In document Norwegian Armed Forces Personnel Recovery Network (Page 141-146)

Thus far, the iterative process of prototype development and prototype testing has been conducted with the design team and a limited number of Norwegian key PR actors.

The full and detailed prototyping-testing phase will continue with a larger group when the author returns to Norway. The prototype-testing phase is expected to continue from August to December 2016 as a sponsored project of the RNoAF EA PR.


When we create new things—technologies, organizations, processes, environments, ways of thinking, or systems—we engage in design. To come up with an idea of what we think would be an ideal addition to the world, and give real existence—form, structure, and shape—to that idea, is at the core of design as a human activity.

Harold G. Nelson and Erik Stolterman288

Four brave men who do not know each other will not dare attack a lion. Four less brave, but knowing each other well, sure of their reliability and consequently mutual aid, will attack resolutely.

Ardant du Picq289


I began the capstone introduction with four stories that, for me, serve as a telling narrative of what humans are willing to do in order to come to the rescue of a fellow human being. From WWII, the Vietnam War, a crash site in Somalia, and a hostage rescue mission in Kabul, these stories represent numerous other tales of valor. The value our society places on such valor is demonstrated through the awards of the highest honors to those who display acts of altruism in the face of danger to themselves. On February 26, 2016, I quite accidentally got to watch another historic PR event. President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to Navy SEAL Edward C. Byers for his actions in a 2012 hostage rescue in a remote part of Afghanistan that led to the successful recovery of Dr. Dilip Joseph, reuniting him with his family. The successful recovery did not come without a cost, because Nicolas Checque, another SEAL, died in the same operation, at a great loss for his family, colleagues, and friends. As such, the ceremony became both a celebration and recognition of valor and a life saved, but also the remembrance of a life

288 Nelson and Stolterman, Design Way, 1.

289 Charles Jean Jacques Ardant du Picq, Battle Studies: Ancient and Modern (Harrisburg, PA: Military Service Publishing, 1947), 110.

lost. What made the ceremony even more connected to PR was the fact that two other Medal of Honor recipients were also present. Navy SEAL Tom Norris, who saved Bat- 21, the Air Force navigator Iceal “Gene” Hambleton, in Vietnam 1972—the story told in the introduction—was also present. Also present was another SEAL, Mike Thornton, who received his Medal of Honor for the rescue of Tom Norris and became the only Medal of Honor recipient to have rescued another Medal of Honor recipient. In essence, in one room, the history of PR and its value were represented by three living SEALs and three successful recoveries, as well as the cost involved, by the absence of Checque, whose life was lost in a rescue operation.

1. Bigger Ideas

I began the capstone introduction with “Personnel Recovery for Valor or Value,” but after watching the ceremony, it occurred to me there must be something bigger and deeper that motivates people to display such acts of altruism. My studies at NPS have provided many perspectives on warfare, but one class on “Psychological and Anthropological Perspectives on Fairness, Identity, and Terrorism,” taught by Professor Siamak Naficy, suggested that there is more to PR than value or valor that is relevant to this capstone. The anthropology perspective provided a hint at the bigger ideas on why people display such altruistic acts at great risk to themselves. The answer may reside in an evolutionary perspective, as stated by evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, that is an important aspect of the PR narrative: “Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary.”290

If altruistic group behavior and survival are linked to our existence today and prompt such acts as those seen in PR, then our narrative has to change. Currently there is a growing distance between society and the groups doing the fighting. The division is such that warfighting is outsourced to the professional military as society’s insurance policy. In such a situation, it becomes harder to see the direct link between group altruism and the survival of a society that pays for such altruism as insurance. PR within the

290David Sloan Wilson and Edward O. Wilson, “Rethinking the Theoretical Foundations of Sociobiology,” Quarterly Review of Biology 82, no. 4 (2008): 345.

military can be understood as an extension of that insurance policy as it serves as the military’s own insurance policy. But as the direct link between group survival and the forces doing the fighting becomes more tenuous, it becomes harder to understand why we should fund such a force in the first place. This could be one reason why the PR force throughout history has seen so many ups and downs and why its lessons learned are subsequently forgotten between wars.

Today, the PR system is fragmented and consists of many independent groups that need to coordinate to achieve their missions. The PR actors and entities must, like Ardant du Picq’s four less brave men, come together, know each other well, and be sure of their reliability and mutual aid in order to act as one.

In document Norwegian Armed Forces Personnel Recovery Network (Page 141-146)