Defence Planning

Armed Forces as a Learning Organisation

Confronted with formidable challenges of counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States military realised that their old ways of conducting warfare were irrelevant and that they had to relearn the forgotten tricks of “small wars” anew. In this quest, the U.S. military leadership became fascinated with a rather old managerial concept of learning organisation: the counterinsurgency manual of 2006 explicitly refers to the imperative for the U.S. military to turn itself into a smart learning organisation as a precondition for long-term success in current and future military campaigns.

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Gift Horses

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” say the English, meaning that if someone makes you a present of a horse, you don’t show ingratitude by inspecting its teeth to see how old it is. It’s a free horse – you accept it with thanks.

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The Risk of Threat-Based Planning

With the end of the Cold War, other missions and tasks beyond the physical defence of territories and populations – notably, international peace support operations – gained greater emphasis in NATO member states. Hand in hand with these changes, threat-based planning has become unfashionable and new approaches have been developed to replace it. These approaches require defence planners to consider the range of operations their armed forces might have to undertake and to seek to design force structures that are robust and flexible enough to deal with this full range of future challenges. In this way, planning approaches such as scenario- and capability-based planning explicitly seek to prepare armed forces to face an uncertain future.

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