The Big Battalions

ww 1 tank.jpgpic courtesy Elsie esq.

Communication has changed… a lot. So has warfare.

Business (and Marketing in particular) is very fond of Military thinking, in fact von Clausewitz said “”Rather than comparing [war] to art we could more accurately compare it to commerce” whilst ‘The book of 5 Rings‘ and ‘The Art of War‘ are required reading for ambitious Strategic Planners.

When not dealing with sports’ metaphors and vocabulary, we are in the territory of Headhunters, Captive Markets, Campaigns, Target Markets, Flanking Strategies, Defending Share, Operations, Aggressive pricing etc.

Leaving aside the cause/effects of this and whether we think in models or metaphors, my point is that what they represent has changed.war memorial.jpgpic courtesy Bruce_bruce948

Most people agree that because of some key factors there is/was a ‘conventional’ warfare and a ‘new’ warfare. Again, one can debate exactly what these key factors are, but a list would include:

The impact of technology – from the Video Gamers’ view of smart weapons in Operation Desert Storm to the cellphone detonations of the Madrid train bombs it has changed everything. Turning on a cellphone is the equivalent of lighting a cigarette in the trenches…

The nature of the ‘enemy’ – It trades, organises and communicates across borders and between networks. It’s mobile and migratory. It doesn’t stand line abreast waiting for you or even engage in guerilla fighting for key objectives. Its alliances and aims are fluid.

The nature of the combat – small, sporadic, diverse, and ongoing engagements. In a globalised landscape – everywhere can be a warzone.

The nature of victory – how do you know when you have won?

The role of communication – information happens at the same time as the engagement and is spread by almost limitless channels. Opinion and fact are merged as well as being almost impossible to control as they once were.

The speed and flexibility needed for reaction and response. ‘Rapid Deployment’ is the key new strategy as well as shortening long chains of communication and allowing more ground based decision making.

New perspectives – the ‘enemy’ may be fighting for aims and outcomes that we simply cannot understand – what is fundamental depends upon your viewpoint. In such circumstances those who ‘support’ the engagement in the first place may question their involvement and the acceptable cost.

If this is the ‘new’ warfare, then why does Business and Marketing still sometimes feel like we’re struggling to learn the lessons of the First World War in Europe, let alone major conflicts since?

Still it’ll all be over by Christmas and then there’s the medals and parades…


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