Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Shaping: Clever Slide and New Name

Just a few notes on the coming Shaping JOC. There is a remarkably clever graphic in the 2005 JFCOM capstone document which clearly deserves wider attention. It shows the move from a sequential conception of conflict management (like wagons on a train) to a parallel conceptualization; and also a move from a purely military to an integrated, political conceptualization of the conflict phases. Note e.g. the role of Stabilization and Reconstruction in violet and orange. I can only blame myself for not flipping through the appendixes earlier, but here goes:
Phases, however, tend to imply a sequential approach to campaigns with an associated lack of flexibility and inadequately reflect the importance of integrated effort among all interagency players. The CCJO acknowledges that “complex adaptive” adversaries and other situations will demand an integrated and flexible approach. A new campaign framework should provide a means to plan, execute and assess campaigns in an integrated manner. This appendix retains the traditional phase titles and includes proposed new phase titles--portrayed as lines of effort (Figure D-1).
Instead of showing these lines of effort in a traditional horizontal array, however, it stacks them vertically, emphasizing the potential for all lines of effort to be applicable throughout a campaign. The lines of effort represent the activities in which a JFC must engage to successfully accomplish objectives during a campaign. They are titled Shape, Deter, Seize Initiative, Dominate, Stabilize and Enable Civil Authority. The aggregate of all lines of effort equate to the full level of effort necessary (in planning or execution) or available (in execution or assessment) to accomplish objectives. (...)

The simultaneous execution of activities within each line of effort reinforces the need to continuously consider activities across all lines of effort during campaign planning and execution. This approach also captures the proportionate levels of activity that may be required to achieve priority objectives. In so doing, it helps the JFC visualize the required activities for future transitions and subsequent operations, reflecting increasing or decreasing levels of effort. As the campaign is executed, the JFC acquires knowledge, extends reach and creates effects. Concurrently, the JFC assesses the changing operational environment and varies the amount of effort within each applicable line while focusing on a series of priority objectives that contribute to achieving the strategic objective. The level of effort will vary depending on the type of operation, and the actual events that occur. Figure D-2 depicts a proportional level of effort for a notional campaign where actual events have modified the framework from what was originally planned (Figure D-1).
Lines of effort demonstrate a more sophisticated approach the future joint force could take in planning, executing, and analyzing campaigns. Although all lines of effort are considered concurrently, some lines will be given priority due to their relevance to the specific objectives assigned. Identifying priorities will help the JFC allocate and re-allocate resources between lines of effort. Figures 1 and 2 reflect the likely need for multiple instruments of national power to engage based on the objectives and therefore helps reinforce the need to integrate interagency activities throughout the campaign.
The 'lines of operation' concept necessitates a broader civil-military (or: properly strategic) conceptualization of conflict. It therefore basically synthesizes the basic challenge in modern warfare and conflict management we are faced with. This includes the clausewitzian goals of transitioning to and from civil ownership of the aggregate process, and the implication of COIN approximate wider political, administrative and economic means and ends. These thoughts looks like a path way toward what Antulio J. Echevarria called for - from a way of battle to a way of war in a proper clausewitzian (i.e. political) context.

Another thing is that apparently, it is likely that the JOC will have its name changed as 'shaping' carries a too meddling connotation. The possible change is understandable to the extent that it follows the same logic as the CENTCOM reasoning behind giving up on the Long War concept.

But it is less sensible if the change merely results in newspeak, i.e. if the JOC will not refer to actual "meddling" practices (with the risk of rendering the exercise futile). Of course, we are here in the midst of the whole, very politically laden "post colonial" debate - over sovereignty. Personally, I'm all for calling things what they are - and it seems that some euphemisms in the development policy circuit could be done without. But that is (albeit only slightly) a different matter.

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