Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 49

MYTH OF COMPLEXITY (Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration) A group of soldiers captured by German forces on the western front during World War I illustrates the great diversity within the Allied forces. This group represents eight nationalities serving within the Allied coalition: Anamite (Vietnamese), Tunisian, Senegalese, Sudanese, Russian, American, Portuguese, and English. Apart from the predominantly white European and North American forces, approximately four million non-European, nonwhite soldiers and auxiliaries were recruited from Allied colonies to fight in Europe and elsewhere. Approximately one million of these served with distinction in northern France and Belgium. The Myth of the New Complexity Lt. Col. Clay Mountcastle, PhD, U.S. Army, Retired T he world has always been an uncertain, complicated place. The so-called “foreseeable future” is not foreseeable at all, nor has it ever been. Yet, in recent years, collective voices in the U.S. political and military communities have claimed that we are now witnessing an era of unprecedented complexity with a future far more unpredictable than in the past. For example, in his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 24 January 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry claimed, “Today’s world is more complicated than anything we have experienced.”1 Elsewhere, the military authors of a recent study, “Intellectual Capital: A Case for Cultural MILITARY REVIEW  March-April 2016 Change,” agreed with Kerry, stating that “our future combined and joint operating environments will be more complex than ever before in history.”2 Both active and retired military leaders have also echoed this narrative, placing emphasis on the idea of a reputedly new, previously unseen level of intricacy in modern war. For instance, retired Marine Corps Gen. Tony Zinni surmised that “Over the years, the spectrum of conflict has greatly broadened, and the battlefield environment has become far more complex.” This “new battlefield,” he asserts, is significantly different than any seen before.3 The U.S. Army has incorporated this notion into its recent doctrine. Former Army 47