The American military employs a doctrinal decision-making process called military decision making process.it is a process that involves a lot of consultation between the commander and the staff. However the process has been found to lead to poor outcomes at the tactical level. Some of these bottle necks of military decision making process are influence of group behaviors such as groupthink and rigidity of the process in the presence of complex present day warfare.
This work compares and contrasts two articles on importance of decision making within American military in the face of the above named bottle necks of military decision making process. Military decision making process (MDMP) can be regarded as decision making tool used by the American military for a very long time.
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Effects of Groupthink on Tactical Decision-Making
The author of this article is Major Johnson in which he explores the how groupthink affects military decision making process. He affirms that groups often experience group think and the military is no exception to it. Group think is a way of thinking that people employ when they are profoundly involved in a cohesive group, where members endeavoring for consensus override their need to realistically evaluate alternative courses of action. Groups consisting of individuals possessing exceptional intellect and talent have made irrational decisions due to group think. The military like many other organizations has borne the blunt of group defective decisions resulting in poor outcomes.
Groupthink is critical in military decision making because group behavior influences decisions. Major Johnson asserts that groupthink leads to miscalculations due to defective information processing and inadequate evaluation of alternatives. Since military decision making Process, MDMP, depends on analysis, inputs, and recommendations from the commander and staff (Johnson, 2001), groupthink has a role to play in analysis, inputs, and recommendations and hence should not be ignored. Unfortunately the American military does not put into consideration influence of groupthink in planning, synchronization and operation of combat operations. This means that tactical level decision making can yield defective decisions hence poor mission outcomes.
Between Discipline and Intuition: The Military Decision Making Process in the Army's Future Force
This article is authored by Major Vowel. In this article he recognizes the complex nature of present day warfare. He explores military decision making process (MDMP) as the doctrinal military decision making process and how it fails to deliver good decisions because of ignoring the use of commander’s experience in decision making. He supports use of commander’s experience in making decisions at the tactical level.
The commander is charged with several responsibilities which many at times are hectic owing to the complex nature of the present day warfare. In other words, a commander needs to plan, prepare, and carry out warfare amid a whole host of systems with which he must control, or at any rate realize the impact of, so as to attain success faster than his thinking foe (vowel).
Comparing and contrasting the two articles
According to major vowel, the military decision making process needs to be retooled in order to meet the challenges of present day warfare. This shows that just like Johnson he recognizes that MDMP has some loopholes. However contrary to Johnson’s view, Vowel looks at the commander’s experience as important tool in decision making. He believes that some in circumstances the experience of the commander can help him to make a good decision that would lead to positive mission outcomes.
Despite MDMP showing some weaknesses in decision making, both Major Johnson and Major Vowel agree that it is effective to a large extent and recognizes it as the up-to-date doctrinal framework to planning and decision making at the tactical levels. It is very effective especially where there is enough time for planning.
MDMP requires changes so as to become more effective especially in time constraint environment an idea that shared by both Johnson and vowel in their articles. Johnson suggests that the American military should accept the phenomenon of groupthink like many other organizations have done. Recognition of the negative effects of groupthink would help to make necessary changes in decision making process that will help deal with the influence of groupthink. He recommends efficient training that is guided by doctrine that gives enough attention to group decision-making as the best remedy for reducing the incidents of the groupthink. On the other hand, Vowell suggests incorporation of commander’s experience as a tool in planning and decision making process within the military. He acknowledges the unique role that commander’s experience would play in decision making. He recommends that commander’s experience be codified to demonstrate a better framework for planning and decision making in the future military. He argues that that the framework will lead to a
Planning process that supports a commander’s need to figure, describe, and direct activities against a hostile, thought foe.
The approach of the authors is different. Jonson looks at military decision making process from a group point of view. He looks at both the commander and the staff who concert in decision making. On the other hand Major Vowell only looks at the experience of the commander and the critical role that his experience can play in decision making.
In summary the two articles by Major Johnson and Major Vowel have similarities and differences regarding military decision making process which is the doctrinal framework of decision making in American military. They both agree that MDMP has some weaknesses that need to be addressed in order to make MDMP more effective. According to Johnson groups that present symptoms of groupthink make defective decisions. Groupthink tendency should not be ignored seeing the critical part it plays in decision making at the tactical level. Effective training that gives attention groupthink tendency is the best solution to the problem of groupthink. On the other hand, Major Vowell’s approach is different in that he focuses on an individual rather than a group. According to him, commander’s experience should be incorporated in the planning and decision making framework in the future military.