April 1, 2017
Improving Joint Doctrine for Security in Theater: Lessons from the Bastion-Leatherneck-Shorabak Attack
In September 2012, Taliban insurgents conducted one of the most significant attacks against an airfield from which U.S. forces were operating since the Vietnam War. On September 14, 15 insurgents exploited a weakness in the perimeter of the sprawling Bastion-Leatherneck-Shorabak (BLS) complex to gain access and attack coalition equipment and personnel.
The New Grand Strategy
In The New Grand Strategy, the authors correctly assert that the United States cannot rely on the bureaucracy of international and national entities to move forward and purposefully lead change, when and where it matters. This book is a call to action in which a synthesis of strategy, planning, and operations trumps analysis, avoids trivial pursuits, and catalyzes action by “we the people.” Whereas “grand strategy” is largely debated in academia and think tanks as an abstraction, strategy requires purpose and implementing operations. It also necessitates frequent institutional reflection, refinement, and changing of paradigms that inhibit the ability to adapt to a changing world order. Though the book may not account for every element that could encompass “grand strategy,” its recommendation that strategy be purposeful, systematic, and forward thinking to ensure that resilience and sustainability are the foundation of longevity and continued greatness should be heeded.
Margin of Victory
Douglas Macgregor’s newest book offers a tutorial and blueprint for the strategically guided development of the U.S. military. This is timely, as the Department of Defense finds itself preparing for our future national defense strategy, which in the Barack Obama administration was often referred to as the Third Offset. Planning for it should be nested within the current and anticipated strategic environment, emerging technologies, and how we intend to fight our next war. Macgregor analyzes the preparation for, execution of, and consequences of belligerence in five significant battles. He also includes a chapter with recommendations (some of which are quite controversial) for the U.S. military’s development.
Reactionary, expansive, naive: these are the themes that Michael Mandelbaum alludes to most often in his extensive look at U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Mandelbaum examines foreign policy from the end of the George H.W. Bush Presidency through the Barack Obama administration, highlighting the mix of wishful thinking and lack of focus that prevailed as the United States found itself unchecked on the global stage following the decline and eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Mandelbaum assesses several notable foreign policy failures: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization expansion and the bungled rapprochement with Russia; the failure to instill democracy in China; Bill Clinton’s interventions in Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia; and the mixed record on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. attempts at nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mandelbaum paints a picture of a foreign policy apparatus beset by lack of interest and political cohesion, demotion in importance to domestic policy, and a repeated failure to understand key aspects of the societies in which the United States chose to intervene.
The Advent of Jointness During the Gulf War: A 25-Year Retrospective
It has been three decades since the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, a piece of legislation that changed how the Department of Defense (DOD) functions and how the military conducts operations. By adopting the concept now known as “jointness,” it restricted the Services to an administrative and organizational role as force providers, while combatant commanders held operational authority with a chain of command leading directly to the Secretary of Defense and the President.1 The intent of the legislation could be compared to that of the Constitution supplanting the Articles of Confederation, which drew the relatively independent states into a more closely centralized political body.
The U.S. Government’s Approach to Health Security: Focus on Medical Campaign Activities
The U.S. Government plans, conducts, supports, and participates in activities that reinforce national interests. These interests perpetuate an international order underpinned by stable democratic governments and regional security. One critical component of national stability is the capability to protect citizens from internal and external threats. This capability normally requires a nation to draw upon its citizenry to populate internal forces responsible for providing security; therefore, a healthy populace is a necessity. With the U.S. Government’s increasing responsibility as a security provider and its political emphasis on health security, the U.S. military will undoubtedly be expected to have a larger role in support of health security objectives. While natural or manmade threats to human health can lead to illness or injury, illness transmitted by proximity between humans remains among the foremost dangers to human health, international stability, and the global economy. In other words, health security is crucial to U.S. national security.
Policing in America: How DOD Helped Undermine Posse Comitatus
With the recent events of police shootings and domestic terrorism, many are calling into question whether our law enforcement strategies are standing up to the ideals that police everywhere are known to follow—aptly, to protect and to serve. Claims of lingering societal racism and police brutality are under constant scrutiny by social and police reform activists and media coverage.1 Other studies state these claims are myths being reported daily as facts and are, sadly, finding their way into changing public policy.2 Tension between these arguments was succinctly stated best as “if you’re pro–Black Lives Matter, you’re assumed to be anti-police, and if you’re pro-police, then you surely hate black people.”3 But why should this concern the Department of Defense (DOD)?
The Need for a Joint Support Element in Noncombatant Evacuation Operations
The U.S. Government’s first duty is to protect and defend the citizens of the Nation. Loss of confidence in the government’s ability and willingness to safeguard citizens can shift the public narrative and may even compel policymakers to alter strategic direction. Noncombatant evacuation operations (NEOs) from threatened areas overseas are therefore an important strategic matter, particularly in today’s world of viral videos and globalized travel.
Operational Graphics for Cyberspace
Symbols have been part of military tactics, operations, and strategy since armies became too large for personal observation on the battlefield. In joint military operations, it is crucial to have a set of common symbols familiar to all users. The inability of cyber warriors to easily express operational concepts inhibits the identification of cyber key terrain, development of tactics and strategies, and execution of command and control.
Forensic Vulnerability Analysis: Putting the “Art” into the Art of War
Is warfare art or science? The debate, touched upon by Sun Tzu in the 6th century BCE, is still raging today. Most scholarly literature states that war is a combination of both art and science. Many military scholars side with the argument that the planning and execution of warfare are art, but the tools used to wage war are science. However, in this technology-centric era of large data collection, asymmetric adversaries that employ emerging technologies, nation-states that leverage technology superior proxies, weapons that evoke a Star Wars familiarity, and a generation of warfighters that is more comfortable around instantaneous data flows than long-term incremental research, science is taking a more prominent role in warfare. For example, watch the current Department of Defense (DOD) recruiting videos. Except for the Marine Corps, which is still looking for The Few, The Proud, most if not all Service recruiting videos focus on technology (for example, jet fighters, cyber warriors, and space warriors).