Simply admitting that existing operational planning methodology and doctrine are not applicable for complex strategic problem sets is a crucial first step. Once we break this paradigm, military strategists will be empowered to design new and better paradigms, yielding novel methods to more appropriately meet our nation’s strategic needs.
How militaries address problems is crucial to their success as an organization. Militaries use many different planning tools to solve operational problems. Some of these tools follow a structured methodology. Others are a state-of-mind and a way of thinking that is not confined within boundaries. Instead of just solving a problem, these approaches help to solve the right problem.
Let us not turn away in the face of unattainable limits. Instead, we should push those limits and make our best attempt to imagine the unthinkable and prepare accordingly. That being said, there is no free lunch. How much time and money ought the U.S. government allocate to wargaming worst cases, or on a smaller scale, ought you devote to reading this book? The first question is too large for this review, but I will say that What Is The Worst That Could Happen? was well worth my $37.95 and an afternoon’s time, and I am confident that any reader of The Bridge will feel the same.
This approach takes the traditional ends/ways/means strategy of the industrial era and attempts to contend with the modern environment by obtaining information dominance through understanding an ill-structured problem. But as good as your intelligence might be, if you receive an assessment that predicts the unpredictable, you would be wise to question the sourcing. While one might sympathize with Eisenhower's notion that planning has its own virtues divorced of the result, the reliance on the predictability of inputs and outputs of a linear equation are erroneous. With complexity, outcomes become disproportionate and hence non-linear approaches are required.
Barton Whaley’s Practise to Deceive, a posthumously published work, is not a manual on how to conduct military deception, nor is it a “do-it-yourself” guide for deception planners. It is, however, a valuable resource that will aid the deception planner through discussion and analysis of 88 case studies.