Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 38

Clouds or Clocks The Limitations of Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield in a Complex World Maj. Donald P. Carter, U.S. Army A t the heart of the new U.S. Army Operating Concept: Win in a Complex World 2020-2040 (AOC) is “complexity.” The AOC defines a complex environment as one “that is not only unknown, but unknowable and constantly changing.”1 Globalization and advances in technology have made the world more complex and interconnected than at any other time in history. At the same time, those factors have facilitated attacks against U.S. national interests globally on an omnipresent battlefield by enemies who can use such factors to more effectively employ irregular capabilities to achieve traditional military effects. Such attacks are being conducted 36 by state actors like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, as well as by nonstate actors like the Islamic State and al-Qaida. Together, globalization and advances in technology have changed the nature and character of warfare. The era of clearly defined battle lines and firm coalitions is over. Therefore, winning in a complex world depends, more than ever, on popular support and, as the AOC points out, “more than just firepower.”2 A central component to success in the contemporary operating environment (COE) is developing and maintaining a high degree of situational awareness.3 This herculean task of finding clarity and generating March-April 2016  MILITARY REVIEW