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Read the Latest Issue of Joint Force Quarterly From NDU Press
By NDU Press | April 25, 2018
Joint Force Quarterly 89
Joint Force Quarterly 89
Joint Force Quarterly 89

The newest issue of Joint Force Quarterly is now online.  This edition brings a range of important articles from the Joint Staff and U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM). 

In the Forum, we provide an introduction to information as the seventh and newest joint function. Information joins command and control, intelligence, fires, movement and maneuver, protection, and sustainment per direction of the Secretary of Defense. Alexus Grynkewich, deputy director for Global Operations (J39) on the Joint Staff, provides us with a basic understanding of how information qualifies as a joint function. A key aspect of any joint function, as many joint professional military education graduates know, is how the function fits into operational art. Scott Thomson and Christopher Paul suggest that adding information as a joint function marks a paradigm shift for operational practitioners. For those in the joint force who will ultimately have to figure out the utility of information from a practical, pragmatic, and warfighting perspective, Gregory Radabaugh helps decode the doctrine inherent in a joint function. Along with this new function and its implications, the Chairman and the joint community have been working hard to better integrate the joint force. By planning and executing globally integrated exercises, Stephen Gallotta, Timothy Lynch, and James Covington argue the results will enhance command and control across the joint force. Continuing our growing dialogue on the role of drones in modern warfare, Mark Newell discusses the difficulties of developing doctrine to counter these threats, given that Moore’s Law is applicable to the explosion of such platforms globally. Along with drones, we are still engaged in countering threat networks of many different kinds, which David Doran believes have the joint force “outmatched.”

In a Special Feature dedicated to USCENTCOM, General Joseph Votel, USA talks about the “by, with, through” (BWT) concept and about a number of ongoing operations in that theater. He had just returned from Afghanistan and stresses that progress is being made there, in part due to the focus on the BWT operational approach that he and his lead staff officer, Eero Keravuori, detail in their accompanying article. Adding a Service perspective on the approach, Michael Garrett, William Dunbar, Bryan Hilferty, and Robert Rodock describe how the U.S. Army intends to operate with it. As the lead U.S. tactical unit commander in the recent fight to retake Mosul in Iraq from the so-called Islamic State, J. Patrick Work tells us how by, with, and through made a difference in that victory. With the premise that great powers often get the ends and means of a strategy to assist host nations correct, John Richardson and John Bolton suggest the ways of carrying out such a strategy are often chosen poorly, resulting in failure to achieve success. They offer that recent successes in Iraq and Afghanistan are indications the United States is now getting this classic strategy element aligned correctly by applying the BWT approach. It is often said of military operations that logistics is key to success, and the BWT approach is no exception. Edward Dorman and Christopher Townsend lay out the case for achieving coalition logistics interoperability in a BWT operation.

Our Commentary section has a range of ideas focuses on how to improve the joint force. After years of developing various approaches to helping partners with security needs, John Jakubowski believes the best way to permanently work these missions is through the establishment of a Joint Security Force Assistance Command. Next, Stephen Nowak offers us his thoughts on problem-solving. A team from J7, Gwendolyn DeFilippi, Stephen Nowak, and Bradford Baylor, has some interesting ideas on how best to use our lessons learned collection in order to develop the joint force.

This issue’s Features section does not shy away from wrestling with controversial concepts, both old and new. Looking at the effects of climate and urbanization on security and stability challenges the joint force will face, Ronak Patel and David Palotty discuss how coordination between civilian and military authorities is key to finding workable solutions. Airpower is one of those commodities that everybody wants, but few can consistently agree on how it should be delivered. Josh Wiitala and Alexander Wright suggest the issue is structural and have a few new ways to help land- and sea-based combat aviation work together. As we are beginning to see the contours of the power of big data in our lives, Paul Lester, Pedro Wolf, Christopher Nannini, Daniel Jensen, and Delores Davis team up to discuss how strategic leaders can best make use of it.

In Joint Doctrine, we have four important pieces from Joint Staff J7, all focused on the future. Explaining the connections between joint concepts and future readiness, the deputy director for Future Joint Force Development, Andrew Loiselle, helps us to sort out the right balance between readiness and modernization. Jeffrey Becker and John DeFoor bring us insights on the world that the future joint force will operate in. Many recent JPME graduates will be familiar with the “Chairman’s Challenges.” Erik Schwarz helps us understand how the development of new joint concepts are being framed by them. George Katsos returns with another article on focusing on combatant commander campaign activities, this time discussing the challenges with environmental security. Along with our joint doctrine update, we bring you three fine book reviews by reviewers who will be instantly recognizable to most of our readers, and the books they discuss are as worthy of your attention as their reviews.

Click here to read the latest issue →

NDU Press produces Joint Force Quarterly in concert with ongoing education and research at National Defense University in support of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. JFQ is the Chairman's joint military and security studies journal designed to inform and educate national security professionals on joint and integrated operations; whole of government contributions to national security policy and strategy; homeland security; and developments in training and joint military education to better equip America's military and security apparatus to meet tomorrow's challenges while protecting freedom today.


Paradigm Change: Operational Art and the Information Joint Function
By Scott K. Thomson and Christopher E. Paul | April 19, 2018
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Colonel Scott K. Thomson, USA, is a Psychological Operations Officer in the Information Operations Directorate at the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Dr. Christopher E. Paul is a Senior Social Scientist at the RAND Corporation.

Information Systems Technicians monitor communication systems aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt, January 2018, Arabian Gulf (U.S. Navy/Alex Corona)
Information Systems Technicians monitor communication systems aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt, January 2018, Arabian Gulf (U.S. Navy/Alex Corona)
Information Systems Technicians monitor communication systems aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt, January 2018, Arabian Gulf (U.S. Navy/Alex Corona)
Information Systems Technicians Monitor Communication Systems
Information Systems Technicians monitor communication systems aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt, January 2018, Arabian Gulf (U.S. Navy/Alex Corona)

As Brigadier General Alexus Grynkewich, USAF, states in the preceding article, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved information as the first addition to the joint functions since the other six were codified in doctrine over 20 years ago. General Joseph Dunford’s approval of this function is a vital step on the pathway to achieve the endstate articulated in the 2016 Department of Defense (DOD) Strategy for Operations in the Information Environment (SOIE): “Through operations, actions, and activities in the IE [information environment], DOD has the ability to affect the decisionmaking and behavior of adversaries and designated others to gain advantage across the range of military operations.” The strategy correctly explains that “Effects in the physical and informational dimensions of the IE ultimately register an impact in the human cognitive dimension, making it the central object of operations in the IE.”1

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, which often displace the strategic utility of physical power; the survival of violent extremist organizations (VEOs) despite sustained physical punishment; and in the rapid proliferation of, and the U.S. military’s reliance on, information technology. 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.

This change in capstone doctrine is by itself insufficient to solve contemporary challenges. Without supporting efforts and adequate resourcing, little will change. The real work of institutionalizing and operationalizing information is in stride throughout various DOD components. If implemented boldly and thoughtfully, the new function will cause military commanders, strategists, and planners to revisit and revise their understanding of military operations and operational art. The information function will serve as a vital accelerant for various developmental efforts, such as the SOIE, Capstone Concept for Joint Operations, Joint Concept for Integrated Campaigning, Joint Concept for Operating in the Information Environment, and Joint Concept for Human Aspects of Military Operations.2

Indeed, the recently released 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS) and 2018 National Defense Strategy both repeatedly highlight threats to U.S. national security stemming from adversarial use of information. Skillful leveraging of information power has enabled competitors and adversaries such as Russia, China, and VEOs to realize important gains in ways that our traditional views of war and warfare struggle to answer. The NSS is particularly direct in admonishing that “U.S. efforts to counter the exploitation of information by rivals have been tepid and fragmented. U.S. efforts have lacked a sustained focus and have been hampered by the lack of properly trained professionals.”3 These documents mandate that DOD, as part of a whole-of-government effort, take the use of information power seriously. The information joint function is an important accelerant that, if properly implemented, should strengthen the joint force’s ability to achieve strategic aims across the range of military operations.

This article briefly answers a number of questions that this new joint function has prompted across the joint force. First, why must the joint force perform the information function? Second, how must we change our thinking about objectives and endstates? Third, how must we change our thinking about information? We conclude by acknowledging and responding to a number of common arguments against information as a joint function, discussing the way ahead, and highlighting the benefits of the new function to commanders.

The Joint Force and the Information Function

There are at least five reasons to elevate information in joint force operations. First, the world has changed. Over the past few decades, the IE has seen significant changes driven by evolving technology. The contemporary IE can be characterized not only by its unprecedented breadth, depth, and complexity, but also by its ubiquity, hyperconnectivity, and exponential growth. Second, our adversaries’ use of information has changed. Adversaries seek and find asymmetrical advantage over the joint force in and through the IE, both allowing near-peer competitors to become much more near-peers and allowing those who we still unambiguously overmatch to gain advantage under certain circumstances.

Third, the joint force is vulnerable to attacks in and through the IE—not only in our networks and technical communications, but also in our decisionmaking processes, perceptions, and will. Vulnerability to manipulation or degradation of will includes the will to fight and the political will of the American people, both of which are essential to the ability of the joint force to operate across the range of military operations. Fourth, we cannot not communicate, and actions speak louder than words. Every action and utterance of the joint force sends a message, intended or otherwise. This is part of the inherent informational aspects of all military activities. Furthermore, military actions are often much more powerful and influential communications than broadcast messages. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a Joint Direct Attack Munition is worth 10,000. Fifth, all outcomes and endstates of joint force operations hinge on the perceptions and decisions that lead to the actions and behaviors of relevant actors. Defeat of an adversary, by whatever mechanism, is a cognitive outcome. Very few battles or engagements have concluded with the death or wounding of every combatant on one side or the other, but battles typically conclude with one side being defeated. Even the outcomes of operations without an adversary, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, hinge on the perceptions, decisions, and resulting behaviors of the assisted civilian population. Perception, cognition, intention, and decision—these are the terrain of the information function.

Changing Thinking about Objectives and Endstates

During the 1973 negotiations to end the Vietnam War, Colonel Harry Summers, USA, remarked to a Vietnamese officer that the United States never lost a battle in that war. The Vietnamese officer agreed, but retorted that while Summers’s observation may have been true, it was “also irrelevant.”4 Indeed, Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 1, The Army, acknowledges that “lethality, by itself, is not enough. If Army forces do not address the requirements of noncombatants in the joint operational area before, during, and after battle, then the tactical victories achieved by our firepower only lead to strategic failure and world condemnation.”5

Both Colonel Summers’s conversation and ADP 1 reveal a concern that many share about how the joint force understands planning and operations. Many DOD leaders focus primarily on lethality and battlefield dominance. However, strategic success—not tactical victory—is what leaders must emphasize. The Vietnam War vividly exposed a situation where physical power alone did not produce the desired results, and our recent experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, where tactical victory has been common but strategic success elusive, echo that point. The relevance of lethality is further diminished in the contemporary operating environment where our adversaries can displace the utility of physical might by operating below the threshold of war (gray zone operations) or operate in loosely networked organizations that easily reorganize and are therefore immune to systemic collapse when their members are killed or captured (VEOs).

To avoid losing wars where we have won all our battles and to gain the full benefit available from the information joint function, we must change how we think about objectives and endstates. The descriptive language of the new joint function calls us to influence relevant actor perceptions, behavior, and action or inaction in pursuit of the commander’s objectives and endstate. To do this, commanders must specify objectives and endstates in terms of required behaviors and actions: identify the relevant actors (the troops in enemy formations and their commanders, surely, but likely also enemy national leadership and supporting civilian constituencies) and identify the actions necessary to enable shorter term objectives (inaction, orienting in the wrong direction, retreat, movement to a vulnerable position, waste of force or resources, civilian protest) as well as those necessary to the endstate (demobilization, withdrawal, cessation of force generation, abdication of leadership, entering settlement negotiations, suspension of legitimacy). Specifying behavioral objectives and endstates further enables mission command and mission tactics, as junior leaders can assess the likely impact of their choices on the actions and behaviors of the relevant actors and exercise initiative in the absence of specific guidance.

Changing the actions and behaviors of others is called “influence,” and influence must therefore become the lingua franca of operational art. By focusing on influence rather than simply “defeat” of an enemy (which is but one possible outcome of influence), we can avoid what Chief of Staff of the Army General Mark Milley has described as “the ‘tactization’ of strategy.”6 If commanders express objectives and endstates in terms of actions and behaviors of relevant actors, the connections between tactical actions and strategic results become clearer.

We must emphasize that this approach is in no way intended to argue that the joint force does not require lethal overmatch. Such an argument would be counterproductive and foolish. Lethality can be incredibly influential and remains essential to national defense. Our mandate is to better plan the influential effects of joint force activities to avoid unintended consequences and to better achieve strategic goals.

The exercise was part of the Cyber Security Incident Response Training in which participants took part in a three-day course to discover how best to respond to a cyber incident and how to safeguard against potential cyber vulnerabilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Kayla K. Edwards)
Airman analyzes coding necessary to maintain operational capabilities for power grid of simulated city as part of Cyber Security Incident Response Training (U.S. Air National Guard/Kayla K. Edwards)
The exercise was part of the Cyber Security Incident Response Training in which participants took part in a three-day course to discover how best to respond to a cyber incident and how to safeguard against potential cyber vulnerabilities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Kayla K. Edwards)
Arkansas National Guard Conducts Cyber Training Exercise
Airman analyzes coding necessary to maintain operational capabilities for power grid of simulated city as part of Cyber Security Incident Response Training (U.S. Air National Guard/Kayla K. Edwards)

Changing Thinking about Information

Realizing that the information joint function has vital technical implications in areas such as cyber and electromagnetic spectrum operations, it is the persuasive psychological aspects of information that remain frustratingly elusive to the joint force. We have identified the key terrain for implementing the information joint function as operational art—the way joint leaders plan, execute, and assess operations. While this realization is evolutionary in its origins, it is possibly revolutionary in its effect on military operations. The origin of calculus provides a useful illustration: rather than being the spontaneous discovery of profoundly new ideas, the invention of calculus was the result of incremental improvement over existing mathematical knowledge. Yet this incremental improvement had a profound effect on mathematical practice and application. General John Hyten, USAF, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, believes that the “military that figures out how to control information will be the most powerful military on the planet.”7 General Hyten’s is but one among a chorus of senior leader voices expressing the joint force’s mandate to elevate the importance of information in plans, operations, and investments. Business as usual carries far too much risk to national security.

Most military leaders who hear “information” will instinctively equate the function with information operations (IO), but the two are not analogous. IO has been a joint capability for many years, but many continue to skeptically view it as a marginal military activity or as a failing enterprise.8 If IO is marginal or failing, it is first a problem with the way leaders understand the importance and functioning of information, and second, a logical failure in doctrine.

Doctrinally, IO is simply a coordinating staff function that has no organic capabilities. IO is intended to coordinate and deconflict the use of information-related capabilities (IRCs)—such as military information support operations (MISO), military deception, civil affairs, electronic warfare, and others—with each other and operations in general to achieve the joint force commander’s objectives.9 Problems arise when we refer to information as an “operation,” separate from other operations. JP 1, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States, defines operations as a “sequence of tactical actions with a common purpose or unifying theme.” Since the joint force generates information simply by operating, how can operations and IO remain logically separate?

Commanders and staffs frequently miss the inherent relation between physical capabilities and information—and misunderstand the largely intangible nature of information. Even if misunderstood, positive rhetoric from senior leaders illustrates their sincere appreciation for the importance of information. In practice, though, field-grade leaders who do the heavy lifting during planning frequently relegate IO to a segregated staff function. If the J6 can establish network operations, or the J4 can handle sustainment, both with minimal input from the J3, why can the J39 not similarly perform IO in a vacuum? On most staffs, IO remains a secondary effort that supports maneuver, is allocated minimal resourcing, holds minimal space in base orders, and is given little focus during operational updates to joint force commanders.10

This segregated application of IO typically focuses on the integration of a narrow subset of IRCs. The implicit thinking equates information with themes and messages, and assumes that the communication of themes and messages is something that happens separate from—and in a supporting role to—operations. However, all military activities have inherent informational aspects because they change the way adversaries, populations, and allies perceive and act on their environment. The use of information is ultimately about generating effects that achieve objectives, and as noted above, you cannot not communicate.

The way we (the joint force) view ourselves and think (Service cultures) overlays the use of operational art (planning and operating), and seems to produce a fairly predictable range of planning outcomes that inhibit our ability to competently leverage information. This unfortunately narrow range can prevent clear and creative thinking and critically impede achieving favorable strategic outcomes.

When the joint force uses physical power, it creates far more information (and potentially, influence) than any of the IRCs. The Air Force dropping a “MOAB” (GBU-43/B—the so-called mother of all bombs) in Afghanistan, the Navy maneuvering a carrier strike group off the coast of North Korea unannounced, or the Army or Marines conducting exercises in Europe near the Russian border all create large volumes of information—information that affects the perceptions, cognitions, intentions, and decisions of a range of relevant actors. The information function, once woven into operational art (and supported by important low-density expertise), stands to enable commanders to better anticipate the strategic effects of their actions.

Information is as vital tactically as it is strategically. Iraq and Afghanistan provide numerous examples of tactical operations working at odds with desired strategic outcomes because they did not contribute to the desired perceptions and behaviors of relevant actors. General Stanley A. McChrystal, USA (Ret.), observed that an “inability to understand our surroundings often left a burned-out building or a cratered road—a stark symbol of our shortcomings—and wasted precious time in the overall campaign. Waging such campaigns, designed to persuade people to behave in a certain way is complex.”11

It is imperative that we reorient our approach to operational art toward influencing relevant actor perceptions, behavior, action, or inaction in order to address this complexity. If we express objectives and endstates in terms of actions and behaviors desired of others, we will avoid many missteps and produce more predictable enduring strategic outcomes. Information, along with the other joint functions, will support the pursuit of those outcomes.12

It remains unclear what the eventual fate of IO as a doctrinal construct will be. IO could remain in doctrine, or its purpose could simply be absorbed into the staff through other means. As DOD views on information power evolve, and as the Joint Staff works through the implementation of the information joint function, what is clear is that the elevated importance of information requires a new paradigm that far surpasses the traditionally limiting IO construct.13

The eventual fate of IO as a doctrinal or staff construct aside, a willingness to express commanders’ objectives in terms of others’ actions and behaviors and to bake informational considerations into base plans will not alleviate the need for information-related expertise. If anything, the new emphasis on the role of information increases the need for such expertise. As commanders and staffs seek to use all available military capabilities to influence the actions and behaviors of relevant actors, they will need to understand the predictable and common patterns in human behavior and the means by which information is collected, disseminated, and processed.

While all leaders will need to possess basic knowledge of the IE, information function, and IRCs, they will often also need the support of highly educated subject matter experts in order to realize the full potential of information. The fact remains that human behaviors are notoriously challenging to diagnose, understand, and change. Both the intelligence and IRC communities must possess the education and skills to assist the commander in the technical and psychological aspects of information as it relates to plans, operations, and assessment.

Challenging the Strawman

When presenting an argument elevating the importance of information and behavior, routine objections surface:

  • “This is not our job.”
  • “This cannot be done.”
  • “We already do this.”
  • “This will cost the Services combat capability.”

“This Is Not Our Job. This assertion usually emerges when one mentions the word influence. But even conventional combat operations have a purpose larger than destruction. There, the purpose is to defeat the will of the enemy in traditional Clausewitzian terms. But “will” is incomplete by itself. It is the will for somebody to do something, and that means that any realization of will is actually some form of behavior. The will to resist or the will to fight are embodied in actions and behaviors. We only know we have broken an enemy’s will when it stops fighting or resisting, and it begins to engage in defeated behaviors, such as fleeing or surrender. If the behaviors of relevant actors define strategic success or failure, and objectives and endstates are specified in these terms (as they should be), then influence is the ultimate purpose of the joint force.

“This Cannot Be Done. Some critics deny the possibility of effectively specifying objectives and endstates in behavioral terms. Surely this is not how commanders and staffs habitually plan, but it is far from impossible. Planning toward behavioral outcomes is not only possible, but it is also routine for certain elements of the joint force. MISO already has an analytical process called target audience analysis, focused on understanding the behaviors of relevant actors, and which is used to plan and shape MISO efforts to influence (routinely including physical actions as well as communication).14 Military deception, being behaviorally focused, is similar in nature. A rich body of literature reveals the effectiveness of applied behavioral planning approaches to policy implementation by governments around the world. Typically referred to as behavioral economics, these approaches rely on social and cognitive psychological research to dramatically improve policy outcomes defined by human behavior.15 That the joint force has yet to adopt these methods makes them no less valid.

“We Already Do This. This statement usually refers to either operations focused on a commander’s endstate or the relatively minor inclusion of information considerations in plans and operations. While planners inherently direct operations toward a commander’s desired endstate, the explicit behavioral component is typically absent. In those cases, planning toward behavioral outcomes that support strategy is implied rather than specified. Furthermore, the best routes to persuasion and influence are assumed rather than planned using valid behavioral analysis and informed by a knowledge of behavioral science. It is true that units “execute IO,” but, as stated earlier, IO is often a separate and supporting staff activity. To be effective, information must not only be understood as central to how objectives are stated, but also fully integrated with other capabilities (and functions) in pursuit of those objectives.

“This Will Cost the Services Combat Capability. There may be limited merit to this concern. For example, the Army does not have the MISO forces it needs to support long-term stability operations—something that became obvious during the heights of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Similarly, the Intelligence Community is simply not yet ready to support the information function, and this function will affect intelligence investments in all the Services and some defense agencies. However, two facts stand out. The first is that excellent tactics and physical capability are irrelevant if they do not achieve strategic aims. Physical destruction rarely defines strategic success. More often, strategic success is defined by collective social behaviors. Second, implementing the information function is not an argument for massive investment in influence capabilities. While new investments are necessary, the first and most effective approach is to better use the force at hand by improving the way the joint force employs its current assets. Information-related capabilities are less expensive than physical combat power capabilities. The Marine Corps is already reorganizing its information-related force structure into Marine Information Groups, showing a willingness to invest in new structure. It has even assigned a three-star deputy commandant for information. Service capability and capacity count, but ultimately, adopting the information joint function is about clearer thinking.

Airmen work with the 179th Airlift Wing Communications Flight that was presented with the Air Force Lieutenant General Harold W. Grant award for best communication flight in Air National Guard, January 26, 2018, Mansfield, Ohio (U.S. Air National Guard/Joe Harwood)
Airmen work with the 179th Airlift Wing Communications Flight that was presented with the Air Force Lieutenant General Harold W. Grant award for best communication flight in Air National Guard, January 26, 2018, Mansfield, Ohio (U.S. Air National Guard/Joe Harwood)
Airmen work with the 179th Airlift Wing Communications Flight that was presented with the Air Force Lieutenant General Harold W. Grant award for best communication flight in Air National Guard, January 26, 2018, Mansfield, Ohio (U.S. Air National Guard/Joe Harwood)
Airmen work with the 179th Airlift Wing Communications Flight
Airmen work with the 179th Airlift Wing Communications Flight that was presented with the Air Force Lieutenant General Harold W. Grant award for best communication flight in Air National Guard, January 26, 2018, Mansfield, Ohio (U.S. Air National Guard/Joe Harwood)

The Way Ahead

Those involved in the efforts to implement the information joint function realize that they are trying to solve a strategically important, but inherently ambiguous, complex problem. The Joint Staff has already issued the change to JP 1 and is in the process of analyzing and implementing changes to down-trace doctrine such as JP 3-0, Operations, and JP 3-13, Information Operations. The decisive point for realizing the potential of information as a joint function will rest in improving two other pieces of doctrine, though. Sharpening JP 5-0, Joint Planning, specifically operational design and the joint planning process, will largely define our ability to harness the power of information to enable strategic success. Simultaneously, we must improve the Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment (JIPOE) process as contained in JP 2-01.3. Since JIPOE feeds course of mission analysis and course of action development, it must enable the staff to produce solid analysis of the drivers of human behavior so the commander understands how best to execute the information joint function. Vague statements in doctrine accomplish little. The Intelligence Community needs specific processes to assess the existing and likely behaviors of relevant actors. Perhaps making the MISO target audience analysis process an intelligence responsibility and integrating it as part of JIPOE would be a logical place to start. This could enable staffs to produce logics of behavior change that inherently link tactical actions to strategic outcomes defined by relevant actor behavior.

Targeting and assessments are the final big pieces of the puzzle. Targeting must account for both a short- and long-term focus. Some concerns, such as countering propaganda or moderating crises to dampen negative effects, are immediate in nature. However, targeting must focus just as intently on long-term strategic objectives and account for the fact that enduring changes to human behavior are far more likely to take years than days. Therefore, we must consider modifying JP 3-60, Targeting, to support the information function. Evaluating campaign success remains an elusive problem to solve. A behavioral focus in plans and operations, enabled by the information function, may produce tangible progress toward this end.16

The way ahead for implementing the joint function is not purely doctrinal. The Office of the Secretary of Defense is revising policy to enable the joint force to better operate in and through the IE. Professional military education must thoroughly educate leaders at all levels—from initial entry through strategic-level education—on both technical and psychological aspects of information for both offensive and defensive operations. The Intelligence Community must devote resources to the analysis of social and individual behaviors as well as the technical aspects of the IE. The Services will need to make new investments to develop both human-focused and technically focused IRCs.

In April 2017, U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) hosted a senior leader forum composed of a large group of general officers and civilian equivalents to discuss expanding the way the Army views operations. The USASOC proposition is that schemes of maneuver should include cognitive objectives resulting in relevant actor behavior favorable to U.S. interests. Their commander, Lieutenant General Ken Tovo, challenged the group to begin to think differently. He lamented that while we do win the fights that we engage in, we still fail to achieve our campaign objectives. Furthermore, he stated, our planning systems too frequently tilt us toward battle when battle may not be the appropriate solution to our strategic problems. “The problem,” he continued, “is like IO, but it’s bigger.”17 The solution he and other senior leaders seek is informational. Contemporary DOD organizational culture and planning systems are virtually blind to the proper importance, role, and function of information. Commanders, our educational institutions, and our training bases must move out absent enumerated guidance and pursue General Dunford’s intent when he signed the change to JP 1.

The potential benefit of information as a joint function to commanders is clear. Their staffs will be able to better support them by developing plans that do in fact link tactics and strategy. Commanders will be able to measure campaign success by evaluating emergent behavior of relevant actors that defines strategic outcomes rather than focusing too intently on the physics of fighting. In 2009, then-General James Mattis stated that “capturing perceptions is the new ‘high ground’ in today’s conflicts, as the moral is to the materiel as three is to one.”18 It is time to capture that ground.19 JFQ

Notes

1 Strategy for Operations in the Information Environment (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2016), 2–3.

2 Ibid.; Capstone Concept for Joint Operations: Joint Force 2020 (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, September 10, 2012), available at <www.defenseinnovationmarketplace.mil/resources/JV2020_Capstone.pdf>; Joint Concept for Integrated Training (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, February 1, 2017), available at <www.arcic.army.mil/app_Documents/SLTF/Joint_Concept_for_Integrated_Campaigning_v0_25_14_Jan_2016.pdf>; Joint Concept for Operating in the Information Environment (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, September 1, 2017, draft version 0.80); Joint Concept for Human Aspects of Military Operations (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, October 19, 2016), available at <http://nsiteam.com/social/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/20161019-Joint-Concept-for-Human-Aspects-of-Military-Operations-Signed-by-VCJCS.pdf>.

3 National Security Strategy of the United States of America (Washington, DC: The White House, 2017), 35.

4 David Wood, “The Afghanistan War: Tactical Victories, Strategic Stalemate,” The American Audacity, February 14, 2011, available at <https://theamericanaudacity.blogspot.com/2011/02/afghanistan-war-tactical-victories.html#!/2011/02/afghanistan-war-tactical-victories.html>.

5 Army Doctrine Publication 1, The Army (Washington, DC: Headquarters Department of the Army, September 2012), 1–7.

6 Personal notes from small group discussion with General Mark A. Milley, USA, at Tufts University, Boston, November 10, 2017. In this discussion, General Milley lamented the need to develop higher level strategic thinkers on par with people like Henry Kissinger.

7 Bill Gertz, “Stratcom Worried by Slow Pace of U.S. Nuclear Modernization,” Washington Free Beacon, July 31, 2017, available at <http://freebeacon.com/national-security/stratcom-worried-slow-pace-u-s-nuclear-modernization/>.

8 Jerome Lynes, deputy director for Joint Education and Doctrine, Joint Staff J7, notes that “IO [information operations are], anecdotally, one of the most misused terms in the DOD Dictionary being used variously to mean the integration of the IRCs [information-related capabilities], public affairs, strategic communication themes, and talking points.” Email message to authors, August 24, 2017.

9 Maneuver and fires, for example, as well as public affairs—an IRC that does not fall under IO.

10 Isaac R. Porche III et al., Redefining Information Warfare Boundaries for an Army in a Wireless World, MG-1113-A (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2013), available at <www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG1113.html>.

11 Stanley A. McChrystal, “Foreword,” in Andrew McKay and Steve Tatham, Behavioural Conflict: Why Understanding People and Their Motivations Will Prove Decisive in Future Conflict (Essex, United Kingdom: Military Studies Press, 2011), v. Emphasis added.

12 The other joint functions are command and control, intelligence, fires, movement and maneuver, and protection. See Joint Publication 1, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, March 25, 2013, Incorporating Change 1, July 12, 2017), I-18–I-19.

13 Mr. Lynes refers to this as a “seismic shift.” Email messages to authors, August 24, 2017.

14 Special Text 33-01, Military Information Support Operations Process (Fort Bragg, NC: United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, 2014), 2-1–2-34.

15 For example, see Alain Samson, ed., The Behavioral Economics Guide 2017, available at <www.behavioraleconomics.com/the-behavioral-economics-guide-2017/>.

16 Christopher E. Paul et al., Assessing and Evaluating Department of Defense Efforts to Inform, Influence, and Persuade: Handbook for Practitioners, RR-809/2-OSD (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2014), available at <www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR809z2.html>. While written toward information-related efforts, the methods in this study could easily apply to evaluating campaigns writ large.

17 Conference discussion, Expanding Maneuver Senior Leader Forum, Tyson’s Corner, VA, April 5, 2017.

18 James Mattis, “Launching NATO’s New Strategic Concept,” Brussels, July 7, 2009, available at <www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/opinions_56392.htm>.

19 On September 15, 2017, Secretary Mattis issued a memorandum to the Department of Defense endorsing the new joint function, and admonishing leaders across the Department to support efforts related to the function.

 


Globally Integrated Exercises: Optimizing Joint Force C2 Structure
By Stephen M. Gallotta, James A. Covington, and Timothy B. Lynch | April 19, 2018
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Commander Stephen M. Gallotta, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, USN (Ret.), is currently serving as an Exercise Planner in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, J7. Lieutenant Colonel James A. Covington, USA, is currently serving as the Branch Chief, Readiness and Assessments, in Joint Force Headquarters–Department of Defense Information Networks, J35. Major Timothy B. Lynch, USA, is a Field Artillery officer currently serving as a Joint Targeting School Instructor.
Air Force pararescuemen assigned to 48th Rescue Squadron and French air commandos provide cover after moving simulated patient into Eurocopter EC-725 for aerial transport during personnel recovery scenario in southern Arizona, November 7, 2017, as part of Angel Thunder (U.S. Air Force/Andrew Lee)
Air Force pararescuemen assigned to 48th Rescue Squadron and French air commandos provide cover after moving simulated patient into Eurocopter EC-725 for aerial transport during personnel recovery scenario in southern Arizona, November 7, 2017, as part of Angel Thunder (U.S. Air Force/Andrew Lee)
Air Force pararescuemen assigned to 48th Rescue Squadron and French air commandos provide cover after moving simulated patient into Eurocopter EC-725 for aerial transport during personnel recovery scenario in southern Arizona, November 7, 2017, as part of Angel Thunder (U.S. Air Force/Andrew Lee)
Air Force Pararescuemen Provide Cover in Southern Arizona
Air Force pararescuemen assigned to 48th Rescue Squadron and French air commandos provide cover after moving simulated patient into Eurocopter EC-725 for aerial transport during personnel recovery scenario in southern Arizona, November 7, 2017, as part of Angel Thunder (U.S. Air Force/Andrew Lee)

Increased complexity among emerging challenges in the strategic environment requires adjustments in how the United States prepares for future challenges.1 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., recognizes not only the complexity of the environment, but also the challenges the joint force faces responding to them.2 A primary challenge, revealed in a brief examination of the joint force’s history, is creating a clear approach toward global integration to enhance Department of Defense (DOD) strategic planning and execution. Taking on this challenge, the Chairman is creating a Globally Integrated Exercise (GIE) structure focusing on combatant commander (CCDR) and higher authority integration. Despite a number of limitations, the CJCS GIE approach is the most proactive, effective, and innovative means to create the necessary planning and organizational changes to confront today’s increasingly complex strategic environment.

The Approach

Without the benefit of a definitive legislative mandate and lacking command authority, the Chairman is utilizing the GIE to drive the joint force toward understanding the requirements for global integration.3 On January 12, 2017, General Dunford issued the 2017–2020 Joint Training Guidance (2017 JTG). CJCS Instruction 3500.1, Joint Staff Joint Training Policy and Guidance, transformed the emphasis in CJCS-sponsored joint force exercises. Unlike previous guidance focusing on exercising, and thereby developing functional capabilities (for example, cyber operations, targeting processes, fires, defeating antiaccess/area-denial networks, and interagency coordination), the 2017 JTG focuses on the “4+1” problem sets, cross–combatant command (CCMD) coordination, senior leader development, and global integration.4 Furthermore, in the 2017 JTG, General Dunford uses his training authorities to align training requirements to his vision of strategic complexity, a vision characterized by the 4+1 problem set in a transregional, multidomain, and multifunctional (TMM) environment.

Establishing essential characteristics for exercises, the Chairman directs that joint training must

  • reflect the strategic environment and its respective challenges
  • emphasize global integration across the 4+1 problem set
  • span the range of military operations
  • enable the joint force to innovate.

These characteristics, and the eight associated required elements, introduce a new level of sophistication and challenge for CCDRs to fully integrate the strategic considerations of the real-world 4+1 problem set into their exercise programs.5 Leading this effort, the 2017 JTG also directs that the

Joint Staff will establish a training program designed to improve its ability to integrate global activities, resources, strategy, and risk management, and provide the best military advice. This program will involve a series of tabletop exercises, senior leader seminars, and wargames culminating in an annual event linked to a CCMD Tier 1 exercise that enables the Joint Staff to exercise internal strategic decisionmaking and global synchronization processes.6

Case Studies: JCS Evolution

The United States has a history of adapting the force to address emerging challenges. Two landmark pieces of legislation reveal the innovative, iterative, and effective transformation of the national security organization toward enhancing unity of command and unity of effort. The first case study, the National Security Act of 1947, enacted as a response to experiences of World War II and in anticipation of the challenges by the coming Cold War, laid the foundation for today’s national security framework, establishing DOD, with a Cabinet-level Secretary, Central Intelligence Agency, and Joint Chiefs of Staff, among other changes.

The second case study, the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, aimed at improving interoperability or unity of effort among the military Services. It mandated jointness in officer management and established a Joint Staff led by an officer who was the senior military officer, independent of any Service, and answered only to the President and Secretary. These transformative pieces of legislation demonstrate the continuing effort to streamline and improve force management, information use, and decisionmaking in the national security structure to better address security challenges.

National Security Act of 1947. Prior to 1941, the United States did not have a formal entity like the Joint Staff. The advent of World War II, however, brought change. Soon after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill established the Combined Chiefs of Staff as the supreme military body for strategic direction of the Anglo-American war effort. To meet wartime demands, the United States informally established a JCS from the existing Service chiefs.7

The JCS quickly adapted and grew into a warfighting organization. Several committees, planning teams, and agencies, with the intent of tackling tough joint problem sets between Services and allies, developed almost immediately. Although the JCS held an unofficial role, it remained “directly responsible to President Roosevelt.”8 Still, the JCS was not a statutory body, and its members were still under the command of separate Cabinet officials.

With the impending threat of communist expansionism in the post–World War II strategic environment, President Harry S. Truman moved to streamline the national security system, pursuing what he called “unification.”9 The resulting National Security Act of 1947 reshaped the U.S. national security framework and created some of the most important national defense institutions. It eliminated the Cabinet rank for the Service departments, making them subordinate to the Secretary of Defense. It also created the authority for and definition of combatant commands (called unified commands).

For the JCS, in particular, the act provided the “statutory standing, with a list of assigned duties, and it became a corporate advisory body to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council.”10 Despite the act’s intent to provide unity of effort, it remained incomplete because it did not provide a single voice to represent the Services’ warfighters. The Service secretaries, although subordinate to the Secretary of Defense, remained the principal warfighters—building, training, and fighting their forces accordingly, and independently.

Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. Thirty-nine years after the 1947 National Security Act, Congress, again seeking to improve unity of effort, profoundly reshaped the national security structure. Goldwater-Nichols was a groundbreaking bill that significantly altered the organization and operation of DOD and its military components.11 The impetus for Goldwater-Nichols was the recognition that inter-Service rivalries were creating command and control challenges for CCDRs and the Secretary. The system resulting from the 1947 act allowed counterproductive inter-Service rivalry to persist. These rivalries manifested themselves in myriad ways, and peacetime activities (such as procurement and creation of doctrine) were tailored for each Service in isolation. Similarly, wartime activities of each Service were largely planned, executed, and evaluated independently. These practices resulted in division of effort, an inability to profit from economies of scale, and inhibited the development of modern warfare doctrine.12 This contributed to significant underachievement of DOD capability and placed national security at risk. All the specific provisions of the bill were aimed at solving one problem: “the inability of the military Services to operate effectively together as a joint team.”13

The bill’s development, a result of almost 5 years of effort and analysis by Congress and the Pentagon, focused on improving interoperability among the Services at an operational level. The act made a number of significant structural changes to DOD, increasing the powers of the Chairman and the CCDRs, while removing the Service secretaries and chiefs from the operational chain of command. By requiring joint education and duty assignments, Goldwater-Nichols has, in the intervening years, created a force comprised of officers trained and experienced in joint operations. Ultimately, Goldwater-Nichols went beyond unity of effort to unity of command.

The Challenge

Today, 30-plus years after the enactment of Goldwater-Nichols, there is a growing movement to reexamine the national security structure in light of the increasingly complex and different strategic environment.14 Both Armed Services Committee chairmen, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX), have voiced concerns about how well Goldwater-Nichols is performing.15 In the Senate, the Armed Services Committee held hearings in mid-2016. It heard from a variety of commentators, gathering information about the current structure and improvements that could be made.16 Comments ran the gamut of suggested reforms, from ending CCMDs and transforming DOD into three major commands (Global Strike, Defense, and Presence) to transforming CCMDs to threat-focused (rather than regionally focused) commands.17 These suggestions reflect an interest in transforming DOD structure from regionally based, with regional CCMDs, to threat-based. Other recommendations retain the regionally based structure but seek to create an apparatus to enhance globally integrated operations. What is needed, proponents argue, is “an organization that thinks and acts both globally and jointly”—but they differ on who should lead the organization, with recommendations running from the Chairman, Joint Staff J5, a civilian within DOD (such as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy), to a new organization altogether.18 All these ideas share one common characteristic: there is no precedent or experience to judge the potential to enhance global integration. What is needed then is a mechanism to evaluate how DOD would enhance globally integrated operations.

Soldier assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, transmits information via field radio during Exercise Combined Resolve VIII, at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, June 8, 2017 (U.S. Army/Michael Bradley)
Soldier assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, transmits information via field radio during Exercise Combined Resolve VIII, at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, June 8, 2017 (U.S. Army/Michael Bradley)
Soldier assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, transmits information via field radio during Exercise Combined Resolve VIII, at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, June 8, 2017 (U.S. Army/Michael Bradley)
Soldier Transmits Information During Exercise Combined Resolve VIII
Soldier assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, transmits information via field radio during Exercise Combined Resolve VIII, at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, June 8, 2017 (U.S. Army/Michael Bradley)

Globally Integrated Exercises

That mechanism is GIE. To execute the Chairman’s direction in the 2017 JTG, the Director of Joint Force Development (J7) is developing the GIE program.19 The program serves two functions: to assess and align Joint Staff processes as the global integrator and to “create opportunities for [senior leaders] to increase their understanding and experience for globally integrated operations and strengthen their ability to work effectively with the Joint Staff, CCMDs, Services, interagency, and Allies and partners, to address global integration/TMM threats.”20 Ultimately, the intended endstate is to develop mechanisms to enable the Joint Force and Joint Staff/Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to operate at the speed of war.

Because the GIE provides CCDRs and higher-level authorities the ability to exercise the joint force as a whole in time, space, and purpose while evaluating global risk, it addresses two major strategic-level concerns.21 First, the inability of the joint force to execute as a whole undermines the Secretary and Chairman’s responsibility to provide the President and National Security Council with the best military advice. Second, the strategic leadership’s capacity for timely military decisionmaking, which General Dunford argues is unable to “frame decisions and act in a timely manner,” must be improved by making some “fundamental changes . . . to our organizational construct.”22

The GIE structure envisions two types of exercises differentiated by the level of Joint Staff and joint force participation. Type 1 exercises “would involve Joint Staff developing events to rehearse DOD leaders against national strategic objectives with whole-of-government/whole-of-society focus.” In these exercises, Joint Staff and OSD leaders would be the “primary training audience with participation by all relevant combatant commands.”23 Type 1 exercises would be Joint Staff led, with interagency senior-leader participation. Type 2 exercises are similar except that they will be CCDR led, with two or more CCMDs and the Joint Staff as the primary training audience, exercising a 4+1 challenge.24

In both constructs, the Joint Staff will be a primary training audience, and the scenarios, constructed from the real-world strategic and political environment, will involve the 4+1 challenges in a TMM environment. The lessons learned from these exercises will provide the Chairman with a body of evidence from which he can advise the Secretary about how best to execute globally integrated operations. By doing these events on no less than an annual basis, across the range of military operations and at different stages of the conflict continuum, the Chairman will establish the necessary conditions to experiment with different approaches toward achieving global integration. The current goal is for a Type 1 exercise, with all (or most) of the CCMDs, in fiscal year 2020.25

Lessons learned from the first GIE event that occurred in October 2017, where the Joint Staff and OSD participated in a U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Strategic Command exercise, demonstrated challenges in staff processes, structure, and tools, which are now being reviewed and addressed at the flag/general officer level.

Limitations

Working as limitations to the Chairman’s approach is the existing process for exercises that are, first and foremost, a series of exercises by a single CCMD and focused on three things:

  • exercising existing theater operation plans and operation plans in concept form
  • CCMD staff processes
  • component training objectives (which generally revolve around the warfight).

While these are not unworthy exercise objectives for the commands involved, this format routinely lacks the critical dialogue with a higher authority, or other interested same-tier actors. There are few exercises with multiple CCMDs involvement and even fewer with real-world strategic policymakers involved, but the vast majority of CCMD exercises are limited to a single command and its components and, necessarily, provide no opportunity to conduct globally integrated operations.

The second limitation is capacity. A fully globally integrated exercise will require participants to step away from their assigned duties to engage in the exercise. These are busy people and organizations that do not have the bandwidth to perform their normal duties on top of participating in time-consuming exercises. This challenge will, inevitably, limit the scope and tempo of the program. The ideal, and the goal, is an annual global exercise involving all, or most of, the CCMDs, exercising a 4+1 crisis scenario along with senior interagency partners and allies.

A third, perhaps more fundamental, limitation is the role of the Joint Staff in the chain of command. Under law, the Chairman is responsible for “formulating policies and technical standards, and executing actions, for the joint training of the Armed Forces.”26 This is broad authority within the sphere of joint training and includes the requirements set forth in the 2017 JTG. Regarding global integration, the law provides, in

matters relating to global military strategic and operational integration—[the Chairman is responsible for] (A) providing advice to the President and the Secretary on ongoing military operations; and (B) advising the Secretary on the allocation and transfer of forces among geographic and functional combatant commands, as necessary, to address transregional, multi-domain, and multifunctional threats.27

The Chairman, then, has a critical role regarding the deployment of forces to achieve global integration, but is not the decisionmaker. Indeed, as General Dunford frequently points out, there is only one “global integrator” within DOD, the Secretary of Defense.28

Amphibious assault exercise during Cobra Gold 2018, at Hat Yao, Thailand, February 16, 2018 (U.S. Marine Corps/Olivia G. Ortiz)
Amphibious assault exercise during Cobra Gold 2018, at Hat Yao, Thailand, February 16, 2018 (U.S. Marine Corps/Olivia G. Ortiz)
Amphibious assault exercise during Cobra Gold 2018, at Hat Yao, Thailand, February 16, 2018 (U.S. Marine Corps/Olivia G. Ortiz)
Amphibious Assault Exercise
Amphibious assault exercise during Cobra Gold 2018, at Hat Yao, Thailand, February 16, 2018 (U.S. Marine Corps/Olivia G. Ortiz)

Recommendation

The limitations in the GIE construct should not dissuade its utilization. Like any new concept, it requires the necessary time, space, and iterations to meet the Chairman’s intent. As noted, there is no shortage of recommendations for tackling the globally integrated operations challenges. The risk to these potential recommendations, while likely well informed, is that they remain untested. Placed into a military planning context, choosing one of these potential recommendations is similar to pursuing a course of action without analyzing it.

Any potential changes to optimize the joint force structure, or roles and responsibilities, is not advisable without first testing them in a globally integrated exercise. Because the GIE introduces real-world strategic and operational challenges in an exercise environment, the lessons learned not only will uncover how CCDRs work best with one another, but also, through several iterations, create a shared understanding, as well as developing the processes, structures, and tools necessary to achieve global integration. Using the strategic exercises to develop methodologies to accommodate the requirement for globally integrated planning and operations creates an opportunity to help steer the joint force through this transition.

The Chairman’s GIE approach is the most deliberate, effective, and innovative means to drive the necessary planning and organizational joint force changes to confront today’s increasingly complex challenges. Although limitations exist in the current construct, it remains the ideal leadership laboratory to foster the growth and innovation required to create and examine the necessary connective tissue across combatant commands, the interagency community, and with the Office of the Secretary of Defense. As the GIE series develops under CJCS stewardship, it will require buy-in, patience, and dedicated participation from the Joint Staff and combatant commanders to reorient the joint force. The timeline, with exercises programmed over the upcoming years, is aggressive but necessary to demonstrate to Congress that another reorganizational piece of legislation is not required or that a best solution has been exercised and found effective. JFQ

Notes

1 Valerie Strauss, “The Difference Between ‘Complex’ and ‘Complicated’—and Why It Matters in School Reform,” Washington Post, August 8, 2014, available at <www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/08/08/the-difference-between-complex-and-complicated-and-why-it-matters-in-school-reform/?utm_term=.fba311ad182e>.

2 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Notice (CJCSN) 3500.01, 2017–2020 Chairman’s Joint Training Guidance (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, January 12, 2017), 1. General Dunford’s vision of this complexity is reflected in his view that future conflicts will be “increasingly transregional, multidomain, and multifunctional [TMM] as potential adversaries’ interests, influence, capabilities, and reach extend beyond single geographic areas and domains.”

3 Joint Staff J7, Joint Force Development, Globally Integrated Exercise Framework, information paper, August 23, 2017. Global integration is defined as the “arrangement of cohesive joint force actions in time, space, and purpose, executed as a whole to address transregional, multidomain, and multifunctional challenges.” See also CJCSN 3500.01, 2–3.

4 CJCSN 3500.01, 2. To confront the current challenges in the strategic environment, the Chairman reoriented joint force planning priorities through the adoption of the “4+1” problem-set paradigm, around which military planning for the four primary countries of concern—Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China—and the “+1” violent extremist organizations is focused. The 2018 National Defense Strategy prioritizes “long-term competition with China and Russia,” while deterring and countering North Korea, Iran, and violent extremist organizations. Accordingly, what was previously called 4+1 is now commonly referred to as “2+3.”

5 Ibid., 2–5. The instruction outlines that “eight overarching required elements are operational areas that need focused attention within joint training programs to achieve desired effects within the joint operational and informational environment.” These requirements are transregional joint training, multidomain joint training, multifunctional joint training, partner integration in joint training, contested environments in joint training, conventional and special operations forces’ interoperability in joint training, joint force leaders in joint training, and countering weapons of mass destruction in joint training.

6 Ibid., 5–6. The instruction states, “Reorienting from a regional construct to one that addresses our priority strategic challenges through a global lens enables the joint force to be better positioned to advance national interests.” Emphasis added.

7 “Origin of Joint Concepts,” Joint Staff, available at <www.jcs.mil/About/Origin-of-Joint-Concepts/>.

8 Organizational Development of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1942–2013 (Washington, DC: Joint History Office, 2013), 3, available at <www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/History/Institutional/Organizational_Development_of_the_JCS.pdf>.

9 Andrew J. Bacevich, The Long War: A History of U.S. National Security Policy Since World War II (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 267; William Inboden, “The National Security Act Turns 70,” War on the Rocks, July 25, 2017, available at <https://warontherocks.com/2017/07/the-national-security-act-turns-70/>.

10 Peter J. Roman and David W. Tarr, “The Joint Chiefs of Staff: From Service Parochialism to Jointness,” Political Science Quarterly 113, no. 1 (1998), 92.

11 Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, Public Law 99-433, 99th Cong., October 1, 1986, available at <http://history.defense.gov/Portals/70/Documents/dod_reforms/Goldwater-NicholsDoDReordAct1986.pdf>.

12 Ronald H. Cole, “Grenada, Panama, and Haiti: Joint Operational Reform,” Joint Force Quarterly 20 (Autumn/Winter 1998–1999), 57–74.

13 Justin Johnson, “2017 NDAA: Define the Goldwater-Nichols Problem Before Trying to Solve It,” Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC, July 12, 2016, available at <www.heritage.org/defense/report/2017-ndaa-define-the-goldwater-nichols-problem-trying-solve-it>.

14 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA 2017), Public Law 114-328, 114th Cong., December 23, 2016, 1–2, available at <www.congress.gov/114/plaws/publ328/PLAW-114publ328.pdf>. The NDAA 2017 Executive Summary notes that the intent of Goldwater-Nichols was to ensure that the Chairman remain outside the chain of command in order to “guard against over-centralization of military power” in the Chairman’s office and maintain civilian control of the military. The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), however, believes that today’s environment undermines decisionmaking timeliness when all decisions must come from the Secretary of Defense. To mitigate this concern, the NDAA 2017 vests the Chairman with some, although not command, global integration authorities. The Executive Summary is available at <www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/FY17%20NDAA%20Bill%20Summary.pdf>.

15 Colin Clark, “‘First, Do No Harm’: SASC Begins Goldwater-Nichols Review,” Breaking Defense, November 9, 2015, available at <https://breakingdefense.com/2015/11/first-do-no-harm-sasc-begins-goldwater-nichols-review/>.

16 NDAA 2017 Executive Summary, 1.

17 Shawn Brimley and Paul Scharre, “CTRL + ALT + DELETE: Resetting America’s Military,” Foreign Policy, May 2014, available at <http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/05/13/ctrl-alt-delete/>; Kelly McCoy, “The World the Combatant Command Was Designed for Is Gone,” War on the Rocks, October 7, 2016, available at <https://warontherocks.com/2016/10/the-world-the-combatant-command-was-designed-for-is-gone/>.

18 Chad Pillai, “Reorganizing the Joint Force for a Trans-Regional Threat Environment,” Real Clear Defense, January 4, 2017, available at <www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/01/05/reorganizing_the_joint_force_for_a_trans-regional_threat_environment_110581.html>; Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr., “Joint Staff Must Boost Global Coordination; No New Powers Needed: J5,” Breaking Defense, April 27, 2017, available at <https://breakingdefense.com/2017/04/joint-staff-must-step-up-global-coordination-no-new-powers-needed-j-5/>.

19 Joint Staff J7, Joint Force Development. J7 was directed to focus globally integrated exercises (GIE) on “address[ing] the higher-level collaboration of the Joint Staff with [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] and coordination among [combatant commands], reflect[ing] the strategic environment and its respective challenges [and] emphasiz[ing] global integration across the 4+1 challenges.”

20 Ibid. GIE is intended to be “an exercise program designed to ensure the joint force is able to effectively operate as a true integrated force against TMM threats, and provide a full range of flexible and responsive options to decision makers.”

21 Joint Staff J7, Joint Force Development.

22 Joseph Dunford, Jr., “Gen. Dunford’s Remarks and Q&A at the Center for Strategic and International Studies,” Washington, DC, March 29, 2016, available at <www.jcs.mil/Media/Speeches/Article/707418/gen-dunfords-remarks-and-qa-at-the-center-for-strategic-and-international-studi/>.

23 Joint Staff J7, Joint Force Development.

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 U.S. Code, Title 10, Subtitle A, Part I, Chapter 5, § 153, “Chairman: Functions,” (3), available at <www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/153>.

27 Ibid. This language was added to § 153 by the NDAA 2017. The addition of this responsibility for the Chairman is likely the first legislative initiative, as Congress seeks to improve the Department’s globally integrated operations capabilities.

28 Dunford.

 


A New Approach to Joint Concepts
By Erik Schwarz | April 17, 2018
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Lieutenant Colonel Erik Schwarz, USAF, is an Intelligence Officer in the Joint Concepts Division, Joint Staff J7.

Damage Controlman tests countermeasure wash-down system on forecastle aboard USS Green Bay, Gulf of Thailand, February 9, 2017 (U.S. Navy/Chris Williamson)
Damage Controlman tests countermeasure wash-down system on forecastle aboard USS Green Bay, Gulf of Thailand, February 9, 2017 (U.S. Navy/Chris Williamson)
Damage Controlman tests countermeasure wash-down system on forecastle aboard USS Green Bay, Gulf of Thailand, February 9, 2017 (U.S. Navy/Chris Williamson)
Damage Controlman tests countermeasure
Damage Controlman tests countermeasure wash-down system on forecastle aboard USS Green Bay, Gulf of Thailand, February 9, 2017 (U.S. Navy/Chris Williamson)

The future operating environment will feature broad changes in the character of warfare. Driven by the rise of competent and competitive states; economic, social, and environmental challenges; and rapidly evolving technologies, these changes will necessitate innovation within the Department of Defense (DOD). Innovation must develop and employ new capabilities, organizational constructs, and approaches to warfighting to maintain competitive advantage over a broad range of potential adversaries. However, plans for innovation within DOD must not start with a blank sheet of paper. Rather, the joint force should be provided with a blueprint for innovation to channel creativity toward addressing specific operational challenges. Innovation aligned with strategy will help ensure that the future joint force will have the ability to stand firm, while at the same time maintain responsiveness to adapt and respond in new ways as the environment evolves.

In the past, joint operating concepts were developed to describe how the joint force would execute military operations within a specific mission area.1 However, the 2016 National Military Strategy reoriented the strategic framework for the joint force, identifying Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and violent extremist organizations—commonly referred to as “4+1”—as the most pressing challenges.2 These challenges, when aggregated, serve to benchmark and inform capability development and defense innovation.3 To align joint concept development with strategic guidance, the decision was made to adopt a challenge-based structure for future operating concepts. This change will enable the family of joint concepts, consisting of the capstone concept, joint operating concepts, and supporting concepts, to extend the challenge-based framework out to 2035 and will realize the Chairman’s vision for joint concepts “offering educated judgments about future military challenges . . . defining future requirements and addressing gaps in our existing approaches and capabilities.”4

Applying the challenge-based framework to the family of joint concepts will provide real-world context to the environment in which the future joint force will be called to operate. This reinforces clear thinking about the true character of future challenges and helps to guard against building the force for the fight we want rather than the fight we will actually face. Regardless of future technological innovation, war will remain a human endeavor, a competition between and among belligerents. The contextual aspects of politics, history, culture, and geography, as well as technological capabilities, must be considered as joint concepts propose new ways of operating. Ultimately, the challenge-based family of joint concepts will provide a blueprint for the joint force out to 2035 with the fidelity to drive future force development and inform senior leaders as they make investment decisions today to prepare the joint force for tomorrow.

Family of Joint Concepts

Joint concepts provide solutions to compelling, real-world challenges, both current and envisioned, for which existing doctrinal approaches and joint capabilities are deemed inadequate.5 As the range of strategic goals evolve and battlefield conditions, technology, and opposing force capabilities change, the family of joint concepts provides an overarching structure to address these challenges in a comprehensive and strategically relevant way (see figure). When applied comprehensively, the family of joint concepts will support the Chairman’s best military advice to alter the trajectory of future risk.

Capstone Concept. The capstone concept represents the Chairman’s unifying vision for how the joint force must adapt and evolve to counter future challenges. It provides a common view of the future operating environment and vision for how the joint force will conduct globally integrated operations. The National Military Strategy’s Secretary of Defense Global Integration annex defines global integration as “the arrangement of cohesive military actions in time, space, and purpose, executed as a whole to address transregional, multidomain, and multifunctional challenges.”6 The capstone concept will incorporate and extend this vision of globally integrated operations to provide comprehensive options to meet future strategic challenges. A capstone concept will be developed when the confluence of new concepts, strategies, lessons learned, and emergent challenges necessitates an updated, unifying vision for future force development.

The capstone concept is developed in collaboration with combatant commanders and Service chiefs, enabling horizontal integration of force development responsibilities and priorities. Much as the National Military Strategy is the foundation for strategic integration, planning, and resource allocation for the joint force out to 2025, the capstone concept forms this foundation for future force development across the spectrum of doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P).

Joint Operating Concepts. Joint operating concepts that are synchronized with and complementary to national strategy provide a clear vision of how the joint force may be called to operate in the future operating environment. By establishing touchpoints between strategy and a vision of future joint operations, joint operating concepts arm the Chairman with the required information to balance near- and mid-term risk with long-term force development requirements.

The Joint Staff, in coordination with the Services and combatant commands, are developing joint operating concepts that correspond to the 4+1 priority challenges identified in the National Military Strategy. The joint operating concepts should not be viewed as a prediction of future conflict. Rather, these priority challenges are being utilized as benchmarks for future force development, recognizing that adversaries are developing capabilities and stratagems to exploit perceived vulnerabilities in our way of war. Holistically, the 4+1 represent great power competitors with modernized nuclear arsenals and advanced counter-power projection capabilities, who export malign influence, pose threats to homeland security and regional peace, and perpetuate violent extremism. By integrating concept-required capabilities from the joint operating concepts into a coherent set of force development recommendations, senior leaders will be better prepared to make capability and capacity decisions that provide the joint force with the inherent operational flexibility necessary to address any unexpected or emergent challenge.

By leveraging the joint operating environment and intelligence estimates, the joint operating concepts will project future capabilities and strategies of the adversary out to 2035. These will be compared to anticipated U.S. and allied capabilities and strategies to expose shortfalls the joint force will face if the force development trajectory is not altered. The concept will then describe alternate methods of operating to mitigate these shortfalls and identify the corresponding implications for joint force development.

Supporting Concepts. Supporting concepts describe how the future joint force will execute a function, domain, or activity to allow a future joint force commander to synchronize, integrate, and direct joint operations. Supporting concepts may be specific to a joint operating concept or may support multiple joint operating concepts equally. Ultimately, they will add depth and breadth to the compelling operational approaches required to meet the challenges of the future. There is a significant library of active joint concepts that serve as the baseline supporting concepts for the family of joint concepts.7 Future supporting concepts will be developed as additional conceptual gaps are identified during the development of the challenge-based joint operating concepts.

What Will the Challenge-Based Joint Operating Concepts Do?

The persistent degradation of joint force readiness resulting from 16 years of war, a deteriorating global security situation, and adversaries’ growing capability to contest U.S. military capabilities require fundamental changes to how we develop the future joint force. New capabilities and weapon systems will be necessary, but we will not be able to simply purchase competitive advantage. New operational approaches must be developed so we can rethink how we use existing capabilities, integrate new capabilities, and present our adversaries with unsolvable dilemmas. Joint operating concepts will serve as the foundation of operational adaptation to convert potential military strength into actual combat power.

The decision to adopt the 4+1 challenge-based construct for the joint operating concepts has required a significant shift in how we approach concept development. This new approach is focused on meeting the operational needs of a future joint force commander. Joint operating concepts should serve as precursors for future plans, expanding the options available to joint force commanders by anticipating changes in the character of war, delivering joint force capabilities, and proposing alternate approaches necessary to maintain competitive overmatch.

While joint operating concepts will inform future plans, it is important not to view them as operational or contingency plans. Rather than address a specific operational challenge, each joint operating concept will address the full span of missions while accounting for the transregional, multidomain, and multifunctional aspects of the challenge.8 This broad approach will enable the operationalization of the concepts by describing how the joint force must be integrated across functions, domains, organizations, and geographic boundaries.

To ensure operational relevance of the challenge-based joint operating concepts, the decision was made to write the documents at the classified level. This has enabled the incorporation of Service and combatant commander assessments, wargame results, and intelligence products as the foundation for joint operating concept development. While these assessments—particularly those from the combatant commands—tend to focus on near- and mid-term challenges, they provide useful insights into challenges that current joint force commanders are facing and highlight areas where competitive overmatch is eroding relative to the 4+1 challenges.

The joint operating concept writing teams require a detailed understanding of how each of the 4+1 challenges affects national objectives, military capabilities, operational concepts, socioeconomic trends, and threat perceptions from today through 2035. To achieve this in-depth understanding, operations, planning, and intelligence subject matter experts from across the combatant commands, Services, and Intelligence Community have been incorporated into the core writing teams for each concept. This approach integrates diverse perspectives into the development process. Ultimately, the process of reexamining and revalidating the challenges and proposed solutions serves to enhance the concepts’ credibility and utility.

Finally, by integrating the development of the joint operating concepts across the Services and combatant commands, proposed solutions will truly reflect the aspirational goal of globally integrated operations. The ideas will break the longstanding paradigm of Service interdependence and drive the future joint force toward true integration. The goal is to provide the future joint force commander with a force capable of operating and winning in the future operating environment, however it may manifest.

USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and USS Nimitz conduct operations in international waters as part of three-carrier strike force exercise,
Western Pacific, November 12, 2017 (U.S. Navy/James Ku)
USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and USS Nimitz conduct operations in international waters as part of three-carrier strike force exercise, Western Pacific, November 12, 2017 (U.S. Navy/James Ku)
USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and USS Nimitz conduct operations in international waters as part of three-carrier strike force exercise,
Western Pacific, November 12, 2017 (U.S. Navy/James Ku)
USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and USS Nimitz conduct operations
USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and USS Nimitz conduct operations in international waters as part of three-carrier strike force exercise, Western Pacific, November 12, 2017 (U.S. Navy/James Ku)

Integration

Each of the joint operating concepts will present a hypothesis for how the joint force could operate to achieve national military objectives relative to 4+1 challenges. These potential solutions will include concept-required capabilities that will span the range of DOTMLPF-P. However, the family of joint concepts is not suggesting that the future joint force will require five unique sets of capabilities to address the most pressing challenges. Rather, aggregation and analysis of required capabilities across the family are required to ensure that future force development activities provide solutions capable of addressing the full range of future challenges.

A comprehensive understanding across the full range of priority challenges will not only serve to identify capability requirements that are cross-cutting but will also highlight challenge-specific, high-consequence capability requirements. By providing a comprehensive understanding of future capability requirements, senior leaders will be able to make informed joint force development decisions with an understanding of future risk balanced with current operational requirements.

To be successful, this effort requires a shift from the current view that the joint force exists when the Services are employed by combatant commands. A common, DOD-wide view of future force development requires integrated joint force capability development, resourcing, and prioritization from inception. To maintain competitive overmatch, the family of joint concepts must lead the Services’ concept and capability development processes by providing a single standard for how the future joint force must operate. This will likely force us to rethink how we approach domain-specific concept development and drive hard choices about the future trajectory of Service capabilities.

Ultimately, the family of joint concepts must serve as a shared point of departure for future joint force development. The ideas in the concepts must be continually evaluated and refined through wargames, experiments, and studies. As the conceptual ideas are honed, they must inform the Chairman’s tools for influencing the budgeting process—namely, the Chairman’s Risk Assessment and the Chairman’s Program Recommendation—to ensure a unified view of near-term and future joint force requirements.

The operating environment that the joint force will be called to operate in, both today and into the future, is marked by contested norms and persistent disorder. The joint force cannot mortgage its ability to compete below the threshold of armed conflict to dominate the conventional battlefield. Nor can we further delay future force development to meet our current operational requirements and buyback readiness.

The family of joint concepts will provide the Chairman and Services with a blueprint required to meet the operational challenges of the future operating environment. The family will be innovative, operationally relevant, and provide novel solutions to our most pressing challenges to guide senior leader priorities for future force development. Joint concepts will enable the Chairman to alter the trajectory of future risk and ensure that future joint force commanders are armed with the competitive advantage to fight and win the Nation’s wars. JFQ

Notes

1 The previous family of joint concepts contained cooperative security, deterrence operations, irregular warfare, major combat operations, stability operations, and homeland defense/civil support.

2 National Military Strategy (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, November 11, 2016), foreword. This document is CLASSIFIED.

3 Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., “Meeting Today’s Global Security Challenges,” speech, Washington, DC, March 29, 2016.

4 Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., “Maintaining a Boxer’s Stance,” Joint Force Quarterly 86 (3rd Quarter 2017), 3.

5 Joint Publication 1, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, March 25, 2013, Incorporating Change 1, July 12, 2017), vi–9, available at <https://fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp1.pdf>.

6 National Military Strategy, Secretary of Defense Global Integration annex, 1. This passage is UNCLASSIFIED.

7 The full library of joint concepts is available at <www.jcs.mil/Doctrine/Joint-Concepts/Joint-Concepts/>.

8 These missions are to shape or contain, deter or deny, disrupt or degrade, and compel or destroy.


Preparing for Tomorrow’s Fight: Joint Concepts and Future Readiness
By Andrew J. Loiselle | April 17, 2018
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Rear Admiral Andrew J. Loiselle, USN, is Deputy Director for Future Joint Force Development, Joint Staff J7.

Two Navy MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters from USS George H.W. Bush take off during joint fire exercise with Army AH-64 Apaches from 3rd Battalion, 159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and
Air Force joint terminal attack controllers from 82nd Expeditionary Air Operations Squadron, on July 8, 2014, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait (New York Army National Guard/Harley Jelis)
Two Navy MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters from USS George H.W. Bush take off during joint fire exercise with Army AH-64 Apaches from 3rd Battalion, 159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and Air Force joint terminal attack controllers from 82nd Expeditionary Air Operations Squadron, on July 8, 2014, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait (New York Army National Guard/Harley Jelis)
Two Navy MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters from USS George H.W. Bush take off during joint fire exercise with Army AH-64 Apaches from 3rd Battalion, 159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and
Air Force joint terminal attack controllers from 82nd Expeditionary Air Operations Squadron, on July 8, 2014, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait (New York Army National Guard/Harley Jelis)
Two Navy Sea Hawk helicopters take off during joint fire exercise with Army
Two Navy MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters from USS George H.W. Bush take off during joint fire exercise with Army AH-64 Apaches from 3rd Battalion, 159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and Air Force joint terminal attack controllers from 82nd Expeditionary Air Operations Squadron, on July 8, 2014, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait (New York Army National Guard/Harley Jelis)

We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.

—Omar Bradley

Military forces that quickly adapt to change usually prevail. It is difficult to adapt in the near term, more so when there is an extended time horizon, but not adapting can exact a heavy toll in blood and treasure. The high cost of not adjusting to new situations underlies the stereotypical conservatism of military organizations, and it is borne in their propensity to lean heavily on the lessons of the last war and eschew radical change. But those who do not try to anticipate change risk surrendering the initiative on the future battlefield. In the words of the new National Defense Strategy (NDS), the joint force “cannot expect success fighting tomorrow’s conflicts with yesterday’s weapons and equipment.” Neither is “modernization defined solely by hardware; it requires change in the ways we organize and employ forces.”1

Modernization also requires that we make informed choices between the demands of the now and the demands of the future. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently called for a balanced inventory of capabilities and capacities to meet current challenges, for forces positioned to manage strategic risk, and for joint concepts to address future challenges. He stressed that we “cannot afford to choose between meeting today’s operational requirements and making the investments necessary for tomorrow.”2

The U.S. military uses joint concepts to inform its investments in future force readiness and, in the words of the NDS, to “evolve innovative operational concepts.” Put simply, a joint concept proposes a way to employ the joint force to solve a military problem when existing solutions are ineffective or nonexistent. The joint concept is the centerpiece of a proactive approach to achieving future joint force readiness. It postulates a viable hypothesis for testing and ultimately leads to changes in doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P). A joint concept provides a unifying vision for how the joint force will solve an anticipated problem. It guides force development efforts across the entire community by providing a focus on nested Service-centric or domain-based concepts. The concept is not doctrine, nor does it guarantee success. It does, however, exercise the war-winning ability to adapt and ideally improves the joint force’s future readiness by getting it mostly right, thereby reducing the amount of adaptation that will inevitably occur once the truths become apparent. Joint concepts give us a head start on the race to the technological and operational high ground that will dominate the future battlefield.

To be sure, future joint force development is necessarily speculative because no one can predict the future. A comprehensive view of the future requires wide-ranging, open-minded, and keen analytical perspectives on anticipated challenges and solutions. Accordingly, the Joint Staff J7 leads a deliberate, collaborative approach to joint concept development. The approach begins with educated judgments about the future battlefield, then determines how this evolved environment will affect the current joint force’s ability to accomplish projected missions. Joint concept developers identify gaps in the current ability to meet future challenges and then propose solutions in the form of new operating methods and the DOTMLPF-P changes needed to achieve them. In both describing the future operating environment and postulating solutions to forecasted military challenges, the Joint Staff casts a wide net to capture diverse views, compares competing predictions, and ultimately determines the solutions to anticipated challenges. The two following articles discuss how and why the Joint Staff explores possible futures and then develops joint concepts to address anticipated future military challenges.

The Joint Operating Environment 2035 summarizes the Joint Staff’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities ahead.3 The Joint Staff derives this understanding through consultation with hundreds of futurists drawn from domestic and foreign governments, academia, industry, and think tanks. The objective is not only to determine a broad understanding of possible futures but also to spark debate and foster critical thinking about their military implications. The first article, “Exploring the Future Operating Environment,” elaborates on the Joint Staff’s work to anticipate future challenges and opportunities. It stresses the need to study joint operations within the context of clear strategic and military trends and the importance of balancing well-grounded intelligence assessments with diverse perspectives on possible futures. The exploration of possible futures sets the stage for joint concepts.

Aviation Electronics Technician assigned to Battlecats of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 conducts maintenance on MH-60R Seahawk in hangar bay of USS Theodore Roosevelt, Pacific Ocean, April 24, 2017 (U.S. Navy/Bill Sanders)
Aviation Electronics Technician assigned to Battlecats of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 conducts maintenance on MH-60R Seahawk in hangar bay of USS Theodore Roosevelt, Pacific Ocean, April 24, 2017 (U.S. Navy/Bill Sanders)
Aviation Electronics Technician assigned to Battlecats of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 conducts maintenance on MH-60R Seahawk in hangar bay of USS Theodore Roosevelt, Pacific Ocean, April 24, 2017 (U.S. Navy/Bill Sanders)
Aviation Electronics Technician conducts maintenance on Seahawk
Aviation Electronics Technician assigned to Battlecats of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 conducts maintenance on MH-60R Seahawk in hangar bay of USS Theodore Roosevelt, Pacific Ocean, April 24, 2017 (U.S. Navy/Bill Sanders)

Strategic guidance shapes joint concepts. The 2016 National Military Strategy established the strategic framework for the joint force, identifying Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and violent extremist organizations (commonly referred to as the “4+1”) as the most pressing challenges. From a force development perspective, they typify possible scenarios that span the range of plausible future military operations. Collectively, they call for an inventory of advanced capabilities and sufficient capacity to compete, deter, and win across the entire range.4 The family of joint concepts extends this framework to 2035, examining how trends might create gaps in the current joint force’s ability to meet these challenges and proposing solutions in the form of concept-required capabilities. The combination of concept-required capabilities shapes the future joint force and informs investments in future readiness. The second article, “A New Approach to Joint Concepts,” discusses how the family of joint concepts serves the Services, combatant commands, and other capability developers throughout the Department of Defense (DOD).

From inception through implementation, the Joint Staff methodology for concept development hinges on extensive collaboration among DOD stakeholders, other governmental organizations, academic institutions, think tanks, and multinational partners. The production team includes members from the Services, combatant commands, and Joint Staff. Their research draws from current strategic guidance, the Joint Operating Environment 2035, Joint Strategic Assessment, and other joint, Service, and agency studies to identify future trends, implications, and challenges. They also look beyond the joint force to other governmental and nongovernmental organizations, academia, industry, and multinational partners to expand understanding of the challenge and explore potential solutions. Foreign military partners, in particular, provide valuable input based on unique perspectives or expertise, especially as the United States prefers to conduct military operations within a coalition whenever possible. The production team consults with these experts throughout concept development to refine the military challenge and discover innovative ideas that might contribute to its solution.

The draft concept undergoes rigorous review by multiple stakeholders and subject matter experts. A planner-level working group and general officer steering committee—both consisting of representatives from the Services, National Guard Bureau, combatant commands, Joint Staff directorates, DOD agencies, and international partners—meet regularly to evaluate proposed concepts, review progress, resolve issues, and promote collaboration among the joint community. Both bodies provide a mechanism for J7 accountability to stakeholders and act as clearinghouses that ensure DOD-wide unity of effort in the development of concepts. The Joint Staff director approves concept recommendations and issues a memorandum to facilitate broad collaboration. Ultimately, the Chairman or Vice Chairman approves completed joint concepts after thorough staffing throughout DOD. The entire process takes 12 to 18 months to allow for thorough review and collaboration.

From scouting the future joint operating environment to proposing solutions to anticipated military challenges, wide-ranging participation is the key to success. The Joint Staff’s approach to concept development reflects the essentiality of collaboration and coordination in the governance process, production team composition, use of multiple external reviews, and comprehensive staffing. The approach not only ensures the concept is thoroughly researched and contains sound recommendations, but it also unifies multiple force development efforts across DOD, U.S. Government, and multinational partners. Ultimately, joint concepts inform the Chairman’s recommendations for balancing current and future readiness by providing well-grounded solutions to highly plausible challenges. JFQ

Notes

1 Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America: Sharpening America’s Competitive Edge (Washington, DC: Department of Defense), 7, available at <www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf>.

2 Joseph J. Dunford, Jr., “Maintaining a Boxer’s Stance,” Joint Force Quarterly 86 (3rd Quarter 2017), available at <http://ndupress.ndu.edu/JFQ/Joint-Force-Quarterly-86/>.

3 Joint Operating Environment 2035: The Joint Force in a Contested and Disordered World (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, July 14, 2016), available at <https://fas.org/man/eprint/joe2035.pdf>.

4 Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, 1.