April 1, 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
Joint Publication 3-20, Security Cooperation: Adapting Enduring Lessons
Today’s security environment demands that the Department of Defense (DOD) employ a robust strategy and assortment of capabilities across the entire range of military operations and in support of America’s national security interests. A preponderance of these activities falls under the umbrella of security cooperation (SC) in which few, if any, U.S. forces participate directly in combat operations. As DOD continues to develop the “four plus one” threat baseline described by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Force Development Directorate has taken steps to better align joint doctrine with the National Military Strategy as part of an approach that emphasizes the need for adaptive doctrine. Within this effort, the need to synergize U.S. capacity and capabilities with those of its partners remains paramount.
Joint Doctrine Update
Joint Doctrine Update.
Jan. 27, 2017
Regional Missile Defense from a Global Perspective
In Regional Missile Defense from a Global Perspective, Catherine M. Kelleher and Peter Dombrowski analyze the history of missile defense, U.S. policy debates, the resulting acquisition programs, and challenges and opportunities of the past, present, and future. The genesis of the volume was two workshops on the topic held at the Naval War College during 2011 and 2012. While seemingly dated, the work remains timely given the elevation of regional missile defense in the U.S. National Security Strategy and Russia’s provocations in the Baltics and Ukraine. The anthology should prove useful to policymakers, scholars, and students interested in the complexities of missile defense around the globe.
Jan. 26, 2017
Expanding Zeus's Shield: A New Approach for Theater Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region
On September 17, 2009, President Barack Obama approved the creation of a “phased adaptive approach” to European missile defense, at the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.1 As outlined in the original White House 2009 press release and in the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Report, the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) was developed to provide guidance on which and where certain ballistic missile defense capabilities would be deployed to the European theater. According to the overall plan, the approach would be executed in four phases. The first phase protected southern Europe from attack from Iran with sea-based Aegis Weapons Systems by 2011.2 Phase two focused on deploying land-based missile defense capabilities to defend southern Europe by 2015. Phase three, scheduled for 2018, would deploy more capable systems against longer range Iranian missiles and have both a land- and sea-based capability.3 The final phase was canceled in 2013 but was rescheduled for deployment in the 2020 timeframe and would have added defense capability against long-range ballistic missile threats from the Middle East.
In my view, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights are two of the most important contributions to our collective human experience. The men who debated and wrestled, word by word, over the contents of these two founding documents used great imagination and creativity. Over the following 228 years since the Constitutional Convention that constructed these works, they have been tested and, when found weak, amended, or in the case of the Civil War, fought over or adapted by our Federal system of laws in which our three branches of government all play important roles. While the exact meaning of the Constitution remains in the eye of each citizen to debate and seek change as needed, I doubt even the most cynical citizen would wish the Constitution did not exist.
Oct. 1, 2016
From the Chairman: Strategic Challenges and Implications
I have previously written in this column to share with you the areas where I am devoting my time and focus: joint readiness, joint warfighting capability, and the development of leaders for the future. I have also shared with you my thoughts regarding the imperative for the Joint Force to remain focused on and responsive to the current National Command Authority. That responsiveness underpins healthy civil-military relations and is the hallmark of the Profession of Arms. I now write to share with you how we are channeling these priorities and professional focus into execution.