Is the use of systems theories based on sound military theory and historical precedence relating to the nature of war, or is it the current "characteristic" of warfare that will soon be surpassed by other technologies, concepts or personalities? Land Warfare Studies Centre, vol. T: Land Warfare Studies Centre, This problem can be answered by first identifying whether there are similarities between modern systems theories and the ideas of historical military theorists. Where these similarities exist, military and systems theories are in a ' The extent of this congruence provides guidance for the appropriate use of systems within future military planning, doctrine and theory.
This suggests there is an unspoken, and untested, assumption: systems theory has congruence with military theory. In other words, the use of systems in contemporary military concepts assumes there is some overarching theory that connects military and systems ideas into one whole.
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Such a theory, which is a theory of theory, is known as a meta-theory. This has identified how foundational systems themes; like feedback, delay, and emergence; are visible, stable and constant within other disciplines. These themes form invariants that underpin a meta-theory connecting systems with these other disciplines. Senge, The Fifth Discipline, 8th Reprint ed. However, no explicit meta-theory exists between systems and military theory.
Without this, it is difficult to accept the idea of systems within the military discipline, particularly given the experiences of recent decades. Therefore, this research seeks to develop a meta-theory between systems and military theory, and thereby identify if systems theories support military theory. Given the use of systems within modern military concepts, confirming the existence of congruence is critical. If there is little or no congruence, then the use of systems within military theory is flawed. If the congruence is modest, this may imply that the use of systems is only relevant as a characteristic of current warfare, and may not provide benefit in certain types of conflict, or even future warfare.
Finally, if there is a high degree of congruence, then systems themes exist within the enduring nature of war, and therefore systems theories have some relevance to future military theory, planning and education. However, recent experiences highlight that using systems seems to create a false impression of certainty. Therefore, this research cannot only test the degree of congruence.
Only by discovering a valid meta-theory is it possible to consider if systems theory is useful to strategic and operational planning. This allows for an informed review of contemporary military concepts, and articulates the usefulness of different systems tools for the execution of warfare. The first step in such engagement is to understand what has come before.
These world views are further explored in Chapter 4. Adlai Stevenson II16 2. Although his work is vital in understanding the theories of the 20th century air theorist John Boyd — particularly his theories on learning loops, adaptation and decision dominance within the military setting — the work does not place Boyd within the wider context of military theory or time. For this, systems thinking specific literature must also be examined. The other two listed edited books provide details on military thought predominately from the 17th century onwards.
These two books are listed in the Bibliography. Krause and R. Cody Phillips, eds. McKercher and Michael A. Colin S.
Gray and Williamson Murray, vol. Their work, when taken as a whole, also illustrates the spectrum of qualitative to quantitative modelling within the non-linear sciences. Although these works have been vital to demonstrate the underlying theories and historical development of the systems thinking discipline, none provide theory within a military context. There have been practitioners of systems theories, such as David Kilcullen and Edward Anderson, who have applied the methods and methodologies of systems thinking to military problems in order to understand particular situations and further knowledge development.
Ackoff, originally an Operational Research expert, moved away from mathematical models and started research into human behaviour and systems thinking, forming the formal start of soft systems thinking. Jay Forrester, separately to Ackoff, developed Systems Dynamics from Systems Engineering in order to deal with human systems more effectively. This was built on by Checkland and Scholes , who provides a better explanation of the Soft Systems paradigm. Sterman is a current MIT lecturer and provides the foundational knowledge of the systems approaches with his text on systems dynamics and integrated Stock-and-Flow and Causal Loop Diagrams.
Michael C Jackson is a Professor of Management Systems with a cross-disciplinary background in systems, philosophy and economics. His work forms the foundation that links the Hard and System paradigms into one philosophical contrast. The key references of these foundational theorists are covered in the Bibliography. A summary of the systems theory is found in several texts, with the following as examples: Lars Skyttner, General Systems Theory: Ideas and Applications, Reprint ed.
Livingood advocates that systems thinking ideas should be fully inculcated into the military. Education, training, lingual taxonomy and doctrine should all be reviewed under a systems thinking paradigm. Her research attempts to demonstrate the power a systems thinking repertoire can 21 Some examples include: Andrew B.
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Accessed 15 October August-November Arthur D. Simons Center, vol. These deductions are supported by foundational soft system theorists, such as Checkland, Jackson and Brain Wilson. However, most advocates of the concepts treat it as the methodology and philosophy for the conduct of wars that, through enacting the concept, will achieve decisive victory at minimal cost. All these concepts require technological superiority and high degrees of information. Some examples of the collected works are: David A. Accessed 21 April Sorrells et al.
Accessed 02 March Much of this research contends that [Effects-based operations] are not new. Their ancestry can be traced back to Sun Tzu and effects-based thinking has been evident in the actions of great generals and statesmen throughout history. He endeavoured to trace the use of EBO as a concept throughout history, including in the operations of Ulysses S. Grant and William T. The attribution of contemporary concepts to historical figures also occurs in the research undertaken by the US Army War College into the congruence between systems concepts and Clausewitz's work.
At the US Army War College, this debate has covered not only the relevance of the work, but also its synergy with modern bodies of knowledge like systems theory. Stephen Melton has argued that Clausewitz's views on centres of gravity are incorrect and must be replaced with a "systems approach" that resides in the hard systems paradigm. Allen and Cunningham's study demonstrated how some of the underlying principles that form systems theory have congruence with the key theories of Clausewitz, particularly the wondrous trinity and centre of gravity.
They argue that only this world view aligns with the Clausewitzian thought that forms the foundation of operational art. It did not test the concepts of absolute war total war and ideal war perfect war. Although these works have demonstrated that there may be similarities in values between systems thinking and historical theories, their deductions do not demonstrate an explicit meta-theory that highlights how systems thinking links to the nature of war, and therefore is relevant in current and future military thought.
Because of this, scholars like Milan Vego contend that there is no historical basis, and therefore no validity, to using systems thinking within military theory. Cited at: Carl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret, 12 ed. Allen and Glenn K. Boone Bartholomees, U. This polarity exists only in the Real War dialectic. Therefore the extremes of Real War are — newtonianly — perpendicular to the theoretical model of Ideal War. The distinction between object polarity: the opposite extremes between two facts, and relationship polarity: the polarity of the common fact between two differing concepts, is also essential to understand.
As such, polarity, as the theoretical axiom, underpins the logic and framework that is Clausewitzian theory. Clausewitz cites the importance of polarity at: von Clausewitz, On War. They assume that all elements of the situation can somehow be precisely determined and no mistakes will be made. This, and similar comments throughout the article, highlight that Vego has not fully engaged with the width and depth of systems theory. The comparative-historical analysis methodology used in this research is an example of where cross-disciplinary inquiry has provided a benefit to the social sciences and humanitarian studies.
However, this is only one chapter of the dissertation and is used to set a context that military thought has had inter-relationships with sciences before the 20th century. Non-linear sciences focus predominantly on complexity and chaos theory — both of which are linked to systems thinking and utilize circular thinking feedback looping.
Lawson, 'Info War. It also highlights the impact such congruence can have on the conceptual repertoire that underlies the subjective language of military discourse. This would assist in identifying the connections between the concepts of systems theory and the nature of war. Because of this, the two disciplines have high levels of conceptual abstraction — or consist of concepts that are drawn from discipline specific examples and knowledge.
This divergence in 51 Figure 2. However, the first step to successful inter-disciplinary study is to first understand the separate disciplines under consideration. This intra-disciplinary study increases familiarity, thereby allowing researchers to identify the links between each body of knowledge.
Greater depths of knowledge assist in developing a shared understanding of each discipline, thereby closing the abstraction gap. This assists in explaining how the theory is understood within the discipline, and therefore can be used to identify similar patterns of understanding in another discipline. Through this intra-disciplinary engagement, cross- disciplinary links can be identified, and the conceptual repertoires brought closer.
For example, depth of knowledge of systems and military theory allows one to identify similarities across the disciplines, and therefore reduce the conceptual repertoire gap. The meaning of the works of theorists, particularly military theorists, changes over time for different audiences. New interpretations, translations and even misrepresentations build on, or replace, the old. However, rhetorical and conceptual metaphor theory can be used to derive meaning where the divergence between ideas is too great.
Historically, linguistics supported philosophy, and therefore used subjective meanings and concepts to explain thoughts in different contexts. However, where these differences exist, the underlying conceptual metaphors of the discipline — understood through intra- disciplinary study — can be made explicit and form a framework for cross-disciplinary work. They are used to communicate complex ideas through symbols and shared physical experiences in order to enable understanding.
Newell explains that this can be related to identifying the intra-discipline a posteriori concepts and language, and by making them explicit, developing a priori knowledge across disciplines. Keith and Christain O. Martin's, The source domain can also be as involved as physical activates that people share a common understanding of: journeys, money, war. These target domains are concepts that are difficult to physically experience, like time, inflation, love, thoughts and arguments. The source domain provides a medium to explain the target concept in terms that can be understood by those that have a shared source experience.
An example drawn from everyday life is the idea that an argument is war. Here, argument is the target domain and war is the source of the metaphors used in everyday language. How this translates to common language is demonstrated in Table 2. Okay, shoot! Strcture to the argument 1. Identify every inconsistency and ensure that the argument put 2. Wipe You Out forward is unsustainable Table 2. We can actually win or lose arguments. We see the person we are arguing with as an opponent.
We attack his positions and we defend our own. Though there is no physical battle, there is a verbal battle, and the structure of an argument — attack, defense, counterattack, etc. When depth of knowledge of both military and systems theory is not enough, the identification of these sub- conscious conceptual metaphors can assist in cross-disciplinary research. As an example, the work of Milan Vego on operational thinking can be considered to identify whether it has source domain similarities to systems theory. Although Vego does not fully engage with systems thinking, his work seeks to demonstrate that system theories are not compatible with the nature of war.
Instead, he offers operational thinking as the solution. However, these comments have similar conceptual metaphors to those used to describe soft systems thinking. Both of these metaphors can be found in soft systems methodologies and other systems thinking methods. This indicates that there may be congruence in the underlying theory presented by Vego and the themes of systems thinking.
Although this is a simplistic example, it assists in demonstrating how rhetorical theory might support the development of understanding within cross-discipline work. However, understanding and overcoming discipline specific language barriers is not the only judgment that can be drawn from the literature review. This includes placing this research within the context of wider war and conflict studies, as well as defining what is meant by the terms military theory, systems thinking and even a system. This section briefly articulates the areas that must be discussed in chapters 3 and 4 to ensure that the research is situated well within the context of the bodies of knowledge.
Firstly, the literature review indicates that defining what military theory is, and who influences it, is vital for the research. The concept of military theory itself is often taken as a given by scholars and practitioners. However, to accurately develop a meta-theory, it is necessary to understand what the theories this meta-theory connects are. Therefore, defining what is meant by military theory is important for the research. Furthermore, many of the scholars — advocates and critics of systems alike — often refer to key military theorists.
This indicates that these theorists have some form of influence over past, current and potentially future theory. If concurrence is to exist, it should be seen within these influential theorists. This indicates that the research must first define what is meant by, and who are identified as, influential to provide case studies for the comparative- historical analysis.
Most of the works reviewed consider 66 Vego, 'Systems Versus Classical. Several scholars, like Kilcullen and Colin Gray, also straddle other disciplines of statecraft like economics, international relations and law. The literature review also indicates key areas of examination for systems theory. Similar to the situation seen with military theory, the concept of systems thinking and the term systems remain ill defined, allowing scholars to imply a definition without making it explicit.
Therefore, to further this research, both systems thinking and the term systems must be defined within the context of this work. In line with this, the concepts of open and closed systems — terms often used, but never defined — should be explained and placed in the context of military studies. Finally, the myriad of system theories used throughout the reviewed literature — either as explicit foundations for concepts, or implied through terminology and methodology — should be placed within the context of the wider systems body of knowledge.
This requires an explicit understanding of the System of Systems Methodologies to articulate the capacity for different methods and methodologies to handle varying degrees of complexity, as well as conflicting goals. By focusing the initial chapters of this thesis on making explicit these areas of military and systems theory, the research will have established a common foundation for understanding both bodies of knowledge, and therefore be well positioned to commence the analysis of historical theorists and systems themes. This also provides a basis on how to structure the research overall and develop a methodology for the research.
To structure thinking and direction, several key words are identified from the research question to frame the problem: military theory, systems theory, congruence, throughout, and future. Using these terms, six areas of study inform the methodologies and structure of this investigation: 1. Explain military theory. Identify military theorists that influence modern military understanding.
Explain systems theory. Identify congruence between these theoretical areas. Detail what the extent of congruence means for contemporary concepts. Provide guidance for future theory, education, doctrine and planning relevant to the level of congruence identified. These research areas provide: Context to the problem space areas 1 to 3 ; understanding of the Width of military theory, and the extent of congruence through Depth of analysis of selected themes areas 4 and 5 ; and Relevance for the future through comparison and deduction. These Parts, and the broad chapter structure, is detailed at appendix 1.
The three parts are: Part 1 — The Context. This part is currently under development, with significant work into developing the foundational knowledge required for the research having been completed. Part One will cover the foundational concepts of military and systems thought, answering the key areas of investigation identified in the literature review and ensuring a depth of understanding to support the intra-disciplinary work. Part 2 — The Width and Depth of Theory.
This part highlights the extent of congruence between military and systems theory. Chapters Five to Nine focus on the systems thinking themes: feedback and delay, emergence, holistic views, cross-sectional feedback, and worldview perceptions. For each theme, the chapters detail the connections between systems and military theory, forming the analytical core of this research. Chapter Ten, as the concluding chapter of Part 2, considers the degree of congruence identified and defines the meta-theory between systems and military theory.
Part 3 — The Future Relevance. Chapter Eleven provides an overview of contemporary military concepts, including Operational Design. This assists in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each contemporary concept, allowing Chapter Twelve to analyse these strengths and develop broad guidelines for future military theory, education, doctrine and planning. To support both systems and military theorists, the thesis will provide a glossary of key terms. This will continue to be developed throughout the research, with a selected glossary working document provided at appendix 2.
This glossary will also support the methodology for the research. Therefore, 67 Gary King, Robert O. Using within-case methods, influential military theorists are analysed under the primary technique of historical narrative and a secondary analysis technique of pattern matching, providing an ideographic view of the extent of congruence at both a specific point in time, and across history for each underlying theme of systems theory. This assumption is untested, potentially leading to the inappropriate use of systems tools, techniques and methodologies.
Lange, Comparative-Historical Methods. Loc to ; Timothy P. Loc to Narrative Comparison general , Loc to Ideal-Type comparison 72 Although this is similar to a Millian Comparison, the modified Boolean focuses on the existence of systems values identified in each case study and summarises it, providing a frequency for each value, confirming how much congruence exists for that one value, and reinforcing the congruence overall as well as supporting identification of key system value consilience.
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