Oct. 2, 2018

China's Strategic Support Force: A Force for a New Era

In late 2015, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) initiated reforms that have brought dramatic changes to its structure, model of warfighting, and organizational culture, including the creation of a Strategic Support Force (SSF) that centralizes most PLA space, cyber, electronic, and psychological warfare capabilities. The reforms come at an inflection point as the PLA seeks to pivot from land-based territorial defense to extended power projection to protect Chinese interests in the “strategic frontiers” of space, cyberspace, and the far seas. Understanding the new strategic roles of the SSF is essential to understanding how the PLA plans to fight and win informationized wars and how it will conduct information operations.

Aug. 13, 2018

Joint Force Quarterly 90 (3rd Quarter, July 2018)

The newest issue of Joint Force Quarterly is now online. With this issue your JFQ team completes our 90th edition and prepares to celebrate the journal’s 25th anniversary this fall, all thanks to our readers, authors, and the veterans of NDU Press, who have kept this great idea of General Colin Powell moving forward in support of the joint force. Join us in supporting what the general called “the cool yet lively interplay among some of the finest minds committed to the profession of arms.”

July 11, 2018

Enhancing Global Security Through Security Force Assistance

This commentary advocates for renewed emphasis on activities that support the capacity and capability of foreign security forces and their supporting institutions, also known as Security Force Assistance (SFA). SFA creates a framework for improved partnerships and stronger alliances, and encourages our global partners to carry a greater share of the security burden. The author calls for improvements to interoperability between current and future coalition forces and additional training of senior-level ministerial advisors among other initiatives. With continued focus and determination, SFA can help build more capable partners and facilitate peace, security and stability.

July 5, 2018

Don’t Shoot the Messenger: Demosthenes, Churchill, and the Consensus Delusion

In this feature article, the author compares the experiences of ancient Greek philosopher Demosthenes and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Though separated by two thousand years, both advocated for rearmament, both were called warmongers, and both were sidelined as a result. Far from provoking conflict, Demosthenes and Churchill sought to avoid war by strengthening military readiness and reinforcing support for their allies to make war less appealing to their adversaries. The lessons of Demosthenes and Churchill are still relevant as the Joint Force struggles with its own challenges in the midst of growing threats from actors across multiple domains.

July 5, 2018

Reverse Engineering Goldwater-Nichols: China’s Joint Force Reforms

This feature article examines the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army, particularly its operational capability within the People’s Republic of China and recent efforts to develop its capability as an expeditionary force. While the U.S. military has been reorganizing since the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, China has paid close attention and taken significant steps, for example, in the creation of new joint warfighting commands, reorganization of its department system, and creation of new military services. These reform efforts have not been entirely successful, however, due to entrenched bureaucratic interests and the lack of recent combat operations.

July 5, 2018

Bombs, Not Broadcasts: U.S. Preference for Kinetic Strategy in Asymmetric Conflict

In this feature article, the author explores reasons why U.S. strategy in asymmetric conflict has focused so heavily on kinetic operations while conceding the information domain to weaker adversaries. This scenario is a consistent feature of every asymmetric conflict the U.S. has been involved in over the past several decades. In order for the U.S. military to be more successful in asymmetric wars, it needs to give company and battalion commanders authority to conduct information operations, move away from the mentality of treating messages like munitions, and create an organizational culture that fully appreciates the importance of information operations.

July 5, 2018

Defense of the West (Book Review)

In this timely book, one of the most seasoned observers of Atlantic security affairs, Stanley Sloan, offers insights about the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). These insights are linked to a detailed examination of the Alliance’s origins and development. Sloan pinpoints three key alliance drivers—national interests, common values, and political leadership—and offers a carefully circumscribed optimistic conclusion: common national interests and values are strong, but political leadership is volatile and in need of constructive and effective management.

July 5, 2018

The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy (Book Review)

Famously, Henry Kissinger once wondered out loud, “What in the name of God is strategic superiority? . . . What do you do with it?” Over 40 years later, the questions still resonate, and Georgetown University professor Matthew Kroenig aims to tackle Kissinger’s quandary. The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy begins with a puzzle: if the basic premise of U.S. nuclear deterrence strategy is supposed to be that the United States can survive a massive nuclear attack and retaliate with great force (so-called assured destruction), why have successive Presidents maintained nuclear capabilities that go well beyond what is required for this goal?

July 5, 2018

The Forgotten Front (Book Review)

This is an important book for theorists and practitioners of counterinsurgency alike. Ladwig, who teaches at King’s College London, begins by pointing out that most U.S. counterinsurgency thinking errs in assuming that the United States will share common goals, interests, and priorities with the local government that it is supporting. As recent experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan indicate, that assumption should not be taken for granted. In fact, many U.S. elements of strategy applied in counterinsurgency—ending political and military corruption, bolstering political legitimacy by addressing the public’s concerns, engaging in economic reform—may appear just as threatening to the local government’s interests as the insurgency itself. Some local governments’ political and other interests simply do not coincide with those of the United States, and that can lead to tremendous difficulty in convincing them to adopt U.S.-backed reforms. Indeed, Ladwig’s central argument is that the “forgotten front” in these conflicts—the relationship between the United States and local government it is trying to aid—is just as important.

July 5, 2018

Joint Doctrine Update

Joint Doctrine Updates.