July 17, 2017

Chinese Military Diplomacy, 2003–2016: Trends and Implications

China is placing increasing emphasis on military diplomacy to advance its foreign policy objectives and shape its security environment. Military diplomacy is part of broader Chinese foreign policy efforts to create a favorable international image, develop soft power, and shape international discourse. Other objectives include shaping China’s security environment, collecting intelligence, and learning from advanced militaries. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) seeks to forward strategic and operational goals through a variety of interactions with foreign military partners, including senior-level visits, security dialogues, nontraditional security cooperation, military exercises, functional exchanges, and port calls.

July 6, 2017

Putin’s Syrian Gambit: Sharper Elbows, Bigger Footprint, Stickier Wicket

Thanks in large part to Russia’s military intervention, Syrian president Bashar al-Asad’s fortunes have made a remarkable recovery since May/June 2015. Russia, together with the Lebanese Hizballah, Iran, and Iranian-organized Shia militias from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere, has succeeded in averting Asad’s military defeat. What Russian president Vladimir Putin has accomplished in Syria is important for American national security interests and policy in the region because it frames some of the hard choices Washington must now make.

June 22, 2017

Joint Force Quarterly 86 (3rd Quarter 2017)

One of the most important questions we ask students of national and international security is “What is war?” Many will provide a solid response citing one of the great war “thinkers” like Thucydides or Carl von Clausewitz. An equally important set of questions flows from these responses. When should a country like the United States become involved?

June 21, 2017

Learning to Fish in Murky Waters: The Missing Link in Capacity-Building

Building partner capacity has been recently recognized as a key mission set of the U.S. Armed Forces. It has received a great deal of verbal and written attention from military leaders and policymakers due to its centrality to ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The recent political and strategic direction has emphasized military, diplomatic, and civil coordination with other nations worldwide.1 A full explanation of U.S. diplomatic, development, and military approaches to capacity-building, and the evolution of the military’s current role and conceptualization of these operations, would undoubtedly be relevant and useful, but remains beyond the scope of this article. Instead, we examine one critical component of this broad mission set: the building of institutional capacity in host-nation ministries. Then we offer a scientifically and historically sound methodology for military advisors working at the ministerial level. By improving how we plan and execute our train, advise, and assist missions, and rethinking the role of the military advisor, we can more effectively enable our partners around the world.

June 21, 2017

The Trouble with Mission Command: Flexive Command and the Future of Command and Control

The U.S. military is having the wrong conversation about command. The current emphasis on “mission command” as an end in itself misses a crucial point about the nature of command—namely, that situational understanding is the rarest of all command characteristics. Mission command begins with a bias to decentralized decisionmaking, and then fails to equip officers with tools for understanding how to determine where control should reside. Mission command is presented as a premise of effective command—“Given that I am decentralizing control as much as possible (that is, exercising mission command), how should I command?”—when it is in fact just one of many possible answers to the question of control, and not always the right one. This conceptual failure exposes the military to significant risk as the context of war undergoes one of history’s great revolutions with the entry of lethal, fully autonomous systems. We need a command philosophy that acknowledges the historical constraints of warfare but also leaves room to exploit the emerging capabilities of modern technology. The right question to ask is: “Given the tactical, operational, and strategic context, how should I command?”

June 21, 2017

Autonomous Weapons Systems Safety

Available technology and unforeseen world events will make it increasingly difficult to apply the law of armed conflict and international law relating to the use of force via autonomous weapons systems in a consistent manner that adheres to U.S. policy. Many nations, including the United States, will place limits on the use of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) to avoid the risk of collateral damage and to comply with international humanitarian law. However, potential adversaries might not be bound by these constraints.

June 21, 2017

Joint Doctrine Update

Joint Doctrine Update.

June 21, 2017

Joint Publication 3-0, Joint Operations

The Joint Staff Director, Joint Force Development Directorate (J7), signed a revised Joint Publication (JP) 3-0, Joint Operations, on January 17, 2017. This JP 3-0 is the latest in a series that began with a January 1990 “test publication” titled Doctrine for Unified and Joint Operations.1 General Colin Powell approved the first official version of JP 3-0 in 1993 based, in part, on agreements reached among the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a number of debated aspects of joint operations.2 In a measure to increase access to and understanding of joint doctrine, General John Shalikashvili, Powell’s successor,3 issued the 1995 JP 3-0 in a hard-copy, purple-covered format as part of a Joint Doctrine Professional Library Desk Set.4 The Chairman also made the joint doctrine library available on the Internet. Since then, the joint doctrine development community has revised JP 3-0 in 2001, 2006, and 2011. There also was a Change 1 in 2008 to ensure continuity with JP 1, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States, and a Change 2 in 2010 to incorporate text on cyberspace and cyberspace operations.

June 21, 2017

Adaptive Doctrine: Infusing the Changing Character of Warfare into Doctrine

The changing character of warfare demands a more flexible doctrine development approach. In response to the risk associated with revising joint publications (JPs) based on their age, the Director of Joint Force Development, Vice Admiral Kevin D. Scott, recognized that JP development must be prioritized based on top-down guidance and bottom-up refinement. As a result, the joint doctrine development process is being redesigned. This Adaptive Doctrine approach will reduce the time required to revise publications; ensure the process is being effectively managed to produce high-quality revisions; and reset the content of the joint doctrine library to reflect a portfolio that is lean, appropriately linked to joint warfighting functions, and is manageable within manpower and fiscal limitation. The figure explains the central idea of how the Joint Staff has updated the process. The following details further explain the three components of the updated Adaptive Doctrine development approach.

June 20, 2017

The Grand Strategy That Won the Cold War

For anyone crediting and honoring Ronald Reagan as the President who defeated communism, this is a must-read book. The authors of the various chapters—several were members of President Reagan’s National Security Council staff—single him out as the progenitor of the “grand strategy” that brought down the Soviet Union. The book begins as a record of the formative events shaping Reagan, the man, in terms of his views and perceptions of communism. In the second part, the reader discovers the broad sweep of the many discussions, meetings, and decisions that helped Reagan see the fruition of his strategy to win the Cold War.