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June 20, 2017

A Strategic Leader's Guide to Transforming Culture in Large Organizations

As the Department of Defense (DOD) transitions to a new administration, it will be accompanied by numerous editorials advocating for equipment modernization and changing our theater-specific postures. Many of these discussions will call for altering DOD’s current strategy. In essence, they will reiterate a dogmatic logic among the department’s leadership: the best way to solve a problem is to develop a new strategy. To succeed, we must realize that focusing mainly on strategy will cause us to overlook our greatest advantage—organizational culture.

June 20, 2017

Civil-Military Relations in Transitions: Behavior of Senior Military Officers

On Inauguration Day 2017, President Donald Trump inherited from President Barack Obama’s administration the current cohort of uniformed military leaders at the most senior levels across the Department of Defense (DOD). Over the previous 2 years, President Obama had selected an impressive group of military officers.

June 20, 2017

Professional Military Education and Broadening Assignments: A Model for the Future

In today’s Army culture, professional military education (PME) is a critical factor for promotions and advancement.1 For future Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) General J. Lawton Collins, attending the Army Industrial College and Army War College, and subsequently instructing at the latter, broadened his horizons and prepared him for future assignments and responsibilities.2 The Army is at a point in its history where it is inconceivable for an officer to attain high rank without attending formal PME, as was the exceptional case with former CSA General William Westmoreland.3 By design, the Army selects its top performers to attend resident intermediate and senior PME. Currently, selection rates are 52 percent for intermediate and 40 percent for senior-level education.

June 20, 2017

Respecting Strategic Agency: On the Categorization of War in Strategy

Many—perhaps most—strategists prefer to think about past, present, and future war in terms of categories. Whether in retrospect, in contemporary experience, or in anticipation, they define war by its generalized character. These strategists arguably include Carl von Clausewitz himself, who suggested that “every age had its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions, and its own peculiar preconceptions. Each period, therefore, would have held to its own theory of war.”1 Due to this tendency of thinking in categories, strategic studies is often washed by recurring tides of jargon. The current fad in terminology is gray zone wars. Often, these faddish terms actually serve to label and relabel the same observed phenomenon.

June 20, 2017

Black is the New Red: Containing Jihad

Examining the West’s understanding and response to the ideology of communism and the Soviet Union and comparing them to the threat posed by Salafi Jihadism provides a lens that can help shape a practical and credible response to current threats. Just as containment was successfully deployed against the threat of Soviet-style communism in the Cold War, it may serve as an effective strategy against the present ideological struggle against jihadist terror organizations.

June 19, 2017

Strategic Competition: Beyond Peace and War

The struggle Morgenthau describes results in an evolving international distribution of power. After World War II, the majority of global power was divided between two poles until the fall of the Soviet Union gave rise to a unipolar system. The transformation of the international order continues today as rising powers join established powers, such as the United States, Japan, and the European Union, on the international stage. Although a more balanced distribution of power may have economic and humanitarian benefits, political and military tensions frequently accompany major transitions in the international order. Beyond the strains inherent as rising powers clash with those more established, the lack of globally dominant hegemons in a system of distributed power creates opportunities for revisionist state and nonstate actors to pursue their own, sometimes perilous, ambitions.

June 19, 2017

U.S. Southern Command: Evolving to Meet 21st-Century Challenges

Latin America and the Caribbean is the region most closely connected to our own stability, security, and economic prosperity. This is important despite the fact other regions often figure more prominently in U.S. foreign policy and national security strategy. Given our shared values, culture, geography, heritage, and history, security challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean often become security challenges for the United States.

June 19, 2017

An Interview with Kurt W. Tidd

The new National Military Strategy exists as a result of some fundamental changes in the geopolitical landscape. Leaving the Joint Staff and going to USSOUTHCOM, I had the benefit of spending several years listening as both General [Martin E.] Dempsey and then General [Joseph F.] Dunford began to develop this strategy, particularly General Dunford. The National Military Strategy focuses on multidomain security challenges that are now global security challenges. It provides a useful intellectual organizing construct by going to a regional geographic command and thinking through the role of a geographic combatant command as a member of an enterprise.

June 19, 2017

From the Chairman: Maintaining a Boxer's Stance

Any coach will tell you that the first step in training a fighter is developing a “boxer’s stance,” the foundational posture from which all offensive and defensive movements flow. A good boxer’s stance conserves energy while keeping the fighter balanced, protected, and ready to throw quick, powerful punches. Between fights or between rounds, any assessment of a fighter’s performance must begin with the stance.

June 19, 2017

Executive Summary

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? Why should the United States risk our “blood and treasure” in this war? What instruments of national power should be used and to what measure? What will the end of the war look like? How will we know our side is winning? Who will fight with us? How are we to fight and when should we expect to be done? Issues of strategy, operational art, tactics, and forces of the military instrument of national power come into view along with the diplomatic, informational, and economic instruments. The civilian-military relationship that is at the heart of our national security structure ultimately shapes the outcome in victory, stalemate, or defeat.