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Gravity-free decision-making: Avoiding Clausewitz's strategic pull

Army Research Paper 8 by Ben Zweibelson

While many elements of von Clausewitz’s seminal work On War are entrenched within most Anglo-Saxon military doctrines, practices and methodologies for strategic planning, none have taken such a grip upon military institutions as his ‘centres of gravity’ precept. American military academia in particular has invested significant time and resources into debating the value of the centre of gravity. This is problematic because the concept continues to appear questionable in both application to real world scenarios and dubious in complex, adaptive environments for gaining greater understanding.

Clausewitz’s concept requires us to approach not just the methodological structures of the concept in doctrinal or theoretical form, but to take deeper philosophical and sociological queries into how we think about our thinking. We must consider the justifications behind the language, methods, principles, and metaphors that comprise this centre of gravity.

Ben Zweibelson’s Gravity Free Decision Making: Avoiding Clausewitz’s Pulltakes an interdisciplinary approach to investigate how the centre of gravity concept fits into our strategic thinking. He raises important questions about how the concept influences our approaches. Have we become slaves to a construct that we do not even realise now from where it started, or why it appeals to us at core institutional levels? Can we make sense of difficult military contexts as they unfold in time without forcing upon it the ‘centre of gravity’ structure, and if we were free to experiment with alternatives, would our organisations be willing to?

Download Gravity Free Decision Making: Avoiding Clausewitz’s Pull

Last updated
21 December 2016
Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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