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The U.S. Army Professional Writing Collection showcases articles from a variety of professional journals that focus on relevant issues affecting The Army. This micro-site seeks to stimulate innovative thinking about the challenges that may face tomorrow's Army. It is further intended that the articles featured on this site cause reflection, increased dialogue within The Army Community, and in the best case, action by Soldiers. Updated monthly, these articles are written by Soldiers, civilians, academics, and other subject matter experts. Links to various Army publications, Department of Defense journals and selected non-governmental defense-related publications are also provided on this site.

Afghanistan: From Here to Eternity?

Afghanistan: From Here to Eternity?Overshadowed by the swift American military victory in Iraq, the images of airmobile troops and special operations forces rooting out al Qaeda in remote Afghanistan mountains took a back seat to images of M1A1 Abrams tanks sweeping through the desert destroying Iraq’s Republican Guard. Afghanistan is a complex country, with its own unique ethnic makeup, geography, social structure, economics and military factors. It is by no means analogous to Iraq in any way. Imprecise perceptions, some deliberately constructed, could distort the reality of the situation in Afghanistan and where the United States stands after two years of operations there. If we are not clear about what the issues are, we may create unrealizable expectations about what can be accomplished, with the kind of subsequent media backlash that is extant in Iraq. We must remember what the primary purpose of the American presence in Afghanistan was and is: the destruction of al Qaeda, its Taliban shield and support structure, and the prevention of the territory’s use as a sanctuary for continued al Qaeda operations. So far, those aims have been achieved. The Vietnam analogy remains, for the time being, the wishful thinking of a small group of misinformed or misleading pundits.

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Decision-Making Through Intuition

Decision-Making Through IntuitionA key Objective Force premise is to achieve a significant increase in operating tempo. This is accomplished by gathering, integrating and applying information that helps military planners anticipate and counter threats before an adversary can act. To act faster than the enemy can, the Army currently uses a procedural and cumbersome military decision-making process (MDMP) that military planners often truncate. However, little guidance exists on how to abbreviate the process. On the other hand, the Recognition Planning Model (RPM) offers a strong, fast, flexible decision-making process that codifies the informal and intuitive planning strategies skilled Army and U.S. Marine Corps battle planners use. Commanders have experimented with the model and found it useful. The premise of the RPM is that a commander’s knowledge, training and experience help in correctly assessing a situation, rather than taking time to deliberately and methodically contrast it with alternatives using a common set of abstract evaluation dimensions. Thus, intuitive decision processes result in higher performance than do analytical processes. However, there are some aspects of MDMP that could be usefully incorporated into the RPM.

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An Appraisal of Embedding

An Appraisal of EmbeddingIraq was the modern test case for the military-media embed program, and it appears to have worked. The options of the past—censorship and restricted access—will not work as well in an age of satellite imagery and cell phones. Most reporters, especially the ones who risk their lives in combat zones, take their loyalty to the truth very seriously. The temptation to sensationalize a negative story can thus only be tempered by exposing reporters to the truth and a better understanding of the big picture. When the bad news hits, reporters need to already have considerable experience under their belts to be able put their observations into context. If the military, from the outset, allows journalists to glimpse the making of operational plans—allows them to witness the care and consideration for all possible contingencies, the deliberate avoidance of collateral damage, and the cooperation with other governmental and nongovernmental organizations—then those journalists will have a much greater appreciation of the situation. If the military denies correspondents access to operational planning and execution, reporters will draw their own, possibly erroneous, conclusions and assign blame where they think best.

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Motivating Soldiers: The Example of the Israeli Defense Forces

Motivating Soldiers: The Example of the Israeli Defense Forces“Neither numbers nor strength bring victory in war; but whichever army goes into battle stronger in soul, their enemies generally cannot withstand them,” said Xenophon, a famous Greek military leader and philosopher in ancient Greece. A strong soul, in modern times, is equivalent to high combat motivation. Likewise, combat motivation’s centrality to a successful outcome in military operations, from patrolling to full-scale wars, cannot be overstated. Combat motivation has been referred to as the “secret weapon” of the Israel Defense Forces. Given the historical asymmetry of forces between Israel and its enemies, the way in which Israel has managed to parry significant conventional and non-conventional attacks—often in the face of substantial quantitative inferiority—has been due mostly to its superior qualitative edge based on its armed forces’ professionalism, superior training methods and combat morale. On numerous occasions, quantitatively inferior armies have been able to have the upper hand because of their fighting spirit, aggressiveness and relatively buoyant high morale. Indeed, research has demonstrated time after time that there is a strong relationship between cohesion, soldiers’ level of morale and combat efficiency.

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