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Category: JFQ

July 27, 2022

Overcoming Barriers to Institutional Learning: Insights from Insurgent Groups

This article examines a case study of Islamic extremist groups in Somalia and their ability to overcome barriers. Evidence from these groups indicates that the personalization of power by leaders can inhibit a group’s strategic flexibility, as leaders fear that implementing a strategic shift will be seen as a sign that their leadership is “wrong,” which can undermine their position. By contrast, the case study found that groups with multiple leaders can develop alternate strategies, allowing the group to select from a strategic menu, quickly adapt to crises of practice in which the existing strategic approach is ineffective, overcome the barriers, and thus function as a learning organization.

July 27, 2022

Cyber in the Shadows: Why the Future of Cyber Operations Will Be Covert

Current cyber conflict looks very similar to traditional conflict models. The difference from traditional power dynamics offered by the cyber domain, however, is the asymmetrical advantage of technology for would-be actors. This new element of national power allows weaker actors to “punch above their weight” in competition or conflict with Great Powers in a unipolar or multipolar world.

July 27, 2022

Executive Summary

Joint education is designed to show each student the value that he or she brings to the discussion. Even the most ardent supporter of one’s military Service cannot honestly assess warfighting today and show how that Service, or nation for that matter, can win a war by itself. Joint and combined operations lie at the heart of successful accomplishment of strategy that involves the military instrument of power. Services may be proponents of their operational concepts and budgets to bring capabilities to achieve those visions, but in the end, the way of war, as the United States has learned to fight it, rests clearly on our ability to work together for a common end. We hope you gain from what our authors have offered here, especially if it achieves our mission of helping the cause of jointness.

April 14, 2022

Toward Military Design: Six Ways the JP 5-0’s Operational Design Falls Short

The day after Kabul fell to the Taliban, a combatant commander reportedly went to his J5 and told him to come back within 48 hours with data on the effects that the loss of Afghanistan would have on the future of military planning. While the veracity of this account cannot be directly verified, the rumor—and the speed at which it spread—speaks to the coming scrutiny that joint planning is sure to undergo from multiple quarters. The refocus on strategic competition/crisis/conflict (among the United States, Russia, and China) and the rise of gray zone operations, along with the persistence of irregular warfare, all demand that our methodologies for conceiving and planning keep pace with the rapid evolution of our operation foci.

April 14, 2022

Joint Doctrine Update

Joint Doctrine Update.

April 14, 2022

Shields of the Republic: The Triumph and Peril of America’s Alliances

The timing of Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper’s book, Shields of the Republic, could not be better. In my many years as a civil servant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, I would spend the first year of most new administrations explaining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the incoming political appointees. Democrat or Republican, old Pentagon hand or neophyte, most knew something of NATO, but they arrived with some preconceived notions that were way off. That said, by the end of an administration, we usually had some real NATO pros among the appointees. Unfortunately, after a new administration took office, we would have to start all over again with the new batch.

April 14, 2022

The Black Banners (Declassified): How Torture Derailed the War on Terror After 9/11

This declassified/unredacted version of Ali Soufan’s 2011 edition of Black Banners is a must-read for anyone interested in terrorism, the psychology of interrogation, bureaucratic politics, and the lessons of poor leadership. Soufan demonstrates how dysfunctional U.S. intelligence services were before and after 9/11. He also demolishes the argument for the enhanced interrogation—or torture techniques—authorized by the George W. Bush administration and championed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Black Banners ranks with Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars and Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower as key sources for understanding al Qaeda.

April 14, 2022

Leap of Faith: Hubris, Negligence, and America’s Greatest Foreign Policy Tragedy

For a generation of national security professionals and military officers, reading about the run-up to the Iraq War can feel like watching a bureaucratic horror movie. After almost two decades, we know what is lurking behind the faulty assumptions, and reading ever more quickly, page after page, we wonder if this time the toxic brew of naivete and hubris will not lead us down the tortured path that we know in our rational minds it will. Closing our books about that war—and Michael Mazarr’s Leap of Faith is among the very best volumes—we almost want to scold ourselves: We fell for the same tricks, and we ended at the same frustrating place.

April 14, 2022

Improvised Partnerships: U.S. Joint Operations in the Mexican-American War

From 1846 to 1848, the United States and Mexico fought a controversial war to decide which of the great republics would be the dominant power in North America. Featuring a series of U.S invasions that spanned from San Diego to Veracruz, the 26-month contest included bloody set-piece battles between national armies, aggressive maritime blockades and amphibious assaults along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and prolonged occupations that invited a savage guerrilla resistance. As historian K. Jack Bauer stated in his foundational study, The Mexican War, the conflict was “fought with doggedness by the soldiers and sailors of both nations under the leadership of brilliant and inept commanders,” as political leaders struggled over differing ideas of a “reasonable political settlement.

April 14, 2022

All Quiet on the Eastern Front: NATO Civil-Military Deterrence of Russian Hybrid Warfare

Building on NATO’s work, thinking, and publications on countering hybrid/gray zone warfare, the analysis presented here provides a framework on the Soviet and contemporary Russian methods within the current operational environment. It then proposes specific actions that NATO must adopt to impose costs on or deny benefits to Russia for employing these tactics, while also encouraging Russian restraint against future hybrid warfare.