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Stability Operations Information Center - 09 Mar 2010

Stability Operations Information Center - 09 Mar 2010

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Published by pkryan

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Published by: pkryan on Mar 25, 2010
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 The Stability Operations Information Center (SOIC)
Comprehensive Understanding for
Comprehensive Operations
“In studying the laws for directing wars that occur at different historical stages, that differ in nature and that are waged in different places and by different nations, we must fix our attention on the characteristics and development of each, and must oppose a mechanical approach to the problem of war
.” -
 Mao Tse Tung
 The complexities of COIN present significant challenges toward developing adequateunderstanding of the operating environment. Most of DoD’s doctrine and organizationswere developed for war between nation states. In fact, the governing logic of ourplanning processes and our staff organizations was built on deductive logic wheresyllogism, reductionism, and other “engineering” approaches produced adequate resultswhen applied against foes organized and guided by like logical constructs. However, thecontemporary operating environment is not offering us a mirrored logical construct toplan and execute against. The conflicts we find ourselves engaged in now, and likely inthe future, are “irregular” conflicts where many conventional military processes andorganizations are often unable to deliver adequate results. “War amongst the people” isby nature more complex than conventional warfare and requires new ways of thinking,new processes and new organizations capable of absorbing information and fusing it intounderstanding that effectively enables comprehensive action.TRADOC pamphlet 525-5-500 describes an experimental cognitive process to create ashared understanding of complex operational problems. The pamphlet is a response to theneed for generating greater understanding of complex problems before embarking onoperational design. It is the author’s opinion that the concepts and processes described inthe pamphlet are as critical to
 planning and execution
as they are to operational designand that legacy staff organizations are inadequate toward generating the type of sharedcomprehensive understanding required to be successful in the Contemporary OperatingEnvironment (COE). This paper will argue that the RC (W) Stability OperationsInformation Center (SOIC) model is the type of organization that is capable of institutionalizing the concepts and processes described in
TRADOC Pam 525-5-500
toward greater understanding, not just during operational design, but also duringcampaign planning and the execution of operations in the contemporary operatingenvironment.II.
Information Management in COIN
 Information consists of f acts, data, or instructions in any medium or form and themeaning that a human assigns to data by means of the known conventions used in theirrepresentation.However, not all information is the same. Information has differentquality characteristics and must be evaluated before it is utilized. Furthermore,information that is both relevant and timely may not be of value at the moment acommander must make a decision because information has
relative value
when comparedto other information.In the COIN environment information is also interactive, meaning that the context thatinformation resides within must be understood before information can becomeknowledge and eventually understanding. Unless information is received evaluated andprioritized in a collaborative environment, the relationships between the interactiveaspects of information will be lost as will the context required to achieve comprehensiveand timely understanding.
3Additionally, for a commander to understand the dynamic environment of COINoperations he must have more than a fixed and limited appreciation of the situation; acommander must have a
 timely and comprehensive flow of relevant information
. Thistimely flow is known as feedback. Feedback is the information that allows thecommander to adjust his perception of the situation and modify command action asneeded. Feedback juxtaposes the commander’s goals with the situation as it is currentlyperceived. Information in the form of feedback may come from any direction and in anyform—academic products, Key Leader Engagements (KLEs), surveys, reports fromsubordinate or adjacent units, battle damage assessments, source operations, or tribalengagements.However, there are a number of factors in a COIN environment that inhibit our collectiveability to share information while working toward a common goal. Impediments include:
Language and cultural barriers and the lack of familiarity between partners.
A lack of trust.
Failure to Adapt - the inability or unwillingness of an individual or organizationto change even in the face of obvious need.
Bureaucratic Inflexibility - every Nation and every organization has a pre-existingstructure that is often slow and change resistant.
National Policies - some well intentioned national policies impede the routinesharing of information to a degree that harms the collective effort to a greaterdegree than any protections afforded. An example is our mono-nationalinformation classification policies make it difficult to share information rapidlyand effectively in a multi-national environment.On the positive side there are COIN Information Management (IM) techniques thatenhance our ability to effectively communicate and achieve comprehensiveunderstanding. Some examples are:
Transparency - letting our partners see what we are doing.
Information exchange - setting up functional mechanisms that allow us to passinformation between two or more partners. The most common example is theexchange of Liaisons.
Coordination - between NATO and US units this occurs on a regular basis, but isless common between civilian and military entities or between the coalition andAfghan partners.
Collaboration – more than coordination, collaboration is working together on acommon project and seeking a mutually agreed upon outcome.
Fusion - the merging of efforts into a single common goal or end state – even if only for a short period of time.
Full integration would involve the seamless sharing of information on acontinuous basis and for an extended period of time in support of fused operationsand activities in order to achieve our operational objectives.

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