EBO: Effects-Based Operations

Effects-Based Operations and the Excersize of National Power,” by David Pendall, Military Review, January – February 2004, http://www.iwar.org.uk/rma/resources/ebo/national-power.pdf.

More reading for the International Law paper. Note the generally psychological tone, and compare with John Robb’s opinion.

Clearly, future capabilities of combined and standing joint task forces (SJTF), coupled with specialized strike elements, will leverage the power of kinetic and nonkinetic weapons in future battlespace. Some battlespace will be located within sprawling urban environments and some will be against state and nonstate entities or both. Some of the capabilities used to achieve future desired effects might not be classed currently as weapons. Other battlespaces might be in the spaces between neurons or electrons. The cutting, burning, irradiating, poisoning, piercing, and concussion effects that enlivened combat in the 20th-century will persist, and other forms of engagement and effects will be added. Some weapons will be nonkinetic and will substitute for some of the fire and maneuver of times past.

Kinetic weapons, as defined here, are weapons whose effects are transmitted by the motion of a substance, such as a projectile, a shock wave, or heat. Departing from the conventional definition, nonkinetic weapons include—

l Sticky foams.
l Graphite bombs.
l Cyber weapons.
l Microwaves.
l Directed energy.
l High-energy radio frequency strikes.
l Calmatives.
l Acoustic weapons.
l Stink bombs.
l Antitraction and antireaction chemicals.


These items will be transformational once they become available, although they are less interesting as technologies and more interesting because of their capacity as surrogates

The battlespace in which the United States engages its adversaries are longer defend its interests and provide its citizens security by being “over there.” Defending the United States is now as much about local lawenforcement officers patrolling and protecting critical infrastructure nodes in Omaha, Nebraska, as it was during World War II when U.S. servicemen stormed Omaha Beach.

Like it or not, preemption is recognized as a legitimate form of self-defense. Future engagements are merely the branches and sequels flowing from what is being executed today. The variables are the degree of engagement, the methods of engagement, and how explicitly engagements become known to those not directly involved. Warfare can no longer be characterized as the conventional forces of a nation-state engaging in the delivery of munitions and destruction in pitched battles on land, sea, and air. Operations are no longer merely focused against an opposing nation-state’s forces and means to make and sustain the fight.

What are the national thresholds and attack-classification schemes that will compel national elements of power to respond in the future? How will the United States implement the newest national security strategy in the broader terms and environments this century presents rather than those of the 20th century?

Envision the construct of effects-based operations applied by or to nonstate adversaries. Operating globally and within a loose, confederated-network construct, these actors coalesce either for ideological reasons or for profit motive (perhaps both). The United States should explore its capability to deconstruct the network properties of its organizations and limit their attractiveness to new players. A range of human-based operations, whether classed as nationbuilding, foreign aid, media campaigns, or psychological operations (PSYOPs), might achieve both. A catch-and-release program for suspected operatives might create reluctance or distrust in such suspects and prevent them from further acts or, perhaps more important, create distrust in the cell leaders of these individuals in the future.16 The captor would determine when to name names and whento remain silent. Multidisciplined intelligence operations would help understand and sense adversarial network operations.

Finally, here are two out-of-order references to John Boyd’s OODA loop.

A reduced observe-orient-decide-act (OODA) loop at the joint unit-of-action level, enabled by superbly trained, technology enhanced and empowered teams will achieve the results the newest nationalsecurity strategy envisions. The United States will engage adversaries in unexpected ways, leveraging new weapons and techniques and deploying forces from existing and future—perhaps even commercial— platforms to reach remote areas of the world. The United States will act with effects, rather than weapons, in mind.

Sensor links to delivery platforms, using knowledge-based applications to speed information to the point or points of decision, will reduce the “D” time in the OODA loop, which in effect, will allow us to cycle through engagements and operational Go/No Go criteria with unprecedented speed. Decisions will be enabled at the lowest evels of operation.

2 thoughts on “EBO: Effects-Based Operations”

  1. Chrys,

    OODA stands for Observe-Orient-Decide-Act. It was created by the late USAF Colonel John Boyd to model how people think, both in war and other times. Boyd friened former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney on OODA and other issues immediately before the Gulf War, and is credited with helping craft our victory strategy.

    Boyd emphasized “cycling through the OODA loops” — going from Observe to Act quickly, not spending much time pondering what to do. He was very critical of our tactics in Vietnam, which emphasized “doing things slow and perfectly” rather than “fast and good.”

    On my site, I have discussed…

    What the OODA loop looks like (the first half of http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/18/go-deep-ooda-and-the-rainbow-of-generational-warfare.html)

    If you are interested in Boyd, his
    A better way of modeling it (http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/20/ooda-loop-as-flowchart-try-2.html)
    How sometimes it is best to think slowly (http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/29/time-shifting-the-ooda-loop.html)

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