A New Chapter in the Saga of US War Fighting and Cognition
If military operations have evolved since World War II, what can we say about the changing role(s) of the war fighter? Rather than explore the metaphysical and ontological changes attending the modern soldier, this article examines the epistemological evolution of the soldier. In particular, what has evolved or changed is the growing number of US military members working and waging war at the operational level. The article draws ethnographically from the author’s work with a small “core element” operational organization (now defunct) that sought to facilitate and accelerate the formation of various joint task force headquarters responsible for designing, planning, and responding to a host of combatant and noncombatant situations. It shows that the complicated intersection of defense and development in recent nation-building operations is hardwired into and partially the result of operational conceptual thinking and constructs. The article makes the point that operations affect the way we think about knowledge and that this knowledge also shapes the operational level of war.