June 21, 2017

Adaptive Doctrine: Infusing the Changing Character of Warfare into Doctrine

The changing character of warfare demands a more flexible doctrine development approach. In response to the risk associated with revising joint publications (JPs) based on their age, the Director of Joint Force Development, Vice Admiral Kevin D. Scott, recognized that JP development must be prioritized based on top-down guidance and bottom-up refinement. As a result, the joint doctrine development process is being redesigned. This Adaptive Doctrine approach will reduce the time required to revise publications; ensure the process is being effectively managed to produce high-quality revisions; and reset the content of the joint doctrine library to reflect a portfolio that is lean, appropriately linked to joint warfighting functions, and is manageable within manpower and fiscal limitation. The figure explains the central idea of how the Joint Staff has updated the process. The following details further explain the three components of the updated Adaptive Doctrine development approach.

June 20, 2017

The Grand Strategy That Won the Cold War

For anyone crediting and honoring Ronald Reagan as the President who defeated communism, this is a must-read book. The authors of the various chapters—several were members of President Reagan’s National Security Council staff—single him out as the progenitor of the “grand strategy” that brought down the Soviet Union. The book begins as a record of the formative events shaping Reagan, the man, in terms of his views and perceptions of communism. In the second part, the reader discovers the broad sweep of the many discussions, meetings, and decisions that helped Reagan see the fruition of his strategy to win the Cold War.

June 20, 2017

The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta

At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, Americans and their military leaders have had all too little sense of the importance of history and too little grasp of literature on thinking about strategy and the role of military power in the world. In fact, in the massive assault by the literati of the intellectual world, America’s elites have come to regard the dead men of ancient Greece as thoroughly suspect and not worthy of serious study. In that regard, the stele (tombstone) that marked the grave of the great Greek dramatist Aeschylus identifies him as a veteran of the pitched battle between the Persians and the Athenians at Marathon in 490 BCE, with no mention of his dramatic triumphs. His memorial reads.

June 20, 2017


Hubris, or excessive pride, comprises one part of a tragic dyad. The other part of the dyad is peripeteia, or a sudden reversal of fortune. For historian Alistair Horne, the hubris-peripeteia dyad comes to the fore in the decisions and actions of some of history’s best-known leaders and commanders, whose arrogant overreach led to rapid reversal, defeat, and shame. In Hubris: The Tragedy of War in the Twentieth Century, Alistair Horne examines six 20th-century battles to show how an inability to assess the strategic context properly, an overestimation of one’s ability, and, potentially most significant, an ignorance of history’s lessons, preceded many inglorious failures on the battlefield. Much like a Baroque composer, Horne establishes the hubris and peripeteia theme of his fugue using the Russo-Japanese War as the exposition, and then presents the theme in new ways using different battles and their actors.

June 20, 2017

Building a Stay-Behind Resistance Organization: The Case of Cold War Switzerland Against the Soviet Union

Russia’s revanchism toward its neighbors and its strong desire to extend power into traditional spheres of influence have major security implications for a number of post-Soviet states. This policy is magnified by Vladimir Putin’s “Russian World” ideology, which implies that any former Soviet republic with either an ethnic Russian population or an unresolved territorial or security dispute with Russia faces a potential national security threat ranging from internal subversion to outright territorial invasion by Russian forces. The Russian occupation of Crimea in March 2014 and the Kremlin’s intervention in eastern Ukraine between February and September 2014 demonstrate this risk to bordering states and overall European stability.1 In particular, Russian use of hybrid warfare amplifies the threat.

June 20, 2017

Trauma Care in Support of Global Military Operations

The Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Trauma System (JTS) revolutionized combat casualty care by creating a trauma system for the battlefield. Over the past 30 years, U.S. civilian trauma systems have decreased mortality from trauma by 15 to 20 percent. In 2006, senior military and civilian medical leaders partnered to translate this civilian model to the battlefield. The deployed components of the JTS provided real-time data collection and analysis, research to guide rapid implementation of knowledge and material products, clinical guidelines for optimal care, and direct guidance to commanders as a key components of a continuously learning trauma system in two theaters of operation, directly saving lives on the battlefield.

June 20, 2017

Military Retirement Reform: A Case Study in Successful Public Sector Change

Retirement reform is an example of government collaboration at its best. This was a highly orchestrated process of analytic-based consensus-building that was never one individual or even one institution’s reform. As new reforms begin to take shape, those charged with designing and implementing them should consider the lessons this case study offers.

June 20, 2017

Where Rumsfeld Got It Right: Making a Case for In-Progress Reviews

Combatant commanders (CCDRs) are responsible for the development of campaign and contingency plans as directed by the Guidance for the Employment of the Force (GEF) and the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP). Together, these documents translate national strategic direction and guidance from the President to CCDRs via the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, respectively.

June 20, 2017

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

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

June 20, 2017

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

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