JOINT FORCE QUARTERLY 95
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PRISM Vol. 8, No. 2
Al-Qaida has taken advantage of the attention focused on the Islamic State to develop safe havens and exercise control over large swaths of territory. In addition, Al-Qaida has taken security precautions such as diffusing its leadership to a variety of geographic locations, creating cohesion among its global affiliates, and gaining inroads with vulnerable populations in fragile states. It is imperative, therefore, to understand how Al-Qaeda and other such groups employ inconspicuous methods such as exploiting socio-political and ethnic grievances and, exercising strategic patience in order to prevent Al-Qaida from staging a comeback.
The United States is starting to confront unprecedented challenges to the military and technological superiority that it has enjoyed in recent history. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is emerging as a powerhouse across a range of emerging technologies, and Chinese leaders recognize today’s technological revolution as a critical, even historic, opportunity to achieve strategic advantage. As Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and Commander-in-Chief of the CMC Joint Operations Center, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping has highlighted the importance of military innovation to “keep pace with the times” (与时俱进) and adapt to the global revolution in military affairs.
The Joint Force is not well positioned to share best practices in artificial intelligence and autonomous systems (AI/AS). To address this shortcoming, Joint Manning Documents should add an AI/AS cell made up of officers and NCOs in order to incorporate best practices across the seven joint functions. The Army took a similar approach in 2003 with the creation of knowledge management as a distinct discipline and staff function. In order to avoid fighting tomorrow’s conflicts with yesterday’s weapons, the Joint Force should change the way it organizes and employs forces, and embrace a new approach to technological innovation.
When a military organization undertakes a modernization program, it is intuitive to expect that existing capabilities are going to be replaced by superior capabilities. There is an implied suggestion that a necessary (though not sufficient) condition of this superiority is enhanced lethality; lethality surely constitutes a necessary condition of the strategic effectiveness of the military organization in question. At the risk of stating the obvious, military organizations around the world exist to protect the security of their respective countries: in peacetime, by deterring the adversaries of the country from waging war, and in wartime, by defeating these adversaries should they choose the war option. These two missions are not mutually exclusive: “The surest way to prevent war is to be prepared to win one.” Nevertheless, it is possible to question the extent to which lethality subsequently connects to strategic effectiveness, which is understood here as the ability to win wars. In other words, while modernization ought to result in a military organization that is more lethal than before, this enhanced lethality does not guarantee strategic effectiveness.
Timothy S. Mallard and Nathan H. White
Håkon Lunde Saxi, Bengt Sundelius, and Brett Swaney