Guide Moltke on the Art of War: Selected Writings

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Be the first to write a review About this product. Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Show More Show Less. Any Condition Any Condition. People who bought this also bought. Nonfiction Books. No ratings or reviews yet. Be the first to write a review. Best Selling in Nonfiction See all. Descriptive planning allows commanders to adapt to changing environments. Branch plans, instead of an operational order, become the main output to the Military Decision Making Process.


Focused around decisions and the current situation, descriptive planning is a holistic staff effort in envisioning future tactical scenarios, or numerous branch plans, grouped around phases. Using this method, planners plan with a high degree of detail for the ensuing phase and deliberately plan with less detail for the remaining phases, instead allowing the conditions to develop as the operation progresses before initiating further planning.

Descriptive planning accounts for all reasonable tactical scenarios—one phase at a time—and when a tactical scenario becomes evident, commanders employ predetermined means at a specific and projected point in time and space. Descriptive planning requires commanders and staffs to become comfortable with the unknown, something with which the human mind struggles.

Products such as synchronization matrices reinforce a false narrative that war is predictable, perhaps even something to be scheduled. The idea that variables can be controlled over time against complex adaptive systems is categorically false. In reality, the only certainty in war is uncertainty. Descriptive planning accounts for the utility of the Military Decision Making Process and adding systems thinking to it accounts for uncertainty.

As mentioned previously, a key component to adaption is becoming comfortable with uncertainty and filling in the blanks as the information becomes available. To achieve this, the commander decides on a broad course of action the base plan as determined in the Military Decision Making Process, but he also decides on what other tactical scenarios might become a reality and subsequently plans to allocate the necessary means to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative for each scenario. Scenario planning requires forecasting.

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Forecasting is different than predicting. Both assume the state of the future, but forecasting involves calculated and continuous analysis. Predicting is guessing, whereas forecasting is based on probability. This allows for focused analysis and information collection. Forecasters should also persistently challenge assumptions and update them as the situation develops. Assumptions are necessary for planning, but stagnant assumptions lead to a poor foundational plan.

Ejemplo de las políticas de transporte en Brazil

Tetlock also advises that skilled forecasters update their forecasts endlessly as additional information becomes accessible. Tetlock states the best forecasters view their ideas as hypotheses in need of testing amidst a constant flow of information. Forecasters are in a relentless state of learning by processing a steady flow of information that might prove valuable for adjusting their estimates. In a complex environment, if an organization presumes a predetermined outcome, it fails to prepare for other credible possibilities, and therefore it is left vulnerable.

Forecasting allows planners to determine which tactical scenario might transpire. Scenario planning, combined with forecasting, arms planners with a tool to visualize possible futures. Scenarios have the power to engage decision makers so they pay attention to indications of change.

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Scenario planning also helps avoid mental models by not allowing commanders and staffs to visualize a false perception of future tactical outcomes. It counters hubris, exposes assumptions, and fosters quick adaptation in times of crisis. Peter Schwartz, a leading theorist on scenario planning, developed the principal model to prepare for the future: identify factors likely to bear on the problem, organize them into future possibilities, envision paths that would lead to those futures, and devise a strategy for surviving them.

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For tactical planning, identifying factors likely to bear on the problem translates to variables such as weather, enemy strength, friendly conditions, and environmental circumstances. Next, organize those variables in a manageable number of future scenarios between two to four.

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  4. For each scenario, develop a narrative that articulates that particular possible future. Afterward, brainstorm what each future means in terms of ways and means. Finally, track the indicators that suggest which scenario might become a reality. Future tactical environments will only increase in complexity. Planners and decision-makers must become comfortable with a range of options and not a single course of action Assuming cause and effect and relying on a single course of action will all but assure defeat. If planners instead embrace that the plan will not survive beyond the first major operation and probe - sense - respond as described with descriptive planning, they can overcome complexity and penetrate uncertainty.

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