How Bombing and Demolition Formulas Carved Illusions of Control:

Ben Zweibelson, PhD
19 min readJan 16, 2022

This is an excerpt from a design monograph that addresses design, NATO operational planning and Joint planning methodologies (NATO-OPP, JPP, and various service-specific deviations therein). This monograph is pending publication and was produced through the Joint Special Operations University where the author is a design educator (contractor) for the U.S. Special Operations Command. The title of the monograph is: “Disrupting Modern Military Decision-Making: Deconstructing Institutionalized Rituals through Design Synthesis.” (Follow Ben Zweibelson at Medium to see more on strategic design, war theory, operational planning and military philosophy).

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Militaries do love categorization models that can be remembered with useful mnemonics in the form of indoctrinated acronyms. We have ‘Centers of Gravity’ (COGs), SWOT Analysis, as well as ‘courses of action’ or COAs. We even assess COAs with yet another mnemonic, ‘AFDSC’ (acceptable, feasible, distinguishable, suitable and complete). Thus, COG and SWOT analysis are far from the only analytic-oriented, categorization models employed within modern military decision-making by NATO and Joint Forces. Within the targeting cycles and analysis in NATO-OPP and JPP, intelligence analysts perform elaborate calculations on what appears vulnerable as associated with enemy center of gravity assessments. COGs as a construct are foundational to most all other NATO-OPP and JPP activities (our preferred decision-making methodology), with a range of suggested or directed targeting models used to determine how to target enemy infrastructure, personnel vulnerabilities as well as facilities, units, cultural or symbolic structures or things deemed critical for enemy operational or strategic strength. We even establish our military targeting through more of these mnemonic, pseudo-scientific models that, like SWOT are entirely convergent toward group-think, reliant upon systematic and reductive processes.

Historically, the U.S. Department of Defense has employed two primary targeting models within decision-making. They both are acronym-based and use weighted matrixes to cumulatively determine “a relative value as a target or the overall level of vulnerability” to apply violence of action toward some tangible thing in war.[1] The first is called ‘CARVER’ and the second…

Ben Zweibelson, PhD

Philosopher of Conflict; Director for the U.S. Space Command’s (USSPACECOM) Strategic Innovation Group; Author of 'Understanding the Military Design Movement'.