1. Bibliographic Entry. The scientific way of war

2.  Author : Antoine Bousquet

3.  Context:  Mid 18th century through present day

4.  Scope:  Effects of technology and information proliferation on warfare

5.  Evidence/credibility:  military history, military theory, scientific history, particularly IT

6.  Central Proposition/Thesis:  Its central claim is that throughout the modern era the dominant corpus of scientific ideas has been reflected in the contemporary theories and practices of warfare in the Western world. This extensive deployment of scientific ideas and methodologies in the military realm allows us to speak of the constitution and perpetuation of a scientific way of warfare. . (3)

7.  Sub-themes:

A.     Rather the primary concern here is with the manner in which scientific ideas have been systematically recruited to inform thinking about the very nature of combat and the forms of military organization best suited to prevail in it.

B.Author uses metaphors to make the point that the state of science is reflected in the mindset of the military.  Clocks = drill procedures, etc.  Author’s facts are wrong, but an interesting idea…



9 Hence for van Creveld "the history of command in war consists essentially of an endless quest for certainty - certainty about the state and intentions of the enemy's forces; certainty about the manifold factors that together constitute the environment in which the war is fought, from the weather and the terrain to radioactivity and the presence of chemical warfare agents; and last, but definitely not least, certainty about the state, intentions, and activities of one's own forces."2

10 The exercise of judgment over the appropriate means to be deployed in the pursuit of a given political end belongs to · the domain commonly known as strategy.

12 Science and technology are therefore the means by which the world is made to "reveal". itself in a certain way so as to order it.

30 Within the mechanistic philosophy and science dominate in European thought throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. clockwork acted not only as a symbol of the order. ImWaritv and predictability of the universe and its diverse natural bodies but also as a mechanism serving scientific enquiry as both an instrument and object of study.

31 Mechanistic warfare subscribed to the same vision, with its armies emphasizing rehearsed synchronous movements and characterized by the lack of autonomy of their parts and their unflinching obedience to the pre-determined sequence of battle decided upon by their commanders.

Mechanistic warfare attempted to, maintain order and ward off chaos through a pre-programmed and centralized routine devoid of any capacity for · reactivity to the actions of the opposing army.

32 The thermodynamic world was one of instability and change in which the cultivated stability of the ancient regime was rapidly swept away by revolutionary and nationalistic fervor.

33 The harnessing of electromagnetic forces for telecommunication purposes proceeded with telegraphy and telephony, stimulating growing scientific interest in the concept of information.

34 Scientific methodology was applied to warfare more systematically than ever, with operations research and systems analysis comprehensively deployed to solve tactical and strategic problems. In its most pristine form cybernetic warfare fuelled fantasies of omniscience and omnipotence on the battlefield which endure to this day despite its catastrophic failure in the jungles of Vietnam.

161 Defeat in Vietnam exposed the shortcomings of cybernetic warfare and revealed the inherent limitations of its attempt to make war into an entirely controllable and predictable activity. The cybernetic model of warfare erected by the system analysts was one that was frictionless, a perfectly oiled machine resting on elegant mathematical constructs. Rather than eternal attributes of the battlefield, uncertainty and unpredictability became understood merely as a lack of information which could be overcome through the deployment of the proper information and communication technologies and elaboration of appropriate models of conflict.

168 Independent studies of systems characterized by positive feedback and non-linear processes in a variety of fields including meteorology, . fluid dynamics, chemistry, and population biology eventually led to the constitution of a new interdisciplinary scientific corpus which came to be known as chaos theory. The common thread to all the studies gathered under this banner was the use of non-linear mathematics to model physical systems and explore the complex patterns of behavior displayed by such models.

181 " Complex systems also tend to be open systems in their interactions with their environment, as such their borders may not always be easy  · to ascertain

182 Whereas early cybernetics had focused primarily on self-regulating and · stabilizing systems, the sciences of complexity and chaos which followed  have studied self-organizing systems which develop emergent properties through non-linear relationships and positive feedback mechanisms. “ While the former were interested in stable  systems maintaining themselves, and convening. towards a determined goal (homeostasis), the · latter have turned to the decentralized networked processes by which complex adaptive systems emerge, change, and reproduce themselves

193 This notion of unpredictability is crucial since Boyd believes in a perpetually renewed world that is "uncertain, ever changing, unpredictable"21 and thus requires continually revising, adapting, destroying and recreating our theories and systems to deal with it.

· 203 If centralised control is no longer desirable and must give way to decentralised means for the coordination of "independent agents", a new organisational form is necessary to overcome the limitations of hierarchical structures. this form is that of the network.

220 Thus New defines itself as "an information superiority-enabled concept of operations that generates increased combat power by networking sensors, decision makers, and shooters to achieve shared awareness, · increased speed of command, higher tempo of operations, greater lethality, increased survivability, and a degree of self-synchronisation."94

221  furthermore, New seems to assume that greater quantities of sensor information will result in a higher quality of information - an assumption which again rests on the belief that ambiguity and uncertainty only results from a lack of information, not from confusion produced by potentially conflicting pieces of information or failures in their interpretation

223  In other words, individuals units no longer need to coordinate them selves with all others, thereby slowing down the entire military machine  to the "operating rhythm" of its slowest element, but can execute autonomous actions at greatest speed available to them. Self-synchronized forces can therefore "mass effects", increasing the combat tempo and raining blows on an adversary that is denied the time to respond and undergo his own decision cycle, thus leading to his collapse

          PTP: Role of the AOC in this structure is a force provider.  Decentralized execution elements can mass effects through the net and Auftragstaktik leadership to take initiative and exploit – especially in an information dominant/denied environment

233  Van Creveld concludes that when faced with a task for which insufficient  information is available for its completion, a military organisation must choose from one of two approaches: "one is to increase its information processing capacity, the other to design the organisation, and indeed the task itself, in such a way as to enable it to operate on the basis of less information The first approach results in a multiplication of communication channels (not necessarily vertically but also eventually (horizontally) and results in an increase in the size and complexity of the "central directing organ," The second approach offers two further alternatives: either to simplify radically the organisation by planning everything ahead and drilling troops into a sequential number of moves to be repeated on the battlefield (such as was practised by Frederick the Great) or to establish a force composed of semi-autonomous units that latter  can deal with parts of the task separately. \'

The central purpose of decentralisation is to distribute uncertainty throughout the organisation yet  remains attached to the notion that a technologically-driven centralisation and fusion of information can overcome uncertainty and decisively impose order on chaos. 

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