INFLUENCE: the latest transformation of Anglo-Saxon military thought

INFLUENCE, is currently the official term taken by the English doctrine (in experimentation) that expresses the necessary path to reach a Desired Final Situation through Effects.

Resultado de imagen de influenciaThis term appears as the unifying element of the Strategic, Operational and Tactical levels to materialize an idea or way of tackling hybrid conflicts and that serves both for those who had to conceive and plan the operations ("planners"), and for those who had to develop and execute them ("maneuvers"), in their way of being and proceeding on the ground to achieve objectives beyond the[1] purely military ones; that is, the Desired Final Situation for the Operational level (hereinafter OES).

Despite being a term used in the Art of War since very early times, it has always been considered an alternative or secondary means, since with INFLUENCE partial objectives were achieved by the skill or personal qualities of the Commanders during the Campaigns and a systematic procedure to introduce it into the planning of military operations has never been achieved and it serves as a thread from the highest to the lowest level, or of execution.

The studies of the British, based both on the experiences and lessons learned from their colonial era and on the new theories of the "Integral Approach" that emerge from holistic thinking, allow us today to relate it to the theories of effects and to use it as the result of the activities that[2] allow to fulfill the mission in a type of conflict of medium intensity in any part of the globe.

Resultado de imagen de influenciaThe formal definition given by the UK Doctrine Centre (hereinafter DCDC) on INFLUENCE is "the actual or perceived ability to affect the character or behaviour of someone or something". Likewise, to distinguish between real and perceived capacity, it defines two ways of exercising INFLUENCE through EFFECTS.

On the one hand, the ability to influence with Physical Effects, which in turn, are divided into Instrumental Effects (to destroy someone or something) or Expressive Effects (to influence behavior, attitudes or decisions).

And, on the other hand, the ability to influence with Cognitive Effects the will and understanding, altering or conditioning the perception.

But let us go by parts, to this way of thinking and with this degree of knowledge, it has not come overnight. Let's start by seeing the evolution of the change in military thought, and in parallel how the skeleton of principles has been created to transform this concept into something useful, even though the studies and analyses to implement it in first class doctrinal documents have not yet been concluded.

Thus, after the Vietnam War, and shortly after 1975, the US Army began studies on the war effort that had involved a war lasting more than ten years. The conclusions reached between the objectives sought and those achieved were so disastrously evident that that war marked the end of orthodoxy and the beginning of military technocracy, beginning a hazardous process of change in the use of military forces in conflicts and the planning of operations.

On the other hand, and already with the end of the Cold War, the participation of the armies in supranational organizations under the auspices of the UN for the resolution of conflicts, some of them very thorny; made appear since 1982, a language loaded with new terms and procedures, as well as diversity of opinions and discussions, that still last; It has taken decades of confusion in terminology and procedures, given the different types of conflict, diversity of "actors" and different points of view in approaching increasingly complex and demanding military operations, both for "planners" and "manoeuvres".

Led by the Anglo-Saxon armies, the perception of military operations began to change radically and the global vision of the scenario imposed itself giving rise to a new language that includes terms related to the Integral Approach to undertake the resolution of a conflict and simultaneously the effects-based approach, in any type of them, for those operations that went beyond the achievement of purely military objectives.

Resultado de imagen de guerra golfo televisadaAfter the 1991 Gulf War, a confrontation in which a multinational coalition led by the US Army faced a Soviet-style army in a limited time campaign; The concept of Effects Based Operations (hereinafter EBO) was validated, which had really been a translation of the TARGETING process developed by the "maneuverers" for the Tactical level, raising it to a higher level and integrating it into the Operational and even Strategic level planning, prioritizing the use of the means to cause lethal effects on non-lethal ones. This milestone was the first step in replacing the "maneuver" as the axis or center of planning at the highest levels, replacing it with "the effects".

On another front, this new approach to the planning of military operations had great repercussions and acceptance in the international political, diplomatic and legal spheres in the use of armies in the resolution of certain types of conflicts, since it managed to legitimize a military intervention by avoiding the so unwanted "collateral effects" and any suspicion or distrust of the intervention of a foreign military force and governmental and non-governmental civilian agencies with interventionist interests, colonizers or of occupation and even reached "the restoration of international legality" which was the paradigm of "desired end state" for many conflicts, which made the International Community not appreciate winners or losers; These results have demolished some of the arguments traditionally used by humanist thought to support certain ideologies that are opposed to the intervention of armies in the resolution of conflicts.

In the early days of the 21st century, following the same approach, importance was attached to the use of means that produce non-lethal effects, on the lethal, for use in longer campaigns and for the fulfilment of non-military missions; and that combined with the lethal effects, gave rise to the concept of the "Effects Based Approach" (hereinafter EBAO); which today has become a paradigm for dealing with medium intensity conflicts, of a regional nature, where the influence of failed states, always negative, could cause destabilization, in neighboring states.

k3fev.jpgAt the same time, with the incorporation of this concept, the cycle Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (hereinafter OODA) was timidly born to improve the process of "decision during execution" on the actions of the military force that were not necessarily intended to achieve purely military objectives and that, due to their nature, their results were more difficult to evaluate and synchronize with the times calculated to achieve military objectives.

Initially, the process of the Decision, within the EBAO concept, remained a victim of military orthodoxy and although it starts with the collection of field data on the ground to provide feedback to the decisions; these have to be taken at the strategic level, so that with the process of assessment and subsequent analysis, which is carried out only at this level, conclusions are reached that can change the Decision.

Thus, it was observed, that the process designed to "adapt the decision" after the evaluation of the data obtained in the field, involves very long cycles for the operational and tactical level making them impractical.

And on the other hand, a clear procedure to achieve some kind of concrete "effect" with non-lethal means was not achieved; given that these, are difficult to evaluate by themselves since they do not have "tables of effects" to calculate in advance the "volume of..." necessary to achieve the intended effect of the "Decision" as is normally done with artillery or aviation fires in the TARGETING process[3], for example.

Therefore, the conclusion was drawn that the procedure for a "continuous assessment" of what is happening on the ground had to be established in order to know the outcome of the intended effects and also to analyse these results in such a way that it would feed back into the taking of new decisions, since the latter are essential at the implementation levels in order to bring the effects-based plans to a successful conclusion. That is to say, the ideal tool has been found for the "maneuverers" to be able to do their job well and reach the objectives set by the operational level.

Resultado de imagen de sttratcom otanLikewise, driven by the euphoria of this idea, and with the aim that the "manoeuvres" also have a "tool" to achieve the intended effects, they have developed the Joint Action, also derived from the NATO "Joint" concept, as a binding element in the use of the units and resources available to cause effects in a synergic way to influence the scenario.

However, there is still an important lack in the use of non-lethal means, as studies continue to be carried out in order to "quantify" in some way the results obtained as well as to provide them with cyclical and systemic processes when including them in planning at the tactical level.

And on the other hand, it has been observed that employing continuous cycles of OODA and "combat" decision making can create a vicious circle by feeding back a very unrealistic view of how the scenario as a whole evolves; this is why we do not want to lose sight of "holistic thinking"; or what we call in the military field the "Comprehensive Approach".

 That is, at this point, we can say that the EBAO concept has been the "version one" that has served as a platform for the resolution of the problem posed to the maneuverers with the effects theories used in the battlefield of certain types of conflicts, and also to introduce improvements in subsequent technocratic developments in planning at the operational level based on the effects theories; but…… ... what about the problems posed by the OODA cycle?

Resultado de imagen de ciclo OODAIn fact, the integrated approach is the tool used by the "planners" so that the feedback of the "combat decisions" of the "maneuverers" does not contaminate the broader vision that is needed about the evolution of the scenario to feed back into planning at this level. But let's see how this new concept needs to be understood in order to integrate it with the above; for it seems that this will be the basis of British political-military thought for at least the next 30 years.

Starting from the "Integrated Approach", as a philosophy that begins by assuming a "hybrid conflict" as a problem to be solved at the Political-Strategic level, and in which they have included in the study of the factors from this level, the multiple human groups that intervene in the conflict to reach a solution have[4] emerged the "Effects Based Integrated Approach" (hereinafter EBA) as a new vision to conceive military operations taking advantage of the lessons learned from the last conflicts in which the EBAO concept has been tried to be put into practice.

In addition, to integrate the "Integral Approach" in the military field of operations, the British have used the NATO STRATCOM concept (strategic communication) to obtain a new point of view of the scenario with new tools, elements and procedures that allow to obtain the maximum of possibilities to know in real time the "current" situation and how the scenario changes; at the same time they have introduced in the HQ of operational level a select group of civil personnel "experts in subjective matters" as an element for the analysis and the correct evaluation of these changes.

At the same time, with the same philosophy, they have been developing the EBA since 2005 for those military operations of stabilization or intervention in conflicts of medium intensity, which serve to resolve, at an operational and tactical level,[5] this type of conflict.

For "planners", EBA develops and improves the application of NON-LETHAL EFFECTS taking the OODA cycle as a "model" to introduce "decisions during execution" which feeds back into the process to achieve "the intended effects" in an operation.

Thus, ABE is not only the "tool" at the operational level that links to the "Comprehensive Approach" that starts from the Strategic level for the resolution of hybrid conflicts based on achieving effects to influence the scenario; but the British consider it to be the real transformation that corrects the false step that was made when moving from the EBO concept based on lethal effects, to EBAO with the use of means to achieve lethal and non-lethal effects, and which left many gaps at both the operational and tactical levels.

Resultado de imagen de stratcomThis is how the concept of INFLUENCE has been arrived at, to integrate both the decision cycles and the activities to be carried out with the available capacities to cause effects that allow the generation of change in a scenario to reach a Desired Final Situation. And that can be summarized in three well-defined points.

The first of these, The Integral Approach, orients "the problem to be solved" by defining the Desired Final Situation and proposing the "Decisive Conditions" as the premises to reach the solution, thus providing the Commander with alternative means at the Operational level, which allow him to replace the traditional military vision that posed the need of every military chief to know in advance the result of the possible actions and to contrast them with the capabilities of a single enemy in order to make the "best decision" to face him and also to fulfill the mission entrusted to him.

The second of these, the Effects-Based Approach, establishes and develops the procedure that definitively replaces "Maneuvering" with "Effects" as the center of Planning at the Operational level to resolve hybrid conflicts. It also includes the procedures and methods for obtaining "superiority in obtaining information" through STRATCOM. It also describes the role played by civilian social science staff whose advice will help to properly interpret perceived changes in the scenario, and it integrates the "decision during execution" process through the OODA cycle with the description of all the activities needed to assess progress in the operation in question.

And the third, the Joint Action, determines the use of the traditional Combat Functions and Systems and others traditionally considered as "supports" and that in the "Joint" area are used with "proactive" activities to produce non-lethal effects and that combined with the lethal means "merge" at the same level of importance obtaining a multiplier effect to exercise an effective INFLUENCE on the scene.

All this has implicitly entailed a new organization of the headquarters deployed in the field at the Operational level to integrate both the decision cycles and the activities to be carried out on the ground, with the capacities available to cause effects and that all this converges to generate INFLUENCE and achieve the Desired Final Situation in a scenario.

[1] The JDN 7/06 establishes for the term "objective" that it has to be used only in its conventional meaning, in the Effects theories it is translated in that this term is not used in everything referring to the Operational planning it is only used in the Tactical level or when a matter is treated under the point of view of the "maneuverers".

[2] Consequences of Activity. Activities and their consequences affect both the cognitive and physical domains, impact achieved through Fires, Influence or a combination of both. The consequences of activity might be intended and desired, but might be unintended or might not materialise as predicted. EBA requires a continuous assessment of both the cognitive and physical impact of activity to exploit fleeting opportunities and to mitigate against unintended and undesired consequences.. (JDN 7/06 Page 1-7)

[3] In the TARGETING process, for lethal effects, the Damage Assessment (DA) is used to feed back into the cycle, seeking to improve the use of lethal means and this is taken as the basis for carrying out "the Combat Assessment" which serves to give indications as to whether or not the Operational Objectives are being met, but in no case is this analytical process (limited and isolated) used to change the "Decision".

[4] In 1991, UK military personnel deployed to Bosnia witnessed crisis and conflict involving a complex interplay of civilian, para-military and military groups and individuals, International Organisations (IOs) and the mass Media. This situation was characterised by a bewildering diversity of influences and factors and it was recognised that the military instrument alone could not deal with complex modern crises involving, and occurring among, communities and populations. In addition, increasing recognition of the importance of the roles that Other Government Departments (OGDs) and agencies, as well as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) play, added to the complexity, but efforts were rarely coordinated or focused on a common set of objectives. At the tactical level on the ground, it was apparent that the various instruments and agencies needed a firmer basis for understanding and cooperation in coordinating their activities. JOINT DISCUSSION NOTE 4/05 (THE COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH)

[5] The UK effects-based philosophy recognises that the military instrument needs to act in harmony with the diplomatic and economic instruments of national power in taking a long-term view to address both the underlying causes, and the overt symptoms of a crisis. In doing so, it focuses on planning and delivering the end-state rather than organising military activities. It considers the whole environment, recognising that it is complex, unpredictable and adaptive, requiring constant iterative Assessment and Analysis to maintain and develop understanding before and during its Planning and Execution. JOINT DOCTRINE NOTE 7/06 (INCORPORATINGAND EXTENDING THE UK MILITARY EFFECTS-BASED APPROACH)

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