top of page

Good Prompts, Bad Prompts, and How to Ask Complex Questions  

"There are no right answers to wrong questions."

-Ursula K. Le Guin

To get the most of generative AI, such as StratBot AI it is important to use specific, high-quality prompts.  In general, the better the prompt the better the response you will get. Good prompts are specific, focused, and ask for in-depth analysis or insights on a particular topic or event. They encourage StratBot to provide detailed explanations and engage in critical thinking.  On the other hand, bad prompts are vague, broad, or ask for simplistic answers. They do not provide enough context or direction for StratBot to offer meaningful analysis or engage in a deep discussion.  Here are some examples of good and bad prompts:

Good Prompts:

  1. "Can you provide an analysis of the Battle of Waterloo and its impact on European history?"

  2. "What were the key strategic decisions made by General Robert E. Lee during the American Civil War?"

  3. "Discuss the significance of the Blitzkrieg employed by the German forces in World War II."

Bad Prompts:

  1. "Tell me about some cool military stuff."

  2. "What's the best way to win a war?"

  3. "Give me a list of famous battles."

Remember, StratBot is designed to provide comprehensive analysis and engage in serious military discussions. So, it's best to ask questions that are specific, thought-provoking, and encourage a deep understanding of military history and strategy.

In the field of strategy, most questions and problems concern complex adaptive phenomenon. Therefore, the questions that you may want to ask StratBot probably are not binary, yes or no, black or white questions.  To get the most of your queries, ask break you question down into chunks and then reassemble the parts.

For example, let’s say that you were asked to develop a strategic estimate for security of the Arctic region. Let’s prompt it to, “develop a strategic estimate for security of the Arctic region.” Its response to this prompt is:

“To develop a strategic estimate for the security of the Arctic region, we need to analyze various factors and considerations. The Arctic region is of increasing strategic significance due to the effects of climate breakdown and the potential for vast natural resources. However, it is also facing challenges in a fragmenting security environment. Here are the key points to consider:

  • Regional Challenges: The primary responsibility for addressing regional challenges in the Arctic lies with the Arctic nations. However, it is important for the United States to deepen cooperation with Arctic allies and partners to address these challenges effectively.

  • Cooperation and Institutions: Despite the challenges posed by Russia's war in Ukraine, efforts should be made to sustain the Arctic Council and other Arctic institutions. These institutions play a crucial role in promoting cooperation and addressing common concerns in the region.

  • Freedom of Navigation: It is essential to protect freedom of navigation in the Arctic region. This includes ensuring that international rules are followed and upholding the rights of all nations to navigate through Arctic waters.

  • Climate Change Resilience: Building resilience to and mitigating the impacts of climate change in the Arctic region is crucial. This can be achieved through agreements to reduce emissions, cross-Arctic research collaboration, and investments in infrastructure.

  • Economic Activity and Investment: As economic activity in the Arctic increases, it is important to invest in infrastructure, improve livelihoods, and encourage responsible private sector investment. Critical minerals and other strategic resources should be considered in these investment decisions.

  • Tribal Sovereignty and Collaboration: The commitment to honor Tribal sovereignty and self-governance should be upheld through regular, meaningful, and robust consultation and collaboration with Alaska Native communities.

  • Security Implications: The Arctic region's transformation and increasing strategic significance may attract the attention of state and non-state actors. The potential for contestation over critical supply routes and resources should be considered in security planning.

  • Emerging Threats: The Arctic region is vulnerable to various threats, including loss of vital marine ecosystems, physical threats from cable cutting or mine-laying, and increasing cyber threats. These threats should be assessed and appropriate measures taken to mitigate them.

  • Air and Space Security: The atmosphere is also emerging as a new theater of contestation. The proliferation of assets and sensors, including drones and high-altitude balloons, poses challenges to air traffic management and requires careful consideration in security planning.

  • Strategic Partnerships: Collaboration with allies, other partners, and neutrals is essential in addressing the security challenges in the Arctic region. Strategic partnerships can enhance collective security and promote stability in the region.

It is important to note that developing a comprehensive strategic estimate requires a detailed analysis of the geopolitical, geoeconomic, and cultural factors specific to the Arctic region. This estimate serves as a starting point for developing strategies and implementing plans to ensure the security and stability of the Arctic region.”

This is a pretty good response, but not aligned precisely with the Joint Format.  In this case we want to give it a more specific query letting Stratbot know what exactly we would like the format of the response to be. This time let’s prompt it to, “give an example of a strategic estimate for security of the Arctic region with detailed assessment information the following aspects: 1) strategic direction, 2) operational environment, 3) Assessment of the Major Strategic and Operational Challenges, 4) Potential Opportunities, 5) Assessment of risk.” Its response to this prompt is:

Sure! Here is an example of a strategic estimate for the security of the Arctic region, with detailed assessment information for each aspect:

  • Strategic Direction:

  • US Policy Goals: The strategic direction for the security of the Arctic region is aligned with the policy goals of the United States.

  • These policy goals may include ensuring the freedom of navigation, protecting national interests, promoting stability, and fostering cooperation among Arctic nations.

  • Operational Environment:

  • The operational environment of the Arctic region is complex and influenced by various factors.

  • Geopolitical considerations: The Arctic region is of increasing strategic importance due to its natural resources, potential shipping routes, and territorial claims.

  • Economic factors: The region's resources, including oil, gas, and minerals, attract economic interests and competition among nations.

  • Environmental challenges: Climate change and melting ice present both opportunities and risks, affecting navigation, resource exploitation, and environmental sustainability.

  • Assessment of the Major Strategic and Operational Challenges:

  • Direct military confrontation: The potential for increased military presence and competition in the Arctic region raises the risk of conflicts and tensions.

  • Peace operations and security cooperation: Cooperation among Arctic nations is essential to maintain stability and address common security challenges.

  • Response to atrocities and foreign humanitarian assistance: The Arctic region's remote communities and vulnerable populations may require assistance in times of crisis or humanitarian emergencies.

  • Stability activities: Ensuring stability in the region requires addressing economic disparities, environmental concerns, and indigenous rights.

  • Potential Opportunities:

  • Resource exploitation: The Arctic region's natural resources offer economic opportunities for Arctic nations, including energy exploration, mining, and fisheries.

  • Scientific research and cooperation: The unique environment of the Arctic provides opportunities for scientific research, environmental monitoring, and collaboration among nations.

  • Infrastructure development: The opening of new shipping routes and increased accessibility due to melting ice present opportunities for infrastructure development, including ports, search and rescue capabilities, and telecommunications.

  • Assessment of Risk:

  • Matching challenges with capabilities: Assessing the potential risks associated with each major challenge and evaluating the capabilities of Arctic nations to address them effectively.

  • Categorizing risks: Categorizing risks based on significance or likelihood, such as identifying the most dangerous or most likely risks.

  • Mitigation measures: Developing a list of possible mitigation measures to address the identified risks, including diplomatic efforts, military capabilities, and international cooperation.

This strategic estimate provides a comprehensive assessment of the security of the Arctic region, considering the strategic direction, operational environment, major challenges, potential opportunities, and assessment of risk. It serves as a foundation for decision-making and planning to ensure the security and stability of the Arctic region.”

This is a better response, but still no more than a few bullet points deep.  To get more out our prompt let's break out each part of the estimate, ask as its own prompt and then reassemble the answer.  Starting with the first part of the estimate, strategic direction, let's ask it for a more specific prompt as follows, “For the arctic region identify Strategic Direction, addressing the following subtopics: a. US Policy Goals, b. Non-US/Multinational Policy Goals, c. Opposition Policy Goals and Desired End State, d. End State(s).”  In this case the StratBot response is:

“To analyze the strategic direction for the Arctic region, we need to address the following subtopics:

a. US Policy Goals:

  • The United States aims to ensure the security and stability of the Arctic region.

  • The US policy goals include safeguarding national interests, protecting maritime routes, and preserving access to natural resources.

  • The US seeks to maintain a strong presence in the region to deter potential threats and maintain a favorable balance of power.

b. Non-US/Multinational Policy Goals:

  • Other countries and multinational organizations involved in the Arctic region have their own policy goals.

  • These goals may include promoting cooperation and peaceful resolution of disputes, ensuring freedom of navigation, and protecting the environment.

  • Multinational policy goals may also involve joint military exercises, information sharing, and coordination to address common challenges.

c. Opposition Policy Goals and Desired End State:

  • Opposition policy goals refer to the objectives and intentions of other states or non-state actors that may challenge US interests in the Arctic region.

  • These goals may include asserting territorial claims, expanding influence, or accessing the region's resources.

  • The desired end state for the opposition may involve establishing control over strategic locations, limiting US presence, or undermining US-led initiatives.

d. End State(s):

  • The end state(s) for the Arctic region describe the desired conditions and outcomes that need to be achieved and maintained.

  • This includes ensuring a stable and secure environment, promoting cooperation among Arctic states, and protecting the rights and interests of all stakeholders.

  • The end state(s) may also involve maintaining a favorable balance of power, preserving freedom of navigation, and addressing environmental challenges.

Analyzing these subtopics helps in understanding the strategic direction for the Arctic region and formulating effective strategies to achieve the desired objectives.”

This answer is not perfect but is much more comprehensive than the first two.  In this case, you would have to query StratBot once for each part of the estimate and reassemble into a whole.  Remember, StratBot is not a panacea for strategic analysis, it is one tool to improve accuracy, depth, and speed at which you can conduct strategic analysis.  Remember better prompts equal better answers but use at your own risk! 

32 views0 comments


White and Blue Minimalist Modern Real Estate Property Business Card (10).png
bottom of page