Featured Article: Intellectual Habits in Understanding the Operational Environment
Intellectual Habits in Understanding the Operational Environment
by James T. Wilson
Einstein acknowledges the importance of understanding the operational environment. If we do not understand the complex environment in which we operate, then we are likely wasting effort or possibly worsening the condition. The Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework (ICAF) was developed by the U.S. government to provide a better understanding of conflict environments. However, simply knowing the ICAF is insufficient to developing a true appreciation of the conflict environment.
It is imperative that we develop intellectual habits that inform our analysis within the ICAF. The two tasks of the ICAF are conflict diagnosis that segues into planning. The framework emphasizes the first task in order to develop a better understanding. The second task is dependent on the various planning processes of the multiple U.S. government and partner organizations and the desire of the U.S. government elements in the region. Conflict diagnosis is broken into four steps that are graphically depicted in Figure 1.
The first step is to analyze the context of the conflict region. Context consists of factors that do not cause a conflict but create fertile ground for problems to grow. Environmental conditions, poverty, and history of conflict are possible context attributes. Context affects and is affected by each of the other components in the ICAF…
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Major J. Tyler Wilson is a U.S. Army Civil Affairs officer, currently assigned to the 83rd Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) where he is an operational planner. He has served as a civil affairs team chief, operations chief, and company commander.