Cognitive Representations of Battlespace Complexity: Six Fundamental Variables of Combat.

Report No. ARL-TN-155
Authors: Thomas M. Cook, Dennis K. Leedom, Jock O. Grynovicki, Michael G. Golden
Date/Pages: February 2000; 28 pages
Abstract: War is a complex phenomenon. The dynamics and complexities associated with modem military engagements, from peace keeping to major regional conflict, demand that the information associated with such environments be carefully selected, framed, and presented to facilitate effective decision making at all levels. We hypothesized that the six fundamental variables of combat represented by the military acronym METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Troops, Terrain and weather, Time available, and Civilian considerations) would provide a framework from which to efficiently organize and represent the salient dimensions of the battlefield during the military decision-making process (MDMP). The U.S. Army's Crusader Concept Experimentation Program 3 (CEP 3) was selected as an ideal arena in which to conduct a preliminary investigation of METT-TC dimensions and their associations with representative battle command decisions. Subjects were five field grade officers permanently assigned to a U.S. Army combat unit. During a 2-week experiment period, 24 decisions were isolated and documented across three phases of combat operations (delay, defend, attack). Importantly, decision makers reported high levels of both %significance" and "understanding" for most of the dimensions represented by METT-TC, except for "civilian considerations," which were not represented in the experimental scenarios. Significant differences in levels of "understanding" according to decision types (major versus minor) were observed. In summary, experienced military decision makers recognize the importance of METT-TC dimensions, and we suggest that these dimensions offer a means to present aggregate information to increase situational understanding. Further research is recommended to isolate patterns of interactions among these important dimensions across the full spectrum of military operations.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: February 1, 2000