“Our traditional way that we differentiate between peace and war is insufficient …….we think of being at peace or war…our adversaries don’t think that way.”
General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 21 September and 5 October 2016
Like General Dunford and Kelly McCoy, when considering the spectrum of conflict, I reject the paradigm that a linear relationship exists from a state of peace to war and back again, as proposed by recent US publications such as the Joint Concept for Integrated Campaigning (figure 1 above) and Joint Publication 3-0 Joint Operations (figure 2 below). Rather than actors adopting a singularly one dimensional relationship, where they are either in conflict or not, a holistic approach to future strategic competition (illustrated in the “Competition Prism” at figure 3 below) requires stakeholders to concurrently manage a broader array of six relationship “vectors”: collaboration, cooperation, contest confrontation and where possible compromise to avert violent conflict. In contrast to other models, the “Competition Prism” illustrates how any actor (state or non-state) may have to collaborate with a counterpart over one issue, while simultaneously confronting the same actor, or others, on another. In sum, the two conditions are not mutually exclusive.