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Category: Joint Force Quarterly

Oct. 1, 2016

Wargaming the Third Offset Strategy

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.

Oct. 1, 2016

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

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.

Oct. 1, 2016

Is the Chinese Army the Real Winner in PLA Reforms?

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national interests, the new PLAA commander used his first media interview to refute the notion that “land warfare was outdated and the army is useless.”

Oct. 1, 2016

China’s Military Reforms: An Optimistic Take

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.

Oct. 1, 2016

Chinese Military Reforms: A Pessimistic Take

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.

Oct. 1, 2016

PLA Reforms and China’s Nuclear Forces

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.

Oct. 1, 2016

What Do China’s Military Reforms Mean for Taiwan?

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.

Oct. 1, 2016

Global Mental Health: Optimizing Uniformed Services Roles

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.

Oct. 1, 2016

Applying Smart Power via Global Health Engagement

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).

Oct. 1, 2016

NATO Nouvelle: Everything Old Is New Again

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.