Small Wars Journal

Thinking About Thinking About the Army’s Future

Mon, 06/09/2014 - 5:12pm

Thinking About Thinking About the Army’s Future: Paradigms and the Wicked Problem of “Landpower”

Dan Maurer and Paul Thomas


The ongoing effort among the U.S. ground force concept development communities to describe the strategic value and role of land-based military power in the future is an opportunity to think about how these institutions go about thinking of wicked problems—and why.  Wicked problems have no definable problem statement, no objectively correct answer, and layers of uncertainty and unpredictability that make efforts to “solve” them, especially through bureaucratic consensus, naive.  Developing successful approaches to these wicked problems is impossible if we believe existing paradigms already provide the conventional frames, references, and processes for mechanically answering these concerns.  This essay suggests that the landpower stakeholders should view this period of uncertainty in pre-paradigm terms.  That new frame has three immediate implications: a reconsideration of whom the stakeholders ought to include in the broader community of interest; a resetting of expectations about what is achievable by the existing concept development process; and a realignment of the efforts used to study these wicked problems.

Something is amiss. 

The Chief of Staff of the Army, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command recently agreed—perhaps for their own distinct, if not compelling, institutional reasons—to begin a study of what they called “strategic landpower.”  After more than a decade of continual deployment of ground forces to engage, influence, target, interdict, capture, train, advise, and assist in the deserts and cities of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, these three leaders posit a crisis of national significance: the “growing problem in linking military action to achieving national objectives.”[i]  In other words, why does it appear that our long involvement inside these countries, across two very different political administrations and at great cost of blood and treasure, has not yielded anything like a decisive national “victory?”

To tackle this crisis, they have chartered a Strategic Landpower Task Force “to study the application of landpower to achieve national objectives in the future,”[ii] a task which is deliberately broad.  It includes exploring future roles of these ground forces; answering why tactical victories “have not always achieved strategic outcomes;” reinforcing the “necessity” of understanding and achieving “human objectives;” and “expand[ing] the dialogue around the ‘social sciences’ of warfare alongside the ‘physical science’ of warfare.”[iii]

Whether this effort is a search for relevance, creating a narrative, or suffering a post-war identity crisis (as some critics claim), or is a necessary adaptation to new operating realities (as its proponents claim), it ultimately acknowledges a professional discontent or frustration with the status quo.[iv]

This discontent is reminiscent of Thomas Kuhn’s description of scientific communities during the emergence of a new paradigm.  It could be argued that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are causing a paradigm shift within the Army and Special Operations communities in particular.  But when viewed in concert with the recent DoD Strategic Choices and Management Review, the emergence of new operational concepts such as Air Sea Battle, and the ferment in beltway think tanks about the future role of the military as an instrument of national power, it becomes apparent that the “science” of warfare is in a pre-paradigmatic state.  This state is the realm of ill-structured problems, where there is no basis for collective action or even agreement as to the nature of the problems. Developing successful approaches to these wicked problems is impossible if we believe existing paradigms already provide the conventional frames, references, and processes for mechanically answering these concerns. 

Describing Paradigm Revolutions

Kuhn defined a paradigm as the “entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques, and so on shared by the members of a given community” in that field of study.  In other words, a paradigm is a coherent tradition of models—or a “world view”—in which theories are promulgated, instruments for testing are designed, experiments conducted, questions asked, and future practitioners are indoctrinated with the subsequent answers.[v]  This consensus forms the accepted (and largely unquestioned) basis for the day-to-day practice of that discipline.[vi]  The existence of a scientific paradigm would be manifested in activities that Kuhn called “normal science,” which he describes as puzzle-solving.[vii]

Kuhn argued that “normal science” is where most of the time, effort, and intellectual capital is spent by practitioners—continually articulating new problems to solve, based on new data, and testing them under “more stringent conditions” to test for confirmation or falsification.[viii]  This process of “mopping up” yields an ever-more refined body of knowledge.[ix]

Likewise, a paradigm can be seen growing, spreading, maturing, and solidifying—like a curing concrete foundation—by looking at professional research activities, scholarly publications, and academic curricula.[x]  It is like providing the map, but also providing the “directions essential for map-making.”[xi]

Kuhn’s view holds that a paradigm begins to break down—the tradition begins to lose its currency—when those working in the field start discovering “anomalies” that breed skepticism over fundamental premises of the paradigm, or they reveal errors in contemporary practical applications of the paradigm.[xii]  These anomalies may accumulate over time to the point where, despite repeated attempts, they cannot be “aligned with professional expectation.”[xiii]  At that point, the field of study is in crisis.  The field then implicitly allows a loosening of the “rules of normal puzzle-solving in ways that ultimately permit a new paradigm to emerge.”[xiv]  Practitioners, having had their “deeply entrenched expectations” violated,[xv] begin redirecting focus and study, shifting the scope and nature of the questions they scrutinize.  They begin recalibrating what the profession accepts as a legitimate and admissible problem to solve.[xvi]  Sometimes, this means taking a fresh look (through a new lens) at old accepted truths and finding them deficient; sometimes it means taking a first look in entirely new directions.[xvii]  The new paradigm represents a spasm of upheaval, a revolution in how they see and interpret data about the world, not simply a cumulative evolution over time.[xviii]

The Army Thinks it Has a Paradigm

Kuhn held that a pre-paradigm period, however, is “regularly marked by frequent and deep debates over legitimate methods, problems, and standards of solution, though these serve rather to define schools than to produce agreement.”[xix]  Such periods are characterized by wide disagreements and speculations—but all appear equally valid and cogent because none of them, in theory, violate a paradigm.  There simply is no paradigm yet by which to judge their value or to guide, frame, or organize thinking about the subject.[xx]  Doctrine could be seen as the military’s paradigm.[xxi]  Doctrine is the authoritative mass of “fundamental principles by which the military forces or elements thereof guide their actions.”[xxii]  For the Army,

doctrine is a body of thought on how Army forces operate as an integral part of a joint force . . . [d]octrine acts as a guide to action rather than a set of fixed rules.  Capstone doctrine establishes the Army’s view of the nature of operations, the fundamentals by which Army forces conduct operations, and the methods by which commanders exercise mission command.  Capstone doctrine also serves as the basis for decisions about organization, training, leader development, materiel, Soldiers, and facilities . . . [and] establishes a common frame of reference and a common cultural perspective to solving military problems.[xxiii]

This body of thought is disseminated through publication of Army Doctrine Publications (ADPs), Army Doctrine Reference Publications (ADRPs), Field Manuals (FMs), Army Techniques Publications (ATPs), and classroom curricula at various branch Centers of Excellence.[xxiv]  The paradigmatic nature of doctrine is apparent in the Army’s Unified Land Operations, which “constitutes the Army’s view of how it conducts prompt and sustained operations on land and sets the foundation for developing the other principles, tactics, techniques, and procedures detailed in subordinate publications.”[xxv]  It is an overt evolution from earlier war-fighting constructs, like Active Defense, AirLand Battle, and then Full Spectrum Operations.[xxvi]

The tone and implications of the “strategic landpower” concept development effort certainly suggest a paradigm already exists, and Unified Land Operations may not be the only tangible evidence.  For instance, TRADOC’s recent “call for ideas” about Strategic Landpower sought to “reinforc[e] the discussion on Strategic Landpower” where the goal was to “foster and expand the discussion regarding the tenets and ideas . . . what the [concept] should be and how it should shape along DOTMLPF functions.”[xxvii]  Asking the field of prospective writers to consider such topics as “talent management for Strategic Landpower” and “expeditionary logistics in Strategic Landpower,” this “call for ideas” was not about recognizing that a fundamental crisis threatens national security.  Nor did it ask whether “strategic landpower” is even the right approach.  No rug was pulled out from underneath the steady feet of the practicing field of professional soldiers—they are still rehearsing for decisive action with individual, unit, and combined arms battle drills, and still preparing for doctrinal missions at the training centers.  It is, instead, a vivid example of Kuhn’s mopping up operation natural to normal science.[xxviii]

Yet, something still seems amiss.  The “strategic landpower” concept effort—at least envisioned in the original white paper—also seems to imply that national security professionals should be considering whether the changes in the character of war are “anomalies” that are unsatisfactorily explained or solved by the existing doctrine or its derivative weapons, policies, organizations, and tactics.[xxix]  Senior Army leaders continue repeating the assertion that the fundamental nature of war has not changed from being a “clash of wills,” but the “character” of conflict—what it looks like on the ground to those fighting—has changed.[xxx]  The speed and diffusion of information, nearly constant media presence at the locus of battle, challenges of operating against hybrid adversaries employing unconventional weapons and tactics in “ungoverned spaces,” the mass empowerment of formal and informal groups challenging traditional state authority, and the increasing legitimacy of non-state actors are all manifestations, they say, of this modern mosaic of war.[xxxi]  Perhaps this mosaic is incompatible with our current modes of thought and action, creating pressure and is calling for a paradigm shift in order to cope.[xxxii]

If the proponents of “strategic landpower” believe it represents a paradigm shift, though, it may be premature.  According to Kuhn, when a existing paradigm is shifting from a traditional world view to a new one that accounts for more phenomena or better explains current data, substantial components of the older view are—as a matter of course—discarded and ignored as no longer valid,[xxxiii] or viewed as limited, “special case” included inside the new view.[xxxiv]  In the early Twentieth Century, tanks and armed aircraft made older, foot and horseback-based, forms of combat obsolete between modern field armies.  Though horse cavalry is extinct, light infantry carrying rifles have evolved and adapted.

No such revolution has taken place in the first two decades of the Twenty-first Century.  No credible voice has argued that the tactical skill of understanding and operating within the “human domain” and its effect on subtle strategic maneuvering has rendered the Abrams Main Battle Tank useless in future operations.  Moreover, no credible voice has suggested that our conventional capabilities—in many ways exemplified by that Abrams tank—failed in the contexts in which we expected them to win conventional fights.  If, for example, the U.S.-led assault into Iraq in 2003 had been handed a significant conventional loss (or even stymied or significantly delayed) by a poorly-equipped, poorly-led, and under-trained Iraqi Army, we might be embroiled in a long period of “pronounced professional insecurity” that typically precedes the end of one paradigm and the beginning a new one.[xxxv]

But the advent of the armed drone has not made mortars antiquated.  Since existing doctrine, organizations, tactics, and weapons are not being scrapped in the face of unexplainable anomalies or contradictions, it is probably inaccurate to describe the current “strategic landpower” effort in paradigm-shifting terms.  There has been no “reconstruction of the field from new fundamentals,” and none appear on the horizon.[xxxvi]  So if we are not experiencing a paradigm shift, how should we describe this period of general introspection and dissatisfaction?

While “strategic landpower” proponents claim U.S. land forces successfully revamped structure, organizations, doctrine, and tactics to adapt to the landscape of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan,[xxxvii] it is clear that the military “has not yet studied or drawn adequate lessons about the factors that facilitated this adaptation.”[xxxviii]  It is worth considering whether the on-going process generating the “strategic landpower” idea provides more evidence that we are in a state of ambiguity and uncertainty.  Four general characteristics seem to define this effort:

  1. agents from multiple stake-holding organizations with individual and group traditions, biases, interests, and standards are assigned to “develop” a bridging concept called “Strategic Landpower;”[xxxix]
  1. the concept is designed to identify lessons from past experience to tackle future uncertainties;[xl]
  1. the concept is overseen through multiple layers of bureaucratic guidance, with General Officer Steering Committees, Interim Progress Review meetings, collective writing workshops;[xli]
  1. the concept sparked an early effort to assemble relevant and broad questions from history, policy, and theory.[xlii]

Rather than depict a mature field shifting from one paradigm to a new one, this process suggests that the military still lacks that mature overarching paradigm for resolving the concerns addressed by the Strategic Landpower White Paper.  Fact-gathering and observations made without an overarching paradigm to guide both the questions and answers appears random and undiscriminating because every fact and observation may be relevant and interesting.  There is no consensus about how to value the relevance of the observations being collected.[xliii]  An institution that myopically looks only at the last dozen years of American-led armed conflict inside failing or failed states[xliv] is bound to erroneously make arbitrary “assumptions about how the U.S. would like to fight or how our enemies will fight.”[xlv]  Those assumptions about what is relevant and what is not, moreover, are bound to be marked by a lack of consensus, if one polled the entire field of practice, yielding divergent views, interpretations, and recommendations.[xlvi]

The debate over the value of counterinsurgency strategy and tactics in Iraq (specifically, the causal factors and effects associated with The Surge), and its potential future in the Army, is one example.  The arguments for and against emphasizing conventional combat against peer or near-peer adversaries (with everything else, like engagement and cooperation, as “lesser-included” cases) are examples of the community’s wide uncertainty too.[xlvii]  The very fact that so many voices ascribe different motivations and meanings to “strategic landpower” is further evidence of this initial discord and intra-institutional head-scratching.  It is more indication that the state of opinion in the field is far from the calcified, detailed, mature tradition or paradigm that is the most acutely sensitive period for noticing anomalies in the first place.[xlviii]

This is Not Solely a Military Problem…

If we analogize military doctrine to paradigms, we should also ask whether—in the wider field of “national security” or the “defense establishment”—there are other scales, levels or layers of paradigms that military doctrine nests within.  If so, Kuhn might agree that specialization by professional “sub-communities” might itself shape or influence how the community of land power practitioners act within their paradigm.[xlix]  For example, the largest scale at which “national security” is practiced and planned can be observed in how the U.S. government identifies international security threats and opportunities.  One way to capture this “worldview” is the periodic publication of the National Security Strategy, which articulates a presidential administration’s defense priorities, interests, and its view on the country’s place within the global community—both where it is and where it wishes to be.[l]  At a slightly smaller, scale, we can also observe how “national security” is actually practiced by cataloguing discrete acts engaged in by the national government to affect its interests and react to challenges or threats.  At this grand strategy level, these two large scales represent the “words” and “deeds” of the nation’s defense paradigm. 

Zooming in at smaller and smaller scales, one might consider delineating between yet more paradigms and their practicing communities where specialization increases.  Consider how the country’s national security strategy and on-going events on the ground affect how a different community of practitioners prioritize the various tools of statecraft and international diplomacy.  That structure might represent a coherent tradition that guides professional and institutional activity, routinely and in extremis.  Zooming further in, there is a still narrower community of practice that organizes the Armed Forces into its various components and Services.  Then there is a yet smaller level paradigm, describing how each component and Service understands its roles relative to the defense establishment overseeing it and relative to its sister Services.  Finally, perhaps at the most specifically mission-oriented level, each Service has its own paradigm: a coherent, well-defined, and widely-adopted set of traditions, models and heuristics that dictate the community’s norms of training, educating, and operating.  It is at this level where military doctrine typically originates, propagates, and influences day-to-day activity and long-range planning.

All of these scales—from the macroscopic “national security strategy” to the microscopically detailed Service doctrine and operations—share attributes common to “paradigms.”  Each partition can be described by related, but distinct, constellations of beliefs, values, and approaches, shared by that relevant community to achieve their related, but distinct, objectives within the defense enterprise.  But these attributes are expressed to differing degrees and are influenced by events or actors that may not be shared across each scale.  For instance, in geological terms, imagine the “upper echelon” scales of national security practice as the top-most strata of a sedimentary rock bed.  These layers are populated by the largest, most diverse, ecosystems: communities of practice, ranging from elected presidents, to political appointees in the Executive Branch, to certain members of Congress, as well as domestic and international media, foreign leaders, public opinion, and various organizational priorities and vested interests.  At this layer, there are fewer “professional standards” of conduct, of membership, of consensus, and fewer objective criteria for evaluating choices and judging actions (though domestic and international law provide objective bounds for those actions).  Like that top layer of soil and rock, easily eroded or moved by changing weather or changed by human activity, national security as envisioned and as practiced at the international relations level is most susceptible to volatility, instability, and external actors reshaping it in both forecasted and unpredicted ways. 

Moving down to lower “strata,” communities and paradigms become much denser, more compacted in their mission statements, narrower in their objectives, wider in their time frames of concern, more professionally (and therefore less diversely) populated, and more prone to creating (and being constrained by) bureaucratic processes.  At the elevation of these lowest strata, the norms of practice are most stable, least prone to shifting quickly, and the community’s expectations are most homogenous.  In other words, entropy (as a measure of disorder) is much higher at the higher “strata” and much lower at the deeper, more institutionalized, communities of practice. 

If there is no stability or consensus at the level of “grand strategy” as to how the nation furthers its national security interests, then there is little surprise in individual agencies and military services each promoting divergent, and sometimes irreconcilable, methods for advancing those interests.  In accepting this view, one accepts that at this point, there is no field of “military science” at the strategic level. The defense establishment is comprised of technicians or, at best, engineers who apply and sometimes refine already-developed techniques, but do not engage in the creation of new knowledge, in Kuhn’s terms.  No matter how skilled, a blacksmith is not a chemist, even if he practices metallurgy.

Now What?

So, our interwar period of introspection places us in a state of uncertainty, not crisis.  Because the “strategic landpower” effort exemplifies Kuhn’s “invention of alternatives”[li] the Armed Forces (and its three components that “operate in the land domain” specifically) are not yet at the paradigm that will guide or anchor the approach to linking tactical success to grander strategic aims and policy.  But thinking about the premises and assumptions inside “strategic landpower” in pre-paradigm terms should provide helpful cautions.  First, it is probably unwise to seek consensus within the field of practice, for it at this stage it is nonexistent and would unnaturally curtail the creative “invention of alternatives.”  Second, for similar reasons, it is probably unwise to contain the study within an arbitrary timeline, with milestones and output expectations.  Third, it is probably unwise to narrowly limit the historical “evidence” to a specific historical episode, like operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for doing so arbitrarily turns a blind eye to other “evidence” that may just bolster and support a majority view, or ignores significant departures from the conventional wisdom that critically dissent from a majority view.  Finally, it is probably unwise to expect categorical solutions.  Wicked problems—like how land forces of the future might discriminately apply force to influence events on the ground in a way that enables larger, durable, strategic aims—are not puzzle-like engineering challenges that can be programmatically solved.[lii] As Kuhn would say, “retooling is an extravagance to be reserved for the occasion that demands it.”[liii]

Thinking about these interwar periods of reflection in Kuhn’s paradigm terms may offer opportunities to reconsider the techniques the Services traditionally rely on when they recognize a need to reorient and drive themselves toward institutional change over time.

End Notes

[i] General Raymond Odierno, General James Amos, Admiral William McRaven, White Paper, “Strategic Landpower: Winning the Clash of Wills,” May 2013, 1.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] See Andrew Bacevich, “The Endless Army,” The Boston Globe (10 Jan 2014), and Bacevich, “Hagel Wants a Smaller Army.  Good Idea.”  The Washington Post (2 Mar 2014), at B1, B4.; Peter W. Singer, “From Fuzzy to Focus: Questions to Ask About Strategic Land Power,” Armed Forces Journal, available at

[v] Ibid, 111-135.

[vi] Ibid, 10-11, 175.

[vii] Ibid, 10, 24, 35.

[viii] Ibid, 23-24, 80.

[ix] Ibid, 23-24.

[x] Ibid, 49.

[xi] Ibid, 109.

[xii] Ibid, 82.

[xiii] Ibid, 6.

[xiv] Ibid, 80.

[xv] Ibid, 59.

[xvi] Ibid, 6, 91 (“The proliferation of competing articulations, the willingness to try anything, the expression of explicit discontent, the recourse to philosophy and to debate over fundamentals, all these are symptoms of a transition”).

[xvii] Ibid, 111.

[xviii] Ibid, 95.

[xix] Ibid, 47-48.

[xx] Ibid, 61.

[xxi] See David E. Johnson, Modern U.S. Civil-Military Relations: Wielding the Terrible Swift Sword (Washington, D.C.: Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, 1997), vi-viii.

[xxii] Army Doctrine Publication 1-02 (Operational Terms and Military Symbols) (Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, Department of the Army, 31 August 2012), 2.

[xxiii] Army Doctrine Publication 3-0 (Unified Land Operations) (Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, Department of the Army, 10 Oct 2011), 1-2 (emphasis added).

[xxiv] Army Doctrine Publication 1-02 (Operational Terms and Military Symbols) (Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, Department of the Army, 31 August 2012), 2.

[xxv] Ibid, ii.

[xxvi] General Raymond Odierno, Foreword, Army Doctrine Publication 3-0 (Unified Land Operations) (Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, Department of the Army, 10 Oct 2011).

[xxvii] See “Call for Ideas” at (last accessed on 11 April 2014).  DOTMLPF stands for Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership & Education, Personnel, and Facilities.

[xxviii] Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 100 (“[w]ithout commitment to a paradigm, there could be no normal science”).

[xxix] Ibid, 52.

[xxx] General Raymond Odierno, “The Force of Tomorrow,” Foreign Policy (4 Feb 2013); General Robert Cone, “Building Strategic Landpower,” Army (Oct 2013); Lieutenant General Charles Cleveland and Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Farris, “Toward Strategic Landpower,” Army (July 2013); Lieutenant General Sir Nicholas Carter, Commander, United Kingdom Land Forces, 68th Kermit Roosevelt Lecture (“The Evolving Character of Conflict”), Pentagon, 27 Feb 2014 .

[xxxi] Ibid.  See also Steven Metz, Strategic Landpower Task Force Research Report (Carlisle: Strategic Studies Institute, 2013); and see Emile Simpson, War from the Ground Up (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 228.

[xxxii] “[E]xplicit recognitions of breakdown [of a current paradigm] are extremely rare, but the effects of crisis do not entirely depend upon its conscious recognition.”  Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 84.

[xxxiii] Ibid, 66.

[xxxiv] Ibid, 102-03.

[xxxv] Ibid, 67-68, 74-75.

[xxxvi] Ibid, 85 (emphasis added).

[xxxvii] General Raymond Odierno, “The Force of Tomorrow,” Foreign Policy (4 Feb 2013).

[xxxviii] Francis G. Hoffman, “What the QDR Ought to Say about landpower,” Parameters, 43(4) Winter 2013-14, 8.

[xxxix] “Strategic Landpower white paper: Winning the Clash of Wills.”

[xl] “Strategic Landpower white paper: Winning the Clash of Wills.”

[xli] Draft “Concept Prospectus: Strategic Landpower” (7 Mar 2014) (on file with the authors).

[xlii] Metz, Strategic Landpower Task Force Research Report.

[xliii] Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 16.

[xliv] “Strategic Landpower white paper: Winning the Clash of Wills;” Metz, Strategic Landpower Task Force Research Report; Cone, “Building Strategic Landpower,” Army (October 2013), at 78; TRADOC Pamphlet 528-8-5 (“Engagement”); Decade of War Study.

[xlv] H.R. McMaster, “On War: Lessons to be Learned,” Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 50:1 (2008), 28. 

[xlvi] Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 17.

[xlvii] Some suggest that, at the national security strategy level at least, a paradigm does exist and is shifting away from conventional containment and deterrence to one of limited engagement and cooperation.  See William G. Braun III and Charles D. Allen, “Shaping a 21st-Century Defense Strategy: Reconciling Military Roles,” Joint Forces Quarterly (Vol. 73) (1 April 2014), available at  But that paradigm (if it can be called that) exists at echelons above the reality of the institutional Army, which would have to create, develop, mature, and rely on its own operational paradigms that are consistent with (but nested inside of) the overarching national security policy and joint strategies.

[xlviii] Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 65.

[xlix] Ibid, 49-50 (describing how physicists—regardless of specialty—share broad paradigms that shape their general understanding of that science and influence their expectations, but are also defined by sub-communities within the physics community—say experimental particle physicists—that may trigger a paradigm shift that primarily affects only that specialized sect, with only tangential interest to other practitioners).

[l] See, e.g., National Security Strategy (May 2010), available at

[li] Ibid, 76.

[lii] The notion of a “wicked problem” that was unsusceptible to easy categorization, understanding, or solving was introduced in Horst W. J. Rittel and Melvin M. Webber, “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning,” Policy Sciences 4 (1973), 155-169; see also Barry D. Watts, “US Combat Training, Operational Art, and Strategic Competence: Problems and Opportunities” (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2008), 37.

[liii] Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 76.


About the Author(s)

Major Dan Maurer, U.S. Army, is a contributing writer at USMA’s Modern War Institute, a judge advocate and former platoon leader in combat, and the first lawyer to serve as a Fellow on the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group.  He has a JD and LLM, and has published widely in various law reviews, as well as at Modern War Institute and in Military Review, Small Wars Journal, and the Harvard National Security Journal.  His book, Crisis, Agency, and the Law in U.S. Civil-Military Relations, will be published this spring by Palgrave Macmillan Press; his monograph, The Clash of the Trinities: A Theoretical Analysis of the General Nature of War, will be published this summer by the Strategic Studies Institute Press. His chapter on how the Star Wars films illustrate themes of modern strategic civil-military relationships will appear in a book forthcoming from Potomac Press in early 2018.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the US Army, the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, or the Department of Defense.

Captain Paul Thomas is an infantry officer and graduate of the Harvard Strategist Program. He is currently a 2013-14 Fellow in the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group. Captain Thomas wishes to thank Dr. David E. Johnson, CSA SSG director, as well as the SSG Fellows that contributed their advice and observations on earlier drafts of this article. This article reflects the author’s personal views and not necessarily those of the Department of Defense or the Department of the Army.