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Sharpening the Combat Edge

Sharpening the Combat Edge

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Published by gtrazor
Vietnam Sharpening the Combat Edge
Us Military History
Vietnam Sharpening the Combat Edge
Us Military History

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Published by: gtrazor on Nov 18, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/14/2013

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CHAPTER I
Introduction
At its inception this monograph was visualized as a brief treatment of "OperationsResearch Techniques as Applied to the Battlefield in Vietnam." Initially, it was assumedthat there was little documented use of these techniques in Vietnam. However, initialresearch disclosed that there was a fairly common use of the simpler types of suchtechniques and consequently more material than could be managed usefully. The primarydifficulty lay in evaluating second hand the extent to which military judgment on the onehand and analytical techniques on the other contributed to the final result of variousstudies and operations.It was therefore decided that this monograph should be narrowed to focus on the use of analysis in combat operations and to concentrate on the use of such techniques insituations with which the authors were personally familiar. The monograph thereforecovers primarily the systematic blending of military judgment, data collection, andsimple problem-solving techniques as performed in the 9th Infantry Division and II FieldForce Vietnam in the period 1968-1970. Considerable success was achieved in improvingcombat effectiveness fairly rapidly by these means. However, this use of analysis wasneither systematic nor sophisticated. A more organized effort might have had a greater  payoff.There is a tendency in the Army to distrust operations research due to some rather unpleasant experiences with its use (or misuse) during the Robert S. McNamara-Dr.Alain C. Enthoven regime. However, one can take little exception to the definition of operations research contained in AR 320-5, Dictionary of United States Army Terms:"The analytical study of military problems, undertaken to provide responsiblecommanders and staff agencies with a scientific basis for decision on action to improvemilitary operations. Also known as operational research, operations analysis."Quite simply, operations analysis is an approach to problem solving that makes it possible to use systematic logic and often mathematical techniques to arrive at a decisionwhich will optimize an operation or objective. The key factor in a decision problem is todetermine the objective. The task of the decision maker then is
[3]
 
THE LEADER IN ACTIONto choose a course of action which optimizes this objective function.Every decision problem involves one or more inputs which are subject to the control of the decision maker. Any combination of controllable variables is called a course of action. Therefore, the
 
essence of decision making is the selection of the appropriate con-
[4]
trollable inputs. As we will discuss later our most important inputs were infantry unitsand aviation assets. There may often be uncontrollable variables also. This can lead toreal problems.

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