Oct. 1, 2015 —
As this column is written, a number of significant events are occurring that will shape the future joint force. The barriers to women engaging in ground combat are being reassessed and, in all likelihood, most if not all will be removed. At the same time, the U.S. Army’s end-strength is expected to be reduced significantly (to below pre-9/11 levels), while other Services are already there. The price of oil has hit historic lows and global stock markets have fallen significantly. The situation would seem to put pressure on some states that depend on high oil prices for revenue. The combat and growing refugee crises in Syria and Iraq (and now Europe) continue without end. Afghanistan is still dealing with a difficult transition. The area around the demilitarized zone on the Korean Peninsula once again has both sides on high alert but talking to each other at Panmunjom. On the home front, another Presidential and congressional election campaign has begun while the sequestration shadow looms over the Federal Government and especially the Department of Defense. What does this all mean?
Rangers from 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, as part of a combined Afghan and coalition security force operating in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, await CH-47 for extraction (DOD/Pedro Amador)
The easy answer is that a great deal of unsettled business from the past is likely to remain while some new work is added to our collective “inboxes.” Inside the military, as I have said in previous columns, the need for smart leaders who can figure out a way to lead their organizations to success will continue. Constrained budgets are nothing new for many of us, so adapting to these circumstances should be almost standard operating procedure. The hard part, I suspect, will be figuring out how to keep the best people in the force even though the tempo of operations may not get slower, despite the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the force continues at a high operational tempo in part because of unfolding events around the globe. The good news is that we will always find we have great people among us who know what to do even when the circumstances unfold in unexpected ways, as we saw recently on a high-speed train from Brussels to Paris. Five people took action to stop a man with weapons and the intent to do harm, and each was rightly awarded France’s highest honor—the Legion of Honor—for taking swift and effective action. As we now know, four were Americans, including two Servicemembers, and the other hero was a British businessman. While few of us will ever find ourselves in such a situation, being able to respond to a threat by doing what you think is best—especially for the common good of others around you—is often the difference between success and failure, and these times call for people doing what they think is best for the common good. Those who serve their nation honorably are just such people. Some even try to share their good ideas for how to do what is best through journals like this one. If you are looking for good ideas to help you deal with increasingly difficult events, I think you will benefit by reading Joint Force Quarterly.
This issue’s Forum begins with an article by Paul B. Symon and Arzan Tarapore, who see both the great potential and the inherent risks in harnessing big data to our intelligence processes. Seeking to improve another key strategic process, Catherine Johnston and her co-authors from the Intelligence Community offer insight into how intelligence analysis is adapting to the disorganized world we work in. Alexander L. Carter next provides some important ideas regarding improving joint interagency coordination. As we continue to assess the last several years of war and its aftermath, Jeffrey M. Shanahan provides a new look at stability operations as seen through the lens of mission command.
JFQ next presents the winning essays from the 9th annual Secretary of Defense and 34th annual Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Essay Competitions. In May, 24 judges from across the joint professional military education (JPME) community met to determine the best JPME student entries among the three categories. This year’s winners provide a diverse set of issues and recommendations to consider. In his winning Secretary of Defense National Security Essay, Lieutenant Colonel Wallace R. Turnbull III, USAF, argues that the nuclear force structure planned for 2040 lacks key elements in the air-delivered elements of the triad that must be considered for our deterrent to be credible in 25 years. Winning the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Strategic Research Paper competition, Lieutenant Colonel (P) Patrick Michael Duggan, USA, discusses the role for special warfare operations in cyberspace. In the Chairman’s Strategy Article, Lieutenant Colonel Robert William Schultz, USA, discusses how to deal with extremist groups in cyberspace.
In JPME Today, the discussion of two important and ever-present issues for graduate studies, and PME in particular, are brought into focus in two excellent articles from teams within the U.S. Army’s PME institutions. If you missed the class on what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, you will want to read and share Larry D. Miller and Laura A. Wackwitz’s engaging article on the nexus between an author’s expression of thought and ethical behavior, especially how it affects national security. William G. Pierce, James E. Gordon, and Paul C. Jussel, a team from the U.S. Army War College, next offer suggestions on how to help PME instructors possessing advanced but dated operational experience remain relevant in the classroom.
In Commentary you will find Robert A. Gleckler’s important analysis of war planning. His article should help those who are not planners understand the strengths and limitations of our most important military efforts prior to the start of operations. As a former operational and strategic planner myself, looking at what the plans can mean for strategic decisionmakers is a unique interpretation, at least in the pages of military journals.
Our Features section takes on three distinct but central issues for the joint force: the effect of military pay and compensation on the force we can field, how best to manage theater air and missile defense at the operational level, and how cyber has an impact on conventional combat power. Anyone who has served or been aware of the pace of compensation in recent years for military members, especially those approaching or at retirement age, knows that the benefits currently provided have been steadily increasing. Mark F. Cancian shows us what he believes is the consequence of that part of the Defense Department budget growing as the total budget is affected by legislated cuts: the military’s force structure. Edward Boxx and Jason Schuyler suggest a better way to organize decisionmaking at the operational level of air and space warfare through the Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense Board. As military leaders at all levels search for ways to get more while dealing with less resources, Sean Kern sees the development of military cyber power theory as crucial to adding punch to our combat power.
Continuing our Recall offerings on World War I during this 100th anniversary period of the “war to end all wars,” Raymond Adams takes us to the Gallipoli Campaign, the last great battle of the Ottoman Empire, and shows us how things went wrong for the Allies far from the fields of France. As the title suggests, strategy only works when ends and means are matched. The hard part is getting them to do so when the fighting starts.
Joint Doctrine provides two interesting and important articles. A team of experts, led by the Joint Staff J7’s James C. McArthur, provides us with the first in a series of articles on interagency organization. Jon T. Thomas and Douglas L. Schultz then offer an excellent recap on the history and status of the 30-year-long effort to achieve success in providing the joint force with the effective lessons learned capability now known as the Chairman’s Joint Lessons Learned Program. Of course, we also bring you the latest Joint Doctrine Update as well as three book reviews on Russia, PTSD, and corruption in Afghanistan to help you in your professional reading.
No matter what new challenges the world brings us, JFQ will endeavor to provide what you have come to expect from us: high-quality thinking and writing that is useful as you work your way forward. Let us know what you think. JFQ
William T. Eliason
Editor in Chief