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Category: JFQ Articles

Oct. 30, 2018

Beyond the Third Offset: Matching Plans for Innovation to a Theory of Victory

The Third Offset Strategy was introduced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in 2014, which drew from previous offset strategies and focused on innovative ways to sustain the US’s power projection capabilities. In its current formulation, says the author, the Third Offset is essentially a technology strategy which offers no enduring competitive advantage. Therefore, we should simplify the meaning of offset strategy to focus on nullifying an adversary’s advantage by imposing costs that would dissuade them from turning into enemies. Based on this, military strategists should contemplate organizational and doctrinal changes rather than rely on uncertain technologies.

Oct. 30, 2018

Complementary Engagement: An American-Led Response to Rising Regional Rivals

The concept of Complementary Engagement emphasizes capacity-building among US allies and partners while proposing a revised military structure and posture. The goal is to counter aspiring regional hegemons who have expanded their ambitions and capabilities, particularly China, Iran and Russia. Although these regional hegemons cannot match the global reach of the former Soviet Union, they still pose a threat. Therefore, says the author, the US should invest in ballistic missile defense, long range strike capabilities and nuclear weapons, and rebalance our alliances to encourage a more equitable sharing of the defense burden.

Oct. 30, 2018

Executive Summary

Editor-in Chief Bill Eliason asks what kind of leaders does the military need. Our authors have answers from across the Joint Force. Our essay competition winners cover topics from China’s expansion in the South China Sea to Russia’s peacekeeping offer in the Ukraine to the rules of engagement and the risks of misinformation cyber warfare. Throughout this issue, we deal with hot topics: Special Forces in multi-domain battle, the long-term transformation of the Joint Force, air power during the Korean War, the doctrine of strategic airpower as it continues to evolve, and newly revised joint logistics doctrine.

July 5, 2018

Don’t Shoot the Messenger: Demosthenes, Churchill, and the Consensus Delusion

In this feature article, the author compares the experiences of ancient Greek philosopher Demosthenes and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Though separated by two thousand years, both advocated for rearmament, both were called warmongers, and both were sidelined as a result. Far from provoking conflict, Demosthenes and Churchill sought to avoid war by strengthening military readiness and reinforcing support for their allies to make war less appealing to their adversaries. The lessons of Demosthenes and Churchill are still relevant as the Joint Force struggles with its own challenges in the midst of growing threats from actors across multiple domains.

July 5, 2018

Reverse Engineering Goldwater-Nichols: China’s Joint Force Reforms

This feature article examines the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army, particularly its operational capability within the People’s Republic of China and recent efforts to develop its capability as an expeditionary force. While the U.S. military has been reorganizing since the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, China has paid close attention and taken significant steps, for example, in the creation of new joint warfighting commands, reorganization of its department system, and creation of new military services. These reform efforts have not been entirely successful, however, due to entrenched bureaucratic interests and the lack of recent combat operations.

July 5, 2018

Bombs, Not Broadcasts: U.S. Preference for Kinetic Strategy in Asymmetric Conflict

In this feature article, the author explores reasons why U.S. strategy in asymmetric conflict has focused so heavily on kinetic operations while conceding the information domain to weaker adversaries. This scenario is a consistent feature of every asymmetric conflict the U.S. has been involved in over the past several decades. In order for the U.S. military to be more successful in asymmetric wars, it needs to give company and battalion commanders authority to conduct information operations, move away from the mentality of treating messages like munitions, and create an organizational culture that fully appreciates the importance of information operations.

July 5, 2018

Defense of the West (Book Review)

In this timely book, one of the most seasoned observers of Atlantic security affairs, Stanley Sloan, offers insights about the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). These insights are linked to a detailed examination of the Alliance’s origins and development. Sloan pinpoints three key alliance drivers—national interests, common values, and political leadership—and offers a carefully circumscribed optimistic conclusion: common national interests and values are strong, but political leadership is volatile and in need of constructive and effective management.

July 5, 2018

The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy (Book Review)

Famously, Henry Kissinger once wondered out loud, “What in the name of God is strategic superiority? . . . What do you do with it?” Over 40 years later, the questions still resonate, and Georgetown University professor Matthew Kroenig aims to tackle Kissinger’s quandary. The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy begins with a puzzle: if the basic premise of U.S. nuclear deterrence strategy is supposed to be that the United States can survive a massive nuclear attack and retaliate with great force (so-called assured destruction), why have successive Presidents maintained nuclear capabilities that go well beyond what is required for this goal?

July 5, 2018

The Forgotten Front (Book Review)

This is an important book for theorists and practitioners of counterinsurgency alike. Ladwig, who teaches at King’s College London, begins by pointing out that most U.S. counterinsurgency thinking errs in assuming that the United States will share common goals, interests, and priorities with the local government that it is supporting. As recent experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan indicate, that assumption should not be taken for granted. In fact, many U.S. elements of strategy applied in counterinsurgency—ending political and military corruption, bolstering political legitimacy by addressing the public’s concerns, engaging in economic reform—may appear just as threatening to the local government’s interests as the insurgency itself. Some local governments’ political and other interests simply do not coincide with those of the United States, and that can lead to tremendous difficulty in convincing them to adopt U.S.-backed reforms. Indeed, Ladwig’s central argument is that the “forgotten front” in these conflicts—the relationship between the United States and local government it is trying to aid—is just as important.

July 5, 2018

Defending the AEF: Combat Adaptation and Jointness in the Skies over France

This article recalls how an untrained cadre of men modified existing French equipment and doctrine to build a small but effective anti-aircraft force during WWI. This history of the A.E.F. Antiaircraft Service highlights how the U.S. military responded to a threat that did not exist a mere decade earlier. In many respects, this type of challenge is familiar to contemporary observers who have watched the Joint Force struggle with intra-service parochialism and the unwillingness to learn from others. Nevertheless, this case history shows what can happen when leaders encourage innovation and adaptation at all levels, top-down, middle-out and bottom-up.