Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 40

Similarly, IPB strives to be clock-like in describing the battlefield and predicting developments, which means that those who use it may be inclined to make the false assumption—as do many military practitioners—that everything is “clock-like” and predictable in a given operational area. Such an approach may result in discounting— or failing to observe—important factors that lie outside the parameters of the IPB analytical construct, including difficult-to-discern nuances of the human domain. The dangers associated with analytical models characterized by rigid processes are well documented. Most notably, Carl von Clausewitz warned of the hazards of “methodism,” later expanded on by Dietrich Dörmer, which is “the unthinking application of a sequence of action we have once learned.”7 Their warning is clear: anything that prevents or inhibits the free flow of ideas, scope of inquiry, and critical thinking limits and impedes the commanders’ ability to understand and visualize. Methodism is also similar to the social psychology theory of fundamental attribution error, which is the tendency to over emphasize internal characteristics while simultaneously underestimating contextual aspects of a situation.8 Consequently, since IPB narrowly frames critical thinking in just such ways, using it in complex environments may constrain thought and critical thinking about the environment and underlying problems, thereby limiting both understanding of it together with the development of options made available to the commander. More to the point, as Lt. Col. Grant Martin opined in “The Deniers of ‘The Truth’: Why an Agnostic Approach to Warfare is Key,” the problem is with the Army’s religious-like commitment to analytical models, what he calls “technically rational paradigms,” that are ill-suited for the task of understanding complex adaptive systems (environment) and the human domain.9 Consider for a moment the impact on the operations process and overall understanding if a picture of the operating environment is derived from only one perspective. IPB leads to one such perspective—a reductionist approach to something that is not easily reduced or quantitatively understood. Therefore, in complex environments, IPB may give artificial structure and form to something that may not actually exist. An illustration of this point is the use of the term anti-coalition movement (ACM) during the early years in Afghanistan. ACM was a catch-all term of convenience that gave the illusion of structure, form, and affinity among groups opposing the U.S.-led coalition. However, an ACM did not actually exist. As a result, this artificial construct was misleading and (Photo courtesy of 4th Infantry Division PAO) Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, plan for a defense 16 November 2014 during Decisive Action Rotation 15-02 at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, California. Decisive action rotations are designed to test the capabilities of brigade combat teams against similarly equipped enemy forces. 38 March-April 2016  MILITARY REVIEW