Staff Functions

In the Information Age Centers of Activity > Centers of Gravity

By The Cove May 13, 2019



In this thought provoking article via The Strategy Bridge, the author, Jason M. Brown advocates a need for commanders and staff to change their mind-set in targeting an adversary's Centre of Gravity (COG). He suggests a  shift away from attacking a resilient and adaptive enemy's COG but instead, harnessing the ability to affect a system's 'centre of activity'.

Jason argues that the 'Clausewitzian' definition of a COG, whilst not flawed, leads national security establishments to believe they understand an adversary's COG sufficiently to plan future operations without taking into account that the COG may change. Once a COG is established, planners proceed with planning while making numerous, untested assumptions along the way.

In his view we have created unrealistic expectations for decision makers and rarely scrutinise our plan upon execution. We tend to view new 'information age adversaries' through the 'original lens', and so become more vulnerable to surprise.

Jason suggests we follow the 'intelligence' rather than the 'assumptions'. The ability to see the data trails behind every actor in a conflict can be used to visualise activity leading to 'smarter questions and focused intelligence collection'. Equipped with this information, analysts can identify 'centres of activity', the areas where different sources of data converge to 'suggest on-going adversary actions beyond the front line'. This gives a 'new life' to ideas of how to interdict the enemy first and/or prevent surprise.



The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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