Joint Force Quarterly 101

Joint Force Quarterly 101

(2nd Quarter, April 2021)

Embracing Asymmetry

  • Conquering the Ethical Temptations of Command

  • Accelerating Adaptation on the Western Front and Today

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U.S. Air Force pilot Captain Melanie Ziebart, one of six Air Force pilots flying F-35B Lightning II stealth multirole fighters in Marine squadrons to disseminate inter-Service tactics and strengthen joint force capabilities, on flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS America, flies with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Marine
Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 Green Knights, Gulf of Thailand, March 7, 2020 (U.S. Navy/Jonathan Berlier)

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason

In 1993, General Powell encouraged members of the joint force to “Read JFQ. Study it. Mark it up—underline and write in the margins. Get mad. Then contribute your own views.” What do you think? How do you read JFQ? How can we make it better suited to the world you find yourself in? We are soon posting up a way for you to provide us more feedback. Watch this space. In the meantime, read on!

Airman with 321st Contingency Response Squadron security team patrols with Ghost Robotics Vision 60 prototype at simulated austere base during Advanced Battle Management System exercise on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, September 3, 2020 (U.S. Air Force/Zachary Rufus)

Deter in Competition, Deescalate in Crisis, and Defeat in Conflict

By Glen D. VanHerck

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), both located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, are two distinct commands, bound together and united in a common purpose—charged with the resolute mission of defending North America. NORAD defends the United States and Canada against threats in the air domain and provides aerospace and maritime warning. Founded in 2002 in the wake of 9/11, USNORTHCOM defends the United States against threats across all domains, conducts cooperative defense activities with our allies and partners in North America, and, when required, supports Federal, state, and local agencies with unique military capabilities to conduct defense support of civil authorities.

B-1B Lancer assigned to 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, undergoes preflight maintenance at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, September 25, 2020, while participating in exercise Valiant Shield (U.S. Air Force/Nicolas Z. Erwin)

Design Thinking

By Daniel E. Rauch and Matthew Tackett

Iraq, Afghanistan, and, to an extent, Syria are all recent examples of situations where U.S. military involvement “solved” some elements of perceived problems but consequently created other issues. Following the invasion of Iraq in 2006, when the initial assessments seemed wrong and the situation was deteriorating simultaneously in Afghanistan, the Army began investigating alternative approaches to conceptual planning. Design methodology, now validated in joint doctrine, is the result of that inquiry. Using the methodology will not guarantee a successful outcome and is not a panacea for solving pandemics or complex problems. It does, however, provide a general framework, supported by an underlying logic, for discussing problems and developing approaches.

Officer candidate stands at attention during Medal of Honor run at Officer Candidates School aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, August 15, 2019 (U.S. Marine Corps/Phuchung Nguyen)

Buy Now, Get Paid with Diversity Later: Insights into Career Progression of Female Servicemembers

By Monica Dziubinski Gramling and Warren Korban Blackburn

The Department of Defense (DOD) recognizes the value that diversity brings to the joint force. The notion that diverse teams provide more creative and innovative solutions to problems is well researched and supported. To reap the full benefits of diversity, DOD must foster intentional inclusivity. There are, however, hurdles yet to clear. DOD must address tangible and intangible program costs to develop an environment of inclusivity. Integrating women into typically male-dominated career fields requires resource investment in equipment, facilities, and processes. Decisionmakers must implement these accommodations now to build tomorrow’s gender-inclusive leadership team.

F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to “Diamondbacks” of Strike Fighter Squadron, attached to Carrier Air Wing 5102, conducts flight operations, Atsugi, Japan, January 29, 2020 (U.S. Navy/Alex Grammar)

Gray Is the New Black: A Framework to Counter Gray Zone Conflicts

By Heather M. Bothwell

Gray zone conflicts are difficult to address through traditional combat power. In today’s complex and competitive international environment, some states may appear to pursue the status quo, particularly in areas of benefit to them, while also seeking to amend other circumstances in their favor. To deter these aims, joint doctrine must address gray zone conflicts and incorporate strategies for countering these approaches into planning for steady-state activities and all phases of theater campaign planning. To do anything less is to relinquish the advantage.

JPME Today

Firefighters with Mississippi Task Force Urban Search and
Rescue ride hoist to UH-72 Lakota while participating in Patriot
South 20, at Guardian Centers in Perry, Georgia, February 28,
2020 (U.S. Army National Guard/Christopher Shannon)

Educating Our Leaders in the Art and Science of Stakeholder Management

By Alexander L. Carter

This article seeks to bridge a perceived knowledge gap with leaders and their executive communication skills by introducing them to a more disciplined, formal approach of identifying, prioritizing, and engaging stakeholders. This article suggests new and creative ways to conduct stakeholder management (identification, prioritization, and engagement)—techniques borrowed from practices employed in the private and commercial sectors.

Marine Candidate participates in fire team assault course at Officer Candidates School, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, June 17, 2017 (U.S. Marine Corps/Cristian L. Ricardo)

Conquering the Ethical Temptations of Command: Lessons from the Field Grades

By Clinton Longenecker and James W. Shufelt

Ethical lapses committed by senior business leaders are reported almost daily. Unfortunately, similar reports about military leaders also frequently appear; browse almost any contemporary military publication, and there is usually an article discussing an ethical failure by a high-ranking Servicemember. Although Department of Defense figures attest that the actual number of these failings is statistically small, they garner disproportionate attention. The critical nature of the U.S. military mission makes it incumbent on leaders to possess not only great technical competency in their jobs but also great character and integrity. Because of this demand, the U.S. military has high formal standards for ethical leadership behavior.


President Barack Obama talks with Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during secure video teleconference in Situation Room, The White House, October 21, 2011 (White House/Pete Souza)

Flawed Jointness in the War Against the So-Called Islamic State: How a Different Planning Approach Might Have Worked Better

By Benjamin S. Lambeth

Not long after the first round of anemic air strikes against the so-called Islamic State (IS) on August 8, 2014, it became clear to most that the initial effort ordered by President Barack Obama and undertaken by U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) lacked an overarching strategy based on a well-founded understanding of the enemy and on a weighing of the full spectrum of available response options. Instead, USCENTCOM’s leaders fell back on their familiar past experiences and assessed IS as simply a resurrection of the recently defeated Iraqi insurgency rather than as the very different and ambitiously aggressive state-in-the-making that it actually was. As a result, they opted to engage the jihadist movement with an inappropriate counterinsurgency (COIN) approach that misprioritized rebuilding the Iraqi army as its predominant concern rather than pursuing a more promising strategy aimed at not only addressing Iraq’s most immediate security needs but also attacking the enemy’s most vulnerable center of gravity in Syria from the first day onward.


Air Force pararescuemen assigned to 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron load simulated casualties on board CH-47F Chinook, flown by members of Army Task Force Brawler, during personnel recovery exercise, Afghanistan, March 6, 2018 (U.S. Air Force/Gregory Brook)

The Future Joint Medical Force Through the Lens of Operational Art: A Case for Clinical Interchangeability

By Joseph Caravalho, Jr., and Enrique Ortiz, Jr.

The joint health enterprise (JHE)—commonly referred to as the military health system (MHS)—has been key in driving recent combat casualty rates to the lowest in the Nation’s history. However, with the advent of a new, uncertain future security environment, the JHE faces potentially overwhelming obstacles that threaten a reversal. It therefore must contemplate national strategic redirection through novel and innovative means.

F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, takes off from flight deck of USS America during air defense exercise, Philippine Sea, March 23, 2020 (U.S. Marine Corps/Isaac Cantrell)

Sustaining Relevance: Repositioning Strategic Logistics Innovation in the Military

By Paul Christian van Fenema, Ton van Kampen, Gerold de Gooijer, Nynke Faber, Harm Hendriks, Andre Hoogstrate, and Loe Schlicher

Military organizations tend to think about their overarching strategy in two ways: how their organization will remain relevant and which future operations they must be able to conduct. In the information era, military organizations struggle with the “design capabilities that will offer . . . credible strategic options and then the ability to win, through fighting smarter.” Building on the revolution in military affairs programs, a new era of digital innovations in the commercial realm underpins the U.S. National Defense Strategy and Third Offset Strategy to explore the use of new technologies for the military. While new operational concepts such as hyper war and kill webs are emerging, attention to the strategic element of innovation seems difficult to realize regarding military logistics. Strategic innovation concerns processes of proactive and systematic thinking about gaps that an organization can fulfill by developing new game plans.

Show of force during Iranian Revolution, 1979

Embracing Asymmetry: Assessing Iranian National Security Strategy, 1983–1987

By Spencer Lawrence French

The success of Iran’s asymmetric warfare in advancing its objectives in Iraq in the 2000s likely reinforced the wrong lessons about the coercive power of asymmetric warfare and colored the country’s analysis of the Iran-Iraq War. Given the lasting impact the war has had on Iran’s military actions, examining the country’s experience during the conflict offers a unique window into Iranian decisionmaking today.


Gun crew from Regimental Headquarters Company, 23rd Infantry, firing 37mm gun during an advance against
German entrenched positions., 1918 / September 26 – November 11, 1918, during Meuse-Argonne offensive (NARA/U.S. Army)

Accelerating Adaptation on the Western Front and Today

By Justin Lynch

In wars, militaries rarely start out perfectly suited for the challenges they will encounter. Their organization, tactics, and weapons are not optimally matched to their environment or their enemies. The ability to adapt more quickly than an adversary gives a force a significant advantage. The growing role software plays in military technology could augment the speed of adaptation, but to capture such advantages, the joint force must invest in its digital workforce and infrastructure.

Book Reviews

Adaptation Under Fire: How Militaries Change in Wartime

Adaptation Under Fire: How Militaries Change in Wartime

Reviewed by Bryon Greenwald

In the 1970s, the late Sir Michael Howard cautioned military leaders that they would inevitably fail in predicting the conduct of the next war. What really mattered, he opined, was not getting it right, but not being “too badly wrong” and having the individual and institutional wherewithal to adapt to the new or revealed conditions of conflict in time to avoid defeat and ultimately prevail.

Losing the Long Game:
The False Promise of Regime Change in the Middle East

Losing the Long Game: The False Promise of Regime Change in the Middle East

Reviewed by Colonel Thomas C. Greenwood, USMC (Ret.)

Few authors are more qualified to write on U.S.-sponsored regime change in the Middle East than Philip Gordon, who worked as Special Assistant to President Barack Obama for the Middle East (2013–2015) and as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (2009–2013). His book, Losing the Long Game, is elegant, thoroughly researched, and comprehensible; it belongs on the syllabus of every war college and policymaker’s desk.

Strategic Humanism: Lessons on Leadership from the Ancient Greeks

Strategic Humanism: Lessons on Leadership from the Ancient Greeks

Reviewed by Christopher Kuennen

At some point between the legendary Greek siege of Troy and the infamous defeat of Athens at Syracuse, the philosopher Heraclitus rather astutely discerned that Êthos anthrôpôi daimôn (Character is fate). His assertion might be thought of as a pithy distillation of the practical wisdom of ancient Greece. In Strategic Humanism, Claudia Hauer urges leaders to engage with this tradition; military officers and defense policymakers stand to gain not only theoretical insights from an attentive reading of the Greek classics, but also a way of perceiving the world and its conflicts as beyond total human mastery and yet shaped by the virtues and vices of human character.

Joint Doctrine

U.S. Marine with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 21.1, Marine Forces Europe and Africa, stands watch during cold weather training in preparation for Exercise Reindeer II, in Setermoen, Norway, November 12, 2020 (U.S. Marine Corps/William Chockey)

U.S. Joint Doctrine Development and Influence on NATO

By George E. Katsos

In order to be adaptable and better support allies, the U.S. joint doctrine community must refine its policies and streamline its procedures to address these and other challenges and overcome status quo tendencies. To reinforce both Alliance purpose and unity, the United States agrees to abide by certain NATO policies and procedures and participates in the allied joint doctrine development process. The following groupings provide an overview of U.S. and NATO systems and processes as well as potential efficiencies.

Joint Doctrine Update

By The Joint Staff

Joint Publications (JPs) under revision and signed within the past six months.