War is both timeless and ever changing. The advancement of technology and evolution of tactics over time do not change the nature of war. The nature of war and battlefield dynamics remain constant through the changes. Leaders must understand the battlefield dynamics and how to mitigate their effects on success. Fear, uncertainty, chaos, and disorder are battlefield dynamics as natural as war itself. Collectively referred to as friction, these dynamics are part of the very essence of war.
Friction makes the simple difficult and the difficult seemingly impossible. The very essence of war creates friction. Being able to detect, predict and understand friction and the effect of friction on combat effectiveness gives military leadership an advantage over adversaries. Friction may be described by four causal factors.
- Mental — Sources could be indecision by leaders and decision-makers at various levels. Conflicting battlefield reports about the enemy, terrain, and friendly forces may lead to hesitation in decision making.
- Physical — Sources include effective enemy fire or a terrain obstacle that must be overcome. Being aware of and planning for these circumstances allows leaders to exercise flexibility in an uncertain environment.
- External — Factors imposed by enemy action, terrain, weather, and simple chance.
- Self-Induced (Internal) — Caused by such factors as lack of a clearly defined goal, lack of coordination, unclear or complicated plans, complex task organisations or command relationships, or complicated technologies.
Removing mental friction
As per the definition of the United States Marine Corps doctrine on war-fighting mental friction is intensified by indecision by leaders and decision-makers at various levels. Conflicting battlefield reports about the enemy, terrain, and friendly forces may lead to hesitation in decision making. Removing mental friction, as per the USMC doctrine definition, will support removing self-induced friction as well to a certain level.
A part of removing mental friction as part of the battlefield dynamics is ensuring that leaders and decision-makers are equipped with accurate insight in…