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News | Feb. 1, 2003

Decision Dominance: Exploiting Transformational Asymmetries

By Merrick E. Krause Defense Horizons 23


Decision DominanceOverview

This paper introduces a new operational concept—decision dominance— to help guide the strategic employment of U.S. forces in wartime. This concept is not a replacement for existing paradigms. If added to the current list, however, it may better illuminate how American forces can operate effectively in ways that will achieve their political-military goals more decisively in future wars. 

Decision dominance builds upon current operational concepts, particularly effects-based operations and rapid decisive operations. Yet it goes further by giving warfighting options to shape the operational and strategic decisions of an adversary. Decision dominance is an attempt to exploit emerging transformational U.S. military capabilities to create a transformational strategy and Joint Capstone Concept. It reflects a strategy for the use of military force in concert with other instruments of power. This strategy involves evaluating adversary options and eliminating those deemed undesirable, effectively funneling the decisionmaking process of the enemy leadership to achieve a desired outcome. 

This paper first discusses the nature of conflict in the modern strategic environment and some popular contemporary military concepts of operations. Next, it examines the operational relevance of decision dominance and its application in conflict. Decision dominance argues that a strategy exploiting the realms of space, time, and knowledge may be invaluable by allowing decisionmakers to achieve political ends, using military means, to coerce methodically and effectively, with minimal cost and risk to both sides.