Joint Force Quarterly 96

Joint Force Quarterly 96

(1st Quarter, January 2020)

The Intellectual Edge and Future War

  • DOD Labs for the 21st Century
  • Megacities and the Joint Force

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Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, move a simulated casualty to triage care during a casualty evacuation exercise aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), underway in the Philippine Sea, June 12, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps, Isaac Cantrell)

Letter to the Editor

By Bruce Gillingham and Kathleen Dagher

The article “Joint Integrative Solutions for Combat Casualty Care in a Pacific War at Sea” by Dion Moten, Bryan Teff, Michael Pyle, Gerald Delk, and Randel Clark (JFQ 94, 3rd Quarter 2019) is an insightful piece that brings to light many issues that the Department of the Navy has been diligently pursuing over the past 2 years. In May 2018, the Chief of Naval Operations directed a comprehensive review of Navy Medicine’s ability to support the concepts of Distributed Maritime Operations and Expeditionary Advanced Basing Operations with the underlying concept of Fleet Design. This review was not conducted solely under the auspices of medical operational requirements in a distributed maritime environment. Rather, it was developed by leveraging capabilities across surface platforms and the combat logistics force in order to enable a comprehensive approach for medical capabilities across warfighting domains.


Albert Einstein, Washington, DC, ca. 1921–1923 (Library of Congress/Harris & Ewing)

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason

This issue of JFQ covers many topics about the decade ahead. In our Forum section there’s an article about the Australian Army’s efforts to advance intellectual development. In JPME Today, we cover the JPME experience and the nature of war. In Commentary, authors write about climate change and great power competition. In our Features section are articles about the role of chaplains in humanitarian assistance and aerial combat during the Vietnam War. As usual, good thinking leads to good writing on many issues facing the Joint Force.

Ensign observes Israeli INS Lahav, left, INS Sufa, center, and USNS Leroy Grumman from USS Carney during exercise Reliant Mermaid 2018, Mediterranean Sea, August 7, 2018 (U.S. Navy/Ryan U. Kledzik)

The Intellectual Edge: A Competitive Advantage for Future War and Strategic Competition

By Mick Ryan

The changing nature of work, demographics and greater integration of national security endeavors will have a major impact on future military personnel. Only by thinking better and building an intellectual edge will military organizations have sufficient capacity to accomplish future national security objectives. Attaining this intellectual edge will require an enterprise wide approach that embraces strategic vision and engagement, and increases investment in joint professional military education. Because the global security environment has changed fundamentally, military organizations must take a more sophisticated approach to academic technology in order to create a culture of continuous learning.

Marine with Marine Rotational Force–Europe 19.2, Marine Forces Europe and Africa, fires M240B machine gun during exercise Sea Breeze 2019, in Chabanka, Ukraine, July 11, 2019 (U.S. Marine Corps/Williams Quinteros)

Reconceiving Modern Warfare: A Unified Model

By KC Reid

Joint warfighting requires integrated thinking across many different capabilities, technologies and functions. This article proposes a new model of joint warfare, which brings together several existing paradigms and facilitates strategic discussion, tactical planning and operational design. First, the author presents and defines the new model, and then applies it to the Joint Planning Process. Tailored for modern technologies and emerging concepts, this unified model serves an example of enhanced thinking that goes into the development of warfighting plans and operations, and enables military strategists, planners, and operators to execute modern warfare.

X-51A Waverider, powered by Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne SJY61 scramjet engine, prepares for hypersonic flight by riding its own shockwave, accelerating to nearly Mach 6 (U.S. Air Force graphic)

Adapting for Victory: DOD Laboratories for the 21st Century

By William T. Cooley, David J. Hahn, and John A. George

The US’s technological advantage is now under threat. In the era of Great Power competition, the People’s Republic of China and Russian Federation are approaching parity in many areas. Their stated intent is to reach full parity and then technological dominance, a situation which would be unacceptable to the US and its allies. The authors call upon the DOD and other government agencies, as well as key partners in industry and academia, to join in a new venture which would reimagine how the US conducts research in fields such as directed energy, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and other emergent technologies.

Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II from Indiana Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing sits on flightline at sunrise during Northern Strike 19 at Alpena
Combat Readiness Training Center, Michigan, July 26, 2019 (U.S. Air National Guard/Matt Hecht)

Beyond Auftragstaktik: The Case Against Hyper-Decentralized Command

By Trent J. Lythgoe

The Prussian concept of mission command emphasizes hyper-decentralization, commander’s intent and low-level initiative. This article argues that such decentralization is no guarantee of command effectiveness. While there is a need to resolve the inherent tension between centralization and decentralization, the author recommends taking a balanced approach, which would empower subordinates to take the initiative while retaining the commander’s ability to coordinate mutual support and mass combat power. While the Prussian approach has some qualities worth emulating, it is less than ideal. An iterative approach based on a continual cycle of synchronization, dissemination and initiative offers the most promising way ahead.

JPME Today

Aircrew member of C-130J Super Hercules assigned to 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron prepares to depart for various bases throughout Afghanistan, August 2, 2019, at Bagram Airfield (U.S. Air Force/Keifer Bowes)

Asking Strategic Questions: A Primer for National Security Professionals

By Andrew Hill and Stephen J. Gerras

Asking good strategic questions is not just a useful leadership habit. In the national security profession, it can save lives and change history. Because leaders have so much power over which questions organizations ask, it is essential that leaders understand the basic characteristics of good strategic questions. Leaders cannot be expected to be experts in all things, but guiding or assessing a strategic question is one area in which they must be active and involved. Strategic questions drive organizational attention, energy, and resources, say the authors, and can make the difference between success and failure.

Marine with 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion Counter–Unmanned Aerial Systems Detachment, attached to Special
Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response–Central Command, conducts functions check on Mine Resistant Ambush
Protected vehicle, Southwest Asia, February 17, 2019 (U.S. Marine Corps/Jack C. Howell)

Clausewitz’s Wondrous Yet Paradoxical Trinity: The Nature of War as a Complex Adaptive System

By Brian Cole

Clausewitz described war as a paradoxical trinity comprised of the tendencies of the people, the commander and his army, and the government. The three elements of the Clausewitz trinity interact within and among the other elements to create a pattern of behavior that is understandable yet unpredictable. Within this trinity, Clausewitz captured the social dynamics in war that characterize a complex adaptive system. This article provides an overview of Clausewitz’s paradoxical trinity, and illustrates how complexity theory can be applied as a framework to examine Clausewitz’s observations of the interactions between chance, politics and passion.


SEALs participate in ground mobility training with Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicles, Forward Training Area, March 28, 2012 (U.S. Navy/Meranda Keller)

A Blue-Collar Approach to Operational Analysis: A Special Operations Case Study

By Steven J. Hendrickson and Riley Post

For many military commanders, the word assessment induces bouts of eye-rolling, daytime drowsiness and nausea. This condition results from years of overly complicated briefings which are unintelligible to everyone but the presenter. This manuscript offers a remedy: a set of guiding principles to help make better decisions built on better data. Breaking from traditional assessment approaches, the authors focus on building collaborative teams to pursue questions of primary concern to the commander. This article can help every commander and their staff learn to ask questions that matter, conduct useful, hard-nosed analysis, and enhance decision-making across the organization.

USS Connecticut and USS Hartford break through ice in support of Ice Exercise 2018, Ice Camp Skate, March 9, 2018 (U.S. Navy/Michael H. Lee)

The Bering Strait: An Arena for Great Power Competition

By Ryan Tice

The rapidly changing environmental conditions in the Arctic Region have increased the potential for great power competition between Russia, China and the US. Because of Russia’s and China’s interest in the region, the Bering Strait more than ever is vital to US economic and national security interests. Since 2014, the US has mostly focused on deterring Russian aggression in Europe. As a result, the US is now in a position of weakness in the Arctic. If steps are not taken, the status of the Arctic as a place of peaceful cooperation and exploration will be jeopardized.


U.S. Agency for International Development worker waits for flight on C-130J Hercules assigned to 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Combined Joint
Task Force–Horn of Africa, in Maputo, Mozambique, March 29, 2019 (U.S. Air Force/Chris Hibben)

Peacemakers: Chaplains as Vital Links in the Peace Chain

By David R. Leonard

In regions where the US military operates, commanders should consider employing DOD chaplains to serve as the commander’s representative and coordinate humanitarian assistance. Military commanders must deal with a network of intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and international foreign humanitarian entities. This complex network requires ongoing coordination, which a DOD chaplain can accomplish in a way that is consistent with joint doctrine. Although critics may say this blurs the lines between the military and humanitarian actors, DOD chaplains bring expertise as potential liaisons to religious leaders and can facilitate civilian-military relations to achieve national objectives.

Catapult officer signals launch as A-4 Skyhawk starts down flight deck of USS Coral Sea during operations in South China Sea, March 24, 1965 (U.S. Navy/James F. Falk)

Adapting to Disruption: Aerial Combat over North Vietnam

By Robert G. Angevine

During aerial combat in the Vietnam War, both the US Navy and the US Air Force experienced unexpectedly high losses. A comparison of the Navy’s and the Air Force’s different approaches to aerial combat yields four insights regarding military adaptation. First, adaptation depends on senior leadership. Second, taking a broader approach results in more successful adaptation. Third, the not-invented-here syndrome results in less successful adaptation. And fourth, one key component of military effectiveness is the capacity to adapt to disruption. Realistic testing and training, and recent battlefield experience may enable military forces to adapt more quickly to future disruptions.

Chadian special forces soldier receives basic rifle marksmanship training at live-fire range in Massaguet, Chad, as part of exercise Flintlock 17, March 6, 2017 (U.S. Army/Derek Hamilton)

The Revival of Al Qaeda

By Jami T. Forbes

Al-Qaida has taken advantage of the attention focused on the Islamic State to develop safe havens and exercise control over large swaths of territory. In addition, Al-Qaida has taken security precautions such as diffusing its leadership to a variety of geographic locations, creating cohesion among its global affiliates, and gaining inroads with vulnerable populations in fragile states. It is imperative, therefore, to understand how Al-Qaeda and other such groups employ inconspicuous methods such as exploiting socio-political and ethnic grievances and, exercising strategic patience in order to prevent Al-Qaida from staging a comeback.

Soldiers with 25th Infantry Division conduct air assault operations onto deck of 8th Theater Sustainment Command’s Logistical Support Vessel-2, off coast of Honolulu, Hawaii,
January 11, 2020 (U.S. Army/Jon Heinrich)

Frustrated Cargo: The U.S. Army’s Limitations in Projecting Force from Ship to Shore in an A2/AD Environment

By Brian Molloy

The Korean peninsula, Taiwan and numerous other contested islands and landmasses in the Pacific highlight the need for a revised Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy. The current joint concept relies on a relatively small initial entry force of Marines to establish a lodgment with the preponderance of the Army combat power flowing as follow-on forces through established ports. However, using historical examples the author argues that the Army needs to develop new training and doctrine to support over-the-shore maneuver. This would provide complementary capabilities to the Marine Corps and make better use of Army assets to support the Joint Force.


Struck by bomb in Battle of Bismarck Sea, Japanese merchantman burns fiercely, March 2, 1943 (U.S. Army/National Archives and Records Administration)

Attaining Maritime Superiority in an A2/AD Era: Lessons from the Battle of the Bismarck Sea

By Ben Ho

As China and Russia continue to acquire and integrate precision-guided long-range missiles into their weapons systems, Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) is one of the toughest challenges to American maritime dominance. Strategists often look to history to solve current defense problems, and WWII may teach lessons applicable to today’s context. The author uses the 1943 Battle of the Bismarck Sea as a case study to highlight the role of land-based airpower in maritime interdiction. By looking through a counter-A2/AD lens, this battle offers an interesting perspective on attaining maritime dominance in this era of global integration and great power competition.

Book Reviews

Small Arms: Children and Terrorism

Small Arms: Children and Terrorism

By Kira I. McFadden

Kira McFadden reviews Small Arms: Children and Terrorism by Mia Bloom and John Horgan. This book is a deep dive into an under-examined issue, the long term challenges of children in terrorist organizations. It is a must read for policymakers and planners working to end generational cycles of violent extremism.

Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power

Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power

By Nathaniel L. Moir

Nathaniel L. Moir reviews Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power by Sheila Smith. For national security professionals and those in the Joint Force focused on the Asia-Pacific region, this book is an authoritative account on the Japanese Self Defense Force and a good reminder of the importance of US-Japan relations.

White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of Wa

White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War

By Edward G. Salo

Edward Salo reviews White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War by John Gans. This book enlightens readers about the foreign policy and national security decision-making process, and demonstrates the importance of experts with bureaucratic, functional and area expertise to maintain a strong national security policy.

Joint Doctrine

U.S. military relief efforts in Haiti 4 days after January 12, 2010, earthquake (DOD/Fred W. Baker III)

Failed Megacities and the Joint Force

By Matthew N. Metzel, Todd J. McCubbin, Heidi B. Fouty, Ken G. Morris, John J. Gutierrez, and John Lorenzen

The greatest international challenge of the 21st century may be the advent the megacity, an urban environment with a population of 10 million people or more. The problems the Joint Force could face when operating in a megacity would stretch the limits of US military capacity. Although joint doctrine addresses traditional urban terrain, it neglects to address the challenges associated with megacities, especially failed megacities. Given the high probability of a failed megacity and the need for military support, the DOD must develop joint doctrine that adequately addresses the challenges posed by operations in a failed megacity.

Infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, clears bunker September 25, 2019,
during platoon live-fire training, Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, Republic of Korea (U.S. Army/Scott Kuhn)

Harnessing Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems Across the Seven Joint Functions

By Brian David Ray, Jeanne F. Forgey, and Benjamin N. Mathias

The Joint Force is not well positioned to share best practices in artificial intelligence and autonomous systems (AI/AS). To address this shortcoming, Joint Manning Documents should add an AI/AS cell made up of officers and NCOs in order to incorporate best practices across the seven joint functions. The Army took a similar approach in 2003 with the creation of knowledge management as a distinct discipline and staff function. In order to avoid fighting tomorrow’s conflicts with yesterday’s weapons, the Joint Force should change the way it organizes and employs forces, and embrace a new approach to technological innovation.

Army CH-47F Chinook helicopter assigned to B Company, 1st
Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, California Army National Guard, assisted by Inyo County Search and Rescue, hovers while hoisting injured hiker at 13,800 feet on Mount Whitney, Inyo County, California, August 25, 2019 (Courtesy Inyo County Search and Rescue)

The Future of Interagency Doctrine

By George E. Katsos

Interagency synchronization continues to challenge whole-of-government approaches to national security. The Joint Staff has been brainstorming ideas to improve workforce interoperability within the context of joint doctrine. In addition, the Joint Staff created a pathway for non-DOD entities to become more involved in the development process of joint doctrine. Subjects of interest included inter-organizational cooperation, protection of civilians, defense support to civil authorities, joint planning and intelligence activities, special operations, counterdrug operations, countering weapons of mass destruction, and combating terrorism. CJCS General Mark Milley indicated that listening to non-DOD contributors is important to building an adaptive and agile force.

Joint Doctrine Update

By The Joint Staff

Joint Doctrine Updates.