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Category: JFQ Articles

Nov. 19, 2020

Mobilization in the 21st Century: Asking the Right Question

A renewed focus on Great Power competition means major wars are getting attention again, and these kinds of wars consume a lot of resources. Historically, big wars required wartime industrial mobilization to produce all those resources. War mobilization conjures black and white images of tanks, planes, and ships pouring out of American factories during World War II. But does bringing these pictures to life reflect the realities of major war in the 21st century? Can we even make all those things? More important, is planning for this kind of industrial overhaul a high priority in preparing for a major war with a peer competitor? Is this even the right question?

Nov. 19, 2020

The Importance of Joint Concepts for the Planner

The 2018 National Defense Strategy explains the importance of developing new operational concepts to “sharpen our competitive advantages and enhance our lethality” across the entire spectrum of conflict.1 The strategy forces us to think beyond military modernization and order of battle to consider how the joint force could be used in new and more effective ways in a future security environment that is “always in flux” and fraught with relentless change.2 According to the Joint Staff, the purpose of joint concepts is to offer “alternative operational methods and related capabilities to maintain military advantage against current and emerging threats.”3 These concepts also propose necessary changes for the joint force to improve its ability to fight and win across all warfighting domains in these future conflicts.

Nov. 19, 2020

More Afraid of Your Friends Than the Enemy: Coalition Dynamics in the Korean War, 1950–1951

Collaboration with other countries is an integral part of the U.S. National Security Strategy. Its most recent version notes that “allies and partners are a great strength of the United States” that “add directly to U.S. political, economic, military, intelligence, and other capabilities.”1 Since the end of the Cold War, countries have preferred to collaborate through coalitions rather than formal alliances because the latter are more liable to impose political constraints. Coalitions, according to Patricia Weitsman, are “ad hoc multinational undertakings that are forged to undertake a specific mission and dissolve once that mission is complete.”

Nov. 19, 2020

Calling Forth the Military: A Brief History of the Insurrection Act

In the literal sense, the Insurrection Act does not exist. Rather than a singular piece of legislation, it is a broad, overarching concept for a series of acts dating to the 1790s that concern the use of American military forces within the United States.1 These statutes, later codified in current Title 10 U.S. Code 251–255, serve as the primary rationale for the delegation of authority to the President to use military forces domestically. In the past 50 years, only one President, George H.W. Bush, has used these emergency powers: in the Virgin Islands in 1989 and in Los Angeles in 1992. The 28 years since the Los Angeles riots mark the longest period in American history without a domestic deployment of troops under the act. In part, local authorities—many armed and equipped to military standards—have proved more capable of handling disturbances and other crises. Additionally, domestic military deployments have proved politically difficult for Presidents whose critics have attacked such actions as gross usurpations of local authority by an overreaching Federal executive.

Nov. 19, 2020

Joint Doctrine Updates

Joint Doctrine Updates.

Nov. 19, 2020

Success on Purpose: A Message for Leaders of Military Organizations

Why do leaders of successful military operations often struggle to recreate that success when placed in charge of standing military organizations? What do the leaders of highly effective military organizations have that is missing for organizational leaders struggling with cultures mired in bureaucracy and box-checking?

Nov. 19, 2020

Rightsizing Our Understanding of Religion

The world of religion consists of various belief systems that influence humanity in numerous ways. Religion is global. It is powerfully influential everywhere that the joint force currently operates and extends to every corner of the globe. Religion is part of the fabric of every nation—including those that take a position against it. For governments that identify as secular or atheist, religion remains a present factor that they work to account for or control both internally and externally. Every government invests time and energy in controlling, influencing, or seeking to exist alongside religion.

Nov. 19, 2020

Decision Superiority Through Joint All-Domain Command and Control

I have had the honor to lead both U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and the binational North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) for the past 2 years. During that time, the commands have undergone a critical transformation to ensure their collective ability to deter and defeat the very real threats posed by peer adversaries. In order to accomplish this no-fail homeland defense mission during a time of crisis, we must be able to perform a number of critical capabilities, which in their most distilled form are maintaining domain awareness, exercising command and control (C2) of assigned forces, and defeating adversary attacks. These capabilities are not new but rather have existed since each command’s inception and have been key to providing a credible deterrent against our adversaries for many years.

Nov. 19, 2020

Artificial Intelligence: A Decisionmaking Technology

With the release of its first artificial intelligence (AI) strategy in 2019, the Department of Defense (DOD) formalized the increased use of AI technology throughout the military, challenging senior leaders to create “organizational AI strategies” and “make related resource allocation decisions.”1 Unfortunately, most senior leaders currently have limited familiarity with AI, having developed their skills in tactical counterinsurgency environments, which reward strength (physical and mental), perseverance, and diligence. Some defense scholars have advocated a smarter military, emphasizing intellectual human capital and arguing that cognitive ability will determine success in strategy development, statesmanship, and decisionmaking.

Nov. 19, 2020

Competition Is What States Make of It: A U.S. Strategy Toward China

China today represents the “most consequential long-term challenge we face as a nation.” While many actors and trends present challenges to U.S. interests, only China has the potential to challenge the United States across so many aspects of national power—to challenge its economic influence and technological lead in key sectors, to challenge its military in scenarios in which it has long held dominance or assumed sanctuary, or to present an alternative governance model that undermines the norms and values that the United States has sought to preserve at home and promote abroad. To be clear, China faces many headwinds that may inhibit its rise. Yet China has signaled ambitions to be a dominant global power; its economic trajectory, if it continues, would provide significant means to pursue its aims. As a result, today China alone can contend with the United States for hegemony within a region and has the potential to mount a serious challenge to the U.S. ability to shape the character of the international system.