Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 41

COMPLEX WORLD (Photo by Ashraf Shazly, Agence France-Presse) Insurgent fighters belonging to the Justice and Equality Movement ( JEM), a rebel group in Sudan’s Darfur conflict, await orders circa 2011. JEM claims that its main objective is to overthrow the current Sudanese dictatorship, which governs under Islamic law, and establish in its place a democratic state that respects the rights of Sudan’s women and diverse ethnic groups. However, the conflict is characterized by other observers as having much more complex roots, a clash between Arab and diverse non-Arab ethnicities vying for control of land and resources. counterproductive to developing accurate knowledge and understanding of core issues and the enemy. In known environments characterized by conventional enemies, IPB is a fantastic tool for systematically identifying mission variables which, when applied to a template, can provide indicators and warnings of enemy intentions and activities—clock problems.10 Unfortunately, in unknown environments (ill-structured, or cloud problems) that have no templates, IPB products become random, uncontextualized information and data points. From this, it is easy to see how the value of IPB begins to diminish as the level of complexity increases.11 IPB falls short with regard to unearthing the unknown nature and character of instability and conflict because IPB is enemy-centric and parochial. It presupposes there is a unified “enemy/threat” in the traditional sense, which then becomes the primary focus of the commander. However, it is conceivable that in a given complex operating environment there is no “enemy,” only conditions or systems that require MILITARY REVIEW  March-April 2016 adjustment to solve the problem and accomplish the mission. Therefore, in such contexts, IPB would fail to reveal root causes of problems or show relationships between variables because IPB’s enemy/threat perspective would restrict and inhibit full understanding of complex situations. IPB also comes up short temporally; it is not well suited to detect changes in the environment and human domain. In military operations among populations, tracking the evolution and character of the conflict is a priority information requirement for any commander. Maj. Scott Stafford captured the point in an article when he wrote, “Today’s enemy is just as likely to be yesterday’s or tomorrow’s friend,” and “success or failure, tactical or strategic, depends on the Army’s ability to anticipate and shape how people and their identity groups perceive military missions in relations to their interests, and what they do about it.”12 Obtaining the kind of information Stafford specifies as vital to success is rarely a priority and, in my 39