Jan. 27, 2017

Toward a Future National Strategy: A Review Essay

What could be more important than a nation’s strategy? A strategy brings together ends, ways, and means. It assesses costs and risks and establishes priorities. It takes basic guidance and direction from national policy, but, in turn, strategy guides subordinate plans and policies. It provides a framework that can help us comprehend contextual developments, which, in turn, can reshape the strategy. A consistent strategy is also a certain trumpet for friends and allies to heed. In our messy democracy, domestic politics and bureaucratic politics will often frustrate strategy, but, in the end, national strategy retains its importance.

Jan. 26, 2017

Hybrid Threat Center of Gravity Analysis: Taking a Fresh Look at ISIL

Debates continue in the media, military, and foreign policy circles about the national strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Imbedded within these debates are fundamental disagreements about ISIL’s strategic and operational centers of gravity. Correctly identifying the center of gravity (COG) of an adversary is critical to designing an operational approach to defeat him. On the other hand, misidentifying the center of gravity is the clearest path to defeat against any foe—especially a hybrid one. An assessment of ISIL’s center of gravity is critical to developing a suitable operational design aimed at its defeat. The first order of business, however, is to determine if ISIL is a hybrid actor and, if so, how that impacts our analysis.

Jan. 26, 2017

Center of Gravity Analysis "Down Under": The Australian Defence Force's New Approach

Given Australia’s position as a key U.S. ally and a much smaller military power, as well as the array of cultural similarities between the two countries, it should come as no surprise that U.S. developments have regularly influenced Australian Defence Force (ADF) thinking about armed conflict.1 Center of gravity (COG) analysis, a lynchpin of campaign and operation planning, is no exception.

Jan. 26, 2017

The Urgent Necessity to Reverse Service AirLand Roles

Current U.S. military joint and Service doctrine assigns U.S. Army forces, supported by U.S. Air Force forces, the role of being responsible for defeating an opposing mechanized army. But now, thanks to significant advances that have been occurring over the last two-and-a-half decades in the Air Force’s surface surveillance and precision attack capabilities, it is time to reverse these roles.1 Role reversal is an urgent necessity because it would give the Armed Forces the ability to defeat an opposing mechanized army faster with far less risk to U.S. personnel, while significantly reducing the amount of resources the United States needs to devote to countering this threat. Understanding why reversing roles can provide these important advantages requires examining the continuing validity of prevailing assumptions regarding Service roles in defeating such a threat. This examination begins by identifying the rationale behind today’s Army force structure.

Jan. 26, 2017

Meaningful Metrics for Professional Military Education

Professional military education (PME) is guided by the formal requirements put forth by Congress as part of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986. Initially, the intent largely focused on training and educating military officers to operate in a joint environment. At the higher levels, joint PME (JPME) I (intermediate) and II (senior)—the “colleges”—parameters were also expanded toward providing officers the education necessary to understand the context of theater and strategic environments and the critical thinking skills to address increasingly complex environments.

Jan. 26, 2017

The National War College: Marking 70 Years of Strategic Education

Seventy years ago, a war-weary Washington struggled with uncertainty and alarm. Exhausted after years of global conflict and still carrying memories of the Great Depression, America yearned for home and prosperity. Yet barely 6 months after victory in World War II, Washington faced troubling signs of danger ahead. A past ally was becoming a threat. Soviet aggression shattered postwar dreams of peace. With the dawn of 1946 we entered a new strategic era—the bipolar struggle with the Soviet Union.

Jan. 26, 2017

The National War College: Celebrating 70 Years of Developing Strategic Practitioners

At the end of September 2016, the National Defense University (NDU) and National War College (NWC) celebrated the 40th anniversary of the University and the 70th anniversary of the War College by dedicating the West Wing of Roosevelt Hall on Fort Lesley J. McNair to General Colin Powell, USA (Ret.).1 The epigraph above is inscribed over the entrance of the Powell Wing and expresses General Powell’s thinking on his War College experience. Perhaps unbeknownst to General Powell, his words echo a statement by Lieutenant General Leonard T. Gerow, USA, president of the 1946 board that recommended the formation of the National War College: “The College is concerned with grand strategy and the utilization of the national resources necessary to implement that strategy. . . . Its graduates will exercise a great influence on the formulation of national and foreign policy in both peace and war.”2 The charge implicit in General Gerow’s conception of the college, and in General Powell’s later experience there, is that despite its “War College” moniker, the school’s course of study is more than just a look at war; it encapsulates whole-of-government solutions to the entire spectrum of national security issues. That charge continues to inform both the college’s sense of itself and the guidance provided to it by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS).

Jan. 26, 2017

The Palestinian Security Force: Future Prospects

Should the United States continue to support the Palestinian Authority Security Force (PASF)? To the Western observer, the current violence in Jerusalem is but another iteration of the intractable conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. To the average American, the term Palestinian is often synonymous with a masked Arab hurling a rock at the ubiquitous Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The reality on the ground is, of course, far more complex. Unknown to most is the fact that during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, the West Bank was quiet and stable. In fact, since 2009 the PASF has received silent, grudging approval of its performance in the West Bank by Western leadership.1 The success of the PASF, like that of many nascent security forces supported by the United States, can be short-lived, especially in light of recent attacks by both Palestinians and Israelis. However, PASF performance has shown that it is a capable security force that is worthy of Israeli partnership, Palestinian trust, and further U.S. support. To substantiate this position, the development of the PASF will be briefly examined and set against its unique organization. Both its history and its distinct structure allow it to maintain order within the West Bank. The PASF will face challenges to further development if any success in a two-state solution is reached, but it remains the best hope for legitimate security for the Palestinian people.

Jan. 26, 2017

Civil Order and Governance as Military Responsibilities

In April 2003, as U.S. forces closed in on Baghdad, chaos and disorder began to break out in the city of more than six million residents. As civil order broke down, the lack of guidance and forethought that U.S. leadership had put into the responsibility of U.S. forces for maintaining civil order in their newly conquered territory became apparent. Because there was no planning or guidance on how to handle looting, commanders in Baghdad decided to focus on defeating the last remnants of the Iraqi military and did little to maintain order in the capital.

Jan. 26, 2017

The Viability of Moral Dissent by the Military (or, Chapter 6 of the U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Conclusions Regarding the Second Internment of American Citizens)

This article is not a partisan statement, although it unequivocally judges the rising tide of nationalism, isolationism, xenophobia, and anti-Islamic rhetoric occurring throughout the West. While anti-Islamic rhetoric and actions are integral to the scenario described herein, the characters are fictional and not analogous to any military or political figure currently in a position of authority or running for office. The political affiliation of the President in the scenario is deliberately unstated. No political party has a monopoly on or immunity from ugly ideas.