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ConflictHow Soldiers Make Impossible Descisions$
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Neil D. Shortland, Laurence J. Alison, and Joseph M. Moran

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190623449

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190623449.001.0001

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Military Decision-Making

Military Decision-Making

Doctrine, Rationality, and Field-Based Approaches

(p.15) 2 Military Decision-Making

Neil D. Shortland

Laurence J. Alison

Joseph M. Moran

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses three broad approaches to understanding how military decisions are made: (1) the military decision-making process (MDMP), based largely on historical experience and, arguably, best described as the nearest thing to a doctrine-based approach; (2) rational–cognitive approaches and the literature on heuristics and biases and the means to try to optimize decision-making; and (3) so-called “naturalistic decision-making” approaches based largely on observations of decision-making in the field and thus perhaps best considered as a descriptive observation-based framework. The chapter discusses the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches and notes that each weakness reveals considerable gaps in knowledge about the specific nature of the impossible decisions that soldiers face.

Keywords:   military decision-making, doctrine, rational choice, recognition prime, uncertainty

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