Small Wars Journal

More on EBO (Updated)

Update: Inside Defense was kind enough to place the article Mattis Sparks Vigorous Debate On Future Of Effects-Based Ops on a page that can be viewed by non-subscribers. SWJ hat tip to Dan Dupont. The discussion is continuing at Small Wars Council...

Christopher J. Castelli of Inside Defense (subscription required) has more on General Jim Mattis' Effects Based Operations memo and the "vigorous debate" that followed. Excerpts from the article:

Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis' decision to exorcise the term "effects-based operations" from US Joint Forces Command's vocabulary is sparking passionate debate as the military mulls potentially sweeping implications for doctrine, training and operations.

Over the last decade, the Air Force has promoted effects-based operations (EBO) as a revolution in warfare -- operations aimed at producing certain effects, as opposed to merely damaging or destroying targets. It is supposed to be backed by a framework called operational net assessment (ONA) enabling commanders to capitalize on unprecedented high-tech information about the battlespace as well as an analytical process called system of systems analysis (SoSA) focused on exploiting enemy vulnerabilities.

But somewhere along the way it all stopped making sense, according to Mattis, who writes in an Aug. 14 memo that EBO, ONA and SoSA are "fundamentally flawed" and must be removed from the military's lexicon, training and operations...

There has been a spirited debate about EBO in recent years. Critics such as retired Marine Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper and Naval War College professor Milan Vego have vivisected the concept, while Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, one of EBO's main proponents, and other advocates like Naval War College professor James Ellsworth have repeatedly argued its merits.

Mattis' memo is not the end of the debate, but the start of a new chapter. Deptula is defending EBO while welcoming further discussions that will follow from JFCOM's guidance.

"I stand by the efficacy of EBO as a proven joint planning construct and welcome internal discussions on the topic as different viewpoints in joint doctrine are important in raising dialogues that ultimately result in enhancing joint force operations," Deptula tells Inside the Pentagon...

Not surprisingly, the memo is ruffling feathers in Air Force circles.

Before Deptula provided comments on the missive to ITP, Air Force headquarters referred questions on the topic to retired officers like McInerney (retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney) , who unloaded heaps of criticism.

"Even though I am no longer on active duty I am embarrassed for a combatant commander to publish such a document," McInerney says. "I am a fan of Mattis but this is too much."

McInerney even encouraged combatant commanders to "ignore" what he sees as a shocking memo.

In an e-mail to ITP, McInerney calls JFCOM's missive the "most parochial, un-joint, biased, one-sided document launched against a concept that was key in the transformation of warfare -- and proven in the most successful U.S. military conflicts of the past 20 years (Desert Storm and Allied Force)."...

McInerney concedes EBO has been twisted and over-hyped, but he blames JFCOM.

Much, much more at ITP -- praise, criticism and "between the lines" - this article alone is worth the price of a subscription. Also, the discussion continues at Small Wars Council.