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Training Critical Thinking for Tactical Command Dr. Karel van den Bosch

By Drs Anne, S. Helsdingen, Drs Marlous and M. Beer


Military missions are more and more focused upon peace enforcing operations in regional conflicts. There is often uncertainty about the intentions, capabilities and strategies of the parties involved. Successful operations under such unstable and complex conditions require competent commanders and staff personnel. Recent studies have shown that experts in military tactical command treat decision making as a problemsolving process. Experts have large collections of schemas, enabling them to recognise a large number of situations as familiar. Another capacity of experts are their problem solving skills if an immediate match between the actual problem situation and available schemas in memory cannot be established. When faced with an unfamiliar tactical problem, experts collect and critically evaluate the available evidence, seek for consistency, and test assumptions underlying an assessment. They then integrate results in a comprehensive story. This expert’s approach has been used to develop critical thinking training. This paper presents empirical studies into the effects of critical thinking training. Individual commanders and commanding teams played scenario-based exercises in both simplified and high-fidelity task environments. Half of the participants received instruction, guidance, and feedback in critical thinking. The other half received the same scenarios, but without specific support. After training, test scenarios were administered to all groups. Results showed positive effects on the process of tactical command (i.e. bette

Year: 2011
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