April 19, 2018
Paradigm Change: Operational Art and the Information Joint Function
The need for this addition to the joint functions has become increasingly obvious to military leaders over time. It reveals itself in the difficulty of addressing gray zone challenges. During a recent effort by the Joint Staff to update Joint Publication (JP) 3-13, Information Operations, leaders recognized that the joint force was already attempting to use information as a function and that the time to institutionalize information as a function was therefore overdue.
April 11, 2018
The Practical Implications of Information as a Joint Function
The integration of the Information as a Joint Function (IJF) with the other six joint functions offers new opportunities for developing and conducting operational art and design. IJF will result in the development of executable plans to deal with future conflicts that are TMM in nature. The ultimate result will be that joint force commanders are able to dominate the informational aspect of their operating environment (the IE) the same way they dominate land, sea, air space, and cyberspace.
Oct. 1, 2017
Asadism and Legitimacy in Syria
On July 11, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted that Syrian President Bashar al-Asad had lost his “legitimacy,” presaging a U.S. policy favoring regime change in Syria.1 In August 2011, President Barack Obama stated that the “future of Syria must be determined by its people, but [Asad] is standing in their way. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for [Asad] to step aside.” However, nearly 6 years later, Obama has left office, while Asad rules a contiguous stretch of population centers and the majority of Syrians left in Syria. Mainstream analysis explains Asad’s resilience as a result of external factors, namely Russian and Iranian support, lack of alignment of foreign aid to opposition forces, and a subdued U.S. response to Asad and prioritization of fighting the so-called Islamic State. Likewise, analysis on the internal factors focuses the narrow but loyal support the regime enjoys from the ruling Alawite sect.3 The illegitimacy of the regime is assumed.
Toxic Culture: Enabling Incivility in the U.S. Military and What to Do About It
Core values are the heart and soul of U.S. military Services and their cultures. Military organizational, strategic, operational, and tactical strength lies in the degree to which the Services’ systems, processes, and behaviors of personnel align with their stated core values, the collective practice of which creates organizational culture. Yet even with the emphasis on core values such as respect and selfless service, the Department of Defense (DOD) continues to experience toxic and counterproductive behaviors that sabotage culture and values, as well as performance, productivity, force protection, health, readiness, and actions of personnel.1 Although DOD has not conducted comprehensive research on toxic behavior, there is extensive private-sector research regarding the impact, cost, tolerance, enabling, and reduction of toxicity. This article applies private-sector research to assess DOD policies and practices and to recommend courses of action. Although the implications and cost of toxicity are beyond the scope of this article, a brief discussion is relevant for demonstrating its significance. Private-sector research has identified relationships between toxic behaviors and adverse effects on mental and physical health (including suicide, stress-related illness, and post-traumatic stress), increasing demands on an already overburdened healthcare system; job satisfaction and commitment; individual and collective performance (cognition and collaboration); employee turnover; and the creation of an organizational culture that tolerates other inappropriate behaviors including sexual harassment and discrimination.2 In addition to the impact on direct targets of toxicity, research has identified the transmission of adverse effects to bystanders and family members.3
Increasing Partner-Nation Capacity Through Global Health Engagement
Why the Department of Defense (DOD) and international military sector writ large engage in global health is well documented.1 How DOD conducts global health engagement (GHE) in a systematic way is not. While pundits representing the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Staff, combatant commands, Service components, and other organizations codify DOD policy for GHE, individuals and units implementing this broad guidance from 2013 to today continue to do so in a patchwork manner.2 Using the Indo-Asia Pacific region as a case study, this article presents the background regarding the current state of GHE in the region, develops a standardized GHE approach for engagement, and informs a partner-nation 5-year strategy.
Human Terrain at the Crossroads
The U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) was created in 2007 amid fears of defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Responding to clear needs expressed by military leadership, HTS was offered as an experimental effort to embed academic social scientists with Army and Marine Corps units to dramatically increase local sociocultural knowledge on the battlefield.1
Are There Too Many General Officers for Today’s Military?
There are approximately 900 Active-duty general/flag officers (GO/FOs) today of 1.3 million troops. This is a ratio of 1 GO/FO for every 1,400 troops. During World War II, an admittedly different era, there were more than 2,000 GO/FOs for a little more than 12 million Active troops (1:6,000). This development represents “rank creep” that does not enhance mission success but clutters the chain of command, adds bureaucratic layers to decisions, and costs taxpayers additional money from funding higher paygrades to fill positions. As end-strength fluctuates, force structure and strength projections for the next decade show the uniformed Services maintaining substantial excess capacity at senior ranks. Although historical numbers are inexact guides and future threats could radically change circumstances, the case for reduction is strong. The Department of Defense (DOD) should reduce the numbers, billets, and percent of GO/FOs in each Service to increase efficiency, streamline decisionmaking, achieve modest cost savings, and enhance accountability of decisionmaking.
Exploring a New System of Command and Control: The Case for U.S. Africa Command
The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) proposed several changes to improve the organization of the combatant commands (CCMDs) in its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017. The first provision seeks to focus the CCMDs on their primary warfighting mission supporting the National Defense Strategy, limiting CCMD participation in other important, but nonessential, mission sets. A second proposal would “require the Secretary of Defense to conduct a pilot program on an alternative organizational structure at one combatant command . . . replacing the Service component commands with joint task forces [JTFs] focused on operational military missions. The Committee believes that this could provide lessons for improving the integration of operational efforts across the command, streamlining unnecessary layers of management, and reducing the number of staff.”1 Converting the command and control (C2) structure of a geographic CCMD from a group of Service component commands to a set of JTFs is achievable, despite congressionally mandated reductions in headquarters staff personnel and lack of a major combat operation in theater. While the final version of the NDAA removed this requirement, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) would have been the ideal CCMD to test and evaluate this new C2 structure.
The Role of Space Norms in Protection and Defense
Over the past decade, the United States has participated in a variety of activities intended to shape international norms for outer space activities. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a norm as “That which is a model or a pattern; a type, a standard.” In the outer space context, norms have come to mean both “top down” high-level principles intended to inform the development of new international legal regimes and “bottom up” best practice guidelines intended to inform day-to-day operations.1 Both types of space norms have their value, but the latter have received the most attention in recent years because of their potential to enhance space safety and sustainability as the number of space actors grows and the nature of space activities changes. Much as roadway traffic rules prevent accidents and reduce congestion, safety-focused “space traffic management” norms, such as limiting debris, avoiding collisions, and sharing space surveillance information, can reduce the likelihood of accidents and protect valuable orbital regimes from the deleterious effects of long-lived space debris. All who operate in space will benefit from a more safe, predictable, and efficient operating environment.
Time in War
Time has always been considered a key element in war. Speed, by definition, derives from time: “distance traveled divided by the time of travel” is the usual definition. Over two millennia ago, Sun Tzu remarked on its importance, noting that “speed is the essence of war” and “divine swiftness” is to be “esteemed.”1 Carl von Clausewitz believed similarly, commenting that time had a major psychological effect that would help provide secrecy as well as speed.2 Not just theorists, but also practitioners (such as Napoleon as quoted in this article’s epigraph) have recognized the importance of time and timing in war. But what is time?