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Category: JFQ Articles

Nov. 19, 2020

The Strategic Potential of Collected Exploitable Material

In November of 2007, I was commanding an infantry battalion in the Eastern Paktika Province of Afghanistan. One of our convoys was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) on a routine mission in the border district of Bermel, just a few short miles from Pakistan. A brilliant young troop commander (Captain David Boris, USA, age 30) and his dependable and tough driver (Sergeant Adrian Hike, USA, age 26) were killed in the explosion.

Nov. 19, 2020

Space Operations: Lines, Zones, Options, and Dilemmas

While there is considerable literature available on both the strategic and tactical aspects of space operations, there is surprisingly little that discusses the linkage of tactical space operations to the achievement of strategic objectives through operational art. In addition to government documents such as the National Security Space Strategy, influential academic works have largely focused on the strategic and political aspects of the space domain.1 Much of the professional literature produced by military practitioners, on the other hand, has focused on the tactical exploitation of space systems.2 While this collection of works sometimes hints at the possibility of synchronizing tactical action to achieve strategic ends, none provides a practical explanation of how commanders and staffs might achieve such a feat.

Nov. 19, 2020

Social Media Weaponization: The Biohazard of Russian Disinformation Campaigns

In a renewed era of Great Power competition, the United States is faced with adversaries engaging across multiple domains without the traditional distinctions of war and peace. America’s competitors are regularly operating below the threshold that would warrant a military response, including on the information battlefield. The blurred red lines that result from covert information operations waged by foreign actors on the Internet will force a change in how the United States operates and how its society consumes information. Russia used tactics of influence and coercion long before social media allowed for nearly ubiquitous access to its targets and a prolific capability for controlling a narrative and manipulating the hearts and minds of a population on a range of sensitive societal issues, including public health.

Nov. 19, 2020

Executive Summary

In an address in Cape Town, South Africa, on June 6, 1966, Senator Robert F. Kennedy stated, “There is a Chinese curse which says, ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.” As it turns out, we ourselves are living in interesting times: from the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic to racial strife, wildfires to record numbers of hurricanes, contested politics to economic crises, and more.

Sept. 10, 2020

Surrogate Warfare

What do you get when two Middle Eastern subject matter experts decide to update the age-old concept of proxy warfare and explore the potential of machines to serve as surrogates that substitute or supplement a nation’s formal military forces? The answer is an ambitious and useful examination of how war is changing in light of emerging technologies, such as autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) and cyber weapons able to leverage artificial intelligence (AI). Members of the joint force willing to brave the occasional academese passages on Clausewitzian theory will find gems of insight throughout Surrogate Warfare.

Sept. 10, 2020

The Culture of Military Organizations

It would be difficult to find scholars who are better qualified to edit this excellent new volume of military culture. Having retired from the U.S. Army following a distinguished career, culminating as one of General David Petraeus’s most trusted aides in Iraq in 2007, Peter Mansoor has published a number of books on military history and Iraq. Williamson Murray has been a major figure in military studies for over 30 years, producing, among many other works, the now classic three-volume study Military Effectiveness (Cambridge University Press, 2010) with his long-term collaborator Allan R. Millett.

Sept. 10, 2020

The New Rules of War and The Dragons and the Snakes

It is said that generals always want to refight the last war. Often scholars are willing to do the same. Martin Van Creveld’s Transformation of War (Free Press, 1991) was heavily influenced by the painful intifadas in his native Israel. Mary Kaldor’s New and Old Wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era (Stanford University Press, 1999) was based on the criminal warlords of the ethnic Balkan clashes. In his The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World (Knopf, 2007), British general Rupert Smith declared that war, as he was taught, no longer existed and drew heavily on the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and his tour in Bosnia. Conventional warfare was thrown into history’s dustbin and “wars amongst the people” presented as a novel paradigm shift.

Sept. 10, 2020

The Duke of Marlborough and the Paradox of Campaigning in Long Wars

The Duke of Marlborough was a commander for the ages. For 10 campaigns during the War of the Spanish Succession, stretching from 1702 to 1711, he was never defeated on the field of battle. However, the war ended in the failure of the Grand Alliance’s war aim to prevent Louis XIV’s Bourbon dynasty from taking the throne of Spain. Marlborough’s campaign in 1711 provides a potent source of understanding for joint military commanders and practitioners on the complexities of campaigning.

Sept. 10, 2020

Balancing Competition with Cooperation: A Strategy to Prepare for the Chinese Dream

The United States has no more pressing national security imperative than formulating and implementing an effective strategy about the People’s Republic of China (PRC). While tightening his authoritarian control at home, General Secretary Xi Jinping has leveraged China’s rising economic strength to challenge the U.S.-led liberal international order.1 China’s growth and actions under Xi pose a threat to U.S. prosperity in the short term and its national security in the long term. For example, the PRC is leading in the development of 5G technology.

Sept. 10, 2020

Leveraging Return on Investment: A Model for Joint Force Campaign Plan Assessments

On August 2, 2019, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper informed the military Services of a department-wide fiscal program review to better align the future joint force toward a near-peer threat environment, a process similar to the “night court” proceedings he held during his tenure as the Secretary of the Army. The directive memo states, “No reform is too small, too bold, or too controversial to be considered.”