Joint Force Quarterly

Oct. 1, 2017

Follow the Money: Targeting Enemy War-Sustaining Activities

We see them every day on the highways and byways of America—18-wheel trailers and tankers hauling the goods and resources that drive the American economy. From this commerce, revenue is developed, and from this revenue, taxes are drawn—taxes that ultimately provide the manpower and equipment for the Nation’s Armed Forces. If the so-called Islamic State (IS) were to attack these vehicles on America’s highways, we would call it terrorism. Take those same tankers, however, fill them with oil drawn from or refined in IS-controlled fields or facilities, target them on a north-bound dirt road in Syria or Iraq, as U.S. and coalition forces have been doing in Operation Inherent Resolve, and what would we call it? We would call it the lawful use of force against a military objective. So, what is the difference?

Oct. 1, 2017

The Operational National Guard: A Unique and Capable Component of the Joint Force

Since the attacks on 9/11, we have seen a confluence of factors shaping our security environment that presents challenges much different from the past. Globalization, the rise of near-peer powers and regional actors, sociological changes, and extreme weather are some of the most significant factors that make our security environment dynamic and complex, both at home and abroad, with the pace of change accelerating.

Oct. 1, 2017

From the Chairman: Allies and Partners Are Our Strategic Center of Gravity

While U.S. global leadership is the product of much more than our military capabilities, the competitive military advantage we possess is vital to our national power and the role we play on the world stage.

Oct. 1, 2017

Executive Summary

All of us would like direct feedback on how we are performing our missions. We hope that someone would reach out to let us know our hard work is meaningful and respected. Usually, however, we continue our work without direct encouragement, hoping it will have the impact we want to achieve.

Oct. 1, 2017

An Interview with Joseph L. Lengyel

I have never seen a more capable organization that does those kinds of things in our business model. As for the warfighting priority, I have watched the Guard mature from a good, solid, and competent contributor to one now that is able to deploy anywhere in the world immediately with our Active component joint force partners. We can play any role that we are asked to play; we have the capacity as a Guard Force contributor to do that.

Sept. 27, 2017

Joint Doctrine Update

Joint Doctrine Update.

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.