Saving Blood & Treasure: The Evolving Art of War and the Application of Design Methodology to Complex Problems of 21st Century Small Wars
Richard M. Crowell
“Small war may be seen first as states applying small scale organized violence against military targets in order to exhaust the enemy and to compel them to change policy and second the application of organized and unorganized violence by non-state actors against military forces to harass and exhaust the enemy’s army in order to change their policy.”
-- Carl von Clausewitz, Schriften, Aufsӓtze, Studien, Briefe, Band 1 and Bekenntnisdenkschrift
The Art of War
The art of war is characterized by continuous adaptation, movement, and subsequent counter-movement of opposing forces to control events in order to achieve objectives. Successful commanders throughout history have been skilled at adaptation and movement utilizing combined arms in the traditional domains of war—land, sea and air—to achieve lethal effects. In employing their art, commanders must define the ends, ways, and means to achieve victory. The ends are the objectives to be achieved, the means are the resources and authorities to achieve them, and the ways are represented by the creativity of the art of war.
Industrial age wars accelerated debate and writing on theory and doctrine specifically with respect to its changing character and enduring nature. Those wars taught that, as machines were invented and adapted for war, mankind employed them in innovative ways to both maneuver in domains and compel the enemy to do their will. Since then, many western militaries have failed to keep pace with the changing character of war, to understand the relationships between big and small wars and how new theories of action and capabilities are used in support of military objectives and political ends.
The opening epigraph describing Clausewitz’s ideas on small wars comes from Clausewitz and Small Wars by Christopher Daase of Goethe University. Daase refutes the common idea that the Prussian theorist’s work is not relevant to early twenty-first century small wars. He uses Clausewitz work that is seldom translated from the original German and therefore rarely used by Western academics, military planners and commanders. Clausewitz’s description of the use of small scale organized and unorganized violence by states and non-state actors to change the policy of their enemies is significant in understanding the complexity of early twenty-first century conflicts, specifically the ongoing post–9/11 wars.
The post–9/11 wars, broadly known as the Global War on Terror (GWOT), and the Vietnam War, America’s two longest wars, highlight America’s involvement in small wars. The Vietnam War, which began for the United States with the Military Assistance Advisors Group (MAAG) in 1955, did not end until 1975, with a cost of more than 58,000 killed and 153,000 wounded in blood. The economic cost was $950 billion (in 2011 dollars) in U. S. treasure. Post–9/11 wars have already lasted 18 years with a cost of approximately 6,992 service members killed and 52,818 wounded in blood. Through fiscal year 2018, the economic cost in U. S. treasure of these wars has been roughly $5.6 trillion in current dollars.
Both of these conflicts can be characterized as guerilla (small) wars. Small Wars / 21st Century describe them as a wide range of military operations involving states or nontraditional actors, generally over a protracted timeline, characterized by physical violence and non-kinetic forms of influence requiring tightly integrated application of diplomatic, informational, economic, and military means. The U. S. small wars of this century have been fought against networked, transnational and global enemies with actors that have complex interdependencies, who employ irregular, asymmetric, hybrid means to achieve objectives.
The United States and its Allies have historically been successful at fighting conventional wars. America must both build on its understanding of past state-on-state conflicts and learn from the small wars of this young century to be able to fight and win future wars. Recognition that small wars represent complex, ill-structured problems with solutions different from big wars and understanding how to supplement traditional military theories of action with complementary and synergistic conceptual planning, specifically the proper application of Design Methodology, will save precious blood and treasure.
Combined Arms and Maneuver Warfare
Two military theories of action that remain effective throughout history are combined arms and maneuver warfare. Combined arms is the full integration of arms in such a way that in order to counteract one, the enemy must become more vulnerable to another. Maneuver warfare is a warfighting philosophy that seeks to shatter the enemy’s cohesion through a variety of rapid, focused and unexpected actions, which create a turbulent and rapidly deteriorating situation with which the enemy cannot cope. The static fighting of trench warfare and stalemates in World War I taught us to use machines to outmaneuver the enemy and to employ the most lethal weapons available to coerce and compel in World War II. Use of both concepts—combined arms and maneuver warfare—requires the commander to aggregate and disaggregate forces to get inside the enemy decision cycle to destroy the ability to fight. If used correctly, these actions can shatter morale, mental and physical unity to fight as an effective force. Proper use of both combined arms and maneuver warfare can mean quicker achievement of objectives, minimizing the cost of blood and treasure.
Combined arms and maneuver warfare are commonly misconstrued as products of the world wars of the twentieth century. However, the enduring nature and changing character of war shows that mankind developed creative ways to compel his enemy long before the industrial age. Combined arms has been employed since mankind first linked two or more military machines in pursuit of victory. One of the earliest accounts comes from the great biographer Plutarch’s description of the battle of Syracuse, 214–212 BCE. During the course of this battle, Archimedes, the inventor and adaptor of many machines, successfully built weapons to hold off the Romans. Archimedes combined early artillery catapulting large rocks and poles, small catapults throwing iron darts, and archers. One of his most innovative machines was an iron claw to grasp a ship, lift and turn it on end, dropping it to sink into the sea. As the attackers moved through the battlespace away from one projectile, they became more vulnerable to another. The machines of war were combined, ranged, and targeted to hit the enemy in ways that would be as lethal as possible.
Similarly, maneuver warfare has been part of successful commanders’ art of war for millennia. The Battle of Cannae in 216 BCE is one of the earliest documented uses of maneuver warfare. In the battle, Hannibal’s Carthaginian force faced a formidable but poorly led Roman army. The Carthaginians conducted well-timed maneuvers in and around the battlefield with heavy cavalry scattering the Roman flank and then maneuvering to attack the rear of the Roman force; the heavy infantry forces were then free to complete a planned double envelopment. Hannibal was able to aggregate and disaggregate his forces to get inside the enemy decision cycle to destroy the Roman ability to fight as an effective force. In describing Hannibal’s victory, military historian Theodore Dodge states, “The whole battle, from the Carthaginian standpoint, is a consummate piece of art, having no superior, few equal examples in the history of war.”
Both examples from antiquity display the commander’s ability to move forces through time and space to defeat the enemy. As more machines were invented and adapted for use in war, the relationships between time, space, and force changed and military professionals determined further theory was necessary to assist in the planning, preparing, and executing contemporary war.
Operational Art (Op Art) is a wide body of theory that can be studied for both retrospective and prospective analysis of war. The study of operational art increased in significance during the industrial age expansion of the relationships of the operational factors of space, time, and force on the battlefield. These changes largely manifest from mankind’s technological inventions. The machines that powered both the railroad and steam ships expanded the space and decreased the time in which commanders needed to achieve decisions. The increased distance and effectiveness of weapons resulted in increased space to kill the enemy. Additionally, the time it took to move to, from, and around the battlefield was decreased and the range and precision of weapons increased. Early warriors balanced time and space in pursuit of how far an arrow would fly to kill the enemy, practicing, refining and adapting as necessary to apply new types of force within the constraints of space and time. As new machines were invented or adapted for war, mankind learned how far a bullet would fly, how to use missiles and RADAR, all expanding the understanding of the relationships of space, time, and force. Many describe Op Art as a bridge between strategy and tactics. Commanders employ Op Art at the operational level of war, where tactical forces are directed in such ways as to be able to achieve freedom of action in order to be successful in all domains of war.
Operational Art is about achieving efficiencies—sound application saves blood and treasure. Operational art requires nuance and deft coordination thus; the study of the art of war takes time. Volumes have been written on the topic. Sun Tzu’s Art of War, Clausewitz’s magnum opus On War, and the contemporary writings of Milan Vego, Professor of Joint Military Operations at the U. S. Naval War College are but a few of the great works that investigate and analyze operational art. Vego describes Op Art as “…the field of study that orchestrates all available sources of military and nonmilitary power in order to accomplish the ultimate strategic or operational objective.” The two characteristics at the heart of operational art are simultaneous and successive operations.
A clear way to view simultaneous and successive operations is through the lens of the commander balancing the operational factors of space, time, and force and sequencing warfighting functions to get tactical forces in place so that they can fight and win. The concept of operational factors comes from the need for commanders to achieve freedom of action – moving through time and space with the requisite force.
Temporally and Spatially Integrating Distributed Operations
Temporally and spatially integrating distributed operations is akin to innovative use of combined arms and maneuver warfare. Examples of novel thinking come from both the operational and tactical levels of war for the German Army before World War I and during the early years of World War II. Near the end of the nineteenth century, Field Marshal von Schlieffen, Chief of the German General Staff, concentrated German military thought on solving the problem of controlling mass armies over large areas. Schlieffen’s original ideas focused on the operational commander’s use of telephony. In the late 1890s, this meant that in order for the commander to influence the battle he had to be at a desk in the rear. It was not until wireless radio communication became widely available following World War I that the problem of effectively controlling the movement of mass armies over large areas was solved.
At the beginning of World War II German General Heinz Guderian built on Schlieffen’s ideas by successfully sequencing the information function using wireless radio (machines). Wireless radios allowed him to combine and employ his tactical weapons in ways that were more lethal. Guderian fully integrated radio communication with command and control (C2), tactical air power (Stuka Dive Bombers) and armored forces in developing the concept of Blitzkrieg (lightning war). In discussing the information aspects of Blitzkrieg, General of the Panzer Group Hermann Balck, one of the German Army’s greatest field commanders said, “The decisive breakthrough into modern military thinking came with Guderian, and it consisted not only in a breakthrough in armored weapons but also a breakthrough in the communication weapon [Emphasis added].”
Much of Guderian and Balck’s success in employing operational art came from their understanding of combined arms, and maneuver warfare, particularly the movement of force through time and space with sequencing of information and C2 with other warfighting functions. They clearly saw rapid communication as something new to be combined with physical force. Guderian, Balck and others effectively used the signals organization combined with tactical radio networks set up by Guderian to ensure his forces could rapidly maneuver, making sure that when his enemy counteracted one element of German force, they became more vulnerable to another. These creative maneuvers shattered the enemy’s organization to the point that they could not survive.
Traditional Military Planning Processes
For millennia, military commanders have purposefully planned their actions. The modern staff organization began with Napoleon’s deliberate planning of large-scale battles and operations; the Prussian General Staff normalized these concepts in the nineteenth century. General von Moltke’s concept of a General Staff is credited with planning, preparing and executing the swift defeat of the French in 1870, a large-scale state on state war.
Throughout the twentieth century the U. S. Army, the service that drives much of U. S. military doctrine, adapted field regulations and manuals that solidified a European style staff estimate. Their doctrine became known as the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) and eventually settled on the following steps: Mission Analysis, Course of Action (COA) Development, COA Analysis (Wargame), COA Comparison, COA Approval, Orders Production. The twenty-first century mission of the U. S. Army is to fight and win our Nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations and spectrum of conflict in support of combatant commanders. It is natural for the U. S. Army to develop a planning process for conventional, state-on-state wars, or what is classically known as big war.
For the last three decades, American military analysis has been rooted in the Joint Planning Process (JPP), which is strikingly similar to the U. S. Army’s MDMP. Joint Publication (JP) 5-0, Joint Planning, explains that the JPP is “an orderly, analytical set of logical steps to frame a problem; examine a mission; develop, analyze, and compare alternative courses of action (COAs); select the best COA; and produce a plan or order.” In fact, the U. S. Navy’s planning process constitutes essentially the same set of steps in its doctrine, Naval Warfare Publication (NWP) 5-01, Navy Planning and the Naval War College’s in-house Joint Operation Planning Process (JOPP) Workbook.
There are two significant challenges to over reliance on the use of traditional (JPP and Service) planning processes in contemporary conflict. First, traditional planning processes work best when the problems at hand are understood and there is a clear mission to be achieved. This became evident when the United States and coalition forces embarked on Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) following the attacks on New York and Washington D. C. on September 11, 2001. OEF and OIF were successfully planned and executed using traditional planning processes to defeat conventional land forces. In both operations, the original enemy acted as a conventional army—the Taliban in OEF, the Iraqi Army in OIF. However, these planning processes failed to provide the commanders and planners ways to understand the real problems in OEF and OIF.
Second, joint planning publications have a recent history of conflating the critical concepts of Operational Design and Design Methodology (Design). This drives the need to look beyond joint doctrine to understand how to successfully prosecute future small wars as complex problems in the ways the originators of these concepts meant them to be used. Operational design has its roots in the industrial age, nation state wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Operational design is a collection of related military elements that commanders and planners must consider in planning a campaign or major operation. The main elements of operational design include the desired strategic end state; strategic or operational objectives; the balancing of operational factors of time, space, and force against the objectives; operational/strategic axis; and identification of critical factors and center of gravity (COG) relative to the objectives. These continue to be key inputs to operational art that commanders apply in addressing problems of war.
Design Methodology is a theory for human problem solving used for complex or ill structured problems. Its roots are in the complex social problems of the early twentieth century when mass numbers of people were populating cities at the zenith of the industrial revolution. Understanding the wants and needs of large groups of humans became critical to solving problems in those complex adaptive systems. Design Methodology begins with developing a deep understanding of ill structured problems before attempting to solve them. Only when the problem is understood can there be an agreed upon methodology to solve it.
The 5-0 series of joint planning publications have been through several updates since 1995. The 25 January 2002 version of Joint Doctrine for Campaign Planning JP 5-00.1 provides a similar listing to the historical tenets of operational design. The 2006 version of Joint Planning discusses complexity in various ways, keeping the original tenets of operational design as ways to solve military problems. The 2011 version arbitrarily renamed the historic elements of operational art as Operational Design. The 2017 signed and 2019 draft editions are most egregious in combining the ideas of Operational Design and Design Methodology (Design) in ways that degrade understanding of both concepts.
The 2019 draft version of JP 5-0 states that, “Operational Design provides an iterative process that allows for the commander’s vision and mastery of operational art to help answer ends? Ways? Means? Risk questions and appropriately structure campaigns and operations in a dynamic OE (operating environment).” Both the 2017 and 2019 versions list nine, not necessarily sequential, steps for operational design:
(1) Understand the strategic direction and guidance
(2) Understand the strategic environment (policies, diplomacy, and politics)
(3) Understand the OE
(4) Define the problem (create shared understanding; planning with uncertainty)
(5) Identify assumptions needed to continue planning (strategic and operational
(6) Develop options (the operational approach)
(7) Identify decisions and decision points (external to the organization)
(8) Refine the operational approach (es)
(9) Develop planning guidance.
These versions of JP 5-0 also state that strategic guidance is essential to operational art and operational design. The reality is that clear strategic guidance for many of the problems we face is all too often not provided because strategic leaders frequently do not truly understand the problems. Design Methodology as the creators intended is about solving problems with no outside regulation. Perhaps the most significant part of Design Methodology not clearly described in Joint Doctrine is that by definition complex, ill-structured problems are not solved; they are moved from their existing state to a desired better state.
Design Methodology is not a process or series of steps to be followed. It is conceptual planning meant to be an open, flowing group discussion of what is learned about the complex problem at hand. The continued attempts to turn Design Methodology into a process and the failure to properly use Design Methodology terms muddy the waters for current commanders and planners and is likely to create a future force that is unable to understand the complex, ill structured problems with which they are presented. An example of the application of Design Methodology will be discussed later in this paper.
The defeat of the Iraqi Army and removal of the Ba’ath Party from power changed the character of these conflicts from big war to small war. Small wars have historically been recognized as operations of regular armies against irregular forces. When the character of OEF and OIF changed, the United States was slow to recognize the change and adapt its thinking. The U. S. decision makers and commanders failed to conceptualize what would happen once the traditional armies were defeated. In part, this was due to the limited and poorly conceived strategic guidance from political leaders. Regardless, there was no understanding of the problems of OEF and OIF beyond the defeat of the armies. This failure to understand the complexity of the new operating environment and the delay in employing new forms of problem solving increased the length of the wars and therefore required significantly more blood and treasure to be spent.
Military Planning Failed to Keep Pace with an Increasingly Complex Operating Environment
The attacks on 9/11 drove a significant U. S. policy and strategy change, the move to pre-emption and a Global War on Terror (GWOT). Under this new policy, the U. S. would no longer wait to be attacked by another terrorist organization or a nation state. In his address to the Joint Session of the 107th Congress on September 20, 2001, President George W. Bush told America that “our nation needs a clear strategy to confront the threats of the 21st century—threats that are more widespread and less certain. They range from terrorists who threaten with bombs to tyrants in rogue nations intent upon developing weapons of mass destruction.”
In attempting to meet the need for a clear strategy, U. S. military planners set about using the Joint and Service planning processes to solve problems that they did not really understand. LtGen P. K. van Riper, USMC (Ret) noted that post 9/11 the United States and her allies were still operating under the framework of traditional nation-state war. Van Riper observed that what we actuality faced was a complex (or ill-structured) problem; the enemy was no longer a nation state but a networked, transnational, and global enemy that employed unconventional and non-traditional methods of attack. Ill-structured problems are not new, but in keeping with Liddell-Hart’s maxim that the only thing harder than getting a new idea into the military mind is to get an old idea out, numerous authors wrote about the changes in the character of war in the post-World War II era—well before the 9/11 attacks—yet few paid attention.
Those authors include Bernard Fall, David Galula, and Andrew McKay Scott. Fall wrote Street Without Joy in 1961 about France’s First Indochina War and Galula wrote his time-honored work, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice in 1964. Scott, et al. wrote Insurgency in 1970 describing insurgencies as complex interactions among participants with political, sociological, psychological, economic and military factors. These are but a few of the works that attempted to explain the differences between the traditional nation-state war and the realities of war against a networked, transnational and global enemy that employed unconventional and non-traditional methods of attack.
Small Wars Present Different Problems from Large Scale Conventional Wars
The reality is that while the United States and her allies have fought four large-scale conventional wars over the last century, they have fought more than 60 small wars or so-called irregular intrastate conflicts. Napoleon’s invasion of Spain between 1808 and 1813 prompted the use of the idea of guerilla or small war. Irregular forces supported by Britain and Portugal used hit and run tactics to achieve their objectives.
Recognition that enemies employ small-scale organized and unorganized violence to exhaust and compel policy change, and that small war can be conducted by both states and non-state actors is critical not only to success in current and future conflict, but to the achievement of that success with economy of blood and treasure. With respect to small war, Clausewitz tells us that five general conditions aid irregular forces:
1) The war must be fought in the interior of the country
2) It must not be decided by a single stroke
3) The theater of operations must be fairly large
4) The national character must be suited for that type of war
5) The country (area of operations) must be rough and inaccessible.
In fact, both Mao Tse-Tung and Che Guevara contend that uncontrolled terrain is best suited for conducting guerilla wars.
The fight against irregular forces in uncontrolled spaces is the classic ill-structured problem representing key elements of a complex adaptive system. Ill-structured problems require different solutions from large-scale state-on-state wars. Understanding that there are different types of military problems to be solved and that there are different ways to solve them have led to success in the past and will prove the hallmarks of victory in future wars.
Military Planning is Problem Solving
Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon spent much of his time developing a theory of human problem solving. In his 1973 article, The Structure of Ill-Structured Problems, Simon conveyed that problems fall into two general categories—well-structured and ill-structured—and that they require different Design Methodologies. Well-structured problems can be viewed as having the following characteristics:
- Most, if not all, of the elements of the problem are known and quantifiable.
- Problem statements are clear, well bounded, and have a solution.
- A rational analytical problem-solving process with a finite number of rules and principles applies can be used.
- They have a solution that can be objectively evaluated as being right or wrong.
- They belong to a similar class of problems that can be solved in a similar manner.
- Well-structured problems have solutions that can be tried and abandoned.
- We know when the solution or a solution is reached.
Ill-structured problems most often manifest as social problems that have permeable boarders, poorly understood complex interdependencies, no clear stopping mechanisms, and no clear input–output chain. For the military planner, complex social problems are most often visible as small wars, insurgency, civil war, mass atrocities, humanitarian assistance, and countering violent extremism. These types of problems have a common theme in that the actors and systems function as a complex adaptive system (CAS). The U. S. government and military were slow to recognize the evolution in the Afghan and Iraqi operating environments. The slowness to comprehend the changes at the political level were in large part due to the DoD unwavering drive for defense transformation. The delay of military commanders was quite likely due to the common trap of wanting to fight the last successful war.
Simon’s work, The Sciences of the Artificial, is one of the most in-depth examinations of how to study a CAS and development of a theory of action to solve problems arising from the complex interactions within the system. In studying systems, there is a difference between engineering systems as closed systems and open systems relating to the human mind—a true open, complex, and adaptive system. Simon uses the term artificial to represent something that is man-made. Closely linked to economic problems, Simon recognizes that in order to reach a decision on what to do about complex problems one must “satisfice” in order to survive and move forward. Satisficing is a Scottish term that Simon revived to denote problem solving and decision making that sets an aspiration level. Satisficing is a merger of satisfying and sufficing and may be expressed as accepting the choice that is good enough to move the problem to a desired different state.
Simon presents Design Methodology as a concept to produce an artifact to understand and communicate interactions of various environments within a CAS. The artifact represents a Designers understanding of the ways in which the components of a CAS behave when pressure is applied to the system. The main challenge for Designers is to understand how an assemblage of components will behave when there are permeable borders, complex interdependencies, and no clear input—output linkages.
At its core, Design Methodology uses bounded rationality to understand complex problems. Describing complex problems, Simon explains, “As creatures of bounded rationality, incapable of dealing with the world in all of its complexity, we form a simplified picture of the world, viewing it from our particular organizational vantage point and our organization's interests and goals.” Simon posits that to understand ill-structured problems, we must bound them with what we know and can learn about them—giving them some level of structure.
Conceptual Planning – Design Comes to the U. S. Military from the Field
Coalition forces used Joint and Service planning processes to defeat the Iraqi Army within a few months, but were slow to realize that they were facing a problem that they did not understand. The defeat of the Iraqi Army, combined with the political decision of De-Baathification, fractured the country’s social structure and created an insurgency—a complex problem. U. S. Marines recognized that non-state actors were conducting a small war—using both organized and unorganized violence against military forces to harass and exhaust their enemy in order to change U. S. government policy. In a late summer 2003 meeting with the Commanders of the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), 3d Marine Air Wing (3d MAW), 1st Marine Division (1st MarDiv), these senior officers, their staffs and others began trying to understand the problems they faced. The concept of complex problems was presented. The discussion focused on noted twentieth century Austrian biologist, Ludwig von Bertalanffy’s ideas on General Systems Theory. Bertalanffy theorized that biological systems present different problems from classical engineering ones. Bertalanffy posited that because biological systems are living systems they can be understood by studying the organisms in two main ways: first, open systems can structure themselves and therefore function in more and more complex ways, and second, complexity enhances their autonomous functioning. Simply put, biological problems are best understood when viewed as complex adaptive systems.
From a warfighting perspective, problems created by living systems relate directly to the enduring nature of war—the most complex human endeavor. Recognizing that what the Marines faced was a living system in line with Bertalanffy’s theory, the discussion moved to Design as a problem solving methodology. Simon’s idea—that in order to understand complex problems, the problem must first be bounded by what can be learned about the system—was presented and discussed. Major General Mattis, Commander, 1st MarDiv, said, “That is what is needed to operate in the absence of clear strategic guidance.” In order to bound the problem, Mattis directed planning be pushed down to the 1st MarDiv Operational Planning Team (OPT) at Base Camp Blue Diamond, outside Ramadi. The OPT’s objectives were (1) understand the province as a CAS and (2) produce a theory of action to satisfice the insurgency.
Design Methodology provides commanders and planners a way to understand the problems at hand without receiving clear strategic guidance. The Blue Diamond OPT was among the first groups in the U.S. military to utilize General Systems Theory and Design Methodology to understand the problems at hand and produce a concept of operations that would move the situation in Al Anbar Province from its existing state to a different state. Simon crisply states that, “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations in preferred ones.”
Figure 1: 1st MarDiv Planning Document - Graphic representation of how the environment was studied.
The OPT set about using Design Methodology to first understand the problem and then develop a conceptual plan to regain control of Al Anbar Province—an uncontrolled field of action. The Marines studied the province as a CAS, looking at numerous components, both internal and external, of the society. A key element of the problems in Al Anbar was that uncontrolled space was pervasive, providing freedom of movement to insurgents. Perhaps the most interesting lesson learned was that the true uncontrolled space was not the open desert, but the cities—where the insurgents could not only hide and launch attacks against the coalition forces, but also structure themselves to function in more complex and autonomous ways. Figure 1, provided by Col Wm. J. Hartig, USMC, (Ret), shows the elements studied and the lenses through which they were viewed. The elements included multiple variants of the environment, adversary, non-state actors, culture, allies, regional power, religion, public opinion, and capabilities. Bins were used to collect information on the various systems in the operating environment. Information that could be collected, information that could be filtered / fused, multiple perceptions via collective experience, expertise and wisdom all were collected and sorted to gain a refined vision of the problem. The identified systems—groups that could structure themselves and function in autonomous ways—were studied independently. These systems were viewed through the lenses of critical thinking, discussion and group learning, and commander’s vision to provide fuller understanding of the problem.
Herbert Simon’s bounded rationality was a particularly apt application for the Marines to use to increase organizational learning as it emphasizes the ability to share what is learned. After studying the environment, complex interdependencies and input – output linkages of Al Anbar Province using Figure 1, the planners were able to share their knowledge of the CAS. The Marines bounded the CAS with what they learned to produce an artifact – a theory of action to take back Al Anbar Province from the insurgents.
Figure 2, provided by Hartig, is the artifact describing the problems that were identified in Al Anbar, their interrelationships and how the ground forces might set out to satisfice the problems. It shows the actions that could be taken to change the assemblage of components from the existing state to a desired different state—manage the problems down to an acceptable level of criminality, violence and pain—changing the existing situation to a preferred one. A critical lesson learned from study of the province as a CAS was that to control the uncontrolled spaces they had to put humans and machines into the space to occupy, surveille, and deny that space to the enemy.
Figure 2: 1st MarDiv Planning Product – the Artifact – a Theory of Action
The use of Design Methodology (with bounded rationality) to understand Al Anbar Province as a CAS produced an operational concept that proved beneficial to near and mid-term operations. Further, the newfound understanding of the province as a CAS and the development of a counterinsurgency strategy aided the 1st Marine Division’s operations in their redeployment to Iraq in March 2004, providing further economies.
Evolving Art of War – Understanding the Complex Adaptive System Enhances Combined Arms and Maneuver Warfare and Saves Blood & Treasure
The Marine theory of action, a product of Design Methodology, was conceptual planning that satisficed the problem at hand; it was not developed to solve the problems in Fallujah, but to move the problems from the existing state to a desired different state. It produced an understanding of the CAS, particularly with respect to what might happen when pressure was placed on one or more of the elements of the system. This understanding led to the development of detailed plans that enabled tactical forces to move through time and space to defeat the enemy when necessary and ultimately stabilize the local environment. Once the problem was understood, the Marine Corps Planning Process (MCPP) produced the orders that enabled the Marines to use combined arms and maneuver warfare to destroy the enemy when necessary, but also gave them freedom of action to stabilize the area, create jobs, and defeat or convert former regime elements.
The combined arms and maneuver warfare elements that link to the application of Design Methodology in Al Anbar are best viewed through the two battles of Fallujah. I MEF’s study of Al Anbar Province as a CAS revealed they were facing four primary groups: (1) Former Regime Elements (FRE), (2) hardcore terrorists (foreign fighters) with strong links to al-Qaeda and its associated movements (AQAM), (3) criminal elements, and (4) the broad populace, made up of the tribes that would generally sit on the fence and act or not only when their survival was at stake. The first battle took place from April 4 to May 1, 2004.
The spark for the first battle was the violent public death of four Blackwater contractors on March 31, 2004. Abdul Aziz Mohammed, resident of Fallujah told the BBC, “The people of Fallujah hanged some of the bodies on the old bridge like slaughtered sheep.” The highly emotive images of American bodies hanging from the bridge drove U. S. politicians and commanders to act. Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, III, the U. S. Administrator in Iraq said, “The Fallujah deaths will not go unpunished.” LTG Sanchez, USA, the Joint Task Force Commander was reported as stating, “Write an order for the Marines to attack, and I don‘t mean any knock-before-search, touch-feely stuff.” The first fight lasted nearly a month with the Marines achieving limited control of the city.
The FRE, terrorist, and criminal elements structured themselves in different ways functioning in increasingly complex ways; that complexity enhanced their autonomous operations. These actions manifest themselves in a variety of ways from improvised explosive device attacks, mortar and sniper attacks combined with similar semi–coordinated attacks throughout the province and in and around Baghdad. During the third week of fighting, the idea of turning over the city, an Iraqi problem, to the Iraqis was presented to the MEF leadership and quickly accepted. The Fallujah Brigade, hastily cobbled together from a variety of Iraqi units, took over the city of Fallujah on May 1, 2004. Two flawed former Iraqi commanders led the Brigade. Major General Saleh had strong sympathies with the insurgents and Brigadier General Latif was reluctant to act against his countrymen. These partisan beliefs and inaction were largely responsible for the conditions that set the stage for the second battle, which took place between November 7 and December 23, 2004.
The second Battle of Fallujah deliberately began with coalition forces maneuvering first with information. They used public affairs (PA) and information operations (IO) to communicate broad objectives and ends to regional and global audiences and specific information to disrupt and influence enemy decision making inside Fallujah respectively. In the words of General Abdul-Qader the coalition Iraqi commander, the PA message was, “We wanted the Iraqi armed forces to say what the Iraqi dream is all about. We wish people of Iraqi to live in peace like any other nation.” Internally within Fallujah, the coalition IO message to civilians was a constant refrain on how to be safe and secure during the operation, that the coalition forces were using weapons according to the enemy situation and that all efforts were being made to minimize collateral damage. This narrative became a foundation for the primary line of effort to diminish local support for the insurgency and set the stage for a better state of life in Fallujah.
Securing the local environment began with maneuver warfare to defeat and destroy the FRE and terrorists. The scheme of maneuver had Task Force (TF) Wolfpack, made up primarily of the Marines 3d Light Armored Reconnaissance (3d LAR) Battalion and reinforced with a company of Bradley Fighting Vehicles from the U. S. Army’s 1st Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment, which took up positions on the west side of the Euphrates River, covering both bridges exiting the city. The Blackjack Brigade, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division took up a blocking position on the south side of the city. Marine Regimental Combat Teams (RCT) 1 and 7 were positioned on the north side of the city as the main maneuver units. RCT-1 was reinforced by the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Calvary Regiment (TF 2-7) and RCT-7 was reinforced by the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Regiment (TF 2-2). From a U. S. perspective, this was a true joint operation.
Coalition ground forces rapidly maneuvered south, shattering the enemy’s cohesion. The infantry battalions were reinforced with limited armor and Special Forces, along with coalition units supported by air power using F/A-18 Strike Fighters, F-15 Strike Eagles, AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopters and AC-130 Specter Gunships. TF Wolfpack met any enemy that attempted to exit the city via the two bridges to the west. The majority of the remaining enemy were either defeated in place or pushed through the city towards the Blackjack Brigade in a classic hammer and anvil maneuver. This integration of arms meant that when the enemy was confronted by coalition forces moving through the battlespace and they moved away from one capability, they became more vulnerable to another. Just as in the Battle of Syracuse more than two thousand years before, the machines of war were combined, ranged, and targeted to hit the enemy in ways that were as lethal as possible.
Use of Design Methodology enhanced U. S. Marine planning for the period after major conflict as well, with the understanding of the province and the city of Fallujah as CASs proving critical. Design Methodology and bounded rationality allowed the Marines to see the ways in which the groups in Figure 2 structured themselves and therefore functioned in increasingly complex ways; this was key to understanding how that complexity enabled them to function autonomously. Perhaps the most significant lesson learned is that even in the stabilization phase, there would be a nearly equal share of combat and information operations.
The follow-on stabilization phase began with RCT-1 conducting clearing and searching operations. These operations were often more dangerous than traditional combat. The insurgents had five months to prepare the city for a Stalingrad type defense – consolidating fighting positions, setting up snipers, and planting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). On November 15, 2004 Sergeant Rafael Peralta from the 1st Battalion 3rd Marines entered a house and was hit in the head and chest by multiple rounds from an AK-47 and went down. As the fight progressed, a grenade was rolled into the room and Peralta grabbed it and tucked it under his abdomen as it exploded, taking his life but saving his Marines. Peralta was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. The intensity of clearing and searching can be summed up by General Mattis’ address to Marines arriving in the city, “Fallujah is the most morally bruising place in Iraq. It is going to rock you when an IED goes off and there is blood and shit all over you. Hold the line. Show the people respect. We are here to win.”
Design Methodology and the concept of learning about CASs were also used to resettle Fallujah. A key part of resettlement was the understanding that CASs exhibit systemic properties that are not obvious, they are more than the sum of their parts, are not transparent, and the system can take on a life of its own. The Marines’ newly established 4th Civil Affairs Group (CAG) worked to determine the level of safety and security needed to begin resettlement. In keeping with Bernard Fall’s lessons from Vietnam, 4th CAG looked for ways to ensure the proper administration of the city before resettlement. Developing capacity for food distribution, restoring water and electricity were among the highest priorities. Closely behind were the restoration of the civilian government and the creation of jobs.
Significant effort was placed on informing the citizens of Fallujah of the restitution and reconstruction efforts to move the city to the desired better state. These were centered on a Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC) and a Municipal Support Team (MST). A Marine Captain who was a veteran of the first Battle of Fallujah led the MST, which included a public administrator, public works engineer, and a judicial officer. The CAG working with U. S. Naval Construction Battalion Engineers (Seabees) and the MEF Engineer Group (MEG) developed a detailed resettlement plan for the nearly 180,000 citizens who had vacated the city before and during the fighting. Additionally, the MEG and Seabees worked to clear rubble and debris for the nearly 20,000 buildings destroyed and assessed the rebuilding effort.
The CAG and MST efforts were coordinated through the Interim Iraqi Government (IIG) to ensure that wherever possible the Iraqi’s could be seen as helping themselves. Following a few false starts, the first 1,000 residents began entering the city on December 23, 2004, with the last major group returned on January 3, 2005. Thus, the resettlement of Fallujah was completed through the continued understanding of Fallujah as a CAS and deliberate planning and execution. All of the Marines actions can be summed up by the closing lines of General Mattis’ guidance to the 1st Marine Division (REIN), given in March 2003 before OIF began, “Demonstrate to the world there is ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ than a U. S. Marine.”
These actions were the foundation for the Sunni Awakening, the Iraqi people working to secure a better state for themselves. Recognizing the need to control the true uncontrolled spaces in Al Anbar—the biggest cities of Ramadi and Fallujah—the Marines used an inkblot strategy. The strategy established control of selected areas and used them to move out from; increasing control as they methodically linked them to cover the remaining pockets of resistance with Coalition Forces. In a June 2007 interview, Mattis stated, “What you're seeing is al-Qaida being squeezed. They used to own Fallujah and they don't have it anymore. They used to own Ramadi; we've walked Congressmen down the streets of Ramadi. How's that for a change over a few months?”
The conceptual understanding of Al Anbar Province and its cities as complex adaptive systems impacted events in OIF in two significant ways. First, it enhanced the Marines ability to produce clear guidance and orders; making them more lethal as they move through time and space to shatter the enemy’s organization—saving blood and treasure of our tactical forces. Second, that understanding also made the coalition forces more effective at moving the CAS from the existing state to desired different state. The Marines and consequently all U. S. and coalition actions between 2004 and 2009 managed the complex problem down to an acceptable level of conflict—they satisficed the problem—enabling the province to become as stable and productive as it had been in decades and saving priceless blood and treasure.
The realities of politics driving strategy were highlighted in 2009 when the U. S. government policy for Iraq changed and the majority of U. S. and coalition forces were withdrawn. However, two of the greatest lessons U. S. forces learned from the Marines are that the enemies in OEF, OIF, and many others operate as a CAS and that both states and non-state actors are capable of fighting small wars. And they now have a way to do the conceptual planning necessary to understand future complex, ill-structured problems.
The Value of Design Methodology to Future Planning
Design Methodology to develop a conceptual understanding of the problem at hand before a nation or its military acts is valuable tool for leadership; its proper use can both save lives and reduce the economic cost of future conflict. Had decision makers understood the complexity of the problems they faced beyond defeating the armies in OEF and OIF it is likely that different decisions to act would have been made. Understanding that many future problems for our nation will present themselves as complex adaptive systems, how those systems structure themselves and therefore function in more and more complex ways, and how that the complexity enhances their autonomous functioning will be key to satisficing them.
Design Methodology fits in with Secretary of Defense Mattis’ October 5, 2017 Guidance to the Department of Defense (DoD). Mattis states that the DoD is a department at war and must be prepared to deal with an increasingly complex global security situation, characterized by an accelerating decline in the management of the rules based international order. To be able to fight and win both big and small wars of the twenty-first century commanders and planners must be able to think holistically about the art of war. The most important concept the proper application of Design Methodology can give decision makers is the recognition that complex problems are not solved, but moved from the existing state to a desired better state. This understanding will empower commanders and planners in producing an artifact—a theory of action. A fully developed theory of action can be used to produce clear strategic and operational guidance. When a decision to act is taken, military planners can use the theory of action and subsequent guidance to develop detailed plans.
In developing military plans and orders, commanders and planners must be fully educated in all types of war—big and small. They must understand how to employ combined arms, maneuver warfare and operational art across the spectrum of conflict. In addition, perhaps most important, they must understand the relationship between conceptual planning and traditional military planning. The two must be viewed as complementary, overlapping, synergistic, and continuous. Design Methodology is applicable to both pre-war understanding of potential military action and events during war. The lack of sound guidance must not preclude the military professionals from understanding the problems of war before it begins.
Proper application of Design Methodology will give decision makers a better understanding of the complex problems at hand, enabling them to make the best- informed decision to act or not. When combined with traditional planning and theories of action that understanding will make our forces more lethal. Correct application of both new and traditional theories of action that are complementary and synergistic can and will save precious blood and treasure in future wars.
 Carl von Clausewitz, Schriften, Aufstatze, Studien, Briefe, Band 1, ed. Werner Hahlweg, Gottingen, 1966, Cited in Christopher Dasse, Clausewitz and Small Wars, A Paper presented to Oxford University, 21-23 March 2005, 4; Daase citing “Bekenntnisdenkschrift,” Clausewitz and Small Wars, 4.
 Marine Corps Doctrine Publication – 1 (MCDP-1) Warfighting. Commandant of the Marine Corps, Washington, DC, 20 June 1997, 3-4.
 Space warfare and cyber warfare are not included in this work, as they are immature compared to land warfare. It should be noted that space warfare and cyber warfare will be closely linked as the primary objects in space are machines that rely on cyberspace to move the code necessary for control.
 Christopher Dasse, Clausewitz and Small Wars, A Paper presented to Oxford University, 21-23 March 2005, 1.
 Casualty figures from Department of Defense Statistical Information Analysis Division (SIAD), Defense Manpower Data Center and Department of Veterans fact sheet dated May 2010.
 Vietnam War Info, Accessed October 25, 2018, https://thevietnamwar.info/how-much-vietnam-war-cost/
 Neta C. Crawford. Costs of War – United States Budgetary Costs of Post 9/11 Wars Through FY2018. Watson Institute International & Public Affairs, Brown University, November 2017
 U. S. Marine Corps. Small Wars / 21st Century (Marine Corps Combat Development Command: Quantico, VA, 2005), 3.
 Marine Corps Doctrine Publication – 1 (MCDP-1) Warfighting. Commandant of the Marine Corps, Washington, DC, 20 June 1997, 93.
 Ibid, 73.
 Plutarch’s Lives, Vol. 1, The Dryden translation, Random House: New York, 1992, 418
 Theodore A. Dodge, Hannibal (New York: Perseus Publishing, 2004), 378-379.
 Milan Vego, Joint Operational Warfare Theory and Practice, Newport, RI, Naval War College Press, 2007, I-3
 James J. Schneider. “The Loose Marble- and the Origins of Operational Art”, Parameters. (Carlisle, PA, Journal of the U. S. Army War College, Vol XIX, No. 1, March 1989. 87
 Vego, Joint Operational Warfare Theory and Practice, III-3
 Friedrich Wilhelm von Mellinthin. Panzer Battles, 1956 cited in Hermann Balck. Translation of conversation with General Balck. 12 January 1979. Battelle Columbus Laboratories, Tactical Technology Center Columbus, OH. 1979, 18-19
 Ibid., 19
 Ibid., 20.
 U.S. Army, Mission, Accessed June 1, 2018, https://www.army.mil/info/organization/
 U. S. Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication (JP) 5-0, Joint Planning, Washington, DC, xxiv.
 It should be noted that the primary author of Naval Warfare Publication 5-01 and the Joint Operations Planning Process (JOPP) Workbook was a retired U.S. Marine Colonel on faculty at the U. S. Naval War College.
 Vego, Joint Operational Warfare Theory and Practice, XII-29
 Douglas N. Hime. Disappointing Doctrine, Journal for Defense Management, 1:e104.
 U. S. Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Planning, Joint Publication (JP) 5-0, Washington DC: CJCS, 2019 Draft, 44.
 U. S. Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Planning, Joint Publication (JP) 5-0, Washington DC: CJCS, 16 June 2017, IV-6-IV-7; U. S. Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Planning, Joint Publication (JP) 5-0, Washington DC: CJCS, 2019 Draft, 50-51.
 Ibid, 51
 Interview with Colonel Wm. J. Hartig, USMC, Ret., 14 June 2018
 George W. Bush, Selected Speeches of President George W. Bush 2002-2008, Address to the Joint Session of the 107th Congress, September 20, 2001, 32.
 Robert R. Leonhard, The Evolution of Strategy in the Global War on Terror, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, 7
 Andrew M. Scott, Insurgency, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1970, v.
 U. S. Marine Corps. Small Wars / 21st Century (Marine Corps Combat Development Command: Quantico, VA, 2005), 6.
 Carl von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), 480.
 Mao Tse-Tung, Guerilla Warfare, trans, Samuel B. Griffith, II, Baltimore, MD: Nautical & Aviation Publishing Co., 1978), 52; Che Guevara, Guerilla Warfare (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1985), 47.
 Herbert K. Simon, “The Structure of Ill-Structured Problems.” Artificial Intelligence. 4 (Winter 1973): 181-201
 William J. Hartig, Problem Solving and the Military Professional, U. S. Naval War College, Newport, RI, June 2005 (Revised June 2015), 6.
 Ibid, 8.
 Herbert A. Simon. “Bounded Rationality and Organizational Learning.” Organizational Science. 2, No 1, (1991): 125-134.
 Herbert A. Simon, Theories of Bounded Rationality, “Decision and Organization,” C.B. McGuire and Roy Radner (eds.), (North-Holland Publishing Co., 1972), 168.
 Hartig, Problem Solving and the Military Professional, 7.
 Herbert A. Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd Ed., MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1996, 15; Hartig, Problem Solving and the Military Professional, 8.
 Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd Ed., 44.
 Simon, “Bounded Rationality and Organizational Learning.” Organizational Science. 2, No 1, (1991): 125-134.
 Interview with Colonel Wm. J. Hartig, USMC, Ret., 14 June 2018
 Ibid. Hartig served in the I MEF G-3 and as the I MEF G-1 during the planning and execution of OIF 1 and 2. He led many of the original MEF discussions on the use of General Systems Theory and Design Methodology to understand complex ill-structure problems based on his previous graduate studies in Cognitive Decision Making.
 Herbert A. Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd Ed., 111.
 Provided by Colonel Wm. J. Hartig, USMC, Ret., 25 July 2018
 Interview with Colonel Wm. J. Hartig, USMC, Ret., 25 July 2018
 Graphic provided by Colonel Wm. J. Hartig, USMC, Ret., 25 July 2018
 John R. Ballard. Fighting for Fallujah A New Dawn for Iraq, Praeger Security International, Westport, CT, 2006, 6-7. Ballard identifies three groups, Former Regime Elements, Hardcore Terrorists, and Criminals. The Marine’s artifact clearly identifies the importance of the tribes and populace.
 Bodies mutilated in Iraq attack. BBC News (accessed October 29, 2018) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3585765.stm
 Agence France Presse news agency, Paris, in English 1802 GMT 1 Apr 04 from BBC Monitoring Iraq Briefing 0400 GMT 2 Apr 04. (Lexis-Nexis.com June 3, 2008)
 Bing West, No True Glory. (New York: Bantam 2005), 6
 Ballard. Fighting for Fallujah A New Dawn for Iraq, 21-22
 Ibid., 21
 Ibid., 62
 Ibid., 71
 Jim Prosser. “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy, The Life of General James Mattis,” Harper Collins, New York, 2018, 187
 Flemming Funch. “Ming the Mechanic: Complicated Versus Complex.” Accessed June 19, 2018, http://ming.tv/flemming2.php/__show_article/_a000010-001928.htm
 Bernard Fall. “The Theory and Practice of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency.” Naval War College Review (Winter 1998):46-57. Fall identified that, “When a country is being subverted it is not being outfought; it is being out-administered. Subversion is literally administration with a minus sign in front.” pp. 53-54.
 Ballard. Fighting for Fallujah A New Dawn for Iraq, 73
 Ibid., 60
 Denis Devine and Mark Walker, Gen. Mattis on the Marines in Iraq Excerpts from interview with Camp Pendleton's commanding general, Accessed July 31, 2018,
 For an in-depth look at the results of the U. S. Marine Corps in Al Anbar Province see Al-Anbar Awakening, Volume 1 – American Perspectives, U. S. Marines and Counterinsurgency in Iraq 2004-2009, Quantico, VA: Marine Corps University Press, 2009.
 James N. Mattis, U. S. Secretary of Defense, Memorandum to the Department, Guidance from Secretary Jim Mattis, October 5, 2017.
 James N. Mattis, General, USMC, Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Vision for a Joint Approach to Operational Design, 6 October 2009.