Lieutenant Colonel David E.A. Johnson (USA)
Avoiding the Stellenbosch Syndrome: A Strategy, Operational
Concepts and Measures of Effectiveness for the War on Terror
- PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to recommend a framework
for the War on Terror that provides direction and efficiency for Military
- GENERAL: The US faces an asymmetric, non-linear, multi-polar
battlefield without clearly defined victory conditions, blurring the
distinctions between civilian and military, War and Peace. We recommend a
strategy based upon adaptation of the risk management process to identify
victory conditions. We further identify the following operational concepts
that support this strategy: transformational intelligence-driven operations,
Operational Net Assessment and the use of targeting processes, Special
Operations Forces (SOF) executive agency and control of large General Purpose
Force (GPF) formations, and Joint and Interagency operations that focus all
lines of operations. Finally, we illustrate how we can develop measures of
effectiveness tied to the risk management strategy.
- BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION:
- Traditional militaries deal with greater uncertainty by dividing
terrain into sectors, inefficiently dividing scarce resources, and failing
to identify a main effort or measures of effectiveness. This results in
subordinate commanders making force protection the primary measure of
performance and awaiting rotation to a better-understood environment,
creating a reactive paralysis.
- Political objectives can be implied from the National Security Strategy.
It is risk to these objectives that must be reduced by creating appropriate
- Risk and Threat are synonymous. Probability can be measured by factors,
which create intent to act hostile to our political interests. Severity can
be measured by factors, which create a threat capability to damage these
interests. Threat factions and fault lines can be quantified to prioritize
efforts using an adapted risk assessment matrix. These threats can be
reduced in turn.
- To reduce threat intent or capability requires understanding threat
systems: leadership, ideology, structure, control, sanctuary, and supply to
see first, then strike. Once these systems are understood a modified target
analysis and Joint Targeting Board process can select subsystems and nodes.
The best method to address the objective battlefield is to use a like
force. This tool is a super-Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force,
which should be the Combatant Command main effort. GPF should be in support
of SOF efforts. All operations should integrate Operational Maneuver,
Operational Fires, Unconventional Warfare, Information Operations, and
Civil Military Operations.
- Measures of effectiveness (MOE) are determined by the factors used to
judge threat intent and capability in the risk assessment matrix. Thus MOE
are tied to the risk management strategy. Risk and MOE are only
pseudo-quantifiable and used to judge prioritization of effort and as a
general indicator of required force structure, since this battle is
primarily political art. "Conditions-based" decisions must be tied to both
MOE and Measures of Performance.
- As interests of factions and multinational partners diverge from our
long-term objectives, a risk management strategy, which includes "outside
the box" threats", will cue forces to shift focus, preventing us from
winning the fight against one faction only to lose the war to another.
Failure to establish a framework with Strategy, Operational Concepts and
MOE will result in inefficient use of resources and a longer process to the
advantage to our adaptive enemies.
DAVID E. A. JOHNSON
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army
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David E.A. Johnson, Senior Fellow
Lt. Col. David Johnson is a senior research fellow with the Center for Advanced
Defense Studies and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Paris in Theoretical
Information Science. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West
Point, a Graduate of the Command and General Staff Course, the Joint Defense College
(France), and holds a Masters Degree in the History of Strategy from the Sorbonne. An
Army Strategist, he has recently served as an Army Legislative Liaison with the House
of Representatives, Chief of Plans for the Combined Joint Special Operations Task
Force in Northern Iraq and Chief of Plans for the Combined Joint Special Operations
Task Force for the Arabian Peninsula. He is currently assigned as Chief of the
Special Operations Theater Support Element-Central Command. His dissertation is in
the domain of intention awareness with implications for wireless encryption and the
creation of organization independent software. He has participated in numerous
working groups for the development of military decision-making systems, both American
and French. He has published articles in Infantry and Special
This work is posted along the "Fair Use of Copyrighted Works" provisions.
This work was originally published by:
The Center for Advanced Defense Studies
The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052
with the following provisio:
This work reflects the opinions of the author and not the official
positions of The George Washington University, The Department of Defense, or
any other organization with which the author is affiliated.
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