Made at a time when American politicians and policymakers were contemplating a major shift in strategy in Iraq, this graphic reflects the changing nature of conflict, as well as official attitudes towards war. According to the infographic, war isn't fought on a battlefield, but within an ecosystem that encapsulates everyone from the enemy to traditional leaders to local and international media.
For Kilcullin, this chart emphasizes that a conventional army is just one component of this environment, a fact that he believes should inspire humility in military strategists and policymakers. He writes,
It is critically important to realize that we, the intervening counterinsurgent, are not
outside this ecosystem, looking in at a Petrie dish of unsavory microbes. Rather, we are
inside the system. The theater of operations is not a supine, inert medium on which we
practise our operational art. Rather it is a dynamic, living system that changes in response
to our actions and requires continuous balancing between competing requirements.