Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What Is Entropy Based Warfare?

In the late 1990’s, Dr. Mark Herman, a military analyst and designer of military conflict simulations, developed a model for what he called Entropy-Based Warfare.  Here is a graphic representation of his theory.

For thousands of years, an army’s effectiveness was determined solely by its Lethality (represented in the yellow circle).  This quality represents an army’s ability to kill its foe, by far the easiest concept to grasp in warfare.  A force with a higher Lethality potential would be more likely to emerge victorious in a given scenario.
Technological advances of the modern military age brought about an increase in lethality and range which increased the size of battlefields and wars.  The concept of Disruption (represented in red) became more prevalent.  Making your enemy prepare for an attack that will never come, or making them think an attack will be coming from or directed towards one area, when in fact it will be from or towards another, are both examples of Disruption. 
The area where Lethality and Disruption overlap is called Critical Function Disruption.  By a very specific focus of Lethality, a target that critically affects an opponent’s ability to respond can be destroyed.  Destroying command and control units or disrupting supply and communication lines are examples of this.  Any of these will seriously hamper an enemy’s ability to wage war.
Entropy-Based Warfare adds a third parameter; Friction (shown in blue).  The concept of Friction accounts for the general wear and tear a combat unit experiences in the field.  Desertion, vehicle breakdown, taxing fuel and food supplies, morale problems, and many other related issues fit here. 
The green overlap between Lethality and Friction is known as Maintenance Attrition.  This covers a force’s inability to recover and repair damage from a battle.  The purple intersection is known as Disorganization.  This covers the damage done to a unit, mostly to morale and the well being of the soldiers involved, as it reacts to false threats and other deceptions. 
The central area is the focus of Entropy-Based Warfare.  It states that if you make your enemy move when and where you want them to, disrupt or destroy lines of command and communication so they begin to lose cohesion, and then hit your enemy’s forces hard enough to shock the enemy’s troops, they will crumble.  They won’t know why they are where they are or what to do and they will be facing an enemy for which they have no defense. 
Of course, the question you must now be asking yourself is “How can I use this strategy in my Wargaming?”  Tune in next time…

Herman, Mark. "Entropy-Based Warfare: Modeling the Revolution in Military Affairs." Joint Force Quarterly Autumn/Winter (1998-99): 85-90. Print.
Stackpole, Michael A. Grave Covenant: Twilight of the Clans II. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Roc, 1997. Print.

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