Small Wars Journal

operational design

War on the Rocks: An Irregular Upgrade to Operational Design

Sat, 03/20/2021 - 1:38pm

The authors argue that there is an intellectual gap in modern U.S. operational design, which focuses too heavily on a conventional mindset and methodology to problem solving, leaving a gap in strategic competition.


Link to Article:


"Discussions about “Framing the SOF Environment” are based on a fallacy; an environment isn’t special or conventional, it’s just an environment, and it affects more than the military element of national power. Making “SOF” an adjective everywhere parochializes problems and implies that special operations forces are the preordained solution."


"Irregular warfare is not a “special operations thing” — it’s a joint responsibility. Just as some of us in the policy world have made the case for rethinking how we describe irregular warfare activities, the military should reconsider how to plan for them."


"Now these new ideas should be codified into doctrine. Doctrine isn’t sexy — no argument there. But almost everyone in uniform can agree that unless codified, ideas will rarely translate into professional military education and joint planning efforts. This is what “institutionalizing irregular warfare” means in practice. An irregular upgrade for operational design will aid the United States in competing indirectly and asymmetrically to advance its interests without a catastrophic military confrontation."



Saving Blood & Treasure: The Evolving Art of War and the Application of Design Methodology to Complex Problems of 21st Century Small Wars

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 12:25am
The United States and its Allies have historically been successful at fighting conventional wars. America must both build on its understanding of past state-on-state conflicts and learn from the small wars of this young century to be able to fight and win future wars.

About the Author(s)

The Multidisciplinary Design Movement: A Frame for Realizing Industry, Security, and Academia Interplay

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 10:09am
Today, there might be few words as overused and fraught with multiple disciplines claiming ownership as the term ‘design’ and associated ‘design thinking’, ‘design practice’ and other variations. ‘Design’ has become one of the buzzwords along with ‘synergy’, ‘innovation’, ‘machine learning’ and ‘augmented intelligence’ within defense circles, but of all of these terms it seems that ‘design’ is the most debated and convoluted.

About the Author(s)