Reasoning and the military decision making process
Ikpe, Ibanga B.
PublisherCenter for Cognition and Neuroethics, http://cognethic.org/
MetadataShow full item record
The archetypal view of the military is that of a hierarchical organization whose members are conditioned to respond to command without question. Its election of obedience as “the supreme military virtue” portrays it as subscribing to the highest degree of group conformity possible within any human organization. This view is not helped by the fact that the military adopts a decision making calculus referred to as the Military Decision Making Process (also referred to as The Estimate Process in some military organizations). This seems to suggest that either the soldiers are not expected to think or that whatever thinking it does passes through a decision-making prism which is devoid of the personal inputs of individual soldiers. The irony of the situation is that a course in critical thinking is a required component of staff school training, which is usually a first step towards command and staff appointments in the military. This paper is an attempt to understand reasoning in the military. Using relevant examples, it examines popular clichés about reasoning and the military and the extent to which they are justified by the structure and function of the military. It also looks at the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) and the extent to which it supports or inhibits autonomous reasoning by individual soldiers, and compares it with other analytical decision making tools. Drawing examples from specific command and staff decisions it concludes that while regimentation may be appropriate for the rank and file, the capacity for reason is an important asset in the military especially as warfare continues to evolve from the conventional to new and bizarre mutants of war.