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Operational Design

Distilling Clarity from Complexity for Decisive Action

Jeffrey M. Reilly
2012, 150 pages
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Cost: $24, AU Press Code: B-129

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This analysis takes a didactic approach. It attempts to demystify the aura surrounding operational design by presenting a theoretical framework for comprehending its fundamental precepts. The goals of this analysis are threefold: provide a methodological example for understanding and applying design, show how design enhances decision making and risk analysis, and investigate the major differences between design in major combat operations and design in counterinsurgency (COIN). The contents of this study should not be construed as either prescriptive or mechanistic. Warfare is a multifaceted entity conducted in evolving operational environments and against complex, adaptive adversaries. Design is not a sequential methodology or a simplistic checklist. It is a foundational part of operational art that provides the crucial element of structure. This heuristic examination of design simply searches for a way to explain design’s intricate structural relationships and highlight the intrinsic potential for deliberately crafting decision analysis. When commanders and staffs approach operational design from this perspective, we move one step closer to the natural masters of the art of war.

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