Joint Force Quarterly 83

Joint Force Quarterly 83

(4th Quarter, October 2016)

Threat Assessment and Its Perils

  • An Interview with Cecil D. Haney
  • Commentary on Chinese Military Reforms

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Painted by Auguste Couder in 1836, Bataille de Yorktown shows Rochambeau and Washington giving final orders before battle (Palais de Versailles, France)

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason

Living near or visiting the Nation’s capital, you cannot escape the weight of history that surrounds you. From the monuments to the historic buildings, the trails and battlefields, the names on the roads—even the geography itself—force you to consider what happened in the past and what might happen in the future. Even with a political process that at times seems to be stagnant and combative, our nation continues to do what must be done. This is something George Washington knew some 235 years ago when he stopped by Mount Vernon, the home he had not visited for 6 long years of war, as he moved his headquarters toward what would be the most important battle of the Revolutionary War, Yorktown.

Sailor assigned to USS Mustin stands watch in ship’s combat information center during Exercise Valiant Shield 2014, which integrates about 18,000 U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps personnel, more than 200 aircraft, and 19 surface ships for real-world joint operational experience, September 16, 2014 (U.S. Navy/Declan Barnes)

Global Power Distribution and Warfighting in the 21st Century

By John R. Benedict, Jr.

The U.S. national security community needs to focus more on the driving forces and likely associated consequences that will influence warfighting in the 21st century. A disproportionate amount of effort is spent by national security experts on narrow problem and solution spaces without an adequate appreciation of broader trends and potential shocks that could dramatically change U.S. national security perspectives. By largely ignoring these longer term factors, the U.S. military is unlikely to develop the needed national defense capabilities to deal effectively with critical threats in this emerging environment. With even greater fiscal constraints predicted for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) in the decades to come, it is crucial that U.S. military forces and their capabilities be properly aligned to counter a wide spectrum of threats and challenges that could undermine U.S. national security interests in the first half of this century and beyond.

Unmanned Combat Air System X-47B demonstrator flies near aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, first aircraft carrier to successfully catapult launch unmanned aircraft from its flight deck, May 14, 2013 (U.S. Navy/Erik Hildebrandt)

Fast Followers, Learning Machines, and the Third Offset Strategy

By Brent Sadler

Today, the Department of Defense (DOD) is coming to terms with trends forcing a rethinking of how it fights wars. One trend is proliferation of and parity by competitors in precision munitions. Most notable are China’s antiship ballistic missiles and the proliferation of cruise missiles, such as those the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed to use to attack an Egyptian ship off the Sinai in 2014. Another trend is the rapid technological advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics that are enabling the creation of learning machines.

MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper assigned to 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron provided intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, especially during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (U.S. Air Force/Vernon Young, Jr.)

Predicting the Proliferation of Cyber Weapons into Small States

By Daniel Hughes and Andrew M. Colarik

Recent analysis of cyber warfare has been dominated by works focused on the challenges and opportunities it presents to the conventional military dominance of the United States. This was aptly demonstrated by the 2015 assessment from the Director of National Intelligence, who named cyber threats as the number one strategic issue facing the United States.1 Conversely, questions regarding cyber weapons acquisition by small states have received little attention. While individually weak, small states are numerous. They comprise over half the membership of the United Nations and remain important to geopolitical considerations.2 Moreover, these states are facing progressively difficult security investment choices as the balance among global security, regional dominance, and national interests is constantly being assessed. An increasingly relevant factor in these choices is the escalating costs of military platforms and perceptions that cyber warfare may provide a cheap and effective offensive capability to exert strategic influence over geopolitical rivals.

President Obama talks with President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea in Treaty Room Office in Residence of White House, November 23, 2010, after North Korea conducted artillery attack against South Korean island of Yeonpyeong (White House/Pete Souza)

The Danger of False Peril: Avoiding Threat Inflation

By Andrew Stigler

Just as a patient complaining of excruciating pain could still be best served by a wait-and-see approach, the best option in any given national security scenario might be to take no action at all. A calm and evenhanded assessment of the true scope of a perceived threat could be essential to avoiding an unwanted conflict.

JPME Today

Soldiers assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 4th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, provide security with a M109A6 Paladin prior to reconnaissance patrol during Decisive Action Rotation 14-10 at National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, September 24, 2014 (U.S. Army/Richard W. Jones, Jr.)

Wargaming the Third Offset Strategy

By Paul Norwood and Benjamin Jensen

At a November 2014 keynote address at the Reagan National Defense Forum, then–Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the Defense Innovation Initiative (DII) to develop “a game-changing Third Offset Strategy.”1 Just as the First Offset (introduction of nuclear weapons) and the Second Offset (emergence of precision strike) gave the U.S. military significant advantages, a new series of technological building blocks will sustain American military dominance.2 In a December 2015 speech, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work envisioned a future in which autonomous deep learning systems (artificial intelligence), human-machine collaboration, human-assisted operations, combat teaming (robotics), and autonomous weapons will give U.S. forces a competitive advantage.

Audience members listen to General Dunford deliver graduation address at National Defense University’s 2016 graduation ceremony, on Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC, June 9, 2016 (DOD/Sean K. Harp)

I Liked Ike . . . Whence Comes Another? Why PME Needs a Congressional Advocate

By John Kuehn

With all the discussion of troubles in the world of professional military education (PME), the obvious finally dawned on me in a discussion of the issue with a colleague. Ever since former Representative Ike Skelton (D-MO) left Congress in 2010 (dying only 3 years later), PME has needed an advocate in Congress. Historians and pundits, however, including the author of this article, have perhaps missed this essential need in their prescriptions for enhancing, or reforming, higher level military education as it exists in the United States today.1 We cite Ike’s name as the basis for reform but forget his profound role in enabling PME reform in the first place. To better understand that role, we must take a trip, as we historians are wont to do, down memory lane.


Soldiers with People’s Liberation Army at Shenyang training base in China (DOD/D. Myles Cullen)

Is the Chinese Army the Real Winner in PLA Reforms?

By Phillip C. Saunders and John Chen

The apparent PLAA sense of decline may be intensifying. Despite President and CMC Chairman Xi Jinping’s insistence that the army plays an “irreplaceable” role in protecting national interests, the new PLAA commander used his first media interview to refute the notion that “land warfare was outdated and the army is useless.”

Anti-corruption campaign began after conclusion of 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in Beijing, November 2012 (Dong Fang)

China’s Military Reforms: An Optimistic Take

By Michael S. Chase and Jeffrey Engstrom

China is implementing a sweeping reorganization of its military that has the potential to be the most important in the post-1949 history of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).1 Xi Jinping, who serves as China’s president, general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), seeks to transform the PLA into a fully modernized and “informatized” fighting force capable of carrying out joint combat operations, conducting military operations other than war (MOOTW), and providing a powerful strategic deterrent to prevent challenges to China’s interests and constrain the decisions of potential adversaries. Scheduled for completion by 2020, the reforms aim to place the services on a more even footing in the traditionally army-dominated PLA and to enable the military to more effectively harness space, cyberspace, and electronic warfare capabilities. Simultaneously, Xi is looking to rein in PLA corruption and assert his control over the military.

Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth conducts routine patrols in international waters of South China Sea near Spratly Islands as People’s Liberation Army Navy guided-missile frigate Yancheng sails close behind, May 11, 2015 (U.S. Navy/Conor Minto)

Chinese Military Reforms: A Pessimistic Take

By Roger Cliff

On the evening of May 21, 1941, the German battleship Bismarck, escorted by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, departed the Norwegian port of Bergen, intending to conduct commerce raiding against Allied merchant shipping in the Atlantic Ocean. The Bismarck was the world’s largest warship in operation at the time and proved to be virtually unsinkable by naval gunfire; it ultimately absorbed more than 400 direct hits from naval guns, roughly a quarter of which were main battery rounds from other battleships, without sinking. And yet less than 6 days into its first combat mission, the Bismarck had nonetheless been sunk. Better armor or a more powerful armament might have made the Bismarck even more dangerous and difficult to sink, but would not have prevented it from being sunk. Similarly, recent changes to the organizational structure of China’s military have made clear improvements, but do nothing to address its most important weaknesses.

People’s Liberation Army Navy marines stand at attention following demonstration of brigade’s capabilities (U.S. Marine Corps/J.J. Harper)

PLA Reforms and China’s Nuclear Forces

By David Logan

China is in the midst of sweeping military reforms that will affect the force structure, administration, and command and control mechanisms of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The reforms have the dual goals of tightening political control and improving the military’s ability to conduct joint operations. Among the major steps is the creation of the new PLA Rocket Force, which replaced the former Second Artillery in controlling China’s nuclear forces and land-based ballistic and cruise missiles. Despite much attention paid to its new name and higher organizational status, the Rocket Force appears to be the service least affected by the reforms.

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson visits Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Submarine Academy, North Sea Fleet Headquarters, and a PLAN frigate and submarine in Qingdao, China, to improve mutual understanding and encourage professional interaction between U.S. and Chinese navies, July 20, 2016 (U.S. Navy/Nathan Laird)

What Do China’s Military Reforms Mean for Taiwan?

By Joel Wuthnow

In late 2015 and early 2016, China announced a sweeping set of reforms to the organizational structure of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The reforms not only significantly altered the PLA’s organizational structure but also redefined authority relationships among major components. The PLA Air Force and Navy headquarters, which previously commanded operations during peacetime, were reassigned to administrative roles focused on training and equipping troops. Operational authority moved to a two-tiered system in which decisions will be made by the CMC and carried out by theater commanders.


Ballistic missile submarine USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Kings Bay, Georgia, March 20, 2013 (DOD/James Kimber)

An Interview with Cecil D. Haney

By William T. Eliason

During my time at the command, the global security environment has become more complex, dynamic, and volatile—perhaps more so than any time in our history. The continued propagation of asymmetric methods, unprecedented proliferation of advancing technologies, and increasingly provocative and destabilizing behavior by current and potential adversaries are making threats today transregional, multidomain, and multifunctional. Some nations are investing in long-term military modernization programs, including capabilities that could pose an existential threat to the United States. A number of others are developing, sustaining, or modernizing their nuclear forces, including weapons and platforms that are mobile, hardened, and underground.

Flight nurse Airman with 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron works as safety spotter at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 27, 2013, during Exercise Global Medic 2013 (U.S. Air Force/Efren Lopez)

Global Mental Health: Optimizing Uniformed Services Roles

By Brian W. Flynn, Joshua C. Morganstein, Robert J. Ursano, Darrel A. Regier, James C. West, Gary H. Wynn, David M. Benedek, and Carol S. Fullerton

Mental health considerations in the context of global health include an extensive variety of elements and constitute complex and wide-ranging topics. Three perspectives are important to consider. First, direct patient care is not the only role that should be considered important. Second, this article is inclusive of not only military services, but uniformed services. A true uniformed services approach is essential to tackle global health challenges. Third, global health activities in the mental health field have been taking place for decades. These examples demonstrate important lessons as well as the diversity of mental health contributions to global health.

People’s Liberation Army Navy hospital ship Peace Ark Senior Captain Sun Tao shares medical experiences during group activity during Fundamentals of Global Health Engagement Course at Makalapa Clinic as part of Rim of the Pacific 2016, Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam, July 11, 2016 (U.S. Navy/Katarzyna Kobiljak)

Applying Smart Power via Global Health Engagement

By Sebastian Kevany and Michael Baker

The U.S. military is entering a period of dramatic redirection and restructuring at a time of broader international upheaval, from Ukraine to Syria. The past decade of global conflict has emphasized the predominant hard power focus of the Armed Forces, often with limited success. The emergence of a new mission—smart power—offers opportunities to shift toward innovative forms of international intervention and conflict resolution by the U.S. military through coordination with national security strategies such as global health diplomacy (GHD).

NATO Parliamentary Assembly pre-summit conference in London, September 2, 2014 (NATO)

NATO Nouvelle: Everything Old Is New Again

By G. Alexander Crowther

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is heralded as the world’s most successful military alliance. However, it finds itself under pressure from within and without. Some people in NATO countries do not understand the importance of its goal: to safeguard its members’ freedom and security by political and military means. Other people outside NATO countries understand those missions well—and seek to destroy the Alliance.


Corsairs returning from combat mission over North Korea circle USS Boxer as they wait for planes in next strike to launch, September 4, 1951 (U.S. Navy/NARA)

Fighting with Friends: Coalition Warfare in Korean Waters, 1950–1953

By Corbin Williamson

In late June 1950, President Harry Truman ordered U.S. forces into combat against the North Korean invasion of South Korea. One of the first units to respond was a combined U.S. Navy–Royal Navy task force with one aircraft carrier from each navy. Throughout the Korean War, British and American naval forces operated together to support the decisive actions on land. Although Anglo-American naval relations were close throughout the Korean War, these ties could be strained and frayed when U.S. Navy commanders operated as though the Royal Navy was a mirror image of their own fleet. This case study in managing multinational operations serves as a timely reminder for commanders and operators of the importance of understanding the history and organizational structure of their coalition partners and of being prepared to adjust practices and procedures based on this knowledge. The experience of Rear Admiral George Dyer illustrates the dangers of mirror-imaging coalition allies, even those as close as the Royal Navy.

Book Reviews

A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service

A Passion for Leadership

Reviewed by Christopher J. Lamb

Robert Gates’s previous memoirs on his time at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and on the National Security Council staff as well as his tenure as Secretary of Defense were well received as “ultimate insider” accounts. Gates’s latest book, A Passion for Leadership, is different but should prove just as popular for different reasons. Gates distills his government experience, along with his service as president of Texas A&M (the Nation’s fifth largest university), into a treatise on leadership. It is a fitting capstone to an illustrious career, during which he “worked for eight U.S. presidents . . . and observed or worked with fourteen secretaries of state, thirteen secretaries of defense, nine chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, fourteen national security advisers, ten directors of the CIA,” and innumerable senior military officers and diplomats. He has observed and exercised a lot of leadership and believes he has something important to say about the topic. He is right.

Carnage and Connectivity: Landmarks in the Decline of Conventional Military Power

Carnage and Connectivity

Reviewed by Jeffrey Meiser

One approaches the first few pages of Carnage and Connectivity with a sense of trepidation. Do we need another book invoking Carl von Clausewitz’s “remarkable trinity” to explain the changing character (but not nature!) of war? Do we need another book critiquing revolutions in military affairs (RMAs) as unrealistic technophilia? Do we need another book parsing the meaning of cyber power? With a deep sense of foreboding I plowed on, expecting my pessimism to be confirmed. But then I encountered pithy writing, unique insights, and even detected a sense of humor. While Carnage and Connectivity covers well-trodden ground, it does so with exceptional clarity, biting critiques, and the self-confident voice of a seasoned (if not cynical) scholar.

Assessing War: The Challenge of Measuring Success and Failure

Assessing War

Reviewed by Jonathan Schroden

Dr. Philip Meilinger of the Air University once wrote that “one of the most vital yet difficult tasks a wartime commander must perform is strategic assessment.” And yet, as the editors of Assessing War rightfully point out, strategic assessment is a topic that has been underserved by academic and military writers to date. It is into this void that Assessing War commendably charges, with three primary goals: to compile a set of in-depth historical accounts of a crucial, yet neglected, aspect of military history; to refresh our understanding of the assessment problem by refining our models in light of the evolving wartime environments we observe today and may find in the future; and to generate recommendations to assist in establishing future policy, strategy, and doctrine. This is a heady set of goals for one book, and Assessing War ultimately delivers a mixed performance in accomplishing them.

Joint Doctrine

Danish soldier rushes objective during live-fire exercise at Joint Multinational Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, July 4, 2014 (DOD/Markus Rauchenberger)

Let’s Fix or Kill the Center of Gravity Concept

By Dale Eikmeier

The current revision of Joint Publication (JP) 5-0, Joint Operation Planning, provides an opportunity to fix the flawed description of the center of gravity (COG) concept. The description is constructed so poorly that it has fueled endless debate and created volumes of articles and papers—all for something that is supposed to be clearly understood and accepted as the “linchpin in the planning effort.”1 This article proposes a new COG definition that moves away from a Clausewitzian foundation toward a modern 21st-century concept that can end years of debate and let the concept become the useful tool doctrine intended.

Joint Doctrine Update

By The Joint Staff

Joint Doctrine Update.