The Utility of a Thinner Comprehensive Approach
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The Thick Comprehensive Approach
The CA solution comes in two broad categories: thick and thin. The thick view assumes robust collaborative interaction based on an agreed end state, overall mission objectives, and the means through which those objectives should be achieved.
Yet, this thick agreement is seldom obtainable, and when achieved suffers from three major deficiencies: failure to embrace local actor priorities; statement generation on common objectives without resource commitments; and failure to provide adequate direction for mission agreed objectives. In other words, there is a guidance gap between the thick CA political level agreement and the guidance necessary for planners to do their work.
Therefore, while working at the strategic level to operationalise the thick CA, NATO should work to operationalise a thinner version.
The Thin Comprehensive Approach
Looking at CA as a design process for aligning incentives and reducing transaction costs, the process offers a practical approach to CA operationalisation for NATO. This thin CA accepts that problem management, problems of an extremely complex nature, and present security environments require activities beyond the organic capability set of any one single organisation.
The thin CA is a design process that reduces the inter-organisational interaction transaction costs and provides a structure that enables self-synchronisation among diverse organisations. The aim of the thin CA is to, through the reduction of transaction costs and alignment of incentives, facilitate mutual reinforcement of activities in the "convergence zone" where effects are beneficial for both local and external actors.
Five Steps to Consider
There are five steps through which we can use this thin CA to enhance planning and operating.
- Create a Venue — A venue, either cyber or normal, within which a community of interest can gather is required.
- Define the Problem — Once the community of interest has been formed and is able to articulate its view, it is necessary to define the problem.
- Inventory and Access capabilities — Inventory and access existing capabilities; creating mutual awareness and illuminating capability gaps.
- Find and Fill Capability Gaps — Find and fill capability gaps. Closing some gaps will require only adding resources, while others will demand entirely new capabilities.
- Support Local Solution Development — Support local solution implementation by accessing existing capabilities or modifying new capabilities, for example.
Thin CA as Port Operations
In practice the Thin CA is similar to the process through which railroad, trucking, shipping and port operations companies move cargo through a port; they share information and have interoperable processes in place so they may move the cargo quickly and efficiently, cooperating when it meets their interests and staying out of each other's way when it does not. The Thin CA enables similar interaction to accomplish missions, adding energy to positive actors and isolating the others.
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