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Underpinning military planning for at least three decades has been Clausewitz’s idea of schwerpunkt.1 It is taken to mean centre of gravity and has long been a concept in Western military operations analysis and design. Centre of gravity analysis remains a helpful lens through which to analyse our own and our adversaries’ strengths and vulnerabilities but is it still useful? In recent conflicts it has been impossible to identify viable centres-of-gravity with any certainty. If the concept itself is outdated or unfit for purpose in modern war, perhaps it serves as a wake-up call to review the relevance of Clausewitzian ideas in operations planning overall?
When centre of gravity analysis goes wrong
Such is the obsession among military planners with finding centres of gravity that the process may have contributed to mission failure at a strategic level. Even in cases where the concept appears to have been used with some success, the true centre of gravity has generally only been identified retrospectively (not unlike another planning concept, that of the culminating point). Of course, centre of gravity analysis is but one of many tools and ideas employed in modern military operations planning. Mission failure may equally as likely be the result of a poorly-defined ‘end-state’ or a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the conflict being fought.2 This is particularly pertinent when a classical ‘force-on-force’ competition evolves to counterinsurgency. Poorly-defined ‘end-states’ which are unachievable or which suffer from mission-creep, are sure fire ways of courting strategic failure.3
Despite an acknowledgment that ‘CoG analysis is an iterative, continuous process’, it remains central to Western planning processes.4 In NATO operational design, the centre of gravity no longer appears as a single obstacle standing in the way of achieving the end-state (see Allied Joint Publication 5 figure 3.1 below) as it once did. Even here, guidance both in AJP-5 and in the NATO Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive drives the planner to derive their decisive conditions from a centre of gravity analysis.
Clausewitz and the passage of time
In Clausewitz’s time, conflict was considerably more linear and less complex than it is today, not least because it was only ever focussed on two physical domains (maritime and land) as opposed to multi-domain operations which claim to encompass the five domains of air, land, sea, cyber, and space. Clausewitz’s contests were also invariably physical in nature, although he recognises that centres of gravity at the strategic level may have a less tangible, moral component.
Clausewitz’s observations were therefore based almost entirely on land domain contests between state actors, for which the schwerpunkt analogy proved useful. However, in complex, multidomain, contemporary conflicts where capabilities are often dispersed, distributed, or may be hidden ‘among the people’ and a wider range of belligerents may be present, the application of the concept looks increasingly flawed. Extrapolating from linear, single-domain, state-on-state conflicts in the Napoleonic era to an information-age continuum of competition and across different cultural environments is fraught with challenges.
Furthermore, Clausewitz’s fundamental assertion that ‘war is an extension of politics by other means’ is not universally accepted and, if discredited, potentially undermines a number of military planning approaches centred on Clausewitzian principles.5 For example, if Michel Foucault’s proposal that ‘…we can invert Clausewitz’s proposition and say that politics is the continuation of war by other means…’is right, then a great many assumptions about conflict dynamics may be incorrect.6
This rather depressing ‘inversion’ approach (which, in effect, suggests that conflict rather than peace, is the default setting) arguably provides a better explanation of ‘constant competition’, so-called ‘grey-zone’ warfare, and Russian mobilizatsiya which ostensibly has already placed elements of the Russian state on a war-footing with the West during ‘peacetime’. 7
The planners’ comfort blanket in Afghanistan
Western military planners have been understandably reluctant to abandon the centre of gravity concept that is so well established in operations design, and have therefore found comfort in re-defining and adjusting the concept to fit modern conflicts, often at the expense of developing new conceptual approaches. The much less comfortable alternative is to replace centre of gravity analysis with something more effective. Unfortunately, a lack of consensus on what the alternative might look like, and how it might be practically applied, continues to favour use of the centre of gravity analysis.
The West’s enduring interest in ‘effects-based’ approaches (a continuing evolution) may offer a partial solution, but while such solutions are tied to centre of gravity based planning, fundamental flaws are likely to remain. The West’s adversary in Afghanistan was not a homogenous, unified, state-actor, but a loose coalition of anti-government or anti-Western irregular forces, often motivated by widely differing aims, possessing very different cultural perspectives. Given Western efforts to destroy them, they were also highly adaptive.
Consequently, in Afghanistan and other theatres of conflict, the West confronted complex and highly adaptive systems, possessing not one, but multiple ‘centres of gravity’ (in itself problematic) which frequently, and often rapidly changed over time. As Kilcullen observes: ‘field experience from Iraq, particularly, suggests that it may be harder, not easier, to defeat such a complex and disorganised swarm of opponents’. 8 The multiplicity of actors, each with their own aims, may represent what Clausewitz himself regarded as a challenge in reducing to a single centre of gravity the strength of the opposing forces.9
In Afghanistan, most planners could only posit centres-of-gravity based on rather wide and somewhat generic capabilities such as ‘the Taliban leadership’ or ‘Taliban fighters’. In such a diverse and adaptive system, the removal of Taliban leaders or fighters never resulted in anything more than a temporary pause as the ‘system’ adapted or tactics changed – a classic characteristic of ‘agents’ within a complex adaptive system.10 Decapitation strategies seldom have lasting positive effect and even risk opening up organisations to more radical or unpredictable leadership. What feels like success is all too often short-lived, despite the metrics that appear to support senior officers’ frequent claims of progress under their watch. Furthermore, such localised centres of gravity as existed in these conflicts were often illusory or fleeting targets.
The ‘silver bullet’ solution of unlocking the enemy’s centre of gravity, and thus achieving the desired end-state was never a realistic proposition in Afghanistan given the complex and adaptive nature of the operating environment, and yet planners continued to seek the elusive prize.11
Centres of gravity and complexity
The challenge surrounding centres-of-gravity has been around for some time. An attendee at Canadian Staff College in 2016 articulated the challenge in a paper entitled ‘A Flawed Approach: The Shortfalls of Centre of Gravity Analysis and Why it is irrelevant for ISIL’.12 Perhaps with even greater authority, Lawrence Freedman has frequently challenged the obsession with centres-of-gravity which he sums up in stark terms: ‘…countries, or indeed any political entities, or their armed forces, do not have COGs’.13 He is also on record as saying that the centre of-gravity was Clausewitz’s ‘…most confusing and worst contribution to strategic thought’.14 As someone who has taught centre-of-gravity analysis for many years, my own observation is that it too often drives planners towards over-simplification and linear thought processes that undermine their ability to grapple with more complex, dynamic, contemporary operating environments. The more complex the environment, the less likely we are to find a well-defined centre-of-gravity. The problem with using linear analytical tools such as centre of gravity analysis is that contemporary operational environments are complex adaptive systems.15
Such systems are invariably the product of a vast number of inputs, each of which may have a degree of agency, leverage, and influence on the activity or shape of the system itself. For example, in COIN operations, these inputs could include enemy leadership, religious or cultural norms, family relationships, tribal loyalties, financial and economic drivers, climate, topography, governance activity, competition, access to natural resources, historical narratives, personal security and many, many more.
At a macro level, individual leaders or actors may have any number of influences that affect their decision-making, often linked to the inputs listed above. But as recent work on decision variability demonstrates, the same individual might make a completely different decision on different days based not on pure logic, but on something as unpredictable as having a had a good meal, a decent night’s sleep, or having watched their favourite sports team beat the opposition.16 In the future, no matter how good artificial intelligence becomes, this essentially human trait will continue to confound prediction and will remain a source of surprise at every level of warfare. Viewed a different way, ‘there are features at the level of the system that are not apparent by looking at the constituent parts, the key point being that these new phenomena cannot be deduced from the study of the parts.’17
The limitations of a linear process
The linear analytical processes that characterise centre of gravity analysis are simply not capable of dealing with such variability in human decision-making. We should acknowledge that we will never be able to predict with absolute accuracy the outcomes (or ‘emergent properties’) of any given action in a human complex adaptive system. A cause-and-effect approach is far too linear and simplistic especially as we may never even accurately identify all the possible inputs. This view is echoed by Ian Kippen’s analysis in The Small Wars Journal in which he observes that… ‘during our Comprehensive Preparation of the Operational Environment (CPOE), we discover how our problem situation comprises multiple interconnected human systems that are autonomous and therefore prone to chance as much as probability; entity behaviour is almost impossible to predict’.18
The more complex and dynamic the system in which we operate, the more difficult prediction (and planning) becomes and, particularly in a military context, our very presence (even as impartial observers) has the potential to change the dynamics, the decision calculus, and indeed the outcomes in much the same way as the scientific ‘observer effect’ can affect the results of laboratory experiments.19 However, it is not all bad news. It also means that is that even small changes or stimuli, have the potential to create positive outcomes if correctly targeted and calibrated, in much the same way as chaos theory indicates how small changes in deterministic non-linear systems can result in significant changes to the wider system over time.20 ‘Time’, of course, is also an important consideration if more empirical approaches and small changes are to mature.
All too often, a lack of strategic thinking and a desire for a ‘quick win’ have dogged Western interventions, forcing a greater reliance on the rapid application of overwhelming force. However, ‘changes in the input characteristics or rules are not correlated in a linear fashion with outcomes. Small changes can have a surprisingly profound impact on overall behaviour, or vice-versa, a huge upset to the system may not affect it.’21 This property of complex adaptive systems goes a long way in explaining why linear processes are so ineffective in generating satisfactory outcomes.
It might be imagined that with sufficient resource and observation of a system, that effective stimuli could be identified with some certainty, however, such a proposition ignores what Clausewitz termed ‘the fog and friction of war’ which adds uncertainty to even the most well-rehearsed and trained-for military activities. War is non-linear and unpredictable by its very nature and therefore, arguably ‘exploring how the ideas behind how operational military planners could use the ideas behind complex adaptive systems on the battlefield warrants further thought.’22
The assumptions behind centre of gravity analysis
Although Clausewitz and those who have interpreted his work clearly understood the complexity of warfare, centre-of-gravity analysis (whichever method is used) relies on simple, linear ‘cause and-effect’ modelling as the basis of operations planning.23 However, ‘complex adaptive systems thinking challenges some of the assumptions that policy makers, planners and researchers may take for granted when interpreting things. These assumptions include:
That every observed effect has an observable cause.
Even the most complicated things can be understood by breaking down the whole into pieces and analysing it.
That if we analyse past events sufficiently, this will help to predict future events.’24
Arguably, one of the core assumptions about a centre of gravity is, that as ‘the primary source of power that provides an actor its strength, freedom of action, or will to fight’, it is subject to a degree of centralised control.25 However, in a complex adaptive system ‘there is no centralised control mechanism that governs system behaviour’.26 This highlights a major fault with putting centre-of-gravity analysis at the heart of our operations planning approach. Robert Dixon grasps the essential point when he observed that: ‘as science begins to describe the world in ways that reveal and rationalise its complexity, so should military doctrine.’27
When we embark on operations without understanding the complexity of the operating environment, we are highly unlikely to achieve success. As Patrick Porter suggests: ‘The harsh truth is that sometimes wars fail not because they are betrayed, or mismanaged, or wrongly narrated or sequenced, but because in wildly complex conditions with unrealistic aims, they just don’t work’.28 One might therefore conclude that before committing to military options, we really must try a lot harder to find alternative ways of approaching complex problems. Chris Tripodi echoes the sentiment about unrealistic aims in describing some Western interventions as ‘endeavours so ambitious that no degree of ground-level understanding can direct military actions to contribute meaningfully to the bloated objectives sought.’29
Adaptability is key
Considering that we are unlikely to completely understand or be able to influence all of the drivers in such systems, it would be easy to see the task as hopeless. And yet we deal with complex adaptive systems all the time and some degree of success can be achieved through careful experimentation, using small stimuli at first, in order to comprehend the effect on the overall system. This approach is the exact opposite of ‘shock and awe’ and also requires a high degree of adaptation on the part of those seeking to change the system outputs. Planners must be flexible and experimental in their approaches, willing to quickly abandon ideas that aren’t working and try something different, yet sadly, all too often the temptation is to commit further resources to support a bad plan. Adaptability is key, and commentators such as Barno and Besahel view adaptability as ‘one of the most, if not the most, important attributes of military forces’ and highlight the role that Professional Military Education (PME) should play in encouraging an adaptive mindset.30
The problems with measuring effect
Given the rapid interconnectivity of actors, cautious, incremental, and experimental approaches would also require effective and extremely rapid measurement of effects. As with all forms of experimentation, it is wise to start with small inputs and observe the responses they have and the ripple effects they cause within the system before applying significant force or attempting to amplify the desired effect. However, it should also be acknowledged that even a small initial stimulus changes the adaptive system (even if the change is not immediately evident), so repeating or scaling-up the stimulus does not guarantee the same or better results. Ideally, any inputs we make should also be rapidly reversible, but clearly, this cannot always be the case, particularly once military forces have been deployed, kinetic effects have been used, cyber weapons released, or information put in the public domain.
Kilcullen almost identifies this approach when he described what he believed to be the COIN methods employed in Afghanistan prior to 2021: ‘…the intellectual approach…is profoundly empiricist – identifying techniques and methods that work on the ground, then developing and extending these methods through a series of limited ‘field experiments’, to form a bottom-up tactically driven campaigning style rather than a doctrinaire approach based on the historical, 1960s theory of insurgency and counterinsurgency’.31 However, even with such an empirical approach, the desired strategic outcomes were not achieved. Perhaps it was because the West did not understand all of the levers and linkages. It may have been because despite best intentions to the contrary, the Taliban invariably forced ISAF into heavily kinetic responses that had profound and far-reaching second and third-order effects within the complex operating environment, but which seldom disrupted the overall system in the way the West hoped for.
Tripodi sums it up succinctly thus: ‘activity at the tactical and operational levels of war, no matter how well-informed, has an inherently unpredictable relationship with the successful attainment of one’s ultimate strategic objectives’.32 It seems the West was slow to learn. Referring to the decapitation operations carried out by special operations teams in Iraq, General McChrystal notes that ‘…these operations, though valuable, were also a two-edged sword. Particularly in irregular warfare (typically defined as unconventional or guerrilla warfare), violence can create as much opposition as it destroys or suppresses.’33
Is it complex, complicated, chaotic or obvious?
Another insight is provided by the Cynefin framework which reinforces the message that applying linear approaches to complex problems is unlikely to be successful.34 ‘Even with analysis, the problems are open to outside influences, not all of which are known. These situations require a non-linear, critical thinking approach; leaders who try to simplify complexity are likely to fail.’35 On the face of it, this is bad news for generations of leaders and planners whose default approach has been to ‘simplify the complex’, usually based on heuristics and biases that provide an approximate match for the situations they encounter.
When a hierarchy is an optional extra
There is another important, but uncomfortable observation about complex adaptive systems in a military context, in that the ‘agents’ in such systems are often widely distributed and do not require hierarchical control in order to function and adapt. Complex adaptive systems often possess the quality of ‘self organisation’ described by Donella Meadows as ‘the ability of a system to structure itself, to create new structures, to learn, or diversify’.36 The Western obsession with trying to identify adversarial concentrations of power or influence that are susceptible the use of ‘economical’ amounts of well-targeted precision attacks, may therefore be misplaced. Put another way, the problem could be interpreted as another version of the ‘mass-versus sophistication’ argument.
It may be that rather than looking for neatly targetable centres of gravity, the only way to tackle a complex adaptive system is to take action against as many individual agents as possible, something requiring large numbers of relatively unsophisticated capabilities rather than costly, exquisite, high-tech systems. However, most Western forces, driven by philosophical and financial considerations, are moving in the opposite direction.
Centres of gravity – what are they good for?
All this seems a long way from the centre of gravity analysis methodology that has been at the heart of Western operations planning, so does it mean that the centre of gravity analysis is worthless? Probably not. There may still be occasions when it is useful even if only as a means of identifying the levers that might trigger system adaptation and focussing our thinking about the effects we wish to create or amplify. Indeed, Eikmeier, a notable champion of the centre of gravity in doctrine argues that, despite the complexity of the contemporary operating environment, centre of gravity analysis remains important as a tool: ‘Utility in the context of the COG concept’s role in military planning has four criteria: It improves understanding, focuses planning, improves efficiency, and is not a distractor’.37 But whilst centre of gravity analysis undoubtedly retains some utility, its perceived benefits rarely, if ever, equate to finding a single entity, the destruction of which delivers strategic victory, especially in the presence of unattainable end-states.
Many of the activities the West did conduct in Afghanistan however, almost certainly had influence on the system – both at the time and potentially even extending beyond the present, despite the Taliban takeover even if ‘winning the hearts and minds’ of the Afghan people was an unrealistic aspiration. At an operational level, these activities resulted from identifying critical vulnerabilities (such as communications, mobility, funding, etc.) and targeting them directly, so it is possible that the centre-of-gravity analysis continues to have some localised utility.
Undoubtedly there will be many debates how the outcomes in Afghanistan and conflicts in other theatres could have been different, but it does seem possible, that with sufficient persistence and resources, the West and her allies could have prevailed, but at an enduring cost in blood and treasure that was deemed unaffordable given the probable benefits. Once again, time is a critical factor, and if the West is not prepared for the very long-haul and considerable cost, then its strategy has been poorly crafted or recklessly applied.
As military planners we constantly strive to simplify the complex using reductive analysis when arguably we should be much more comfortable embracing the complexity. We need better understanding of acting within complex adaptive systems, and we must resist the temptation to rely on purely linear, cause-and-effect mental models of the world around us. As Aaron Bazin suggests ‘understanding how complex adaptive operations could work may just provide a concrete and decisive military advantage to the future warfighter’.38
When researching this article, it was very noticeable how many different organisations are coming to recognise the challenges posed by complex adaptive systems. In fields as diverse as healthcare, business, science and nature, the study of complex adaptive systems is growing daily, and militaries everywhere can learn from this broad base of research. The first step however, is to introduce the study of complex adaptive systems in PME so we can equip a new generation of planners and decision-makers with the ability to at least recognise the challenges and methodologies for working within such systems. Wider research about the risks of military interventions in complex adaptive environments may reveal unwelcome implications for those advocating the use of military power as a means of ‘solving’ international crises.
Nevertheless, while Western militaries continue to be deployed at the behest of their politicians, effort spent trying to understand our complex, adaptive operating environment is never wasted effort, and a more empirical approach to effects-based operations is likely to be more effective than assuming that we have identified a centre-of-gravity and expecting a focused application of force to ‘unlock it’. We should approach the operations planning process, as well as our understanding of the strategic context, with a healthy degree of rigour based on critical thinking, and not just blindly applying doctrine that is rooted in Clausewitz’s 200-year-old observations. Is Clausewitz dead? You decide!
Guy Edwards is an MOD Civil Servant and former RAF aircrew wing commander who has accumulated over eleven years of experience as Directing Staff on the Advanced Command and Staff Course. During his military career he completed tours in the Falkland Islands, Afghanistan, MOD, and the UK’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre.
- Colonel JJ Graham’s 1874 translation of Clausewitz’s original ‘Schwerpunkt’ introduced the term ‘Centre of Gravity’ which has long been seen as something of a mis-translation.
- With this at least, there can be little doubt that Clausewitz was correct in his assertion that ‘The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish . . . the kind of war on which they are embarking.’
- The end state must be comprehensible, feasible, and attainable because it defines the ultimate criteria for the cessation of Alliance activities in a crisis region.’ Allied Joint Publication 5 (Edition A, Version 2, UK Change 1) Allied Joint Doctrine for the Planning of Operations p3-7.
- Ibid. p3-9.
- Or put another way, ‘…war is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse’ (from Colonel J J Graham’s translation).
- Foucault, Michel, “Society Must Be Defended”: Lectures at the Collège de France, edited by Mauro Bertani and Alessandro Fontana, translated by David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003) p15.
- Monaghan, Andrew, Russian State Mobilization. Chatham House, May 2016. ‘The Russian state has a multifaceted and specific definition of mobilization (mobilizatsiya). It is a ‘complex of state measures for activating the resources, strength and capabilities for the achievement of military political aims’. It includes practical measures for the transition on to a war footing of the country’s military, economic and state institutions at all levels (general mobilization), or of some part of them (partial mobilization).’
- Kilcullen, David. Counterinsurgency: The State of a Controversial Art Chapter 11 p139 in The Routledge Handbook of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency. Ed. Paul Rich and Isabelle Duyvesteyn, Routledge, New York 2012.
- Clausewitz observes that if the centres-of-gravity of several enemies cannot be reduced to just one centre-of-gravity the ‘…case supposes the substantive independence of several enemies, consequently a great superiority of the whole, therefore in this case the overthrow of the enemy cannot, in general, come into question.’ Vom Kreige Book 8 Chapter IV.
- ‘CAS agents…are largely autonomous with only local knowledge; and, as constituent parts of a larger system, are easily replaced by similar agents without disrupting the emergent features of that system.’ Carmichael & Hadzikadic, The Fundamentals of Complex Adaptive Systems published on ResearchGate, June 2019. p8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333780588_The_Fundamentals_of_Complex_Adaptive_Systems accessed 22 Sep 21
- Although beyond the scope of this paper, we might also consider usefulness of the concept of an end-state in a dynamic environment. A ‘static’ or unchanging end-state may be unattainable, and a meaningful dynamic end-state maybe be unsustainable
- Maj F H Gould ‘A Flawed Approach: The Shortfalls of Centre of Gravity Analysis and Why It Is Irrelevant for ISIL’ CFC 2016 https://www.cfc.forces.gc.ca/259/290/318/305/gould.pdf accessed 23 Sep 21.
- Freedman, Lawrence. Stop Looking for the Center of Gravity. War on the Rocks 24 Jun 2014. https://warontherocks.com/2014/06/stop-looking for-the-center-of-gravity/ accessed 19 Nov 21.
- Freedman, Lawrence, in an address to the International Institute for Strategic Studies on 21 Nov 2013. (Available https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0NYsmm_f8c&t=1532s)
- This excerpt from HBR provides a useful model for understanding complex adaptive systems: ‘A complex adaptive system has three characteristics. The first is that the system consists of a number of heterogeneous agents, and each of those agents makes decisions about how to behave. The most important dimension here is that those decisions will evolve over time. The second characteristic is that the agents interact with one another. That interaction leads to the third—something that scientists call emergence: In a very real way, the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. The key issue is that you can’t really understand the whole system by simply looking at its individual parts.’ Tim Sullivan. Embracing Complexity, Harvard Business Review. Sep 2011 https://hbr.org/2011/09/embracing-complexity accessed 19 Sep 2021. 17
- (e.g. Daniel Kahneman et al ‘Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment’)
- Cudworth, Erika and Hobden, Stephen. Posthuman International Relations: Complexity Ecologism, and Global Politics. Zed Books, London (2011) Chap. 5.
- Kippen, Ian. Help the Plan Survive: Write Better Decisive Conditions. Small Wars Journal 26 Sep 2017. https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/help the-plan-survive-contact-write-better-decisive-conditions#_edn18 accessed 1 Dec 21.
- The ‘observer effect’ is the disturbance or change of an observed object resulting from our observation of it, typically due to measurement (in scientific experiments) or by awareness of being observed (in human interactions).
- In particular the ‘Butterfly Effect’ described by Edward Lorenz in his work on the instability of the earth’s atmosphere.
- Chan, Serena. Complex Adaptive Systems MIT ESD.83 Research Seminar in Engineering Systems Nov 2001. https://web.mit.edu/esd.83/www/notebook/Complex%20Adaptive%20Systems.pdf accessed 4 Sep 21. p4.
- Bazin, Aaron Complex Adaptive Operations on the Battlefield of the Future (article) published online by the Modern War Institute 2017. https://mwi.usma.edu/complex-adaptive-operations-battlefield-future/ accessed 1 Oct 21.
- For example Strong and Iron’s Critical Capabilities, Critical Requirements and Critical Vulnerabilities model, or Eikmeier’s Ends, Ways, and Means approach
The Evidence Centre on behalf of the Health Foundation: Complex Adaptive Systems – Aug 2010. https://www.health.org.uk/sites/default/files/ComplexAdaptiveSystems.pdf accessed 15 Sep 21.
- AJP-5 Op Cit. p3.9.
- Chan, Op Cit. p3.
- Dixon, Robert. Clausewitz, Center of Gravity, and the Confusion of a Generation of Planners in Small Wars Journal Oct 2015. https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/clausewitz-center-of-gravity-and-the-confusion-of-a-generation-of-planners accessed 21 Sep 21.
- 29 Porter, Prof Patrick. Article ‘The noise before defeat’ in The Critic, published October 2021. https://thecritic.co.uk/issues/october-2021/the-noise before-defeat/ accessed 1 Oct 2
- 30 Tripodi, Dr Chris. The Unknown Enemy: Counterinsurgency and the Illusion of Control. Cambridge University Press 2020. p14. 31 Afghanistan: the battle for hearts and bullet points. The Times, London. 28 Apr 2010. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/afghanistan-the battle-for-hearts-and-bullet-points-vtpwkgrt5v5 accessed 10 Oct 21.
- Barno, Lt Gen David and Besahel, Dr Nora. Adaptation Under Fire: How Militaries Change in Wartime. Oxford University Press 2020. Chapter 12
- Barno Op.Cit. p143.
- Tripodi. Op Cit. p37.
- McChrystal, General Stanley and Butrico Anna. Risk. Penguin Business 2021. Page 152.
- The Cynefin framework classifies challenges into five contexts defined by the nature of the relationship between cause and effect: simple, complicated, complex, chaotic or disorder.
- MCDC Project: Future Leadership. Published Dec 2020. p14. (Article author’s emphasis.)
- Meadows, Donella H. Thinking in Systems: A Primer. Pub. Martina 2008.
- Eikmeier, Col Dale C. The Center of Gravity – Still Relevant After All These Years? Military Review. Published by Army University Press, May 2017. https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/Online-Exclusive/2017-Online-Exclusive-Articles/The-Center-of-Gravity/ accessed 5 Oct 21.
- Bazin Op Cit.