What is the impact of military institutional tendencies and habits on U.S. Army senior officer forecasting accuracy and how does this forecasting ability shape success in battle? Military leaders plan operations based on the forecasted strengths and vulnerabilities of their adversary. Negative habits, such as limited option development, confirmation bias, doctrinal overreliance, and over-consideration of sunk costs, inhibit effective forecasting. The tempo of the modern battlefield, hierarchical culture, and institutional tendencies of the US Army may promote and reinforce these habits. I surveyed Colonels in US Army War College programs to measure their individual tendencies, levels of education, and accuracy in forecasting events during a three to twelve-month future. Quantitative analysis of the resulting data shows that these habits are present and negatively affect forecasting ability; additionally, higher levels of education positively affect forecast accuracy, possibly counteracting the effects of negative institutional tendencies and habits. Extending the research using historical and contemporary case studies of senior US Army Generals, including interviews of General David Petraeus and other high-ranking officials, I find that rejection of these institutional habits and tendencies enabled superior forecasting, leading to battlefield success. I conclude by examining how educational levels of commanding generals in the Iraq War affected military success. Exploratory quantitative analysis of data collected from the US Army historical archives shows that higher levels of education positively affected significant activities within the general's assigned areas.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Raugh, David, "Superforecasting or SNAFU: The Forecasting Ability of the US Military Officer" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6356.