Joint Force Quarterly 90

Joint Force Quarterly 90

(3rd Quarter, July 2018)

Strategic Shaping

  • Innovation on a Budget
  • Demosthenes, Churchill, and the Consensus Delusion

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Senior Airman checks inside of C-17 Globemaster III before beginning preflight inspection March 27, 2013, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio (U.S. Air Force/Mikhail Berlin)

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason

How well does the U.S. military transform? When are the best time and circumstances to change how the joint force does business? In search of some answers, I came across a short but powerful article written a few years ago by two consultants to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, David Chinn and John Dowdy. They conducted a survey in December 2014 of “almost 1,000 leaders and senior employees in more than 30 U.S. Government agencies and found that only 40 percent believed that their transformation programs succeeded.” Even though these results do not seem heartening to those “change agents” among us, their research suggests how to change one’s military even in a period of budgetary pressure, as was recently experienced in Europe and the United States. In fact, as of this writing, the Budgetary Control Act (or so-called sequestration) is still in force, but the Department of Defense budgetary outlook is fairly bright. So, if we needed to do some thinking when money was tight, should these suggestions not be applied as the situation improves? Let’s take a minute to see if this is the case.

Airman with 379th Operations Support Squadron performs maintenance on satellite dish at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, March 30, 2018, as part of Operation Silent Sentry, protecting critical satellite communication links (U.S. Air National Guard/Phil Speck)

Intelligence in a Data-Driven Age

By Cortney Weinbaum and John N.T. Shanahan

In this article, the authors explore alternative methods to create long-term competitive advantage by increasing collaboration between the intelligence community and machines, with an emphasis on artificial intelligence and machine learning. The intelligence community is battle-trained if overworked as a result of continuous operations since 2001, and its technological advantage may be at risk because intelligence systems are collecting data in too many disconnected and diverse formats, and relying on systems that are disconnected, non-standard or inaccessible. Nonetheless, artificial intelligence and machine learning will be instrumental to increase the effectiveness of future intelligence analysts and to sustain our competitive advantage.

Seaman handles mooring line on fantail of aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt during regularly scheduled port visit to Singapore, April 2, 2018 (U.S. Navy/Michael Colemanberry)

Strategic Shaping: Expanding the Competitive Space

By Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Matthew D. Strohmeyer, and Christopher D. Forrest

This article presents a new concept called Strategic Shaping, an integrated whole-of-government approach which targets an adversary’s strategic intentions, disrupts their political calculus, and thus deters them from military action. The idea is to present multiple, complex dilemmas to an adversary’s leadership and remove their sense of control over the situation. Strategic Shaping will help the U.S. defense establishment maintain military advantage prior to or during a crisis with major competitors such as China and Russia, both of whom have recently exploited advantages below the threshold of armed conflict to accomplish their strategic objectives.

F/A-18E Super Hornet from Tophatters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14 participates in airpower demonstration over aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, Pacific Ocean, April 24, 2013 (U.S. Navy/Ignacio D. Perez)

The Future of the Aircraft Carrier and the Carrier Air Wing

By Michael E. O’Hanlon

What is the future of the aircraft carrier for the U.S. Navy? Based on a variety of threats ranging from computer systems vulnerable to hacking, China’s latest ballistic missiles, the proliferation of quiet attack submarines and the spread of nuclear weapons, you could argue the carrier may someday become obsolete. Others predict that carriers will continue to perform many of the same missions as they’ve always done. In any case, the U.S. Navy should rethink joint warfighting concepts in strategic as well as technological terms and figure out what this means for the carrier fleet and associated carrier wings.

JPME Today

View from aft flight deck window of DOD picosatellite known as Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment, after release from shuttle payload bay by STS-116 crewmembers, December 2006 (NASA)

568 Balls in the Air: Planning for the Loss of Space Capabilities

By Chadwick D. Igl, Candy S. Smith, Daniel R. Fowler, and William L. Angermann

This article explores the integration of space capabilities and explains the strategic, operational and tactical risks the U.S. military has assumed as a result. The authors recommend that joint warfighters of the future begin to prepare now, with continuity plans when space is denied, degraded or disrupted. Failure to consider such risk factors could lead to severe degradation of U.S. military capability with disastrous results. Measured in terms of lives lost, such a failure would be reminiscent of wars fought in the pre-digital age. However, losses on this scale are simply unacceptable, especially when this risk can be mitigated.

U.S. Marines with Force Reconnaissance Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force; British Royal Marines with J Company, 42 Commando; and U.S. Sailors with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5, attempt to breach door during raids training in Guam, March 20, 2018 (U.S. Marine Corps/Carl King)

Transregional Capstone Exercise: Training for Tomorrow’s Fight

By William A. Buell, Erin Dorrance, and Robert West

This article proposes a Transregional Capstone Exercise to address shortfalls in Joint Force training against potential challenges from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and others. This article proposes four training objectives and a concise framework for regular exercises to help fulfill the Chairman’s vision for the Joint Force, and satisfy the need for all combatant commanders to anticipate transregional, multifunctional, and multi-domain conflict in a global scenario. Despite the logistical challenges and lack of transregional doctrine, these exercises would set the Joint Force on a trajectory to defend the U.S. against the transregional threats of tomorrow.

Scheduled to completely replace CH-53E Super Stallion by 2030, CH-53K King Stallion lands after test flight in West Palm Beach, Florida, March 22, 2017 (U.S. Marine Corps/Molly Hampton)

The Case for Joint Force Acquisition Reform

By Michael E. McInerney, Conway Lin, Brandon D. Smith, and Joseph S. Lupa

This article calls attention to the flaws in the Defense Acquisition System (DAS) which promote competition rather than cooperation. The authors argue that the Services are motivated by parochial incentives which do not align with the combatant command structure despite the jointness imposed by the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. In order to empower Combatant Commanders and the Joint Staff with early and direct influence over materiel development, the DAS must be reformed. The Services must act as agents working in alignment with the combatant command structure, and Service procurement budgets must allow for greater flexibility to promote Joint Force development.


U.S. Army 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Soldier checks map of training area during long-range snowmobile movement drill for Northern Griffin 2018 in Rovaniemi, Finland, March 12, 2018 (U.S. Army/Kent Redmond)

U.S. Special Operations Command’s Future, by Design

By Charles N. Black, Richard D. Newton, Mary Ann Nobles, and David Charles Ellis

This commentary introduces a new approach to problem-solving developed by the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The USSOCOM Design Way is a fusion of design thinking and military planning, which promotes creativity, critical thinking and innovation, and emphasizes divergent perspectives across the Joint Force. The USSOCOM Design Way goes beyond operations planning and has proven successful dealing with the complexities of resourcing, policy, acquisitions, as well as joint planning and programming. As the authors suggest, this approach has demonstrated appeal across the Joint Force, from the commander to the action officer, in response to a wide range of complex challenges.

Soldiers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Security Forces Assistance Brigade, pull security duty during patrol in Bermal district of Paktika Province, Afghanistan, April 27, 2013 (U.S. Army/Mark A. Moore II)

Enhancing Global Security Through Security Force Assistance

By Keith D. Smith

This commentary advocates for renewed emphasis on activities that support the capacity and capability of foreign security forces and their supporting institutions, also known as Security Force Assistance (SFA). SFA creates a framework for improved partnerships and stronger alliances, and encourages our global partners to carry a greater share of the security burden. The author calls for improvements to interoperability between current and future coalition forces and additional training of senior-level ministerial advisors among other initiatives. With continued focus and determination, SFA can help build more capable partners and facilitate peace, security and stability.

Multimission, supersonic bomber B-1B Lancer parked on flightline at Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom, June 9, 2017, supports exercises Baltops 17 and Saber Strike 17 (U.S. Air Force/Curt Beach)

Cooking Shows, Corollas, and Innovation on a Budget

By Mike Jernigan and Jason Cooper

This commentary explains how the effects of globalization and rapid advancements in technology have changed the geopolitical power balance. Advances in military technology and the introduction of hybrid threat capabilities have obscured traditional categories of warfare and increased the difficulty of matching capabilities to meet contemporary challenges. For the U.S. to maintain preeminence, says the author, it must develop innovative technological solutions without neglecting other aspects of innovation. For example, the U.S. should invest widely in technology and science, but also create more flexible and adaptive organizations and cultivate leaders prepared to innovate and accept the inherent risk.


Airman prepares inert weapon for loading during annual weapons load competition in Hangar One at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, January 20, 2016 (U.S. Air Force/Preston Cherry)

Bombs, Not Broadcasts: U.S. Preference for Kinetic Strategy in Asymmetric Conflict

By Cole Livieratos

In this feature article, the author explores reasons why U.S. strategy in asymmetric conflict has focused so heavily on kinetic operations while conceding the information domain to weaker adversaries. This scenario is a consistent feature of every asymmetric conflict the U.S. has been involved in over the past several decades. In order for the U.S. military to be more successful in asymmetric wars, it needs to give company and battalion commanders authority to conduct information operations, move away from the mentality of treating messages like munitions, and create an organizational culture that fully appreciates the importance of information operations.

PHL-03 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems attached to army brigade with People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command fire salvo of 300mm surface-to-surface rockets at simulated ground targets during live-fire training exercise in Gobi Desert of Northwest China, August 8, 2017 (Courtesy China Military Online/Jiang Xiaoliang)

Reverse Engineering Goldwater-Nichols: China’s Joint Force Reforms

By Shane A. Smith, Thomas Henderschedt, and Timothy D. Luedecking

This feature article examines the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army, particularly its operational capability within the People’s Republic of China and recent efforts to develop its capability as an expeditionary force. While the U.S. military has been reorganizing since the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, China has paid close attention and taken significant steps, for example, in the creation of new joint warfighting commands, reorganization of its department system, and creation of new military services. These reform efforts have not been entirely successful, however, due to entrenched bureaucratic interests and the lack of recent combat operations.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill in garden of presidential villa during Casablanca Conference, French Morocco, January 1943 (U.S. Navy, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

Don’t Shoot the Messenger: Demosthenes, Churchill, and the Consensus Delusion

By Michael P. Ferguson

In this feature article, the author compares the experiences of ancient Greek philosopher Demosthenes and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Though separated by two thousand years, both advocated for rearmament, both were called warmongers, and both were sidelined as a result. Far from provoking conflict, Demosthenes and Churchill sought to avoid war by strengthening military readiness and reinforcing support for their allies to make war less appealing to their adversaries. The lessons of Demosthenes and Churchill are still relevant as the Joint Force struggles with its own challenges in the midst of growing threats from actors across multiple domains.


Defending the AEF: Combat Adaptation and Jointness in the Skies over France

By Bryon Greenwald

This article recalls how an untrained cadre of men modified existing French equipment and doctrine to build a small but effective anti-aircraft force during WWI. This history of the A.E.F. Antiaircraft Service highlights how the U.S. military responded to a threat that did not exist a mere decade earlier. In many respects, this type of challenge is familiar to contemporary observers who have watched the Joint Force struggle with intra-service parochialism and the unwillingness to learn from others. Nevertheless, this case history shows what can happen when leaders encourage innovation and adaptation at all levels, top-down, middle-out and bottom-up.

Book Reviews

The Forgotten Front: Patron-Client Relationships in Counterinsurgency

The Forgotten Front (Book Review)

By Andrew Byers

This is an important book for theorists and practitioners of counterinsurgency alike. Ladwig, who teaches at King’s College London, begins by pointing out that most U.S. counterinsurgency thinking errs in assuming that the United States will share common goals, interests, and priorities with the local government that it is supporting. As recent experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan indicate, that assumption should not be taken for granted. In fact, many U.S. elements of strategy applied in counterinsurgency—ending political and military corruption, bolstering political legitimacy by addressing the public’s concerns, engaging in economic reform—may appear just as threatening to the local government’s interests as the insurgency itself. Some local governments’ political and other interests simply do not coincide with those of the United States, and that can lead to tremendous difficulty in convincing them to adopt U.S.-backed reforms. Indeed, Ladwig’s central argument is that the “forgotten front” in these conflicts—the relationship between the United States and local government it is trying to aid—is just as important.

The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy: Why Strategic Superiority Matters

The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy (Book Review)

By Michael Fitzsimmons

Famously, Henry Kissinger once wondered out loud, “What in the name of God is strategic superiority? . . . What do you do with it?” Over 40 years later, the questions still resonate, and Georgetown University professor Matthew Kroenig aims to tackle Kissinger’s quandary. The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy begins with a puzzle: if the basic premise of U.S. nuclear deterrence strategy is supposed to be that the United States can survive a massive nuclear attack and retaliate with great force (so-called assured destruction), why have successive Presidents maintained nuclear capabilities that go well beyond what is required for this goal?

Defense of the West: NATO, the European Union and the Transatlantic Bargain

Defense of the West (Book Review)

By Sten Rynning

In this timely book, one of the most seasoned observers of Atlantic security affairs, Stanley Sloan, offers insights about the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). These insights are linked to a detailed examination of the Alliance’s origins and development. Sloan pinpoints three key alliance drivers—national interests, common values, and political leadership—and offers a carefully circumscribed optimistic conclusion: common national interests and values are strong, but political leadership is volatile and in need of constructive and effective management.

Joint Doctrine

U.S. Coastguardsman offloads cocaine at Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Florida, September 18, 2014 (U.S. Coast Guard/Jon-Paul Rios)

The U.S. Government’s Approach to Economic Security

By George E. Katsos

This article discusses the importance of economic security, which is the ability to protect and advance U.S. economic interests, shape international interests to suit U.S. policy, and deter non-economic challenges. Because of our increasing dependence on the flow of goods, services, people, capital, information and technology across borders, economic security is vital to U.S. national security. The author argues that combatant commanders and the Joint Force must support whole-of-government efforts by integrating economic security into planning, preparation and training to influence adversarial behavior, maintain order, prepare for relief, and relieve economic insecurity in potential operational areas.

Joint Doctrine Update

By The Joint Staff

Joint Doctrine Updates.