Why do Militaries Fixate on Newtonian Constructs and Linear-Causal Oversimplifications of (Complex) Warfare: A Crowd-Sourcing Exercise (Part 1 of 5)

Ben Zweibelson, PhD
11 min readOct 7, 2022

These public facing Medium posts are a crowd-sourcing exercise to further develop some initial concepts on how security organizations might use systemic design theory to re-conceptualize how military forces frame, construct and execute strategic and operational campaign designs. In contemporary security applications, we hear often about ‘multi-domain’, ‘integrated deference’, ‘disciplined initiative through Mission Command’ as well as ‘whole-of-government’ all tangled up like sheets in the dryer with ‘gray zone’ and ‘asymmetric warfare’ (or any other variation therein). In this series, I invite other military strategists, theorists, academia and practitioners to reflect, contribute, comment and re-post their own experimentations on how designers around the world might transform, critically challenge, and ultimately re-conceptualize some of the previously unassailable “truths” of war, warfare praxis, doctrine, and the ‘tested and proven’ constructs, methods and models that dominate virtually every modern industrialized nation-state’s military instrument of power. There are formal articles, lectures and book chapters being developed based on some of this work, but what follows below and in this series is the raw concepts with little or no footnotes/references. Follow me at Medium, LinkedIn, and Twitter for new updates, posts, discussion threads and more. These views are my own and do not represent any official position or work outside of my own academic inquiry into my community of practice. All errors and omissions are entirely my own. Thanks for reading!

Author’s graphic assembled by a range of military online, public sources 2020

Modern militaries declare without hesitation that war is complex, especially when a conflict features a vast array of actors, intents, and abilities set within a dynamic sea of changing contexts. The rules, frameworks, and even our societal understanding of war has transformed, particularly in the last decades of tremendous technological, informational, social, and economic change. Militaries, as extensions of nations entangled in competition, cooperation, and conflict are called upon to secure, defend and as necessary, inflict organized violence through time and space across multiple domains such as land, sea, air, and now…

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'.