Narrative space is the new battlefield. Like the physical battlefield, it has terrain that must be navigated. This terrain has been created and reinforced over centuries through a combination of forces including: familial, cultural, linguistic, and religious. In the same way that soldiers in previous decades used sand table models to explore the possible options for maneuvering against the enemy in the physical space, today's soldiers will benefit from the use of a virtual sand table or graphic depiction and visualization of narrative space.
Conflict is about influence and the environment wherein influence occurs is the narrative space. Narrative space is constructed through deposition, erosion, and tectonic thinkers, doers, and events. Just as maneuver on a physical battlefield requires one to understand the physical terrain and its likelihood to change, maneuver in the narrative space requires understanding the shape or morphology, as well as the historicity or timeliness, of changes in the narrative space. Successful maneuver in the narrative space requires braiding together a cord of words-deeds-images that support the overarching narrative.
This is a two part series of articles. The first explains the conceptual logic of maneuver in the narrative space. The second provides a practical example of maneuver in the narrative space as has happened in Indonesia.
This paper briefly describes a dialectical model of understanding conflict. It further provides a brief explanation of how ISIS conducts maneuver in the narrative space. Three metaphors are introduced for framing the discussion on how the United States may also conduct effective maneuver in the narrative space.
Management of Savagery is the single most important manual for understanding the transformation of global terrorists like al-Qaeda and ISIS. It was published in 2004 by Abu Bakr Naji (a pseudonym for an individual who we know nothing more of). The document was translated from Arabic to English by William McCants under funding provided by the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. The highlights and notes are provided by myself and students from my course on the context and background of ISIS taught at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. The document is 268 pages which may seem daunting, but scanning the document and reading the highlights will provide rapid understanding of how ISIS and other like-minded groups conceptualize the current struggle.
This is a Strategic Multilayer Assessment white paper which I participated in producing along with a host of others. It is more technical, but it has some great information on analytics as well as conceptual issues regarding narrative space.
This article represents an extremely abbreviated version of my book by the same title. Published in Army magazine, it emphasizes the importance of seeing the world from different perspectives in order to effectively influence others.
The Battle of the Horns of Hattin (3-4 July 1187) represents an encapsulation of the events surrounding the entire Crusader period which has reverberations in the present day Middle East and ongoing conflicts in the region. This product is designed to provide readers with an understanding of events as well as practical helps in how to appreciate the battlefield if one ever has the chance to visit (highly recommended).