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Fadok, D. S. (1995). John boyd and john warden:.. Air University Press. 
Resource type: Book
BibTeX citation key: Fadok1995
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Categories: Cognitive Science, Complexity Science, Decision Theory, General, Military Science
Subcategories: Air Force, Chaos theory, Command and control, Decision making, Human decisionmaking, JADC2, Networked forces, Situational cognition, Strategy, Systems theory
Creators: Fadok
Publisher: Air University Press
Throughout air power’s inaugural century, theorists have posited numerous schemes to best exploit the air weapon’s inherent flexibility and ubiquity. The evolution of air power theory has been fashioned along the way by harsh lessons of war, remarkable advances in technology, and the visionary concepts of a few select airmen. Two modern-day theorists, Colonels John Boyd and John Warden, have significantly contributed to this evolution through their respective works on strategic paralysis. Although currently in vogue in the aftermath of Desert Storm, the notionof strategic paralysis has been around for quite some time. Its historical roots reachback to the writings of the Eastern philosopher of war, Sun Tzu, and the quest forparalysis underpins all theories of strategic conventional air power in one form oranother. Characterized by its nonlethal intent and promise of force economization,strategic paralysis differs markedly from the more traditional strategies ofannihilation and attrition. Boyd’s thoughts on strategic paralysis are process-oriented and aim at psychological incapacitation. He speaks of folding an opponent back inside himself byoperating inside his observation-orientation-decision-action (OODA) loop. This seversthe adversary’s external bonds with his environment and thereby forces an inward orientation upon him. This inward focus necessarily creates mismatches between the real world and his perceptions of that world. Under the menacing environment ofwar, the initial confusion and disorder degenerate into a state of internal dissolution which collapses his will to resist. To counter this dissolution, Boyd offers theorientation process of “destruction and creation,” a form of mental gymnasticsdesigned to permit more rapid construction of more accurate strategies in the heat ofbattle. His theory of conflict is Clausewitzian in the sense that it is philosophical,emphasizes the mental and moral spheres of conflict, and considers it important toteach warriors how to think—that is, to teach the genius of war. Warden’s theory of strategic attack is form-oriented and aims at physical paralysis. It advocates parallel, inside-out strikes against an enemy’s five strategicrings, with unwavering emphasis on the leadership bullseye. Continualdifferentiation of these rings by air strategists will reveal those centers of gravity within and between rings which, when struck, will incapacitate the enemy systemthrough the rapid imposition of either total or partial paralysis. Warden’s theory isJominian in the sense that it is practical, emphasizes the physical sphere of conflict,and considers it important to teach warriors how to act—that is, to teach the principles of war. Boyd and Warden represent a major transition in the evolution of air powertheory. Early air power theorists argued that one could defeat the enemy by paralyzing his war-making and war-sustaining capabilities—a form of economic warfare based upon industrial targeting. In contrast, Boyd and Warden contend thatone should target enemy command and control—that is, control warfare based upon command targeting. However, the present Information Revolution will likely alter the focus of “controlwarfare.” If current trends in the economic world suggest future changes in allbureaucracies to include the military, then decision making will be decentralizedinstead of centralized; organizational networks of semiautonomous agents (oragencies) will replace hierarchies; and lateral cooperation will be more vital tosystem operation than top-down command. As a result, control warfare in the futurewill be based on creating “non-cooperative centers of gravity” by targeting horizontalinformation channels instead of vertical command channels. Thus, air power’s brief history has witnessed a steady transformation in strategicparalysis theory from an early emphasis on war-supporting industry to a currentemphasis on war-supporting command to a future emphasis on war-supportinginformation. John Boyd and John Warden have contributed significantly to thisevolutionary process.
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