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The Australian National University

Ben Ethan Zweibelson

PhD student

BA University of Connecticut; MA Louisiana State University; MA U.S. Air Force Command and Staff College; MA U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies

Ben Zweibelson

Ben Zweibelson commenced his doctoral studies at the NSC in January 2016 after retiring from 22 years in the US Army as an Infantry Officer. A combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Ben has been awarded four Bronze Star medals for his service, and graduated from elite military schools such as the US Army Ranger, Jumpmaster, and Pathfinder courses. A Fine Arts undergraduate, Ben holds three different Master degrees from American universities and has worked extensively with the American, Dutch, Canadian, and Australian defence forces on alternative strategies, applied philosophy and sociology. Ben is currently the Course Director for Design Programs at the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Joint Special Operations University (JSOU).

Research interests

Ben’s research interests include: Anglo-Saxon institutional practice and organisation in the 21st century; design theory applications; post-modern philosophy; sociology in defence and policy applications; organisational theory and the military; decentralised and hybrid organisations in conflict; fractal and rhizome applications in defence; defence strategy alternatives.

Thesis topic

Ben’s PhD dissertation addresses Anglo-Saxon defence institutions in the 21st century with a trans-disciplinary focus on design, philosophy, sociology and complexity theory. This research aims to explain how Anglo-Saxon defence institutions are gradually shifting their strategies, organisational structure, and underlying philosophical frameworks away from a classical approach to organised conflict, grounded in largely Industrial Era and Enlightenment constructs.

The overarching objective of the research is to highlight the emergence of nonlinear and trans-disciplinary design applications, and how their applications are disruptive to Anglo-Saxon military establishments while also providing novel solutions to complex problems. A better understanding of why military design is changing militaries will support this transformation and enable defence institutions to develop improvements in military education, development, doctrine and practice.  

Selected publications

Zweibelson, B 2016, ‘U.S. Allies Must Stop Fixating on ISIL; Frankly We Are Losing’, Breaking Defense.

Zweibelson, B 2016, ‘Canadian Military Design in 2015: Thinking Outside the Box by Designing with Semiotic Squares’, Canadian Army Journal, vol. 16, No. 2 (English and French versions).

Zweibelson, B 2015, ‘One Piece at a Time: Why Linear Planning and Institutionalisms Promote Military Campaign Failures’, Defense Studies Journal, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 360-374.

Zweibelson, B 2015, ‘Design Goes Dutch: Royal Netherlands Army Considerations for Unconventional Planning and Sensemaking’, Royal Netherlands Atlantisch Perspectief Journal, vol 29, no 6, pp. 31-35.

Zweibelson, B 2016, ‘Professional Reading Lists: Thinking Beyond the Books and into Military Paradigmatic Biases’, U. S. Air and Space Power Journal, accepted for publication in Summer 2016.

Zweibelson, B 2016, ‘Linear and Nonlinear Thinking: Beyond Reverse-Engineering’, Canadian Military Journal, vol. 16, no. 2, accepted for publication in Spring 2016.

Zweibelson, B 2016, ‘Special Operations and Design Thinking: Through the Looking Glass of Organizational Knowledge Production’, Special Operations Journal, accepted for publication in February 2016 issue.

Zweibelson, B 2016, ‘Gravity-free Decision-making: Avoiding Clausewitz’s Strategic Pull’, Directorate of Future Land Warfare, Army Research Papers Series, Australian Department of Defence, accepted for publication in February 2016.

Zweibelson, B 2015, ‘Let Me Tell You About the Birds and the Bees: Swarm Theory and Military Decision Making’, Canadian Military Journal, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 29-36 (English and French versions).

Zweibelson, B 2015, ‘An Awkward Tango: Pairing Traditional Military Planning to Design and Why it Currently Fails to Work’, The Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, vol. 16, no. 1.

Zweibelson, B 2015, ‘The Ignorant Counterinsurgent: Rethinking the Traditional Teacher Student Relationship in Military Conflicts’, Military Review, vo. 95, no. 2, pp. 94-105.

Zweibelson, B, Paparone C, & Martin, G 2014, ‘The Times They are a-Changin’…Are We?’ in ‘Millennial Spring: Designing the Future of Organizations’, The Boeing Company, (Ed: Grace, M, & Graen, G.), Information Age Publishing.

Zweibelson, B 2014, ‘The Enemy has a Vote and other Dangers in Military Sensemaking’, Journal of Military Operations.

Zweibelson, B 2014, ‘Preferring Copies with No Originals: Does the Army Training Strategy Train to Fail?’, Military Review, vol. XCIV, no 1, pp. 15-25.

Zweibelson, B, Paparone C, & Martin, G 2013, ‘Frame Reflection: A Critical Review of U.S. Military Approaches to Complex Situations’,

Zweibelson, B 2013, ‘Three Design Concepts Introduced for Strategic and Operational Applications’, National Defense University PRISM Journal, vol 4, no. 2, pp. 87-104.

Zweibelson, B 2012, ‘Seven Design Theory Considerations’, Military Review, vol. XCII, no. 6, pp. 80-89.

Zweibelson, B 2013, ‘Building another Tower of Babel: Why Acronyms are Ruining Shared Military Understanding’, Small Wars Journal.

Zweibelson, B & Martin, G 2012, ‘Un Petit Recit from the Field’ in Paparone, C, ‘The Sociology of Military Science: Prospects for Postinstitutional Military Design’, Continuum Publications.

Zweibelson, B 2012, ‘Does Design Help or Hurt Military Planning: How NTM-A Designed a Plausible Afghan Security Force in an Uncertain Future (Part 1 and 2), Small Wars Journal.

Zweibelson, B 2012, ‘Military Design in Practice: Why Military Decision Making Requires a Blend of Theory, Doctrine, and Politics’, Small Wars Journal.

Zweibelson, B 2011, ‘Cartel Next: How Army Design Methodology Offers Holistic and Dissimilar Approaches to the Mexican Drug Problem’, Small Wars Journal.



Updated:  20 January 2016/ Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/ Page Contact:  Web administrator, National Security College