Category: JFQ Articles

Oct. 1, 2016

The Danger of False Peril: Avoiding Threat Inflation

Just as a patient complaining of excruciating pain could still be best served by a wait-and-see approach, the best option in any given national security scenario might be to take no action at all. A calm and evenhanded assessment of the true scope of a perceived threat could be essential to avoiding an unwanted conflict.

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

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

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.

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

China's Goldwater-Nichols? Assessing PLA Organizational Reforms

In the past few months, China has announced a series of major reforms to the organizational structure of the People’s Liberation Army. The new PLA C2 structure might best be described as Goldwater-Nichols with Chinese characteristics.

March 29, 2016

Back to Basics on Hybrid Warfare in Europe: A Lesson from the Balkans

The complex mix of aggressive behaviors Russia used in Georgia and Ukraine is commonly referred to as hybrid warfare, defined by one scholar as “a tailored mix of conventional weapons, irregular tactics, terrorism, and criminal behavior in the same time and battle space to obtain political objectives.” North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders fear Russia will use hybrid warfare to destabilize or occupy parts of Poland, the Baltic states, or other countries. They are trying to devise more effective responses to counter such a possibility. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg asserts that NATO must adapt to meet the hybrid warfare threat. Speaking at the same event, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter agreed and suggested “part of the answer” was “increased readiness, special operation forces, and more intelligence.” Several months earlier, Carter’s deputy, Robert Work, declared the United States also needed “new operational concepts” to confront hybrid warfare. Meanwhile some NATO countries are establishing special units to counter hybrid warfare tactics, and the U.S. Congress has required the Pentagon to come up with a strategy to counter hybrid warfare.

Jan. 1, 2016

The Future of Department of Defense Global Health Engagement

The term global health has come into common usage in recent years and encompasses various matters relevant to health, including diseases that cross international borders, factors that affect public health globally, and the interconnectedness of health matters around the globe. Diseases that have been unevenly distributed across the world have been of concern to militaries for centuries, perhaps throughout history. Historians record that the decimation of Napoleon’s army during his invasion of Russia was the result of starvation, severe weather, and disease, the most important of which was typhus, which killed over 80,000 troops.1 His retreating army then spread typhus throughout Europe. Likewise, typhoid fever was a serious problem in World War I and the American Civil War.2 Spanish troops were severely affected by yellow fever during the Spanish-American War, and Spanish influenza had disproportionate and decisive effects during World War I.3 Colonization of Africa, Asia, and Latin America by Western powers led to increased awareness of diseases that were generally exotic to the imposing country, motivating interest in developing means of prevention and control of diseases. Examples of efforts emanating from such interest include the work of Walter Reed and William C. Gorgas in defining the transmission and prevention of yellow fever, research regarding cholera and diarrhea in Bangladesh, and the establishment of research laboratories (for example, the Pasteur Institute and Medical Research Council laboratories in Africa). Conversely, the invasion and colonization of foreign lands has also long been known to result in the introduction of exotic disease into the occupied lands, with the importation of smallpox and syphilis into North America by colonists as outstanding examples.

Oct. 1, 2015

Transforming Defense Analysis

The Defense Intelligence Enterprise is on the precipice of tremendous change. The global environment is experiencing a mind-numbing quantity and diversity of challenging crises.

July 1, 2015

Understanding the Indications and Warning Efforts of U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense

The critical mission of defending the U.S. homeland—homeland defense—requires a fully integrated capability to identify, categorize, and fuse strategic and tactical indications and warnings (I&W) by U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), and U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM). Today’s fiscally constrained environment may encourage decisionmakers to eliminate perceived I&W “redundancies” and create an I&W stovepipe for weapons release authorities (WRAs). In a mission area where time is of the essence and failure would result in grave damage to national security, such an arrangement would create an unacceptable risk to homeland defense.