Human Advantage

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For Army forces, an operational environment includes portions of the land, maritime, air, space, and cyberspace domains. Understanding the physical, information, and human dimensions of each domain helps commanders and staffs assess and anticipate the impacts of their operations.

Operations reflect the reality that war is an act of force (in the physical dimension) to compel (in the information dimension) the decision making and behavior of enemy forces (in the human dimension). Actions in one dimension influence factors in the other dimensions.

The Human Advantage

The human dimension encompasses people and the interaction between individuals and groups, how they understand information and events, make decisions, generate will, and act within an operational environment. The will to act and fight emerges from the complex interrelationship of culture, emotion, and behavior. Influencing these factors—by affecting attitudes, beliefs, motivations, and perceptions—underpins the achievement of military objectives.

Commanders and staffs identify relevant actors and anticipate their behavior. Actors are individuals, groups, networks, and populations. Relevant actors are actors who, through their behavior, could substantially impact campaigns, operations, or tactical actions. From this understanding, commanders develop ways to influence relevant actor behavior, decision making, and will through physical and informational means.

A human advantage occurs when a force holds the initiative in terms of training, morale, perception, and will. Human advantages enable friendly morale and will, degrade enemy morale and will, and influence popular support. Examples of human advantages include leader and Soldier competence, morale of troops, and the health and physical fitness of the force. Forces with a cultural affinity to the population in which they operate are also a form of a human advantage. For Army forces, the mission command approach to C2 is a significant human advantage that enhances the friendly decision cycle.

A. Human Advantages during COMPETITION

The institutional depth and professionalism of U.S. Army personnel contribute to the morale and will of partner security forces as Army forces interact across all ranks and echelons. Army formations serve as a professional force operating under the rule of law as guests in a specific region to facilitate the accomplishment of mutual military training goals. This can be a powerful advantage over adversaries who seek to extract concessions, including financial and informational gains, from other countries or groups. This bond of trust forms the foundation of the U.S. alliance system, and it is the primary means to ensure the security of the United States and its partners. Examples of activities that help achieve human advantages include—
• Training U.S. and partner nation forces in multinational exercises at combat training centers.
• Routine interaction with allies and other unified action partners that builds and maintains human, technical, and procedural interoperability through agreed-to standards.
• Hosting international officers at U.S. professional military education programs and sending U.S. officers to international military schools.
• Sustained presence by theater-aligned advisor teams that builds relationships and promotes interoperability over time.

B. Human Advantages during CRISIS

While enduring relationships with alliance and coalition partners may be in place at the theater strategic level as a crisis develops, at the operational and tactical levels it is likely that units have less experience operating with one another. Forces deploying into a theater may have experience working with the security forces of partner nations if they were regionally aligned or worked together in a professional military education or training setting, but most will not have such experience. This requires leaders who have worked with joint and multinational partners to focus their staffs on the most critical interoperability tasks necessary for effective coalition operations. It also requires awareness of the difficulty in fully understanding situations when dealing with other cultures. Employing the liaison networks built by the theater army during competition will enable simultaneous in-theater training exercises with the deployment of Army forces. This facilitates early shared understanding, helping leaders and subordinate units integrate with allied and partner forces in the most expeditious and efficient manner possible while also signaling determination to adversaries. Demonstrated readiness for combat operations and interoperability among U.S., allied, and partner forces helps to upset adversary risk calculations and deter further aggression.

C. Human Advantages during ARMED CONFLICT

Because war is a clash between opposing human wills, the human dimension is central to war. Army formations are principally designed to achieve objectives through the threat or employment of lethal force, which has a psychological effect. Understanding an enemy force’s tolerance for casualties and the political and social will to endure them is important to understanding the level of effort required to prevail against enemy forces in large-scale combat operations. Leaders do everything possible in the physical and information dimensions to reduce the enemy’s will to fight. During armed conflict, human advantages include—
• Political and national will that supports strategic objectives.
• Experienced, well-trained formations.
• Leadership well versed in the mission command approach to C2.
• Adherence to the law of war.
• Unit cohesion and Soldiers with the mental and physical stamina for combat.
• Interoperability and mutual trust between allies and host-nation partners.

TLS7: The Leader’s SMARTbook,  7th Ed. (Leadership as a Dynamic of Combat Power)This article is an extract from "TLS7: The Leader’s SMARTbook, 7th Ed. (Leadership as a Dynamic of Combat Power)" by The Lightning Press. Download a free PDF sample and learn more at:  TLS7: The Leader’s SMARTbook, 7th Ed. (Leadership as a Dynamic of Combat Power).

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