Combat Operations Success

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During combat operations, success can take on many definitions. Seizing the objective, destroying the enemy or defending the hill are all examples of military operations that are assigned a task and purpose that must be completed. Within each task could lay hidden problems that must be identified and mitigated to facilitate mission accomplishment. Should a problem be misinterpreted or ignored, mission failure coupled with unwarranted friendly casualties will be the inevitable outcome. Of the six lessons in the C100 block of instruction, I consider the discussion on critical reasoning and problem solving to be the most career shaping discussion. As a field grade staff officer, I believe that one of the fundamental components to building a successful military career is the ability to solve problems in an environment that is evolving faster than Army doctrine can be written. To facilitate this success, the Army officer must embrace and master the skills of critical reasoning, creative thinking and continuous assessment of the situation. Employment of these tools will ensure that the mission executed will have the greatest probability of achieving the tactical objectives of the commander while minimizing the human cost inherent to all combat operations. Above all, the first and most critical step in solving any problem is defining the root cause (s) through critical reasoning. The root cause of a problem may be camouflaged in politics, culture, religion, and the economics of a geographic area. Arriving at an accurate solution to a problem will be difficult unless the leader utilizes a proven approach or process to methodically identify the primary source of the problem. In Army Field Manual 5.0, critical reasoning is... ... middle of paper ... No matter the scale, location, or duration of the assigned task, leaders must employ critical reasoning to clearly define the cause of the problem. In situations where resources and time are limited, the leader must be creative in identifying effective feasible solutions within the framework of the environment he is operating. In conjunction with critical reasoning and creative thinking, the leader must also continuously monitor and evaluate the situation to adjust the plan as needed to facilitate the greatest probability of a successful mission or task. Although past experiences and intuition have their place in problem solving, they should never be the sole factors for course of action selection. Instead, they should be integrated into a proven methodology of problem solving, which will in turn facilitate the framework for a successful military career.

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