlefield “victories” are achieved can quickly doom the probabilities for strategic success. Vietnam and Iraq are only two examples of this; military history is littered with others. July-August 2014  MILITARY REVIEW