Joint Force Quarterly 106

Joint Force Quarterly 106

(3rd Quarter, July 2022)

Cyber in the Shadows

  • Insights from Insurgent Groups
  • Deterrence Without Escalation

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Joint Advanced Warfighting School students and faculty listen as Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, director of Paris office of German Marshall Fund of the United States, presents “The Transatlantic Relationship Following Russia’s Invasion of
Ukraine,” in May 2022, at Hôtel de Talleyrand, George C. Marshall Center, Paris, France (Joint Forces Staff College/Mary S. Bell)

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason

Joint education is designed to show each student the value that he or she brings to the discussion. Even the most ardent supporter of one’s military Service cannot honestly assess warfighting today and show how that Service, or nation for that matter, can win a war by itself. Joint and combined operations lie at the heart of successful accomplishment of strategy that involves the military instrument of power. Services may be proponents of their operational concepts and budgets to bring capabilities to achieve those visions, but in the end, the way of war, as the United States has learned to fight it, rests clearly on our ability to work together for a common end. We hope you gain from what our authors have offered here, especially if it achieves our mission of helping the cause of jointness.

Technical Sergeant Jochen Emrich with 189th Airlift Wing Communications Flight assesses real world cyber threats, December 5, 2021, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas (U.S. Air National Guard/Jonathan Porter)

Cyber in the Shadows: Why the Future of Cyber Operations Will Be Covert

By Richard L. Manley

Current cyber conflict looks very similar to traditional conflict models. The difference from traditional power dynamics offered by the cyber domain, however, is the asymmetrical advantage of technology for would-be actors. This new element of national power allows weaker actors to “punch above their weight” in competition or conflict with Great Powers in a unipolar or multipolar world.

Burundian soldier serving with African Union Mission in Somalia cleans rocket launcher against Mogadishu skyline after sudden
departure of al-Shabaab, August 18, 2011 (United Nations/Stuart Price)

Overcoming Barriers to Institutional Learning: Insights from Insurgent Groups

By Nicholas A. Dudek

This article examines a case study of Islamic extremist groups in Somalia and their ability to overcome barriers. Evidence from these groups indicates that the personalization of power by leaders can inhibit a group’s strategic flexibility, as leaders fear that implementing a strategic shift will be seen as a sign that their leadership is “wrong,” which can undermine their position. By contrast, the case study found that groups with multiple leaders can develop alternate strategies, allowing the group to select from a strategic menu, quickly adapt to crises of practice in which the existing strategic approach is ineffective, overcome the barriers, and thus function as a learning organization.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine visited Bucha, in Kyiv region, where mass killings of civilians took place during occupation by Russian troops, April 4, 2022 (President of Ukraine)

The Rules of the Game: Great Power Competition and International Law

By Durward Elton Johnson

The National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and operational concepts in joint military doctrine painting a bleak picture of global threats and persistent competition. In fact, these documents portray the United States as being at another inflection point in modern conflict with a return to Great Power competition. For the Department of Defense (DOD), a renewed focus on state-on-state strategic competition is premised on revisionist powers, such as Russia and China, and rogue regimes, such as Iran and North Korea, exploiting U.S. vulnerabilities by taking deliberately malicious actions carefully crafted to avoid armed conflict and a powerful military response. This is a problem.


Navy warplanes (five Douglas SBD Dauntless bombers in foreground and one F4F-4 Grumman Wildcat at tip of deck) played major role in protecting armada during Operation Torch, November 1942 (Naval History and Heritage Command)

Insights on Theater Command and Control from the Creation of Allied Force Headquarters

By J. Bryan Mullins

This article explores the creation of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Allied Force Headquarters (AFHQ) over the summer and fall of 1942 and seeks insights into the difficulties faced by any joint, combined, theater-level headquarters during the early stages of a large-scale war. While 80-years hence technology and practice have improved our ability to stand up a theater headquarters rapidly, the critical challenges faced by AFHQ remain relevant. In general, new joint task forces (JTFs) will face the same five general challenges that AFHQ had to overcome.

Admiral Togo Heihachiro of the Imperial Japanese Navy on Compass Deck above bridge of IJN Mikasa at beginning of Battle of Tsushima, in 1905; oil painting, February 1906, Tojo Shotaro

Ghosts of Tsushima or Kobayashi Maru? Japan’s Problematic Preoccupation with Decisive Naval Battles in World War II

By Michael W. Major

Tsushima, the great naval victory for Japan, brought Russia to the peace table. However, the consequences of such overwhelming naval victories in the Russo-Japanese War ultimately led Japan’s military leaders to a debilitating preoccupation nearly 40 years later during World War II. As it relentlessly tried to replicate that victorious performance against the United States, Japan’s pursuit of another Tsushima resulted in strategic failures that contributed to its defeat in the Pacific, providing an excellent historical example of cognitive dissonance theory and demonstrating why it is important not to fight a current war with a previous war’s strategy.


Marines currently under 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, and members of Indian military wade to shore during exercise Tiger Triumph, on Kakinada Beach, India, November 19, 2019 (U.S. Marine Corps/Christian Ayers)

Moving Past the Name: Focusing on Practical Implementation of the India-U.S. Strategic Relationship

By Nicholas O. Melin

Indispensable allies,” “natural allies,” “comprehensive global strategic partners,” “defining relationship of the 21st century.” These are a selection of ways American Presidents and Indian prime ministers have described the strategic bilateral relationship over the past dozen years. From the American side, there is concern about India’s “strategic promiscuity” as it retains strong relations with nations in its neighborhood and beyond (such as Russia) that are at odds with U.S. policy positions. At every instance of friction in bilateral relations, Indian analysts express suspicion about U.S. intentions and question the relationship’s reliability. Even the proper label for the relationship itself is a hotly contested topic, so we must ask whether the United States and India are transactional partners, strategic partners, or informal allies.

Marines with Marine Corps Forces Korea begin receiving
Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital, on Camp Humphreys, South Korea, January 13, 2021 (U.S. Marine Corps/Ashley McLaughlin)

U.S. Forces Korea’s Operation Kill the Virus: Combating COVID-19 Together and Sustaining Readiness

By Sharon Y. Kim et. al.

As we face one of the greatest public health threats in recent generations, joint military commands all over the world have been forced to develop operational strategies that maximize force health while sustaining combat readiness. Within the concept of a joint force, however, there remain ongoing struggles on how best to prepare for health crises and how well military commands can work together to handle new stresses of sustaining combat preparedness amid the ongoing pandemic. Among a continuum of uncertainties, how well a joint force works together, learns from each other, trusts each other, and leverages efficiencies will determine the outcome of its cooperative efforts against enemy threats, whether transnational or biological in nature.


Iranian oil platform Rashadat is set afire after being shelled
by four U.S. Navy destroyers during Operation Nimble Archer, October 19, 1987 (U.S. Navy/Henry Cleveland)

Deterrence Without Escalation: Fresh Insights into U.S. Decisionmaking During Operation Earnest Will

By Richard A. Mobley

The events of the so-called Tanker War in the Persian Gulf remain benchmarks in Iranian and U.S. military thinking and offer issues for U.S. senior leaders to reconsider should they again be faced with having to deter Iran in a fast-breaking crisis. Recently declassified material affords additional insights into the challenges of engaging Tehran during Operation Earnest Will, the U.S. Navy effort to escort and protect reflagged Kuwaiti tankers against potential Iranian attack, particularly during the war’s last years in 1987 and 1988. Earnest Will presented challenges in understanding Iranian decisionmaking, producing persuasive intelligence, messaging Iran, achieving deterrence without unintentional escalation, and discovering diplomatic offramps. Although decades have since elapsed, U.S. leadership might have reason to recall the following lessons from that operation should the United States face a bounded, but prolonged, conflict with the Islamic Republic.

Book Reviews

AI at War: How Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning Are Changing Naval Warfare

AI at War: How Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning Are Changing Naval Warfare

Reviewed by Frank Hoffman

There are many books and TED Talks about artificial intelligence (AI) these days, and most assert that this technology will revolutionize our politics, economy, and way of life. Futurists including Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (Basic Books, 2016), claim that AI and the various technologies that constitute both it and robotics will transform industries and rival the impact of electricity in our lives. A decade ago, one could be doubtful about the hype associated with AI, automation, and autonomous systems. Today, however, AI systems are increasingly used commercially and generate tangible advantages for those who master its applications and alter their operating methods appropriately.

Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers

Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers

Reviewed by Janine Lafortune

Sandworm reads like a fiction crime thriller but raises the alarm about a looming nonfiction threat: unrestricted cyber war. Andy Greenberg, the author and a senior writer for Wired, cautions readers that the world is in the midst of a global cyber arms race. He forewarns that civilian critical infrastructure remains highly vulnerable to cyber attacks by aggressive state and nonstate actors. He identifies malicious cyber attacks, as part of a new tit-for-tat, with escalation mirroring that of the Cold War, with increasingly sophisticated cyber attack methods and capabilities constituting a new, modern arms race. He concludes with an ominous message: that the next cyber doomsday is not a matter of if but when.

This is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality

This is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality

Reviewed by Jeffrey Mankoff

Weaving together stories from his own life and interviews with journalists, scholars, and practitioners (Pavlovsky among them) in multiple countries, Pomerantsev has crafted, in This is Not Propaganda, a wide-ranging and readable account of how the post–Cold War promise of a global liberal democratic utopia came apart, first in Russia and then, increasingly, in the rest of the world—including the United States. While emphasizing the role of Putin’s Russia, Pomerantsev suggests that the current era of democratic malaise is extensive—and everywhere intractable.

Joint Doctrine

Private First Class Raymond Rumpa, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Division, with 90mm recoilless rifle, walks by as Viet Cong base camp burns, My Tho, Vietnam, April 5, 1968 (U.S. Army/National Archives and Records Administration/Dennis Kurpius)

The Integrated “Nonwar” in Vietnam

By Christopher Sims

The failure of U.S.-led forces to forge a stable Afghan state with robust security forces in a two-decades-long civil-military effort is only the most recent of a series of foreign policy failures that include the invasion and occupation of Iraq, intervention in Somalia, and reach back to the Vietnam War. A recurrent issue across time and geography is the discrepancy between American preconceptions of the operating environment and local reality. The inevitable result is that resources are misdirected. As one province chief in the Vietnam War, Tran Ngoc Chau, recalled, “Give me a budget that equals the cost of one American helicopter, and I’ll give you a pacified province. With that much money, I can raise the standard of living of the rice farmers and government officials can be paid enough so they won’t think it is necessary to steal.”

Joint Doctrine Update

By The Joint Staff

Joint Doctrine Update.