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Category: JFQ Articles

Nov. 5, 2018

The U.S. Government’s Approach to Civilian Security: Focus on Campaign Activities

The US has been involved in protecting civilians outside national borders for over a century. DOD policy emphasizes the protection of mission-related military and nonmilitary personnel, equipment, facilities, and infrastructure during military campaigns. Improving the conditions for effective local governance and minimizing the need for future or extended employment of US forces is central to US national security interests. Therefore, campaign activities should enhance efforts to improve civilian security and earn population support. Careful planning will reinforce viable security institutions, offer assistance to displaced or dislocated civilians, and protect people from torture, unlawful imprisonment and other human rights abuses.

Nov. 5, 2018

Staying the Course: October 1967 to September 1968

Erik Villard’s new volume casts clarifying light on stubbornly held myths about the conduct and strategy of America’s intervention in Vietnam. Even more than the preceding volumes in the Combat Operations series, Staying the Course incorporates the latest historiography, including extensive North Vietnamese sources and newly released Military Assistance Command–Vietnam (MACV) documents. By carefully linking American strategic thinking to MACV 1968 campaign goals and actual operations, Villard, a historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History, uses careful analysis to dispel a variety of myths: that MACV was over-focused on attrition, that the American mission lacked a focus on counterinsurgency or population security, that the Army was overcommitted to “conventional” operations or “search-and-destroy,” or that American forces overlooked the need to build up the South Vietnamese military and do so in a sustainable way. The overall effect is to restore clarity and urgency to the Army’s efforts in Vietnam in that fateful year, as MACV’s leaders fought against the clock to shield and secure the population and build up the Republic of Vietnam and its armed forces against a thinking and reacting enemy with burgeoning plans of its own.

Nov. 5, 2018

Allies That Count: Junior Partners in Coalition Warfare

Years ago, when I was working on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) desk in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, we were asked by both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations to help persuade allies and partners around the world to contribute additional forces to the mission in Afghanistan. To their credit, many countries around the world did so. But shortly thereafter, operators on the ground began signaling that many such contributions were so difficult to integrate into the mission that it was distracting from ISAF’s ability to prosecute operations. Some states had caveats on their forces, others had interoperability issues, and still others approached the mission with wholly different strategic mindsets than many of their counterparts. In short, we were building the coalition to help us win the war in Afghanistan, but in so doing, we were distracting our warfighters from actually being able to do so. Why were we spending so much time and effort recruiting forces from allies without accounting for the significant operational strains that their incorporation into the ISAF force laydown might cause?

Nov. 5, 2018

Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Directorate S by longtime Washington Post journalist, former think tank president, and now dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, Steve Coll, is a seminal book. It is a highly worthy successor to the author’s Pulitzer Prize–winning 2004 work Ghost Wars. Directorate S is impressive in its scope, level of detail, and readability. It successfully fills much of the gaping void in prior literature on the controversial topic of the U.S. role in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a reference for scholars and policymakers, this book is first rate. Although it will not be the final word on the strategic trajectory of South Asia and the future arc of complex U.S. policy choices in that region, Coll’s work makes an indelible mark.

Nov. 5, 2018

On Grand Strategy

John Lewis Gaddis, deemed the “Dean of Cold War Historians” by a New York Times reviewer, has published yet another book, at least the 14th in a long and productive career. The latest, On Grand Strategy, however, will disappoint those hoping for another learned exposition on the American role in the post–World War II era. Rather, Gaddis, the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History and Director of the Brady Johnson Program in Grand Strategy at Yale University, has written a wide-ranging essay on strategic thinking that begins with the dawn of recorded history and concludes with the momentous challenges facing American leaders during World War II. As such, On Grand Strategy will bring joy to those whose professions depend on strategizing and anyone wanting to rummage through history seeking insights into how past strategists practiced their craft.

Nov. 5, 2018

Air Force Strategic Bombing and Its Counterpoints from World War I to Vietnam

Strategic bombing has dominated US Air Force doctrine for sixty years despite the broader use of air power during this period. What factors led to this? The author finds that in wartime, the Air Force adapts to the needs of the conflict, but in peacetime returns to a more narrow view of air power in national defense. If the last sixty years teaches anything, it’s that every conflict involves new challenges, which means senior leaders and strategists must train for core missions, anticipate the most deadly threats, and be ready at all times for more surprises.

Nov. 5, 2018

Military Transformation: Applying the Kotter Eight-Step Methodology for Change in the U.S. Armed Services

The Joint Force can transform itself and attain its long-term objectives for modernization, says the author, by following a process of change management adapted from John Kotter’s eight step methodology. The author demonstrates the applicability and utility of Kotter’s methodology with a case study of the Navy’s conversion to nuclear propulsion led by the father of the nuclear Navy, Admiral Hyman Rickover. By emulating Rickover’s example building organizational standards, recruiting top talent and improving officer management systems to support the Navy’s nuclear conversion, the Joint Force may successfully execute contemporary transformation efforts.

Nov. 5, 2018

A Smarter Approach to Cyber Attack Authorities

Restricted cyberattack authority enables operational commanders to attack effectively while simultaneously minimizing the risk of unintended consequences. Because operational commanders face adversaries capable of degrading and destroying our military capabilities, commanders should be armed with as many weapons as possible to employ against an adversary in the event of a crisis. A coherent system of nationally pre-approved cyberattack methods combined with delegation of limited authority, says the author, would offer important advantages. Such a system would increase the menu of options, keep military operations in alignment with the national interest, and ensure that national authorities remain in control.

Nov. 5, 2018

Beyond the Gray Zone: Special Operations in Multidomain Battle

The joint operational approach known as Multi-Domain Battle is the subject of this feature article. The demands of the future battlefield will be characterized by increased lethality, complexity and the loss of traditional US supremacy, and thus test the tactical skill and strategic acumen of Special Forces. Employment of Special Forces can give the Joint Force commander an advantage over conventional land, air and maritime forces in combat. To maximize their effectiveness in the Multi-Domain Battle environment, however, commanders must accept a greater level of risk than has been customary during recent operations.

Nov. 5, 2018

Additive Manufacturing: Shaping the Sustainment Battlespace

The proliferation of 3D Printing technologies, also known as additive manufacturing is the subject of this essay. The authors explain the amazing possibilities of this emergent technology to shorten supply chains, produce hard-to-source parts, and deliver spare parts on demand, such as printed food and even printed human organs. There is no doubt that 3D Printing will expand into other fields, increasing flexibility and significantly shortening supply chains. However, there are still major hurdles to overcome before 3D Printing is fully implemented in a way that best supports the joint war fighter.