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Behavioural Conflict: Why Understanding People and Their Motives Will Prove Decisive in Future Conflict [Paperback]

Stanley McChrystal , Steve Tatham , Andrew MacKay
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Nov 2011
Whilst geopolitics, economics, religion and ethnicity all play crucial roles in starting and sustaining conflict this book advances the idea that it will be people’s behaviour, and the West’s ability to understand, interpret and influence that behaviour which will become the defining characteristic of resolving future armed disputes. This seminal study draws directly on the authors’operational experiences in Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan. Includes a chapter by behavioural scientist Dr. Lee Rowland and an introduction by the BBC Radio 4 “More or Less” presenter Tim Harford. The foreword is by former ISAF commander General (ret.) Stanley McChrystal. This book argues that future conflicts will be best resolved by focusing attention on altering the behaviours of others, either in advance – and therefore deterring conflict – or as a coupled component in the process of combat and post-combat operations. They also argue that Western Armies have learnt too many lessons the hard way and been found wanting too easily. "Behavioural Conflct" argues for a fundamental rethink of the way that the West’s militaries are organised, educated, trained and deployed.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Military Studies Press (4 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780394683
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780394688
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 17 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I commend this excellent book authored by two practitioners with a record of success. It makes a clear and well argued case for a profound change to our conduct of War Amongst the People. --General Sir Rupert Smith KCB DSO OBE QGM

The lessons of Afghanistan are finally being learned. This is a pioneering work of theory grounded in practice. It is a manual of warfighting in the information age, not only how to win wars but how to limit and even avoid them. The authors understand that firepower alone will not change people s minds --Martin Bell OBE

It is rare for military insiders to produce an analysis that is counter intuitive and turns conventional assumptions on their head. But Mackay and Tatham risk gripping the implications for the military and their political leaders of the profound change in the media space. The flat earthers need to take note. That space is nothing like what they have long assumed. --Nik Gowing

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons which need learning 10 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book peels back the hubris surrounding recent western efforts in prevail over significantly weaker opponents and offers explanations as the principle reasons for failure, more important it also offers solutions. The book argues convincingly that it is not the west's ability to wage traditional kinetic war that creates the problem, rather the struggle traditional military forces have in understanding that in certain situations traditional kinetic war is simply not the answer. In many situations it is the ability to influence the behaviour of the local population that must be seen as the ultimate prize not the defeat of the 'designated' enemy. The Information age in which we live means that whilst our enemies increasingly use kinetic action as a small part of an overarching Influence campaign designed to change behaviour in populations, we in the west tend to use Influence as an afterthoughts to mitigate or explain our kinetic action.

It must also serve as a wake up call to many in the higher UK command structures (both political and Military) who it would appear had began to mistake arrogance for excellence and repeatedly failed to learn valuable lessons whilst patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

The book is easy to read for a non-military persons and includes many interesting anecdotes and analogies as well as fascinating insights from experienced practitioners in the field. The one frustration in an otherwise excellent book was narrative decision speak as a 'we' rather than just decide to have a singular voice which I found distracting at times.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb read 19 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very topical and relevant publication with aspects that are more than applicable to todays modern warfare. This should be read by all modern protagonists of modern warfare and politicians alike.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional insight into winning future conflicts 10 Jan 2012
By James Farwell - Published on Amazon.com
This is a terrific book. Well written. Clearly stated. Prime with colorful, relevant examples that show how and why the key to winning conflicts in an era of modern global communication lies in shaping attitudes and opinions and motivating people rather than through the use of bullets. The great thing about this book is how the authors draw upon their personal experiences and expertise as professional soldiers to illustrate that traditional military action -- what the military terms "kinetic operations" -- has to be utilized, and may often play a secondary role, to effective strategic communication. I especially admired the incisive analysis of the role that media played in the Bosnia conflict. The examples drawn from Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Sierre Leone are equally compelling. The thesis of the authors is that affecting behavior through strategic communication needs to be brought to the forefront of strategic thinking is on target. My own background has combined work in political communication and information strategy in dealing with counter terrorism, sovereignty, and political issues that affect national security. I learned a lot from this book. It's entertaining but always informative. The authors are in command of their brief.

This book is an absolute must read for anyone who wants to understand how shaping behavior is a key to prevailing in modern conflict.
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive 9 Dec 2012
By G. Mc Keon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very good read. It looks in an analytical way at what is the message being delivered, by whom and for what ends. Understanding the people as the "centre of gravity" was always essential in "winning hearts and minds" but as one General once said "I will tell you what to think" is not how Operational Art should be practiced.Many applications across the spectrum of military planning, Info Ops, Cimic,Conops etc.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding work 26 May 2012
By Bill M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The authors of this book made a major contribution to the study of the modern conflict. In a very clear and effective manner they provide constructive criticism on our current efforts and practices to shape behavior in conflict zones, and provide sound recommendations to improve our ability to do so. The authors argue that this is a field of growing importance due to the information bubble that conflicts are increasingly waged in, and that increasingly war or conflict will be won or lost in the information/behavior domain. Due to projected budget cuts in defense spending in the UK (and also the U.S.), they make sound sound arguments on the economic efficiency of improving our ability operate in the information/behavior domain to both prevent conflict and to hopefully bring ongoing conflicts to a close. I wish it was mandatory reading for all U.S. policy makers and senior military members who are responsible for developing our strategies and determining future force capabilities. I am confident it would also benefit law enforcement professionals.
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