The phrase data rich and information poor (DRIP) was first used in the 1983 best-selling business book, In Search of Excellence, to describe organizations rich in data, but lacking the processes to produce meaningful information and create a competitive advantage. DRIP was defeated in the private sector with wise implementation of information technology. However, government institutions have lacked the incentives to attack the disease and have instead treated the symptoms of the dilemma armed with a gross misunderstanding of the cognitive domain. In the U.S. Department of Defense, a deluge of data overwhelms analysts and provides little information that is timely and relevant to decision makers.
Terror tactics are used for different reasons depending on the time of the civil war. Once the war has begun, terrorism is used to stimulate it. Before or in the beginning of the civil war, terrorism is used to convince the local population of the need for a revolution by attempting to change the beliefs of the people and intentionally getting them on board with violent methods. At the end of the war, terror tactics have been used to delegitimize the peace.
Why has the U.S. failed to see any conclusive strategic victories in any of its recent conflicts? Second, within the context of a changed global post-cold-war strategic order and a massive American globalized infrastructure in place to support military operations, is the inability of the U.S. to be successful a failure of the American way of war or a failure in strategy as it relates to the American way of war? Instead of trying to answer each puzzle, we seek to define the contours of it. We argue American strategy has become increasingly incoherent. This is the product of a stagnant American political system that led to an incredibly effective military, but one that is strategically incapable due to it being a global discount security shop.
The strategic demands of a great power war with a peer-adversary—the high-end conflict—will inevitably push decision-makers to the pale of that which is ethically permissible. We have seen it in the two great wars of the 20th century. In the next great power war—and one hopes it never comes—western states will put their strategic and operational capabilities to the test. But such a war will also test the moral will of their citizens—the people in whose name the killing and dying will take place.
Russian strategy in Syria and the broader Middle East consists of supporting what it considers legitimate institutions through extensive foreign aid programs, including economic and security assistance, political support and, as seen in Syria, direct military intervention. However, there are caveats to this strategy that include history, policy goals, and the ability to exploit lack of foreign attention to Russian activities and capabilities.
The economic, social, and technological trends of the Information Age will undoubtedly have a big impact on the way that militaries fight. Yet, two things do not change: the nature of war, and the need to win. To win, militaries must move beyond the old methods of the Industrial Age. There is a need to develop capabilities in a more cost-efficient and operationally effective way. Militaries must leverage the power of networks, remain open to new ideas and continue to improve how they develop their people.
Emotions are abundantly present in contemporary warfare, and various non-state actors, in particular, use acts of terror to invoke fear in target audiences. The same emotion is also central to the successes or failures of deterrence. Various intra-state conflicts in Central Africa are waged for the most emotional of causes, usually a mixture of greed and grievances. It seems the role of moral factors has actually expanded in modern warfare due to the influence of real-time mass media on public opinion. Despite their abundance, emotions are largely ignored by students of strategic studies.
Israel’s success in overcoming its imbalances in 1948 provides important lessons for the development of national strategy. Israel’s victory demonstrates how capable leadership can unite competing interests to create a professional military in a short period of time, how diplomatic and military efforts can complement each other, and how military principles such as mass and space can be manipulated. The 1948 war also helps the observer understand Israel’s strategic thinking in later conflicts and highlights the importance and possibilities of military organizational reform.