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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
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Improving the Decision Making Abilities of
SMALL UNIT LEADERS

Committee on Improving the Decision Making
Abilities of Small Unit Leaders

Naval Studies Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS      500 Fifth Street, NW      Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by Contract No. N00014-05-G-0288, DO #31 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of the Navy. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

Cover: Inset photographs courtesy of LCpl Khoa Pelczar, USMC (top); Cpl Benjamin Crilly, USMC (middle); and Cpl Adam C. Schnell, USMC (bottom). Background image courtesy of Cpl Michael A. Bianco, USMC.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-21605-0
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-21605-2

Copies of this report are available free of charge from:

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Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
×

COMMITTEE ON IMPROVING THE DECISION MAKING ABILITIES OF SMALL UNIT LEADERS

ROBERT L. POPP, NSI, Inc., Co-Chair

MICHAEL J. WILLIAMS, La Plata, Maryland, Co-Chair

PETER A. BELING, University of Virginia

JANIS A. CANNON-BOWERS, University of Central Florida

SCOTT T. GRAFTON, University of California, Santa Barbara

SUSAN HACKWOOD, California Council on Science and Technology

STEPHAN KOLITZ, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc.

STEVEN KORNGUTH, University of Texas at Austin

FREDERICK R. LOPEZ, Goleta, California

LAURA A. McNAMARA, Sandia National Laboratories

CHRISTOPHER NEMETH, Applied Research Associates, Inc.

MICHAEL I. POSNER, University of Oregon

ALAN R. WASHBURN, Naval Postgraduate School

GEROLD YONAS, The Mind Research Network

GREG L. ZACHARIAS, Charles River Analytics, Inc.

Staff

CHARLES F. DRAPER, Director, Naval Studies Board

MARTA V. HERNANDEZ, Study Director

RAYMOND S. WIDMAYER, Senior Program Officer

SUSAN G. CAMPBELL, Administrative Coordinator

MARY G. GORDON, Information Officer

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
×

NAVAL STUDIES BOARD

MIRIAM E. JOHN, Livermore, California, Chair

DAVID A. WHELAN, The Boeing Company, Vice Chair

TIMOTHY P. COFFEY, McLean, Virginia

CHARLES R. CUSHING, C.R. Cushing & Co., Inc.

JAMES N. EAGLE, Naval Postgraduate School

ANUP GHOSH, George Mason University

JAMES R. GOSLER, Sandia National Laboratories

SUSAN HACKWOOD, California Council on Science and Technology

JAMES L. HERDT, Chelsea, Alabama

BARRY M. HOROWITZ, University of Virginia

JAMES D. HULL, Annapolis, Maryland

TAMARA E. JERNIGAN, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

BERNADETTE JOHNSON, Lincoln Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

LEON A. JOHNSON, Irving, Texas

CATHERINE M. KELLEHER, University of Maryland and Brown University

JERRY A. KRILL, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University

TERRY P. LEWIS, Raytheon Company

RICHARD S. MULLER, University of California, Berkeley

JOSEPH PEDLOSKY, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

HEIDI C. PERRY, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc.

J. PAUL REASON, Washington, D.C.

JOHN E. RHODES, Balboa, California

ALLAN STEINHARDT, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.

TIMOTHY M. SWAGER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Navy Liaison Representatives

RADM ARTHUR J. JOHNSON, USN, Director, Assessment Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, N81

RADM MATTHEW L. KLUNDER, Chief of Naval Research/Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, N091

Marine Corps Liaison Representative

LTGEN RICHARD P. MILLS, USMC, Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
×

Staff

CHARLES F. DRAPER, Director

RAYMOND S. WIDMAYER, Senior Program Officer

BILLY M. WILLIAMS, Senior Program Officer (through June 13, 2012)

MARTA V. HERNANDEZ, Associate Program Officer

SUSAN G. CAMPBELL, Administrative Coordinator

MARY G. GORDON, Information Officer

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
×

Preface

In 2008, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James T. Conway, outlined the concept for enhanced company operations (ECO).1 In that concept he stated:

Conventional wisdom tells us that the battalion is the smallest tactical formation capable of sustained independent operations; current operations tell us it is the company. Enhanced Company Operations recognizes this operational reality and seeks to promote research, lively debate and, most of all, institutionalized training, manning, and equipping initiatives that will enable the company commander to take it to the next level.

The implementation of this concept demands that small unit leaders at the company, platoon, and squad levels2 make more numerous and more complex decisions than are required of them in conventional warfare. Then Commanding General of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC), LtGen George J. Flynn, recognized this additional demand on small unit leaders and requested that the National Research Council (NRC), under the auspices of its Naval Studies Board (NSB), undertake a comprehensive study on improving the decision making abilities of small unit leaders in conducting ECO. The study that follows is the result of that request.

line

1 Gen James T. Conway, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps. 2008. A Concept for Enhanced Company Operations, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C., August 28.

2 The typical size and organization of these small units are illustrated in Appendix D.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
×

TERMS OF REFERENCE

In a letter dated January 22, 2010, to Dr. Miriam E. John, chair of the NSB, LtGen George J. Flynn, Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, requested that the NRC conduct a comprehensive study on decision making abilities of small unit leaders in conducting ECO.

Accordingly, in August 2010, the NRC, under the auspices of its NSB, established the Committee on Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders.3 The study’s terms of reference, formulated by the staff at MCCDC and the Office of Naval Research in consultation with the chair and the director of the NSB, charge the committee to produce one report during a 12-month period. During the 12-month period, the committee met to gather information, deliberate about critical issues, and prepare its report in accordance with NRC procedures. Specifically, the charge to the committee was as follows:

• Examine the operational environment, existing abilities, and gaps (to include data, technology, skill sets, training, measures of effectiveness, etc.) for small unit leaders in conducting ECO in hybrid engagement, complex environments.

• Identify the operational and technical challenges for improving the decision making abilities of small unit leaders in conducting ECO in hybrid engagement, complex environments (including Department of the Navy science and technology efforts that might be leveraged, as well as relevant academic [activities], and other military Services’, defense agencies’, and/or other government activities).

• Survey and determine how the various approaches to decision making found in the literature (e.g., rational actor, heuristic, expert, norm-based, sense-making, naturalistic/recognition primed decision making) can be used to screen and improve the decision making abilities of small unit leaders in conducting ECO in hybrid engagement, complex environments, as well as to understand the decision making calculus and indicators of adversaries.

• Recommend operational and technical approaches—combined and separate—for improving the decision making abilities of small unit leaders in conducting ECO in hybrid engagement, complex environments (including any acquisition and experimentation efforts that can be undertaken by the Marine Corps and/or by other stakeholders aimed specifically at improving the decision making of small unit leaders).

THE COMMITTEE’S APPROACH

For the purposes of this report, the committee chose to examine, in part, the operational environment for small unit leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan so as to gain a better understanding of the scope of decisions required by these leaders vis-à-vis the term “ECO in hybrid engagement, complex environments” used throughout the terms of reference.

line

3 Biographies of the committee members are provided in Appendix A.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
×

The committee was first convened in August 2010. It held numerous meetings and conducted site visits over a period of 6 months, both to gather input from the relevant communities and to discuss its findings and recommendations.4 The meetings consisted of a combination of presentations from outside experts and discussion among the committee members.

In some areas, the committee was limited in its deliberations by both the time available and the nature of the expertise required. Specifically, the committee did not investigate in detail the small unit leader selection process in the Marine Corps, believing that it did not have the expertise to do so, not to mention that such an investigation would involve a separate, comprehensive study in itself. In addition, the defense industry has a number of initiatives underway for developing and marketing various training systems, tactical decision games, and decision aids that were not accessible to the committee; here the committee chose not to recommend any specific technology or device for adoption.

The committee hosted a panel of small unit leaders from the Basic School to hear their recent operational experiences and their ideas on how to improve the preparation of small unit leaders to make decisions. In this regard, the committee recognized a need for additional input from experienced small unit leaders, and so it solicited the cooperation of MCCDC in arranging a series of interviews with veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan in order to develop a better understanding of the environment and the scope of decisions required of these leaders. A few members of the committee skilled in conducting such interviews used an interview protocol to conduct the interviews.5 The committee recognizes that the interviews were not a systematic sample of the population of small unit leaders but rather that the information related by the interviewees could be used as a way to make the committee aware of the operational environment and the scope of decisions required of small unit leaders in general.

The committee also visited Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, to observe a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration known as the Future Immersive Training Environment, or FITE. This experiment involved the Infantry Immersion Trainer, a facility designed to help Marine Corps infantry squads prepare for deployment to Afghanistan.

The committee had a report-drafting meeting in early 2011 at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies, at which it prepared the body of the report and the recommendations. The months between the committee’s last meeting and the publication of the report were spent preparing the draft manuscript, gathering additional information, reviewing and responding to the external review comments, editing the report, and conducting the security review needed to produce an unclassified report.

line

4 A summary of the committee meetings and site visits is presented in Appendix B.

5 The interview protocol is summarized in Appendix E.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
×

The committee co-chairs would like to thank the staff of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and the staff of the Naval Studies Board for their enthusiastic cooperation, and the members of the committee for their time, dedication, and wisdom.

Robert L. Popp, Co-Chair
Michael J. Williams, Co-Chair
Committee on Improving the
Decision Making Abilities of
Small Unit Leaders

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
×

Acknowledgment of Reviewers

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Richard J. Genik III, Wayne State University School of Medicine,

John R. Gersh, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory,

Steven M. Jones, MITRE Corporation,

Edward H. Kaplan, Yale School of Management,

Douglas L. Medin, Northwestern University,

Marc Raibert, Boston Dynamics,

Ann E. Speed, Sandia National Laboratories, and

Paul K. Van Riper, LtGen, USMC (Ret.), Williamsburg, Va.

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Harry W. Jenkins, Jr., MajGen, USMC (Ret.), Gainesville, Va., and Maxine L. Savitz, Los Angeles, Calif. Appointed by the National

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
×

Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13188.
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For the past decade, the U.S. Marine Corps and its sister services have been engaged in what has been termed "hybrid warfare," which ranges from active combat to civilian support. Hybrid warfare typically occurs in environments where all modes of war are employed, such as conventional weapons, irregular tactics, terrorism, disruptive technologies, and criminality to destabilize an existing order.

In August 2010, the National Research Council established the Committee on Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders to produce Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders. This report examines the operational environment, existing abilities, and gap to include data, technology, skill sets, training, and measures of effectiveness for small unit leaders in conducting enhanced company operations (ECOs) in hybrid engagement, complex environments. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders also determines how to understand the decision making calculus and indicators of adversaries.

Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders recommends operational and technical approaches for improving the decision making abilities of small unit leaders, including any acquisition and experimentation efforts that can be undertaken by the Marine Corps and/or by other stakeholders aimed specifically at improving the decision making of small unit leaders. This report recommends ways to ease the burden on small unit leaders and to better prepare the small unit leader for success. Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders also indentifies a responsible organization to ensure that training and education programs are properly developed, staffed, operated, evaluated, and expanded.

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