Applying Ends, Ways, & Means to the Spectrum of Conflict

Applying Ends, Ways, & Means to the Spectrum of Conflict

by Tom Clark and Bruce Stanley, Small Wars Journal Op-Ed

Applying Ends, Ways, & Means to the Spectrum of Conflict (Full PDF Article)

Can we have a meaningful discussion of full spectrum operations in one dimension? If we take the 2008 edition of FM 3-0, Operations, spectrum of conflict at face value the answer is yes. As depicted, full spectrum operations consist of a "ways" based framework. Such a framework stands in stark contrast to the remainder of FM 3-0 as well as other new doctrine manuals such as FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, and FM 3-07, Stability Operations.

All good models clarify complex topics. In using a simple model there is a danger of losing the clarity and completeness necessary to gain understanding. This is the problem with a one-dimension model to explain full spectrum operations -- we traded clarity and completeness for simplicity.

FM 3-0, Operations, tells us that military operations occur within a complex framework of environmental factors. A contributing factor to complexity is the integration of activities of government and non-government entities with military operations to achieve unity of effort. Joint planning integrates military power with other instruments of national power to achieve a desired end state. Full spectrum operations involves more than simultaneous execution of offensive, defensive, and stability operations.

FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, tells us counterinsurgency is an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through subversion and armed conflict. Political power is the central issue as each side aims to get the people to accept its governance or authority as legitimate. Counterinsurgents use all instruments of national power to sustain the established or emerging government.

FM 3-07, Stability Operations, tells us that our military history is one of stability operations punctuated by episodes of major combat. Conflict transformation focuses on converting the dynamics of conflict into processes for constructive, positive change. Conflict transformation is the process of reducing the means and motivations for violent conflict while developing more viable, peaceful alternatives for the competitive pursuit of political and socioeconomic aspirations.

In the Fall 2006 Air and Space Power Journal, Dr Jack Kem wrote that transformation effects are difficult to assess under a one-dimension model. He proposes that effective transformation involves four specific considerations: the strategic context, the ends or purpose for transformation, ways or methods to achieve the ends, and means or resources to accomplish the ways.

Applying Ends, Ways, & Means to the Spectrum of Conflict (Full PDF Article)

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new doctrine manuals such as FM 3-34, Counterinsurgency

You frightened me there for a moment. I haven't yet finished reading FM 3-24, and already there's a newer version? Happily I see that the hyperlink leads to the Nagl/Petraeus edition, which has been characterized as 'warfare for graduate students'--i.e., combat in which one never gets coated with blood and shit from the guy standing next to one. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford