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Category: JFQ Articles

Jan. 26, 2017

Executive Summary

In my view, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights are two of the most important contributions to our collective human experience. The men who debated and wrestled, word by word, over the contents of these two founding documents used great imagination and creativity. Over the following 228 years since the Constitutional Convention that constructed these works, they have been tested and, when found weak, amended, or in the case of the Civil War, fought over or adapted by our Federal system of laws in which our three branches of government all play important roles. While the exact meaning of the Constitution remains in the eye of each citizen to debate and seek change as needed, I doubt even the most cynical citizen would wish the Constitution did not exist.

Oct. 1, 2016

From the Chairman: Strategic Challenges and Implications

I have previously written in this column to share with you the areas where I am devoting my time and focus: joint readiness, joint warfighting capability, and the development of leaders for the future. I have also shared with you my thoughts regarding the imperative for the Joint Force to remain focused on and responsive to the current National Command Authority. That responsiveness underpins healthy civil-military relations and is the hallmark of the Profession of Arms. I now write to share with you how we are channeling these priorities and professional focus into execution.

Oct. 1, 2016

Executive Summary

Living near or visiting the Nation’s capital, you cannot escape the weight of history that surrounds you. From the monuments to the historic buildings, the trails and battlefields, the names on the roads—even the geography itself—force you to consider what happened in the past and what might happen in the future. Even with a political process that at times seems to be stagnant and combative, our nation continues to do what must be done. This is something George Washington knew some 235 years ago when he stopped by Mount Vernon, the home he had not visited for 6 long years of war, as he moved his headquarters toward what would be the most important battle of the Revolutionary War, Yorktown.

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.