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Category: Military Strategy

June 20, 2017

Respecting Strategic Agency: On the Categorization of War in Strategy

Many—perhaps most—strategists prefer to think about past, present, and future war in terms of categories. Whether in retrospect, in contemporary experience, or in anticipation, they define war by its generalized character. These strategists arguably include Carl von Clausewitz himself, who suggested that “every age had its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions, and its own peculiar preconceptions. Each period, therefore, would have held to its own theory of war.”1 Due to this tendency of thinking in categories, strategic studies is often washed by recurring tides of jargon. The current fad in terminology is gray zone wars. Often, these faddish terms actually serve to label and relabel the same observed phenomenon.

Dec. 12, 2016

Chapter 3 | U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy

To guide the development of the Armed Forces, the new team at the Pentagon will need an updated force design mechanism to size and shape that force. This chapter offers options and guidance for two major components of U.S. defense policy: alternative force design constructs and design principles. These force constructs are not the strategy itself, but they are the requisite building blocks and guidance that defense policymakers use to shape the desired force and explain that force in its requests for the funding required from the American people.

July 1, 2016

Securing the Third Offset Strategy: Priorities for the Next Secretary of Defense

Following a process of examining strategy, scenarios, and assessments, this article identifies for the next Secretary of Defense eight capability statements that merit attention as the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) top new investment priorities as part of the Third Offset Strategy in the fiscal year 2018 budget and beyond. Additionally, this article recommends that reforms to the analytical processes informing force planning decisions in general and the Third Offset Strategy in particular be guided by increased selectivity, transparency, and commonality.

July 1, 2016

Twenty-First Century Information Warfare and the Third Offset Strategy

It is well established that both state and nonstate adversaries are gaining parity with current U.S. military-technological capabilities, and as a result adversaries are eroding the tremendous asymmetrical conventional warfare advantages once exclusively enjoyed by U.S. forces. This leveling of the playing field has been enabled through decreased costs of modern information technology and low barriers of entry to attaining precision weapons; stealth capabilities; sophisticated commercial and military command and control (C2) capabilities; advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); and relatively cheap access to commercial and government-sponsored space and cyber capabilities. As a result, in November 2014, then–Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the Defense Innovation Initiative to counter adversary technical and tactical progress that, if left unchecked, will ultimately hinder U.S. ability to project power across the globe and permanently challenge its aims of retaining its coveted status as a global hegemon. While there are many aspects to this initiative, the Third Offset Strategy, as outlined in policy, does not adequately address the need for advanced information operations (IO), particularly IO wargaming, modeling and simulation (M&S), and training systems. The purpose of this article is to make the case that increasing the investment in joint live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) IO wargaming and simulations will generate lasting asymmetrical advantages for joint force commanders and will significantly contribute to the achievement of the Third Offset Strategy.

July 1, 2016

Avoiding Becoming a Paper Tiger: Presence in a Warfighting Defense Strategy

The American military is reentering a period of competition. For the 20 years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. military reigned supreme, nearly unchallengeable in any state-on-state contingency that Washington might seriously care to take on. This meant that a whole generation of U.S. policymakers and military professionals became accustomed to U.S. military dominance, a dominance that enabled, and in some cases even propelled, a more ambitious and assertive foreign policy.

March 29, 2016

Strategy 2.0: The Next Generation

There is widespread concern and a great deal of collective handwringing these days about defense strategy. Seasoned observers will note that this is not a new problem. The environment that General Shalikashvili described in introducing the 1994/1995 Autumn/Winter issue of Joint Force Quarterly in the epigraph above is strikingly familiar 20 years later: conflicts in regions formerly at peace, the changing role of alliances and the range of situations in which we are called upon to use the military, the ambiguity and proliferation of threats around the world, and the ever-quickening pace of change in science and technology that nourishes competitors and substantially reduces the time it takes for a force to go from state-of-the-art to obsolescence.

Oct. 1, 2014

The Grand Strategy of the United States

From the earliest days of the Republic, the outlines of an evolving American grand strategy have been evident in our foreign and domestic policy. Much of that history continues to inform our strategic conduct, and therefore American grand strategy rests today on traditional foundations. Despite a welter of theory and debate, grand strategy as a practical matter is remarkably consistent from decade to decade, with its means altering as technology advances and institutions evolve but its ends and ways showing marked continuity.

July 1, 2014

Strategic Planning: A "How-to-Guide"

Strategic planning is both short on manuals and complex. It draws on an array of participants and stakeholders, who must know their views and needs are considered if their approval and expertise are to be present throughout planning. Free communication will indicate transparency and a desire for completeness and excellence.

April 1, 2014

The Joint Force Commander’s Guide to Cyberspace Operations

Cyberspace can be leveraged by first, finding a theory to express and teach the constantly changing vagaries of that domain, including a suitable lexicon, and second, overcoming assorted turf wars and adequately resourcing the study, manning, equipping, and training of the cyberspace force so it can integrate with other domains.

April 1, 2014

Shaping a 21st-Century Defense Strategy: Reconciling Military Roles

The military’s ability to shape the security environment can be substantially improved by adopting multiple simultaneous stimulants, most prominently the national security strategy shift from deterrence and containment to cooperation and engagement. These capabilities must be sufficiently resourced so Washington’s interests can be pursued short of armed conflict where possible.