Military discourse patterns and the case of Effects-Based Operations

Ina Kraft


This article sets out to catalogue narration strategies used in the professional discourse about Effects-Based Operations (EBO). EBO was at the heart of the US military transformation (2001-2008) and is one of few concepts officially discontinued instead of being simply replaced by a successor concept making it a crucial case for analysing its rise and fall. An analytical framework for classifying the rhetoric of military innovations is presented in this article. Based on this framework the debate about EBO in the U.S. military journal Joint Force Quarterly between 1996 and 2015 is assessed with a view to three questions: How was EBO framed by military experts? Was the shift of institutional support for EBO reflected in the discourse? And, is there evidence to suggest that the EBO discourse had an influence on the adoption and later discontinuation of EBO? The analysis shows that in the case of EBO a particularly homogenous discourse pattern existed, which might have contributed to the concept’s quick and ultimate demise. 

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.