Joint Doctrine


News | April 1, 2015

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason Joint Force Quarterly 77

A century and a half has passed since the end of the American Civil War and reminders both physical and cultural surround us, especially here in the Nation’s capital. So let us reflect on one important idea of that time that today all Americans should consider, one that President Abraham Lincoln himself held in the front of his mind throughout the war: the value of seeking unity from diverse opinions. But what do we truly know about Lincoln’s leadership skills? Actually, a great deal.

One book I find very insightful regarding his leadership is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 2005 Team of Rivals. Goodwin writes about Lincoln and his four main Republican rivals in the 1860 election, all of whom became members of his wartime Cabinet. Lincoln in time proved very masterful at understanding the Union’s security environment during the war, even if his record shows he suffered through a series of less than effective generals who often did not seem to share his understanding. Probably the supreme example of Lincoln’s understanding came during the Overland Campaign in May and June of 1864 when, despite incurring horrendous losses in Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant’s forces in Virginia, the President decided to back Grant’s campaign. He saw it as the only real option to exhaust Lee’s army and remove the South’s remaining military strength.

President Lincoln (Mathew Brady)

President Lincoln (Mathew Brady)

Surprise and uncertainty accompanied every turn of events in this war, but with each sign of bad fortune, Lincoln repeatedly summoned within himself an extraordinary amount of resiliency. From the losses early in the war to the death of his son, the President always weathered the storms of his personal and professional lives.

As the war wore on after Antietam, Lincoln saw an opportunity to seize the political initiative through his issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, which packed the potential for a great amount of pushback on both sides of the conflict. After Gettysburg, he again saw the need for a change in leadership when he found “a general who can fight” in Grant.

From his efforts to understand and empower his political rivals around his cabinet table to work together for the common cause to his trust in Grant to lead the Union forces to victory, Lincoln demonstrated time and again a full command of the ability to operate on intent through trust, empowerment, and understanding. While this seems fairly obvious to most, the fact that these attributes are still what senior military leaders value some 150 years later speaks volumes about the measure of Lincoln as a leader, as well as the enduring nature of the human condition, especially in our most difficult situations.

In this edition of JFQ, our Forum section brings five very interesting views on issues we cannot actually see in a physical sense but are at the forefront of where defense strategists are working these days. Dorothy E. Denning leads with an important discussion of how cyberspace is far more like traditional domains of warfare than many have said previously, especially when considering strategy-related concepts like deterrence. Another area that is already having a big impact on society and the military is the use of “big data.” A team of Joint Forces Staff College graduates, Karl F. Schneider, David S. Lyle, and Francis X. Murphy, provide us with a very useful essay on the ethical considerations of using big data in a military context. Chandler P. Atwood discusses how big data could be used to revolutionize intelligence analysis through a process called “activity-based intelligence” within the U.S. Air Force, and potentially across the joint force. Following the recent DOD Innovation Initiative announcement, Edie Williams and Alan R. Shaffer suggest that the prototyping of new capabilities can take the department to better solutions to emerging requirements. Cindy Hurst returns to the pages of JFQ with an assessment of the current and rapidly advancing state of Chinese computing and communications.

In JPME Today, Thomas P. Galvin suggests one method of enhancing the educational experience at the war colleges is to leverage an older practice that has fallen somewhat out of favor in some places: faculty papers written specifically for the courses the colleges teach. Taking us back in time in order to measure how far JPME has traveled, Anna T. Waggener compares the current education environment against the recommendations of the 1989 Skelton Panel, which set the bar for joint professional military education, and which she argues has had an obvious and positive impact on the achievement of successful joint combat operations in recent years. Advancing an important area of study for future joint leaders, Professor Milan Vego from the Naval War College returns with a valuable essay on operational leadership.

Technology and its impact on future combat is one theme of our Commentary section in this issue. Randy Eshelman and Douglas Derrick explore the impact of evolving artificial intelligence in machines on national security. Exploring the place of humans in wars of the future, Andrew Herr maps out the necessary arguments to consider as technology evolves at an ever-accelerated rate. Spoiler alert: we still matter, but there is a great deal to consider about how so. Another theme is how best to improve DOD’s national crisis response as Richard Hayes takes us through a review of the Stafford Act as it relates to potential force deployments in our nation.

Our Features section brings us a range of issues to consider from geopolitical concerns in Northeast Asia and our military responses to considerations of operational leadership. Vincent A. Manzo, another JFQ alumnus, returns with his thoughts on what happens in Northeast Asia after the shooting starts. While Air-Sea Battle was the focus of intense discussions related to the Asia-Pacific shift strategy focus, Robert B. Brown and Jason N. Adler bring the land force contribution into focus as they discuss I Corps contribution to U.S. Pacific Command’s operations and planning. Tyrone L. Groh and Richard J. Bailey offer their views on how to improve joint Phase Zero “shaping” operations through the application of a modified operational design process. A special operator by trade, Eugene Haase discusses the further development and value of the Distributed Common Ground System to the future joint force. As we begin to draw away from the environments of recent wars there is great need to reflect on what happened so we can improve our future efforts. Dealing with establishing and sustaining the rule of law where it has been lost is certainly an important area to review as Patrick Reinert and John Hussey lay out what needs to be done in places our joint force might go.

In keeping with the Civil War theme of my opening thoughts on leadership, John Erath presents his essay on that period and what he sees as lessons for strategic leaders today. We also have three excellent book reviews that will lead you to some important works for your professional reading. This edition finishes with an important essay on the future of joint operations and planning doctrine and the Joint Staff’s update on joint doctrine development status.

We note with sadness the passing of the Honorable James P. Terry, whose distinguished career included 27 years of service in the Marine Corps, beginning as an infantry officer and finishing as a colonel, as well as serving as the legal counsel to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell, holding senior positions in the State and Interior Departments, and finally serving as Chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jim was a frequent contributor of both articles and book reviews to JFQ and was a great person to talk with, as all the editors of this journal knew that special pleasure. Jim was a great supporter of many causes with jointness and joint education among the most important to him. Semper Fi, Jim.

If I were allowed to add one leadership attribute to those the Chairman has set out that President Lincoln cultivated throughout his entire life, it would be the willingness and drive to read, learn, write, and speak out on the issues of the day that were important to him. We look forward to receiving your efforts to speak out on the issues that matter to you in support of the future joint force and our nation. JFQ

William T. Eliason
Editor in Chief