Land Force 2010

Note: Land Force 2010 was first presented as an INCOSE Tutorial in 2004. The slides used to present the tutorial can be seen at: Putting the Systems back into Systems Engineering!

SM Application - Contents

Systems Methodology Step 1. Explore Problem Space

Systems Methodology Step 2. Explore Solution Space

Systems Methodology Step 3. Focus SoS Purpose

Systems Methodology Step 4. Develop SoS High-level CONOPS

Systems Methodology Step 5. Design SoS

Systems Methodology Step 6. Optimize SoS Design

Systems Methodology Step 7. Create and Prove SoS

Important Note:

The following example is entirely mythical, and has been developed to show how the Systems Methodology could be used to develop optimal solutions to even the most complex of problems- in this instance, a global, network-centric defense capability.

Defense issues make useful examples because the situations and decisions are so stark, that the choices are relatively easy to comprehend. For readers with a delicate sensitivity to matters military, please note that this particular force is conceived from the outset as one that is intended neither to suffer, nor inflict, casualties.

The Systems Methodology could, in principle, be employed to solve just about any complex issue or problem: industrial, commercial, political, economic, national disaster, etc., etc.

Readers should note the date of the following alleged newspaper extract.


The Problem Space

Extract from the Washington Business Herald Times, April 1st, 2004

Mojave Maneuvers
Defense Business Correspondent

The rise of terrorism is a cause for concern, not least because it is almost impossible to say where they will strike next. However, it would be foolish to concentrate on the terrorist threat to the exclusion of conventional warfare. Proliferation of nuclear capability seems to be ongoing and inevitable. As with terrorism, however, to overly-concentrate on the threat of nuclear warfare would be to offer a potential enemy a so-called "free ride" in the conventional warfare arena.

It is not as though the West has conventional warfare "sown up." There are major arenas around the world where the US, for instance, would find it difficult to operate. One such is the desert, and it may not be without significance that we see DARPA, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, hosting a race between robot vehicles across the Mojave Desert. Why, one asks, would they be so interested in such an activity as to offer significant prizes? They are not renowned for their altruism.

So, US forces are faced with a shortfall in capabilities when it comes to land warfare over large open areas: deserts, tundra, plains, etc. There is plenty of room for potential enemies to raise, operate, maneuver and hide sizable forces. Interestingly, a number of such areas are in regions not too friendly to the US.

The US has a particular problem when it comes to casualties, too. The US public does not like "body bags," and they soon lobby their politicians if even one casualty arises. While 9/11 may have changed circumstances somewhat, casualties are still a major issue.

Desert conflict can be cripplingly difficult on man and machine: the second world war showed that in N. Africa, where Rommel and Montgomery faced off. Rommel was the proponent of the blitz krieg, while Montgomery was more in the mould of the set piece battle exponent. Neither party had it all their own way. Seemingly, neither strategy was dominant, at least not in that conflict.

It would be comforting to think that such arenas would find employment for existing weapon systems. The evidence suggests otherwise however. Our tanks and personnel carriers do not like desert operations: they overheat as the filters clog with sand; they consume enormous amounts of energy to keep their occupants cool; they get stuck in deep sand and need to be pulled out.

Communications can be difficult, too, with thermal inversions playing havoc with h.f. radios. Visual sights can be upset by heat shimmer and mirages. Radar has problems, too, when it has to be operated from vehicles on the move in undulating country; even the best radar may not work too well when at the bottom of some desert wadi.

Altogether, it has to be said that the problems facing the military in such hostile circumstances are more akin to those facing a naval task force that a conventional army land force. Perhaps the army think-tanks should catch up with their naval colleagues and compare notes!

There will always be a money issue when it comes to defense. One positive aspect of an otherwise forbidding 9/11 experience is that the arguments against defense spending are more muted than before. On Capitol Hill the question seems to be more about the risks of not spending, than of the expense per se.

When asked about the need for a new kind of open land force capability, Paul Weinhard did not confirm the need. Significantly, perhaps, he did not deny it either.

The smart money, then, is observing the significance of the events in the Mohaje Desert, and is forecasting an announcement of a new defense capability requirement within the next administrative period. Just what that new capability will be is anyone's guess. Our guess is that the winners of the Mojave competition will have a head start on the competition, and that robotic vehicles operating in deserts may have something to do with it!


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  1. Take each symptom in turn
  2. Identify possible causes, using pejorative terms,
  3. e.g. "poor," "lack of," "inability to," etc.
  4. From list of possible causes, develop causal loop models, but drop the pejoratives
  5. Creates "ideal world" representation of processes and systems

First Symptom - Perceived US Military Limitation. The figure shows a standardized approach to probing the problem space using a problem symptom as an investigatory tool. The diagram is read counter-clockwise starting with the symptom in the top right hand corner. A laundry list of possible causes is deduced from this symptom, by domain experts, using the acronym POETIC, at left, as a trigger.

The Causal Loop Model (CLM) is then formed, using the list of possible causes and the symptom. Additional elements are added to complete the logic in the various loops - there should be no unconnected arrow heads or tails. (Open arrowheads support, enable, reinforce...solid arrowheads resist, oppose, reduce.) Finally, once the CLM is complete, the List of Imbalanced Systems is drawn up, right, This list is formed simply by going around each of the loops and picking out the implicit system pair that are connected by arrowhead and arrow tail. Is the list complete?

Note how the Laundry list uses pejorative terms; this encourages a richer list of possible causes by using the human propensity to criticize more than to praise. Note, too, how the resulting CLM contains no pejoratives. In dropping the pejorative adjectives, the CLM becomes an Ideal World representation.

Further symptoms are subjected to the same process, e.g.:

In addition, there may be factors and conditions that are unique to a situation: these may be treated similarly, as follows: 

Each of the symptoms and the factors produces its list of implicit systems and there may be overlaps - this is to be expected and welcomed. When all symptoms and factors have been assessed, a consolidated list of Implicit Systems is drawn up. Some names will have appeared more than once. Some names will be different titles for the same thing. These anomalies are resolved in the list:

The data within the table is first drawn up into an Attribute Enhancement Chart, using Warfield's Interpretive Structural Modeling:

The implicit systems and their interactions are then transferred into an N2 chart:

The N2 chart is clustered, i.e., the entities 1 - 15, or A to O, are rearranged to minimize the configuration entropy, by crushing the interfaces (represented by the '1s' into the leading diagonal. The resultant pattern of interfaces is scanned for omissions. In this instance, it is felt that the analysis so far has omitted the limitations in capability deployment imposed by human performance under desert conditions. (The RSM process, for that is what we are following, has built-in error and omission detection and correction.)

The revised N2 is clustered for a second time, and the the column of entities is grouped into higher level systems - these are the Problem themes.

The N2 chart, is not everyone's idea of easy to read, so a Systems Interaction Diagram (SID) is drawn up from the N2 "Rich Picture. In the following SID, note how the pejorative terms have been reinserted. This emphasizes the critical aspects of the situation, issue or problem


  1. Human performance emerges as a sociopolitical and cultural issue. In some cultures, loss of human life is deemed less of an issue than in the US.
  2. The perceived need for a desert land force emerges from a threat assessment which is itself colored by politics and culture not to mention defense business! .

So, there are four "systems" and - at least - two themes within this issue:

  • The political, social and cultural theme(s), and the
  • advanced technological solution theme

The two themes are closely interwoven

  • "War is an extension of politics" - Clausewitz
  • Specifically, the US has declared war on terrorism
    • Consistent with US self-imposed task of converting the world to democracy
    • Potentially reduces emphasis on conventional warfare
    • Restricts advanced development - a US "silver bullet"
    • Bad for some sectors of US/international defense business
  • The new, perceived need could be genuine - could also be designed to promote US advanced technology industries
    • C.f. NASA finding "Martian rocks, with life," in Antarctica?
  • Cynical note: US Defense pays for Defense Intelligence. No threat, no funds? If you were in Intelligence, what would you do?
    • It is not impossible that the idea of some robotic force roaming the deserts and tundra of the world, taking on "the bad guys," is an entire fiction.
    • Such a fiction would serve to reinforce belief in US military and technological domination, both at home and abroad.

Looking at the SID, it is possible to see several potential remedies - and that is the purpose of the SID - to promote solution concepts.

  • If the international threat assessment were different, the problem would not have arisen. Even now, a change in that assessment would make the problem go away - or dissolve, in Ackoff's terminology.
  • If US culture an politics did not see the US as having a global responsibility, then the problem would not arise in the first place. That attitude was engendered in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, but has been superseded, not least by two World Wars and 9/11. A move in that direction might resolve the problem (i.e., not so much solve it, as render current military capabilities sufficient.)

However, the most direct and obvious remedy is to conceive, design and create a defense capability that is not only feasible, but practical, has the desert system characteristics shown in the SID, and which overcomes the feasibility constraints of the SID, i.e., to solve the problem by producing an optimal solution to this complex problem.

Continue to Systems Methodology Step 2

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November 2007

© D K Hitchins 2016