Category Archives: War Studies

Explaining the offensive bias in military tactical thinking

New article with LtCol (ret) Peter Ahlström in Defence Studies that explores why the offensive dominates military tactical thinking. Our article, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most offensive of them all? – Explaining the offensive bias in military tactical thinking” is published open access, so anyone can download the article free:
https://doi.org/10.1080/14702436.2019.1599287 .

Abstract:
This article explores why the offensive predominates military tactical thinking. With survey results showing an offensive bias among 60 per cent of senior Swedish officers and as many as 80 per cent in the case of the army, it is clear that this is not just a problem of the past but is equally relevant today. The article asks why there is a tendency to perceive and understand offensive tactics as the preferred choice and the way to conduct battle that should be encouraged and preferred. Drawing on existing research and the findings of a pilot study, ten propositions for why the offensive bias exists are tested using a mixed-method approach. Based on the findings, the article develops a model to understand why the offensive dominates military tactical thinking. It is found that the two key constitutive factors behind the offensive bias are military culture and education. These factors most directly and profoundly influence an officer’s identity, perceptions, and thinking. Military culture and education, in turn, work as a prism for four other factors: military history, the theory and principles of war, doctrine and TTPs, and psychological factors.

KEYWORDS: Militarycult of the offensiveattackoffensivetactical thinkingtacticseducationmilitary cultureSwedenarmy

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First spring seminar with the Hybrid Warfare Research Group

On April 4th Dr Johan Engvall ot the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) will visit the Swedish Defence University’s Hybrid Warfare Research Group. He will speak on his recent report “OSCE and Military Confidence Building: Lessons from Georgia and Ukraine” .

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Preparation of next years higher staff course

Preparing the elective course in Ground Operations for next years Higher Staff Course at the Swedish Defence University. New program, new courses. A lot of work, but this is going to be fun!

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teaching in the fireld

This week we moved our class out in the classroom, travelling to Northern Sweden to experience tactics in practice including handling winter conditions. It was a great and most successful week with our cadets.

Below you will find some picture showing what they experienced.

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WORKSHOP: Hybrid Threats and Asymmetric Warfare: What to do?

In November I am organising a workshop on “Hybrid Threats and Asymmetric Warfare: What to do?” in Stockholm 14-15 November, 2017 at the Swedish Defence University (SEDU). It is organised by the Land Operation Section, Dept. of Military Studies at the Swedish Defence University (SEDU) in collaboration with the Centre for Conflict, Rule of Law and Society, Bournemouth University and the
Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies (CATS). It is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) (Grant No: F16-1240:1)

 

DOWNLOAD CONFERENCE REPORT

Purpose

The international security environment has seemingly left the post-cold war parenthesis of everlasting peace and evolved into a volatile and increasingly grey area of war and peace. Security challenges arising from both hybrid wars and hybrid threats are today high on security agendas in Sweden, Europe as well as internationally. However, despite the attention there is today a lack of research that address how such “new” wars and threats should be handled. While studies do exist addressing specific issues, a comprehensive approach to how hybrid wars and threats are to be handled are still lacking. This is particularly so when it comes to experience sharing between states. The here proposed workshop will be a first step towards developing such a comprehensive approach.

The aim of this workshop is to bridge across disciplinary boundaries as well as between researchers and practitioners within and outside Sweden, utilising each group’s extensive experiences and knowledge in to a coherent whole. The aim of the workshop is to besides producing and disseminate new knowledge, to work as the foundation for long-term collaboration, being the first step in the creation of a European Network on Hybrid Warfare Capabilities that can work across borders as well as being a channel between the state of the art of research and practice.

The workshop

Though being mainly a scientific workshop, a number of practitioners will be invited. Our aim is that each session shall include a mix of presentations by academics and practitioners. The workshop will also include round-table discussions to facilitate innovative and reflective discussions across the academic-practitioner border. To facilitate the production of new knowledge and the development of future cooperation we are not expecting finished papers from all participants, but instead we want to put emphasise on facilitating the development of new ideas associated with hybrid threats/warfare broadly speaking.

For more information contact mikael.weissmann@fhs.se.

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Endast genom anfall kan ett avgörande nås

Our findings on why the offensive dominates in military tactical thinking among Swedish army officers just published in the Proceedings and Journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences:

“Endast genom anfall kan ett avgörande nås: Varför dominerar offensiven militärt taktiskt tänkande?” (with Övlt Peter Ahlström), Kungl Krigsvetenskapsakademiens Handlingar & Tidskrift [Proceedings and Journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences], No 2 April/June, 2017:6-18. [OPEN ACCESS]

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Global Shadow War – new article

“Global shadow war: a conceptual analysis”, Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, Vol. 8, Iss. 3, 2015 (with Markus Lyckman)

Abstract:

The US strategic shift from nation-building to what has been labelled “light footprint” has carried with it a number of changes in the practices used when waging war on terrorism. These activities include covert and clandestine action by special operations and paramilitary forces, and others, operating under a shadowy mandate. It is essential to analyse these changes, due to the nature of the actions taken and the global reach and consequences of US foreign policies. The concept of “global shadow war” has been used by scholars and journalists alike to describe the practices associated with the light footprint framework, although the concept is ambiguous, lacks clear conceptual boundaries and is yet to be defined. This article attempts to resolve the problem of ambiguity through a systematic analysis of how and when the concept is used, in the process establishing its conceptual boundaries and definitional qualities. Using a method for concept analysis developed by Giovanni Sartori, the article provides a conceptual definition which is more clearly delineated, encompasses the characteristics found in the sources studied, and can be used when theorizing about the many practices taking place within the light footprint framework.

[Link to full text of published version]
[Link to accepted pre-publication version (PDF)]

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