Coaching War by Leonid Savin

Coaching War

Coaching War
by Leonid Savin

In the joint article ” Network-Centric Warfare: Its Origin and Future”1, published in January 1998 by Admiral Arthur Cebrowski and scientific-technical advisor for the C4 (command, control, communications, and computer networks) systems of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Gartska, it was indicated that network-centric warfare and connections with the revolution in military affairs occur an derive their energy from the cardinal changes in American society. In front of these changes is the co-evolution of the economy, information technology, and business processes and organizations, and they are connected to one another by three themes:

– The shifting emphasis from platforms to networks.
– The transition from considering actors as independent subjects towards considering them as part of constantly adapting ecosystems.
– The importance of strategic decision-making to adapt or even survive in such changing ecosystems.2

Together with other military practitioners and specialists from various branches of the armed forces, these two authors became the founders of the concept of network-centric warfare, which was introduced as a doctrine in the Pentagon’s field manual. Cebrowski and Garstka build their publication on examples from the field of economy, including the financial sector, and some of the positive results of past reforms, for example, the structural changes in the working methods of the New York police.

It has been observed that network-centric warfare allows one to transition from war to wear through a much faster and effective fighting style characterized by a new understanding of the speed of command and self-synchronization. Bright examples related to the activity of various weapons systems and the organization of the armed forces, including the distribution of command functions and information sharing used by Cebrowski and Garstka, made the new theory of war quite attractive at that moment, although it was not without criticism3.

It can be assumed that since the time of this writing, not only have the theory and practice of war changed, but also the methods of the organization of economic processes in the broadest sense, which justified the publication.

Undoubtedly, the rate of information exchange, access to databases, and the latest technology, including military robots, played an important role in the modernization of military structures around the world. It is also necessary to take into account that the predominant pattern of human behavior in the information age is network behavior. “Network-centric warfare is associated with the behavior of people in a network environment during the time of war, and human behavior will directly influence the result.”Cebrowski A. Transforming Transformation – Will it Change the Character of War?

It can be assumed that since the time of this writing, not only have the theory and practice of war changed, but also the methods of the organization of economic processes in the broadest sense, which justified the publication.

Undoubtedly, the rate of information exchange, access to databases, and the latest technology, including military robots, played an important role in the modernization of military structures around the world. It is also necessary to take into account that the predominant pattern of human behavior in the information age is network behavior. “Network-centric warfare is associated with the behavior of people in a network environment during the time of war, and human behavior will directly influence the result.”4

Business and War

Nevertheless, the possible trajectories that can develop future conflicts and transform the methods of warfare can also affect current business models and analyze their development and possible capacity to adapt to military goals. War, according to one of the common theses in Western society, is a form of competition. And even concerning the preparation for conflict, the economic-orientated state (and all of its liberal democracies) is based on an expediency associated with the interests of the population. As mentioned in relation to the methods of propaganda campaigns in the US, “Americans always buy war if the marketing campaign is conducted properly”5.

In other words, it is possible that the US, like other industrially developed capitalist states, will use a model that focuses on business and the economy for the adaptation of its own military forces and special forces to new conditions. Conclusively, in order to understand the future emergent form of conflict that can be waged either directly or through proxy actors, as in the case of Syria, such an analysis is required.

Let’s turn to notable publications in the areas of economics, business, and management over the past 10 years to identify the corresponding relationship.

Vanessa Druskut, a professor at the School of Business and Economics at the university of New Hampshire, and her colleague Jane Wheeler from the College of Business Administration at Bowling Green State University, wrote an article in 2005, “How to lead a self-managing team”, which entered into the list of the most population publications of the MIT publisher Sloan.

They noted that according to the results of the study, the main competence inherent in a number of the most successful companies is the ability to control the border between the team and the entire organization as a whole. Four group functions are necessary in order to observe this: attitude, intelligence, persuasion, and empowerment. These groups, in their own turn, have several components:

– Attitude: the social competence of the leader, the team’s confidence, taking care of the team;
– Intelligence: the search for information, the diagnostics of team behavior, the systemic study of problems;
– Persuasion: external support, influence on the team;
– Empowering: the delegation of authority, the practice of a flexible decision-making team, coaching6.

Nobody will dispute that the fourth group of functions, precisely power, is the most important and critical to war. The decision on entering into conflict is a function of power, irrespective of who does it, whether it is a society, a terrorist organization, a radical group, or a major power that makes the decision based on national (opportunistic) interests or obligations. Such a war is itself conducted for power over geographic territory (be it strategic communications or resource zone) and control over the population.
In this fourth group, there is such an element as coaching. This relatively new understanding is used mainly in business technology. It contains within itself a number of activities, including working with each employee personally, granting team feedback, etc.
In business and psychology, coaching is defined as a method of consulting and training which differs from classical training and counseling in that the coach does not give advice and recommendations, but searches for resolutions together with the client. Coaching differs from psychological counseling by the focus on motivation. If counseling and psychotherapy aimed at getting rid of some kind of symptoms, then working with a coach suggests achieving a positively defined goal of new formulated results in life and work. Coaching operates with the understanding of co-creation, which in our case may be defined as performing various missions for larger geopolitical projects, be they a war of attrition or a multiyear confrontation associated with economic sanctions, informational propaganda, and the instruments of public diplomacy.

There are four phases in coaching that are described as a plan of hostilities and which agree with Sun Tzu and Clausewitz.

These are:

– The statement of goals;
– A reality check;
– Aligning the ways of achievement;
– The process of achievement or the phases of will.

Referring to another work from the area of economics, two contemporary scholars, Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, while analyzing the current state of society from the view of economic cooperation in their voluminous work “The new spirit of capitalism”, indicate that “the development of cooperation and exchanges on the basis of a network involves the establishment of such a relationship between partners who are not fixed by any plans or regulations and nevertheless have a relatively continuous character”7. Isn’t this statement evidence of the relations that the US State Department, through various structures (special services, diplomatic missions, and agents in the field), established with dubious personalities and organizations which are involved and participate in various bloody conflicts, for example, in Libya and Syria? Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood had a long history of interaction with the White House, which nevertheless was not formed in the style of accepted international norms. Or take the example of the right-wing regimes of Latin America. With the era of the Cold War, they used the support of the US in order to not allow the spread of leftist ideas in Western Hemisphere. Preventative methods were very different, ranging from the creation of death squads to the rendering of financial assistance.

One may refer to the recent history of political conflicts, the Color Revolutions. A considerable number of studies have shown that people who are biased in these processes had a long relationship with the United States and the countries of the West, including family ties (the wife of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is a US citizen, and the wife of the former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is a citizen of the Netherlands; in both countries the henchmen of the West came to power on a wave of protests supported by foreign funds).

The Fundamentals of Coaching War

Like in the case with the pattern of network-centric war, which is based on a new paradigm of economics, as well as the changes in the structure of social relationships, war coaching is also connected with the behavioral patterns of a person in the epoch of postmodernity and new information technologies.

It follows from this that in the case of networking conflicts, war coaching has an inherent effect of rapid adaptability on the part of the target group, to simply say, the enemy. In Iraq, insurgents have learned to break the codes of the US’ UAVs. Similar incidents have occurred in Iran, when one intelligence apparatus broke down and the other landed without damage. The events in Libya, Syria, and other countries where armed conflict is occurring demonstrate the flexibility that insurgents and terrorists show in their actions. Not only do they take over the technical skills, tactics, and methods of warfare, but they also develop new techniques that are effective exclusively in one place at one time. The constantly face of war creates an environment where survival and victory over the enemy need constant training and the receiving of new information, including different scientific paradigms.

One can also consider a military or paramilitary organization from the point of view of management theories. In the article “Chaordic Organizations”, Oscar Motomura who is CEO in the Amana-Key Group indicates the main reasons made it necessary to reconsider the logic of business corporations. We present a fragment of this work because it is important for understanding civil and military management. Moreover, experience from different areas of human activity confirms these theses.

“Why are chaordic organizations important today?

In our opinion as specialists in management innovation, organizations must give priority to the concept of the chaordic organization for the following reasons:

1. Scale

Given that we have now reached a world population of six billion people in a world that is ever more interconnected, it becomes more and more clear that no mechanical, top-down organizational structure based on control can be effective. On this scale, the only effective organizations imaginable are those that are biological, guided by organizing principles, and that count on the full potential of people to think, to create, and to self-organize.

2. Complete Democracy

As with nations, so too in companies, the concept of democracy develops step by step with the evolution of technology. Organizations that are responsible for themselves, societies that are responsible for themselves, equality, an emphasis on cooperation, everyone serving and everyone served—the concept of chaordic organizations has everything to do with these ideas. It is a means to make the ideals of democracy and humanity tangible, for the first time in history…

3. Human Expression

Mechanical, standardized, and limiting organizational structures will never succeed in dealing adequately with questions of human motivation. In principle, there are always fundamental limitations. The most legitimate source of motivation — space for creativity — is always controlled, limited, and subject to imposed, unnatural standards. Chaordic organizations have great potential for enabling human creativity to go beyond its current limits. In fact, if we don’t contaminate chaordic principles with the fears inherent in management processes based on control, there will be no limit to what human beings can create.

4. Essential Values, Today

Autonomy, freedom, respect – values that people more and more genuinely value – real freedom, real human respect are much more in line with chaordic principles than with the more traditional forms of organizational structure. In traditional organizations, these values are always “under pressure,” given little quarter, limited. This occurs naturally, on the one hand, given that control is, by definition, the limitation of the space for free action. On the other hand, such values are also limited through abuse of power, creating “underworlds” in the organization, organizational politics, unethical agreements, the absence of transparency, etc.

5. The Age of Knowledge

In an age in which all human knowledge will be available to whomever needs it, it is fundamental that space for people be available, that it exist. Not to provide such a space would be an enormous waste of human potential. The principles of chaordic organizations ensure the existence of such spaces. Traditional organizational structures that fragment work in principle limit space, and thereby reduce the area available for action (on the presumption that its employees don’t have the necessary knowledge, or sufficient potential to create what is needed). The assumption is that their employees are not capable of thinking, and that they are there to carry out what has been thought of by others, their “superiors.”

Chaordic organizations honor people who think. In fact, they honor and respect everyone.”8

Of course, it is necessary to take into account that this article is written from the point of view of the society of liberal-democratic values, therefore, it places stress on corresponding quality without traditional religious complexes. But this gives the notion of how organizations can develop in the above mentioned societies, including military structures.

But the technology of coaching is not exclusive to the past decade. Similar methods were used in the organization of the armed forces of various states. Stephen Bungay, employed at the Boston Consulting Group, devoted one of his books to coaching in the organization of the Prussian Army9. Bange shows that the effectiveness of the Prussians’ military machine was in its ability to perform strategic objectives, and it expressed this in the style of command, which was the most flexible and original in the framework of a clearly defined goal.

Another example is from the era of the Cold War. US Air Force Brigadier General Raymond A. Shulstad, who served in the US Strategic Air Force (bomber that carried nuclear weapons) and was engaged in its reorganization, shows in his publication “Leading and Managing through Influence: Challenges and Responses” what problems he faced when he was appointed to the post and how he interacted with his colleagues, including those from other departmental structures.

The General concludes: “They must apply the basic management functions of organizing, planning, directing, and controlling, but skills in persuasion and negotiation become more important in the absence of hierarchical authority.”10

It is necessary to keep in mind that even if one relies on already existing models, for example, the theory of network-centric war, the Pentagon documents clearly indicate that this “network, in combination with the changes in technology, organization, processes, and human potential, might allow the creation of new forms of organizational behavior.”11 Consequently, a new round of development, which has not been thought of even by the advocates of the new concepts of war, is entirely possible.

Scientific Paradigms

Models describing the world, which differ from one another, are a topic of debate among military experts from various countries. Often, all of them are reduced to the dichotomy of a Newtonian linear logic and a nonlinear thinking style of chaos theory and self-organized criticality. Antoine Bosquet uses a scientific metaphor to explain the evolution of the nature of war, comparing it to the understanding of a watch, an engine, a computer, and a network with a certain historical period corresponding to four types of war – mechanical, thermodynamic, cybernetic, and chaotic12. This point of view is connected with currently fashionable scientific theories of chaos and self-organized criticality, and although such a point of view is also quite good, current conflicts not presented in a pure form, but in a mixed or hybrid one13. If one takes Syria, there are mechanical bullets, thermodynamic explosions, and cybernetic mediums of networks and computer technology, as well as the fourth level which is expressed in an networked organization of terrorist cells. Chaos can also be interpreted as the lack of order and a single command center for insurgents and terrorists in a conflict, along with the flexibility of its main actors.

An interesting version of the understanding of the nature of war in this regard was suggested by Major Ben Zweibelson in the pages of The Small Wars Journal14. He proposed rethinking the nature of armed conflict, taking into account the fact that the world has become more complex, proposing to move from linear logic in the style of Clausewitz, which in his opinion follows the military school of the US as a subcomponent of the great Western society (developed further in the works Jomini, Mahan, and other Western strategists) for the constructive (projective) logic. He notes that the US military has used a number of organizational principles defined as a “detailed plan” system of logic. He tries to understand the world through a series of patterns using theoretical concepts, metaphors, and empirical material that create a narrative which explains the world within the limits of unique mental technology. If organization adheres to the logic of Clausewitz, then the narrative more than likely will talk about the “centers of gravity”, and the plot will be associated with a constant tension between the government, the masses, and the military instruments of power. The society which envelops the ideological construct of Clausewitz may have various narratives that speak about the constant fight against invaders or that the workers of the world must unite against the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”. Thus, every logical system represents a combined plurality of unique factors. Evidently, the logic of Clausewitz influenced the strategic theory of the Five Rings by John Warden. However, if one comes from a different mental matrix than strategic planning, then the evaluation of the enemy and the method of warfare is different.

When one or more components of the logical system collide with reality, then the organization is faced with the anomaly which the logical system does not have the power to solve. This was manifested from Newtonian physics until Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was introduced.

In modern war, Zweibelson highlights such understandings as ‘irregular”, “asymmetrical”, “poorly structured”, and “messy”, which became the institutional problems of warfare in the XXI century.

Constructive logic, in Zweibelson’s view, in contrast to linear logic, is critical and creative, and it is a nonlinear process of creation, destruction, and innovation that is open to adoption, adaptation, and integration into a new understanding of the structure of the world.

He observed that in regard to the military planning in the US, the teleological approach is applied, which is when the entire process is linked to an ultimate goal, originally defined as “results”, after which they the actions and mediums are achieved. The metaphor of a root applies to this process.

But practical logic collides with the military one, and according to Ben Zweibelson, military logic should replace the descriptive reductionism of holistic synergy15.

Constructiveness and creativity, however, have always been respected, as have military strategists who understand the need for a creative approach. Milan Vego says that “war is largely an art, not a science. Consequently, it is necessary that military commands and their staffs must be very creative in the planning, preparation, and also the use of this strength in fighting. Technological innovation should never be neglected, and attention should be focused on the aspects of creativity that have the most direct relation to leadership.”16 In the Field Manuel of the US Army it is stated that “the creativity of commanders relates to their ability to find affordable, innovative solutions to problems and to be innovative and adapt to rapidly changing and potentially confusing situations. All exceptional military leaders had a large stock of creative skills.”17 Even if we come from a single logical model of military activity, it is creativity that was needed at any time. Liddell Hart noticed the importance of an innovative plan of decision and its skillful execution18. Friedrich von Bernhardi noted that “the military art relies on the free use of its bases inconstantly changing conditions.”19

In fact, everything is much more complex because there are about a dozen main scientific paradigmatic pictures of the world.

“Cognitive moderation”, “cognitive burden”, “compulsory appreciation”, “Copernican principle”, “cumulative mistake”, “cycles”, “deep time”, “the theory of efficiency”, “double blindness” – this is a list of some of the thoroughly studied ideas in the past years20 that often contradict one another, but they also are able to fully adapt to international relations and military conflicts. It is a complex task to figure out all the variants.

Nevertheless, if one returns to the topic of Coach Culture, elements of which are scattered in the above theoretical considerations, it is revealed that one of the founders of the doctrine of network-centric warfare, Arthur Cebrowski, said that victories and defeats are born in the consciousness. Likewise, Timothy Galway, considered the author of the idea of Coaching, said that the internal “enemy in the head” of athletes is a much more dangerous opponent21. One may recall the definition of George Stein, who noted that “the human intellect is the objective of network war.”22 Another US military expert noted that it is necessary to destroy a sufficient amount of the brain or the correct brain and then the “will” definitely dies together with the organism23. If one can subordinate the will of the enemy using the methods of Clausewitz (i.e. by applying physical force), then there are at least three disadvantages. Richard Szafranski argues:

“First, killing appliances and destruction machines are usually and necessarily expensive. The more ambitious the objectives of this apparatus, the greater the expense. Every penny spent to acquire the ability to destroy is a penny that cannot be spent to build. Second, in the absence of any clear and present threat to national survival that possession of such tools can reasonably be expected to counter, our citizens and their elected representatives have advocated other plans for our pennies. Last, the intellectual energy consumed by devising newer and better ways to kill and destroy distracts us from the real object of war: subduing hostile will.”24

Therefore, Richard Szafranski, the author of the theory of neocortial warfare25, believes that his version of waging conflict is aimed at the subordination of opponents without violence, and that not only is it the future of warfare, but that it is also the most demanding kind of war that calls for the most creative and effective schemes of work. However, he does not that this theory has not yet been systematically conceptualized.
In other words, the cognitive domain remains the fundamental element in the complex structure of military forces, concepts, and technologies.

The flexibility and relevancy of how this or that scientific paradigm will be for the thinking of decision makers in the area of defense policy, peacekeeping operations, and Realpolitik in general will depend on the success of the confrontation with the potential enemy in the future.

(Editor’s note:  Footnotes available on request)

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