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Measuring Strategic Deterrence: A Wargaming Approach July 1, 2016 — During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, President John F. Kennedy weighed a number of factors to assess the potential effectiveness of U.S. actions to deter the Soviets from further deployment of medium-range nuclear missiles in Cuba. Kennedy realized that an existing missile gap gave the United States an assured second-strike capability, but Soviet missiles in Cuba would make the consequences of a Soviet first strike much costlier. For example, U.S. extended-deterrence strategies would be at risk, which could suggest that the United States might not risk nuclear war if the Soviets subsequently assaulted Berlin. Although Kennedy’s greatest fear was the potential for human error and accidental escalation during the standoff, he gained insight into Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s risk tolerance after receiving a rambling four-part cable from the seemingly stressed Soviet leader.1 In the end, it was the rational consideration of these factors from both his and Khrushchev’s perspectives that allowed Kennedy to assess relative resolve and select actions that would control escalation. MORE

A Way Ahead for DOD Disaster Preparedness July 1, 2016 — On October 8, 2005, I was just 6 weeks into my assignment coordinating with the Pakistani military to keep the air logistics routes open through Pakistan into Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and to coordinate coalition, Afghan, and Pakistani border operations. It was a pretty average deployment. That changed at 0850 local time. First, I heard a sound like a freight train and then the building began to rock like a cork bobbing, and the ground beneath us was acting more like liquid than solid, with visible ripples moving toward us. The ground continued to move for what seemed like forever, and one of my Pakistani friends asked me, “Is this the end of the world?” I answered, “No,” but his question did give me pause. Finally, after almost 6 minutes, the noise subsided and the ground stopped moving. I did not know it at the time, but I had just experienced one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in Pakistan. According to one source, the “shallow earthquake registered a 7.6 magnitude on the Richter scale.” The earthquake “epicenter was located approximately 19 km north-northeast of the city of Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir,” and “100 km north-northeast of Islamabad.” MORE

The U.S. Pacific Command Response to Super Typhoon Haiyan July 1, 2016 — On November 6, 2013, Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) became what many described as the strongest storm on record to make landfall. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Haiyan had winds of up to 200 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 225 miles per hour. Haiyan affected 9 out of the 17 regions in the Philippines. With over $86 million in total U.S. assistance, the U.S. military response efforts comprised more than 13,400 military personnel, 66 aircraft, and 12 naval vessels, which delivered over 2,495 tons of relief supplies and evacuated more than 21,000 people. More than 1,300 flights were completed in support of the relief effort, delivering goods and services to approximately 450 sites. As of July 2014, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) estimated that a total of 16 million people were affected by Haiyan. MORE

#SocialMediaMatters: Lessons Learned from Exercise Trident Juncture July 1, 2016 — Headquarters from the brigade to combatant command levels must understand how to establish credibility and gain popularity through social media if they are to effectively shape the information environment during modern military operations. MORE

China's Goldwater-Nichols? Assessing PLA Organizational Reforms July 1, 2016 — In the past few months, China has announced a series of major reforms to the organizational structure of the People’s Liberation Army. The new PLA C2 structure might best be described as Goldwater-Nichols with Chinese characteristics. MORE

What It Means to Be Expeditionary: A Look at the French Army in Africa July 1, 2016 — Former U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno elaborated a vision for the Service’s future that left many questions unanswered. Specifically, he called for the Army to be more expeditionary as well as more scalable, tailorable, and regionally aligned. General Odierno’s successor and the current Army Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, similarly has spoken of the need for the Army to be “agile,” “adaptive,” and “expeditionary,” and to have an “expeditionary mindset.” Lieutenant General Gustave Perna, writing in the March–April 2016 issue of Army Sustainment, has also evoked the imperative of having an “expeditionary Army.” What, however, do these terms mean? What would it take for the Army to realize the generals’ vision, and what, if any, are the associated risks? MORE

Sharpening Our Cultural Tools for Improved Global Health Engagement July 1, 2016 — The central theoretical concept in all life sciences is adaptation, the idea that things change over time. Unlike other species, we humans have the full benefit of a dual system of inheritance; that is, we use (or are shaped by) both biological and cultural systems of adaptation. Both systems work in a similar way. Through the process of sexual reproduction, we inherit genetic traits from our parents, and through the process of learning, we inherit culture from our social group. Culture is a central concept in the study of human beings, and its existence has played a major role in the success of our species, including our success with combating, controlling, and containing disease. MORE

The Primacy of COG Planning: Getting Back to Basics July 1, 2016 — Center of gravity (COG) continues to be a popular topic in military journals, blogs, and lectures. Many recent discussions have tended to be ambivalent at best toward the value of the concept of COG. Several of these dialogues present detailed contrarian views to the validity of Carl von Clausewitz’s much analyzed theory of COG (or Schwerpunkt, as presented in On War). They discuss how this theory is too complex to be used by U.S. military planners. However, the painstaking discussion of Clausewitz is done at the expense of missing the fact that the refined, modern-day view of COG is a critical concept for planners to understand and apply. When done correctly, COG planning methodology is the primary practical way to link an objective to a course of action (COA). This is not to assert that proper employment of COG methodology is always easy. Application in certain scenarios may be complex, but the important aspect of COG methodology is that when properly employed, it is the foundation of and gives direction to COA development. MORE

Abandon Ship: Interagency Decisionmaking during the Mayaguez Incident July 1, 2016 — In the spring of 1975, Cambodia’s communist Khmer Rouge government seized a U.S. merchant ship, the SS Mayaguez, leading the United States to mount a joint operation to rescue the ship and its crew. The focus of this effort became an assault on Koh Tang, a small island in the Gulf of Thailand approximately 30 miles from the Cambodian mainland.1 Despite the notable evolutions in joint and interagency doctrine in the more than 40 years since this incident, it remains strikingly relevant because of the nature of the challenges it presented to interagency decisionmakers: a short timeline, limited intelligence, forces not tailored to the mission, an unpredictable opponent, and fevered public interest. At the time, the “Mayaguez Incident” was generally viewed as a success. A more sober review, however, shows that the military operation nearly ended in disaster. A close examination of interagency decisionmaking reveals a series of pitfalls, including intelligence failures, poor interagency communication, and incomplete assessment of risk. These factors led the National Security Council (NSC) to make decisions that had little chance of furthering President Gerald Ford’s foreign policy objectives and that placed U.S. forces at grave risk. Military and civilian leaders would do well to review the lessons of this crisis, lest they make the same mistakes in the future. MORE

National Insecurity and What Good Is Grand Strategy July 1, 2016 — Imagine the following scenario: The President of the United States commits our military to confronting a difficult challenge in the Middle East. With mounting losses and growing economic costs, the American people and their representatives in Congress become increasingly critical of and vocal in their opposition to administration policies. This criticism centers on charges that the President and his advisors are operating without a clear plan of action and have no strategy to speak of. MORE

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