Joint Force Quarterly 111

Joint Force Quarterly 111

(4th Quarter, October 2023)

Sharpening Our Competitive Edge

  • USAFRICOM Guardian of the Seams
  • Winners of the 2023 Essay Competition

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Astronaut Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea), aboard Discovery One spacecraft, interacts with HAL 9000 computer in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey (Allstar Picture Library Limited/Alamy)

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason

As the outline of the Joint Warfighting Concept begins to become clearer to the joint force and beyond, we hope to hear from you about how it relates to your vision of the future, AI, geopolitical issues, and more. While this world may seem increasingly complex and complicated, sharing your thoughts on how to deal with it is always of value to our nation’s leadership and your battle buddies alike. JFQ is always ready to air them out.

MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, assigned to “Tridents” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 9, takes off from aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford as it prepares to conduct vertical replenishment with Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy, May 12, 2023, in Atlantic Ocean (U.S. Navy/Malachi Lakey)

A Symphony of Capabilities: How the Joint Warfighting Concept Guides Service Force Design and Development

By Thomas A. Walsh and Alexandra L. Huber

The United States today faces complex global challenges, including long-term strategic competition with major powers such as China and Russia. Rapidly evolving technologies are changing the character of warfare, and we are only just beginning to understand the implications of these changes. History shows that in times like this, nations that best capitalize on these changes create the greatest advantages in battle. Adapting to this evolving landscape requires the joint force to integrate capabilities and synchronize effects fluidly across domains.

11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and Threat Systems Management Office operate swarm of 40 drones to test rotational units’ capabilities during Battle of Razish, National Training Center, May 8, 2019 (U.S. Army/James Newsome)

Sharpening Our Competitive Edge: Honing Our Warfighting Capabilities Through the Joint Warfighting Concept

By Admiral Christopher W. Grady

The Joint Warfighting Concept (JWC) challenges the joint force to rethink competition, deterrence, and conflict. This necessitates a shift in how we utilize our current capabilities and a leap toward new ones. To truly sharpen our competitive edge, we must outpace our adversaries in adaptability and innovation. While the Pentagon has made strides in recent years, there is more to be done.

Soldiers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, execute joint training event with
NATO Allies during Northern Forest 23, at Rovajärvi military range and training area, Finland, May 28, 2023 (U.S. Army/Kasimir Jackson)

Embracing Change: A Sense of Urgency

By Philippe Lavigne

At the dawn of an ever-evolving geopolitical era, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the world’s most powerful political and military alliance, faces a new reality. This article examines the issues facing NATO and suggests ways to modernize and adapt the Alliance to meet current and future security challenges.

Essay Competitions

Essay Competition Judges

Winners of the 2023 Essay Competitions

By NDU Press

NDU Press hosted the final round of judging on May 11–12, 2023, during which 29 faculty judges from 17 participating professional military education (PME) institutions selected the best entries in each category. There were 95 submissions in this year’s three categories. First Place winners in each of the three categories appear in the following pages.

Mt. Hood and wheat fields near Dufur, Oregon, November 23, 2017 (Courtesy Jim Choate)

Weaponizing Wheat: How Strategic Competition With Russia Could Threaten American Food Security

By Karl A. Scheuerman

In the history of warfare, belligerents have often targeted food supplies to force opponents into submission. In America’s wars over the last century, threats to domestic food security have been minimal. We are now in an era of increased globalization, where food supply chains span the oceans. America faces the renewed rise of strategic competition as China and Russia seek to replace U.S. power across the globe. Given these new realities, timely evaluation of potential vulnerabilities to American food production is necessary.

Navy Hospital Corpsman Second Class Jeffrey Ortberg, center, with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, asks for assistance on simulated casualty during mass casualty exercise aboard amphibious assault ship USS America, Pacific Ocean, June 19, 2023 (U.S. Marine Corps/Christopher R. Lape)

It’s Not Just About the Algorithm: Development of a Joint Medical Artificial Intelligence Capability

By Benjamin P. Donham

Recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have highlighted the sophisticated potential of this technology to drastically improve all aspects of medicine. AI has the promise of significantly improving many aspects of combat casualty care, including maximizing the impact of limited medical capabilities. However, because of the military’s unique operating environment, the military health system cannot rely on civilian medicine to develop AI capabilities. Given this, the military health system needs to develop a strategic approach to the generation of a medical AI capability for the joint force.

Participants from Germany Space Situational Awareness Centre monitor, track, and assess simulated antisatellite weapon attack along with resulting space debris during 7th and final day of Global Sentinel 2022, Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, August 2, 2022 (U.S. Space
Command/John Ayre)

Space Denial: A Deterrence Strategy

By Nathaniel A. Peace

Space assets are strategic and crucial to U.S. national security in maintaining military superiority across the land, maritime, air, and cyber domains. U.S. adversaries recognize this advantage and intend to challenge American interests in space. As the leading space powers continue to enhance their direct-ascent capabilities, the United States must adopt a deterrence strategy through building robust constellations, optimizing satellite placement, and integrating U.S. Government–owned sensors on allies, strategic partners, and commercial satellites.

Special Feature

General Michael E. Langley, USMC, is Commander of U.S. Africa Command.

An Interview with Michael E. Langley

By William T. Eliason

It is an honor to convey the USAFRICOM message in this publication; Joint Force Quarterly is an important forum for strategic discussion. Africa is both key strategic and geopolitical terrain due to its physical geography, wealth of resources, and fast-growing populations. These attributes make Africa an increasingly contested environment as strategic competitors, violent extremist organizations [VEOs], and transnational criminal organizations collectively seek to exploit African nations for their gain.

Benin navy Maitre Major Hermann Hungije addresses Benin navy and police force personnel and U.S. Coast Guard personnel from Law Enforcement Detachment 403 as they conduct close-quarters combat training during Obangame Express 2023, in Lagos, Nigeria, January 25, 2023 (U.S. Navy/Cameron C. Edy)

Guardian of the Seams: U.S. Africa Command at the Intersection of Diplomacy, Development, and Defense

By Melissa A. Stafford, Benjamin A. Okonofua, William J. Campbell, and Garth H. Anderson

By its constitution, programs, and ethos, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) is committed to the idea that knowledge should unify rather than fragment actions, concepts, and relationships. The commander of USAFRICOM, General Michael E. Langley, USMC, charged us in this article and the two that follow to explore the concept of seams and challenged us to identify and address the disparities that potentially undermine the effectiveness of U.S. engagements with African partner forces—whether these differences are interagency relationships, resources, rules and authorities, priorities, objectives, data, or something yet unidentified.

Senegalese soldier secures enemy combatant during simulated raid conducted after gathering intelligence in pursuit of malign actors as part of Flintlock 20 scenario, near Atar, Mauritania, on February 26, 2020 (U.S. Army/Conner Douglas)

Defense Diplomacy: Professionalizing the Purple to Gold Pipeline

By Rose P. Keravuori, Peter G. Bailey, Eric A. Swett, and William P. Duval

The joint force prioritizes joint experience as a requirement for senior military leaders through joint qualification accreditation but currently has no formal requirement or incentive for interagency experience, the importance of which has been repeatedly discussed and advocated for in professional journals over the last two decades. The introduction of an interagency qualification requirement for career advancement would expand acculturation across development, diplomacy, and defense agencies.

U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Jared Todd, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape air advisor, and Tanzania air force command Colonel Ian Haule discuss radio communication techniques at African Partnership Flight Kenya 2019, Laikipia Air Base, Kenya, August 22, 2019 (U.S. Air Force/Renae Pittman)

Convergence of Opportunities

By Opher Heymann and Peter Yeager

Africa represents a more intense interest to the United States than is commonly recognized. The President’s national security agenda can be substantially advanced through U.S. engagement with African states. In this decisive decade, America’s desire to support and advance the open international order could lose ground to authoritarianism and repression. Assisting the economic and political development of African states represents a significant opportunity to improve the global penetration of free market democracy while frustrating the inroads of America’s illiberal competitors.


Russia’s icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy moves into ice near Sabetta, Tyumen region, Russia, April 4, 2021 (Shutterstock)

Friction Points in the Sino-Russian Arctic Partnership

By Adam Lajeunesse, P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Sergey Sukhankin, and Troy J. Bouffard

This article is an overview of Sino-Russian friction and points of vulnerability in their Arctic relationship. In this article, we highlight three main areas of friction—navigation, resource exploitation, and infrastructure—that we see as exploitable gaps in the relationship. Western observers and commentators should not be neutral in observing this relationship; rather, we might benefit from shining a light on these issues that Beijing and Moscow have so assiduously sought to sidestep.

Italian navy anti-submarine frigate ITS Carlo Margottini and command and control ship USS Mount Whitney transit alongside USS Harry S. Truman in support of Neptune Strike 22, February 2, 2022, in Adriatic Sea (U.S. Navy/Hunter Day)

Risky Business: Using the Joint Force’s Framework for Managing Risk

By Bryan Groves, Jerad M. Rich, and Kaley Scholl

This article provides the analytical basis for the Joint Risk Analysis Methodology (JRAM), the framework for appraising and managing risk. It explains how risk informs national security decisionmaking. The JRAM is useful and flexible, within limits, to facilitate commanders’ decisionmaking regardless of level. Beyond education, the purpose is to illustrate key risk considerations, including impacts of mitigation measures to other regions and across time in a multipolar environment.

Soldiers with the 452nd Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion stand by and check their equipment during convoy in Belgium, November 4, 1944 (U.S. Army Signal Corps/Library of Congress)

Absent From the Front: What the Case of the Missing World War II Black Combat Soldier Can Teach Us About Diversity and Inclusion

By Bryon Greenwald

This article highlights the systematic discrimination against Blacks in World War II and shows through three vignettes how the perception of Black Servicemen changed as White men began to associate with them and gradually include them in their combat space. The lesson this article offers for diversity, equity, and inclusion suggests that the assumptions a majority makes about a minority are often wrong, and when they are placed together and required to interact, attitudes can and will change.

Navy Lieutenant Mayra Perez, Tours With Industry fellow, speaks to George Washington High School students during Navy Promotional Day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 11, 2022 (U.S. Navy/Diana Quinlan)

Training With Industry: Integrating the Commercial Defense Industrial Base

By Michael K. Lima

This article examines Training With Industry (TWI)’s impact on the joint force, and it assesses and reviews the perspective of the World War II–era historical TWI program and contrasts it with today’s version. Recommendations are made to incorporate TWI training objectives into the Joint Learning Continuum, ensure individual TWI lessons are captured in the Joint Lessons Learned Program, and modernize the TWI program as a fellowship to address strategic level gaps.


Allied tanker Dixie Arrow, torpedoed in Atlantic Ocean by German U-71, in 1942 (U.S. Navy/National Archives and Records Administration)

Beating Drumbeat: Lessons Learned in Unified Action from the German U-Boat Offensive Against the United States, January–July 1942

By Casey L. Miller, Carl Jappert, and Matthew Jackson

In the first 7 months after the United States entered World War II, a handful of German U-boats almost brought the Allied war effort to a standstill in a shockingly effective campaign against merchant shipping. Examining this case study from a joint perspective provides timeless lessons for contemporary planners.

Book Reviews

Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology

Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology

Reviewed by Brennan Gallagher

Miller delivers an insightful discussion of several conflicts associated with the rise of semiconductors and provides a detailed history of the industry, the tycoons who shaped it, and the strategic importance of Taiwan’s role in the current geopolitical environment. He omits the typical arguments that revolve around the defense of democracy and liberalist ideology, instead offering a coherent realist rationale for the defense of Taiwan. Miller’s compelling thesis is that the semiconductor industry shapes international politics, the world economy, and the global balance of power. Even though it is unstated, Miller uses the framework of strategic competition between the United States and China to address the criticality of high-end semiconductors.

The American War in Afghanistan: A History

The American War in Afghanistan: A History

Reviewed by Kevin D. Stringer

Carter Malkasian provides a magisterial and balanced account of the American intervention in Afghanistan from 2001 until the early months of 2021. His writing, analysis, and credibility are buttressed by his multiple deployments to the country at both the provincial and district levels as well as by his fluency in Pashto. Since the topic can be approached from a myriad of perspectives, Malkasian’s book is likely the first in a long series of historical examinations over the next several decades. His book can serve as the flagship for those who follow, given its comprehensiveness and lucidity.

The Drone Age: How Drone Technology Will Change War and Peace

The Drone Age: How Drone Technology Will Change War and Peace

Reviewed by John W. Sutherlin

Timely, relevant, and provocative, Michael J. Boyle’s The Drone Age makes the point better than any other on the subject: the sky is full of drones, and policymakers, especially those in defense agencies, need to come to terms with this technology.