This week I have co-organised a Staff-Ride for a course on land operations and tactics for the Higher Command and Staff Program at the Swedish Defence University together with Lieutenant Colonel Per Lindahl, Head of the Land Operations Division. It was a very successful trip where we used five different themes – Offensive/Defensive, Division/Command, Technology, tactics, and Logistics – as a starting point for discussions and seminars at various themed terrain locations.
We also spent a day studying and reflecting on the consequences of the profession, leadership, courage and symbolic values during a visit to Verdun.
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.
“Global shadow war: a conceptual analysis”, Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, Vol. 8, Iss. 3, 2015 (with Markus Lyckman)
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.
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