Aug. 14, 2017
The Pentagon’s Pivot: How Lead Users Are Transforming Defense Product Development
Historically, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on strategic forecasting to determine specifications for new military products. These specifications are codified in formal product requirements that drive new product development (NPD).
Aug. 8, 2017
Asia and the Trump Administration: Challenges, Opportunities, and a Road Ahead
The Asia-Pacific region is of exponentially increasing importance to the United States. Developments there affect vital U.S. economic, security, and political interests. Unfettered access to the region is a strategic imperative to allow the United States to protect and advance its wide-ranging national interests.
Aug. 7, 2017
A Short History of Biological Warfare: From Pre-History to the 21st Century
This short monograph reviews the history of biological warfare (BW) from prehistory to the present. It covers what we know about the practice of BW and briefly describes the programs that developed BW weapons based on the best available research.
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.
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?”
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.
Joint Doctrine Update
Joint Doctrine Update.