Why Acronyms are Ruining Shared Military Understanding
With nearly two decades of military service, I find that instead of being able to masterfully navigate through my profession’s language and knowledge base, I continue to struggle amid a blizzard of confusing, often contradictory acronyms. We speak a foreign language called ‘jargon-ese.’ Although the innocuous acronym is alone hardly a threat or worth writing an article over, how we misuse the concept and torture our shared understanding is becoming an increasing threat to our ability to communicate within and outside our military organizations. Confronting our addiction to acronyms is hard because as a military, we tend to hold onto bad habits once they become part of our culture. “This means institutions may persist even when…they have lost their original functionality or practicality…” 
The military, like most other professions, enjoys a specialized knowledge base, complete with unique language, customs, and procedures that those outside the profession have a difficult time grasping.  One particular linguistic aspect of our profession is the widespread use of acronyms. We litter our military lexicon with a blizzard of acronyms, many times re-using the same ones to create rival definitions, and constantly inventing new ones seemingly the moment enough of our population grasps the old terminology. Granted, such a topic comes so naturally to our military that we rarely give it a second thought.  Why question the acronym usage when there are so many other strategic and tactical issues to contemplate? Yet critical thinking and reflection functions by challenging and improving our logic, or how we make sense of the world and orchestrate military action to accomplish our goals.  Yes, even the military acronym is not beyond the usefulness of reflexivity. By ‘reflexivity’, I mean when we seek to frame a situation, we must include ourselves as a factor that impacts how the system transforms.  We change things as we attempt to make sense of them. This is not only a discussion about acronyms, it is a discussion on complexity and how our military attempts to understand the world.
When we identify something that was once efficient but now misused by the institution, we owe it to the better self-improvement to explore why this happened, and how we might improve our processes and avoid greater friction. Reflexive practice often becomes increasingly difficult when the institution either is unaware or holds the process under examination as a cherished tenet.  In this case, let’s take a critical look at the acronym and whether we are helping or hurting collective understanding within our organization.
The acronym, conceptually speaking, exists to increase the speed of communication among a profession or within a subset of that profession. Similar to the slang process in many languages, acronyms are taught throughout a particular group so that they are no longer required to communicate a longer, more cumbersome term or group of words. The interest of transmission versus shared understanding generates some costs we will explore shortly. Once ‘coined’ and introduced into the military lexicon, acronyms become part of our bureaucratic and administrative structure, which generates doctrine in a centralized process with the justification to increase organizational uniformity and reliability.
Thus, organizations prosper in communication when acronyms increase their efficiency, while we hamper organizations when the acronym process breaks down this linguistic efficiency for a variety of reasons.  I propose that the military is suffering from a growing communication ailment where our misuse of acronyms have decreased our performance, alienated other government branches and associated organizations that are essential to military performance, and created fractions and fissures within our own organizations. We have constructed a ‘Tower of Babel’, and in today’s high-paced technological age of increased complexity, our acronym compulsion actually inhibits how we talk to others as well as ourselves. Paradoxically, they now serve the opposite purpose of their purported design. Consider the following observations:
- We now speak in ‘jargon-ese’ that is essentially a foreign language to those outside the military.
- Many of our acronyms have multiple meanings or are confusing.
- There are too many acronyms in our current military lexicon, and our desire to compartmentalize and favor technology drives us to make more.
- The rate of acronym creation exceeds our own editing rate for reduction.
- More acronyms are shared by the few instead of the many.
- Self-interest and self-marketing of products and ideas spawns even more acronyms that are in competition with rival products and concepts that also feature acronyms.
Further, our own institutionalisms that constructed this dangerous ‘Tower of Babel’ are resistant to change, and many of our processes remain unaware despite these deficiencies occurring in plain sight.  Treating our acronym compulsion will hardly solve any of the larger problems facing the military, however incremental change through critical queries, regardless of the scale or content, do lead to an increased appreciation of why critical thinking is vital.  We may start with talking about acronyms, but trigger subsequent discussions on deeper institutionalisms afoot in our military.
To reflect critically about acronyms and the military, I introduce in this article a combination of several design management concepts, social science approaches on systems appreciation, with Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s collaborative concept of ‘social knowledge construction’ to help frame military thinking. Specifically, we seek to address how the military thinks about language, but more importantly how we think about thinking about language as a military. This is why reflexivity is essential for challenging institutionalisms that continue to burden us organizationally.
‘Of Jargon Epidemics and Rice Bowls’
We tend to function as a military hierarchy that centralizes decision-making and relies on doctrine, repetition, and categorization to drive uniformity in performance.  However, many of these strengths paradoxically become weaknesses by inhibiting creativity, adaptation, experimentation, and critical reflection. Consider that repetition is often the antithesis of creativity in that the former seeks controlled standardization while the latter avoids repetition and desires novel value. 
Of all of these, critical reflection is most relevant in that when we prevent ourselves from considering what processes we perform poorly, or we protect cherished actions or concepts, we insulate ourselves from adaptation.  In other words, if the naked king refuses to listen to anyone but those that admire his magical clothes, his royal bum will continue to streak down the castle hallways, while those that benefit from this will continue to compliment his wardrobe. 
At all levels of our military policy making from our top decision makers at the Pentagon down to tactical commanders, we share responsibility in how acronym usage went from increased efficiency into confusing, marginalizing, and preventing groups from communicating about concepts and actions. Acronym confusion permeates our organizations, although often we become tolerant of it due to other cultural and institutional forces that seek self-relevance at the expense of shared understanding.
One anecdote from my own experiences occurred regarding Company Intelligence Support Teams, or ‘CoISTs’. While most, but not our entire tactical unit shared understanding on what CoIST meant, my unit was a Cavalry unit and called a company a ‘troop’ as a concerted reflection of our military lineage. Thus, when one unit promoted their new CoIST standard operating procedures, or CoIST SOP, they changed ‘Company’ to ‘Troop’ in the acronym. Thus, ‘CoIST’ became ‘TIST’, which caused a great deal of confusion within our organization while we attempted to discuss the new manual produced by one of the squadrons.
This bewilderment occurred when discussing internally, as well as when discussing with outside our Regiment with other organizations in the Army. Changing the acronym had nothing to do with increasing the efficiency of it, and everything to do with reinforcing an organizational narrative about how cavalry units are distinct from the rest of the Army. Thus, the rice-bowl aspect of acronym construction adds a sociological element to how we frame this issue. 
Intentional or not, we seem driven to separate ourselves through different language, customs, and identities- every military service and branches within these services demonstrate this organizational behavior.  While individual acronym abuses appear trivial, cumulatively over time they render an organization paralyzed because subcomponents and specialty sections have insulated themselves and are unable to articulate concepts and actions to others. Thus a ‘jargon epidemic’ further fragments an organization’s shared understanding and isolates sub-groups through perpetual categorization using the preferred traditional worldview.
As Dent writes in ‘Complexity Science: A Worldview Shift’, classical science of reductionism, linear causality, objective observation, and using the scientific method to unlock everything within a complex situation is what the western world (and our military) prefer as a worldview, yet it no longer serves as a reliable guide.  Our ‘jargon epidemics’ continue because as we encounter change in military situations, we tend to apply new acronyms atop of existing ones, and branch out with even more until only specialists within that sub-component are literate in their meanings. See figure 1 below on ‘improvised explosive devices’ or IEDs for one example based on acronyms found in one military intelligence analysis. 
Figure 1 helps illustrate how over time, the original acronym for ‘improvised explosive device’ began to spawn many subordinate acronyms as conflicts evolved and our tendency to reduce, categorize, and apply classical scientific processes drove new acronyms for various conceptual aspects as well as component-related and delivery means for these weapons. Thus a U.S. Army intelligence analyst might quip, “The MDCOA for MOA of CWIED with NMC is for INS to use YPOC with HME as a TTP” in conversation using the latest blizzard of IED acronyms. Yet only a tiny fragment of the military community can honestly translate that sentence, and this occurs regularly within virtually every sub-component, branch, service, and specialized organization within our military. 
For instance, our logisticians employ myriad acronyms that do not exist outside the narrow confines of the sustainment playing field, while our intelligence elements wield an equally impressive litany of acronyms that are further frustrated by unique classification requirements and extremely dense technical specifications. Aviators speak their own language (so to speak), while the Army medical community uses entirely different acronyms divorced from the larger institution as well. Further, many elements attach organizational pride to various acronym structures where only those within the specific field, branch, or specialization are knowledgeable and articulate, and the dense groupings of acronyms create a barrier of exclusiveness where outsiders are unable to access. Not only are we building a Babel Tower, but also we are locking different doors within it to isolate not just our organization from governmental and other agencies, but from ourselves!
Sociologists Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman argue that as our societies construct shared knowledge, there are caretakers that exist to protect and maintain the form and unique nature of these conceptual forms, akin to fortresses of knowledge resisting attacks from outsiders.  Military strategist Shimon Naveh also likens the military obsession with doctrine and hierarchical decision-making to similar processes in religious and scientific institutions. Western science and religion throughout history sought to maintain “a privileged and proprietary lock on learning and knowledge” where our bureaucratic structures “makes possible the codification and logical centralization of doctrine.”  Our doctrine is saturated with myriad acronyms to the point that we even maintain entire books that define doctrine and terms.
While some acronyms provide utility through ease of communication, we have reached a point where the military routinely ‘speaks a foreign language’ that requires an interpreter. Fellow government agencies such as the State Department, the National Security Agency, non-government agencies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, businesses, and our politicians and diplomats require military personnel or former military within their element to help explain and interpret military jargon. Further, we find confusion between military services and within particular branches with routine operations. The Army favors particular acronyms and jargon, while the Air Force leans toward Joint Operational doctrine and lexicon. The Marines have their own language, while Special Operations continues the trend as well.
Even within a service lexicon, we often double-tap acronyms by introducing new ones that repeat the letter structure of an existing one. For example, does NMC mean non mission capable or non metallic content? Is C&S a ‘command and staff’ briefing, or a ‘cordon and search’ operation? Is RFI ‘request for information’ or ‘rapid fielding initiative’? Does ASAP stand for ‘as soon as possible’ or for the ‘Army Substance Abuse Program’? Is PRT short for ‘provincial reconstruction team’ or ‘physical readiness training’? Are we going on a ‘battlefield circulation’ or to a ‘border flag conference’ when we say BFC? Is FLA the ‘forward limit of advance’ or ‘field litter ambulance’? These double-acronyms reflect poor decisions on behalf our organization for introducing new concepts while attempting to ‘car-jack’ other established acronyms in our lexicon. In the business world, companies face law suits for this behavior. In the military, we seem satisfied with intentionally confusing ourselves.
With the boom of technological innovation in the past decade of persistent conflict, a tidal wave of new gadgets, systems, and innovations have flooded our lexicon with new terms and acronyms without many of the existing conceptual acronyms giving way. With the never-ending creation of new acronyms, we often re-use existing ones both within military lexicon and from our mainstream societal language where confusion and miscommunication increases. This in itself is a corrosive phenomenon; however there is yet another tension within our institution that compounds this into further de-synchronization.
‘A Never-Ending Game of “Whack-a-Mole” with Acronyms’
While language remains a perpetually changing, adapting form as a society progresses through time, the cycles of language creation and destruction usher in new terms while abandoning obsolete ones.  Some terms such as ‘horsepower’ outlive original forms and thrive in the age of automotive propulsion, while other terms and concepts associated with outdated processes fade out of our lexicon.  Although this occurs with military acronyms, particularly when replacing equipment or technology with newer forms, many of our conceptual acronyms appear to remain almost impervious to editing. We must critically think about our values and military culture in order to reflect upon acronyms that might be obsolete or inadequate, yet remain heavily in use due to institutionalisms and protecting one’s self-relevance (rice bowls).  For example, psychological operations struggles with an acronym identity crisis of sorts with the latest ‘MISO’ label, while most military professionals use the older PSYOP acronym in conversations despite psychological operations professionals protesting the outdated terminology!  Are we unable to effectively edit our lexicon because of our doctrinal processes, or are there sociological, conceptual or cultural reasons unique to the military profession that prevent us? Before answering that question, there are a few more things to consider.
Berger and Luckman also explore the maintenance of social knowledge construction, how rival institutions and societies often battle conceptually to protect boundaries and reinforce structures.  A way our military unintentionally inhibits acronym adaptation by individuals in the group that are unfamiliar with them is the paradoxical fear that “not knowing equates to weakness.” Granted, no military professional raises an eyebrow to a new recruit or fresh platoon leader asking many apparently obvious questions about organizationally exclusive information such as a routine acronym, yet as leaders mature and rise through the ranks there is a powerful social phenomenon of avoidance where not asking the question is preferred to inquiring about an unfamiliar acronym. As a profession, we fear even the insinuation of weakness, and asking what an unfamiliar acronym is reflects an aspect of this behavior.
While some might scoff at this, it is easily apparent when confronting a group of competitive peers where two in the group begin using an unfamiliar acronym within the context of a conversation that the rest of the group understands. Generally, those that do not know the acronym will learn what it means and adapt usage, while never actually knowing what the acronym stands for. Try your own social experiment with this in your work environment to confirm or deny my hypothesis. When you ask someone what a particular military acronym is and they can readily tell you what it represents or does but not what it means, this illustrates what we might label ‘acronym blindness.’ Other terms for this include ‘Redundant Acronym Syndrome’ or RAS; however, I view the redundancy as merely descriptive of the underlying problem. When we misuse acronyms, we tend to do so because we are inadvertently unaware or afraid to ask what they mean, yet continue to use them frequently in conversation. Over time, wider groups of people gain acronym blindness that fractures shared understanding, particularly at the rate we create new ones. We get used to the acronyms without realizing their actual meanings, and avoid asking because of social forces.
Conclusions: The Tower of Babel has a Foundation- Can we Rebuild Lexicon?
Acronyms, conceptually, are not bad things. They help an organizations, professions, and societies rapidly articulate information and share ideas more effectively than re-stating a shared concept repetitively. The military has many useful acronyms that improve our communication as well as our shared knowledge. However, if we are unable to prioritize our acronym use, wisely self-edit our lexicon and practice, and are unwilling to admit gaps in our personal or organizational knowledge, our ‘Towers of Babel’ will continue to plague our ability to communicate and synchronize military operations. This is a fundamental tenet in the U.S. Army’s ‘Mission Command’ doctrine conceptualized in the term ‘shared understanding’, if we look to our doctrine for guidance on organizing our behaviors.  What can we do with respect to operations, planning, doctrine, education, and leadership where poor acronym practices might be avoided?
First, we might consider how general, broad terms might replace many of our unnecessary acronyms, particularly those that feature competing technologies or niche applications. For example, the acronym for multiple integrated laser engagement system (MILES) is well used, but because it is proprietary, other contractors employ a myriad of other proprietary acronyms to sell their similar systems to the military for training. Thus, we have MILES, we also have the wireless independent target system (WITS), and a series of other challenging array of acronyms that all fall under the generic term ‘weapon simulation.’ Our communication systems, computers, weapon systems, optics, and other technological items all have many independent competing companies that battle to market their wares and gain military interest (thus profit). It seems that every product comes with its own clever acronym as part of the way to market the item. In isolation or from that company’s limited view, this makes economic sense. From the systemic perspective of the larger military organization, we are overwhelming our soldiers with an alphabet soup of confusion when simpler terms would suffice.
Were our institution to abolish business-centric proprietary acronyms and focus instead on generic terms, we might avoid not only the continued fragmentation of shared understanding, but also inhibit the economic stimulus for emergent innovations to seek “marketable” acronyms to distinguish their product from the competition. Part of selling something or some idea to the military appears to include a catchy acronym, yet we rarely clean up or delete outdated or obsolete ones without significant growing pains. Yet the more acronyms we gain, the further we draw our conversations into ‘military jargon-ese’ and away from comprehensible English.
Second, we need to consider our growing role in Security Force Assistance missions where we work to partner, advise, and assist other foreign militaries in pursuit of mutually supporting national objectives. Although our own military organization is somewhat able to still communicate within our tangled web of acronyms, we often partner with non-western allies and conduct our advising and assistance operations where typically, our operations orders and written products are translated directly into a client nation’s native tongue. In many languages such as Arabic, Dari, Pashtu, and others we recently or currently conduct significant military operations with, acronyms do not translate well at all.
For instance, in Dari the acronym ‘ISAF’ or International Security Assistance Force is usually pronounced ‘Isaf’ (eye-saf) as a whole word, devoid of its acronym nature. Thus, English based acronyms become mnemonically translated and assume a different meaning within the foreign language. With the enormous volume of acronyms we employ, our translators as well as host foreign militaries either employ hybrid words such as “Isaf” or convert cumbersome acronyms in English into slang terms their culture readily grasps. Many translators already adapt an earlier suggestion in this conclusion where the acronym is dropped in favor of a general term that encompasses the many confusing terms. In Baghdad, interpreters swap the confusing VBIED (vehicle borne improvised explosive device) with the Arabic word combination for ‘car’ and ‘bomb.’ Yet many interpreters must struggle if even our soldiers are overwhelmed with how many acronyms we use. If they stick with the acronym but convert it mnemonically, we then create another group of foreign military professionals that are also afraid to admit they do not know what the word ‘veebed’ really stands for, but they contextually know what it means.
Acronym confusion in Security Force Assistance practice potentially creates twin Towers of Babel where greater confusion reigns in both military forces. Conceptually, it chips away at fundamental tenets of Security Force Assistance where we are directed to “carefully analyze the operational environment, especially the relationships of foreign security forces and their populations.”  What could be more fundamental in that analysis than language? Perhaps some of the following suggestions, if implemented at various levels throughout our institution, might reduce acronym confusion and improve our ability to communicate both with ourselves and with other relevant governmental and non-governmental bodies.
- Encourage military professionals to ask what an acronym means and enforce a “no stupid question” environment to favor asking instead of remaining silent.
- Limit acronym use in speaking and writing to no more than one per sentence. This is hard to do! Try it and see how quickly you end up speaking English.
- Strategic level: eliminate self-relevant (business oriented) acronyms and use only general terminology in all doctrine and correspondence.
- Curb creation of new acronyms to those that are necessary, and introducing a new acronym should require the retirement of an obsolete or rival one.
- Stop stealing other well-known acronyms for new niche ones (ASAP means ‘as soon as possible’ to most of society).
- Not everything needs an acronym. If you can say the term with ease, giving it an acronym does not add value or make it more relevant.
- Place non-military members in the center of lexicon considerations instead of the outskirts. This is especially critical at operational and strategic levels, where many outputs and deliverables end up on a policy maker or diplomat’s desk. Dense military jargon littered with acronyms is unintelligible to Congressmen as well as Sergeants.
- Reflect on why we do things with our language and lexicon instead of what the content is. These deeper considerations bring to the surface core issues.
- Whenever you hear an acronym you do not know, ask the exact meaning. Chances are, the person using it doesn’t really know either!
In conclusion, I could be completely wrong about everything in this article. Recently, I had a discussion during the parent-teacher conferences with one of my grade-school aged children’s teachers concerning the decline of cursive writing classes. We reflected on how the latest generation is fully engaged in the digital age, with tweets, texting, and a very different way of communicating while older, more formal methods are becoming irrelevant to them. Although I like to imagine that my generation was the original “internet generation’, I started surfing online as a freshman in college in 1994. My ten year old expects internet access for everything on everything, while my four year old effortlessly changes settings on any smart phone and mastered ‘Angry Birds’ before learning his A,B,Cs. This entire article might be a coherent argument for improving our military communication processes, or simply a mad ranting by a member of a generation that missed full immersion in the new digital age.
Things like ‘LOL’, ‘ROTFL’, ‘WTF’, and a myriad other digital-aged initialisms are acronyms that represent how the next generation prefers to communicate, although technological advances in typing or typing alternatives might transform even this trend into something else. Internet slang is growing, while cursive is declining. Written letters by mail are out, while texting is obviously a dominant means of communication by the latest generation. Perhaps as these young people navigate the same military organizations as older professionals depart it, there will be an even greater acceptance of military jargon-ese, completely integrated with internet slang. Thus, a future military intelligence analyst might tweet on his secure smart phone, “LOL, the INS used YPOC with HME as a TTP today as their MOA. We had CAS FUBAR them. It was like, CYA. ROTFL!” If future military professionals can communicate this way, we will be fine. However, the current crop of military professionals is already overwhelmed with military acronyms; we may not be able to cope.
 Mark Rutgers, Be Rational! But what does it mean? (Journal of Management History, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1999),18.
 Peter Berger, Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (Anchor Books, New York, 1967), 118.
 Mats Alvesson, Jorgen Sandberg, Generating Research Questions Through Problematization, (Academy of Management Review, Vol. 36, No. 2, 2011), 257. Alvesson and Sandberg identify ‘field assumptions’ and ‘root metaphors’ as unquestionable theoretical concepts within an organization’s preferred manner of viewing the world that are “difficult to identify because “everyone” shares them, and, thus, they are rarely [questioned] in research texts.” This inability to question prevents genuine innovation.
 I use the generic term ‘logic’ in this article whereas social scientists also employ ‘logic system’ or ‘paradigm.’ See: Martin Kilduff, Ajay Mehra, and Mary Dunn, From Blue Sky Research to Problem Solving: A Philosophy of Science Theory of New Knowledge Production, (Academy of Management Review, Vol. 36m No. 2, 2011) 297. Kilduff, Mehra, and Dunn use ‘logics of action’ to define organizing principles that shape ways of viewing the world by “providing social actors with vocabularies of motive, fameworks for reasoning, and guidelines for practice.”
 Margo Paterson, Susan Wilcox, Joy Higgs, Exploring Dimensions of Artistry in Reflective Practice (Reflective Practice, Vol. 7, No. 4, November 2006) 455-468. See also: Haridimos Tsoukas, Mary Jo Hatch, Complex Thinking, Complex Practice (Human Relations, August 2001), 979-1008.
 Mats Alvesson, Jorgen Sandberg, Generating Research Questions Through Problematization, (Academy of Management Review, Vol. 36, No. 2, 2011) 254. Alvesson and Sandberg use the term ‘in-house assumption’, ‘root metaphor’, and ‘field assumption’ to explain how organizations employ a logic that contains theoretical concepts that are ‘unproblematic’ and are often deeply tied to organizational values and identity. See also: John Nagl, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife; Counterinsurgency Lessons From Malaya and Vietnam (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002) 9. “Military organizations often demonstrate remarkable resistance to doctrinal change as a result of their organizational cultures. Organizational learning, when it does occur, tends to happen only in the wake of a particularly unpleasant or unproductive event.”
 Shimon Naveh, Jim Schneider, Timothy Challans, The Structure of Operational Revolution; A Prolegomena (Booz, Allen, Hamilton, 2009),23. “Just as literacy facilitates bureaucratic, administrative centralization, it also makes possible the codification and logical centralization of doctrine.” See also: Rutgers, 23. Rutgers explores the paradox between rational and positivist organizations and how rational systems seek bureaucracy to reduce meaning, freedom, and individual control.
 Karl Weick, Rethinking Organizational Design (Managing as Designing, Stanford Business Books, 2004) 42. “This line of thought implies that a primary danger in designing is over-design. Designers fail because they don’t know when to stop.” Weick’s design concepts apply directly to military language and processes such as acronym creation and usage.
 John Nagl, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife; Counterinsurgency Lessons From Malaya and Vietnam (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002) 9. “Military organizations often demonstrate remarkable resistance to doctrinal change as a result of their organizational cultures. Organizational learning, when it does occur, tends to happen only in the wake of a particularly unpleasant or unproductive event.” See also: Carl H. Builder, The Masks of War; American Military Styles in Strategy and Analysis, (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1989).
 Haridimos Tsoukas, Mary Jo Hatch, Complex Thinking, Complex Practice (Human Relations, August 2001), 979-1008. See also: Martin Kilduff, Ajay Mehra, Postmodernism and Organizational Research (Academy of Management Review, 1997, Vol. 22, No. 2) 453-481. See also: Helen Gunter, Critical Approaches to Leadership in Education (Journal of Educational Enquiry, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2001) 94-105.
 Peter Berger, Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (Anchor Books, New York, 1967). Berger and Luckmann make the case that all knowledge is socially constructed within groups and societies, and over time are institutionalized into vast, complex, and expanding bureaucracies.
 Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom, The Starfish and the Spider (The Penguin Group, New York, 2006), 184-189. Brafman and Beckstrom discuss the differences between centralized and decentralized organizations. The U.S. Army clearly operates as a centralized, or ‘spider’ organization according to their definitions and explanation.
 Jeanna Liedtka, In Defense of Strategy as Design (California Management Review; Spring 2000, Vol. 42, No. 3) 17-18.
 Eric B. Dent, Complexity Science: a Worldview Shift (Emergence, 1(4), 1999), 6. “I will suggest that if we are to continue to grow, develop and thrive in this world, we must adjust some of our most deeply held mental models about the world and our interactions with it.” See also: Chris Argyris, Teaching Smart People How to Learn (Harvard Business Review, May-June 1991), 100. “In short, their ability to learn shuts down precisely at the moment they need it the most.”
 Michel Foucault, Discourse and Truth: The Problematization of Parrhesia, (originally covered in six lectures given by Michel Foucault at the University of California, Berkeley in October-November, 1983. Published online at: http://foucault.info/documents/parrhesia/ (accessed 30 December 2012). A ‘problematizer’ threatens his institution by critically questioning it, and faces elimination by both an upset leader and the overarching institution if threatened with change.
 For more on framing, see: Sarah Kaplan, Framing Contests: Strategy Making Under Uncertainty (Organizational Science, Vol. 19, No. 5, September-October 2008), 729-752.
 Mark Rutgers, Be Rational! But what does it mean? (Journal of Management History, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1999), 27. “The basic notion of relativism is raised because all knowledge is constituted by rules of human origin, especially the rules of language that determine what constitutes reality.”
 Eric B. Dent, Complexity Science: a Worldview Shift (Emergence, 1(4), 1999).
 All acronyms in Figure 1 were found in one military intelligence analysis document provided to the author for purposes of military operations. No information in Figure 1 reflects anything but unclassified information available to the public domain.
 As an informal social experiment, I asked staff officers from my organization to translate the sentence into a non-acronym thought. Only the two intelligence officers got 90% of it correct, with neither catching the proper meaning of all of the acronyms. None of the non-intelligence branched officers came close.
 Peter Berger, Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (Anchor Books, New York, 1967). See also: Sarah Kaplan, Framing Contests: Strategy Making Under Uncertainty (Organizational Science, Vol. 19, No. 5, September-October 2008), 737. Kaplan tells the story of Hugh Collins in her case study that illustrates how a caretaker defends their constructed knowledge.
 Shimon Naveh, Jim Schneider, Timothy Challans, The Structure of Operational Revolution; A Prolegomena (Booz, Allen, Hamilton, 2009),23, 53. See also: Mark Rutgers, Be Rational! But what does it mean? (Journal of Management History, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1999); See also: Eric B. Dent, Complexity Science: a Worldview Shift (Emergence, 1(4), 1999).
 U.S. Army Field Manual 1-02, Operational Terms and Graphics, September 2004. Headquarters, Department of the Army.
 Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, (translated by Brian Massumi) A Thousand Plateaus; Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987). Deleuze and Guattari discuss the ‘war machine’ where an assemblage creates and destroys through an iterative, dynamic process. I consider language an important element of this process. See also: Eric B. Dent, Complexity Science: a Worldview Shift (Emergence, 1(4), 1999) on dynamic, adaptive transformations.
 The introduction of the combustion engine in an era of steam power and horse transport created the situation where people required a metaphor to understand the ‘power’ of the automobile. The scale of a steam engine would not work, but a horse was widely recognized and the automobile offered an alternative to horse-drawn transportation. Thus a 3 horsepower engine made sense despite the combustion engine being entirely novel.
 Carl H. Builder, The Masks of War; American Military Styles in Strategy and Analysis, (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1989) 11,17. Historian Carl H. Builder argues in The Masks of War that military institutions are generally motivated towards institutional survival, evoking ‘golden eras’ of past wars, and the continued idolization of self-defining behaviors, traditions, and structures. See also: Sarah Kaplan, Framing Contests: Strategy Making Under Uncertainty (Organizational Science, Vol. 19, No. 5, September-October 2008), where Kaplan details the institutional battles between different departments over the direction of a technology company’s future strategy.
 Curtis Boyd, The Future of MISO (Special Warfare Magazine; January-February 2011).
 Peter Berger, Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (Anchor Books, New York, 1967) 120-130. Berger and Luckman offer the process of how rival definitions of reality might translate, adapt, or battle with a dominant social construction- either mutating it or breaking away into a shadow or splinter group. In time, that splinter group may become powerful enough to overwhelm the parent structure and replace it.
 United States Army, Army Doctrine Plan 6-0, Mission Command (TRADOC, May 2012). See also: United States Army, The United States Army Functional Concept for Mission Command 2016-2028 (TRADOC PAM 525-3-3; 13 October 2010).
 Headquarters, Department of the Army, Security Force Assistance (Field Manual 3-07.1), May 2009. In the forward to this publication, Commanding General of the Army, General Martin E. Dempsey provides a one page cover letter for the purpose of this document and provides the quoted guidance to all readers.