News | Jan. 9, 2018

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason Joint Force Quarterly 88

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As a gift for a significant approaching birthday, my golf widow gave me a new set of clubs that were the result of a 5-hour custom fitting at a local professional shop. For years I wrestled with the same issue: how to balance the expense of new equipment with my desire to get lower scores. I am now precisely aware of how average my swing and its results are using technology such as radar ball flight and swing tracking. And I now have the best available tech that is custom-fit to my game. The field results are not yet in, but the data from the fitting was clear that I should expect to achieve better results on the course in the coming year. As a longtime student of military operations, acquisition to support military operations, and the strategies developed for both, I found a number of similarities between my golf world and the military’s current issues regarding operations, strategy, and policy, especially as the Defense Department nears breaking the $700 billion mark in annual budgets.

USS Ronald Reagan conducts fly-off

U.S. Navy Airmen signal launch of F/A-18E Super Hornet on flight deck aboard Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during Carrier Air Wing Five fly-off in Pacific Ocean in waters south of Japan, November 28, 2017 (U.S. Navy/Kenneth Abbate)

Just as Clausewitz wrote, the nature of war hasn’t changed much. It still has political and human dimensions, is a contest of wills, and exists in a world of uncertainty. How one’s military meets the challenge of war is dependent on a number of factors, including available funds, the scope of available technology in either the present or the near future, and the physical and mental fitness of the people engaged in combat. Today’s military is faced with a range of challenges, which it may or may not be fully prepared to meet.

War exacts a toll over time unlike any other human experience. And meeting the demands of combat takes more than one individual’s effort, budget, and ideas to succeed. With the range of challenges the Chairman has identified, including all the other burdens of service on the joint force, we might ask ourselves, “What should we do to prepare for the future while winning the fights we are currently engaged in?” The joint force has to adapt, adjust, acquire, repurpose, retrain, recruit, and perform a whole range of other functions to continue to meet the mission of protecting our Nation, allies, and partners around the world. In some cases that means new programs and new technology, while in others it requires modifications to existing systems, training, tactics, and procedures. Another challenge we need to consider is how to handle the process of handing down valuable experience as Servicemembers constantly enter and leave the force. Many questions remain to be answered on how best to accomplish these critical tasks. Hopefully, this issue of JFQ will provide you with some insights to that end.

In our Forum section, we focus on the strategic level of war with four valuable contributions by well-known JFQ authors and new voices. Currently serving as a special assistant to the Secretary of Defense, our very own Frank Hoffman maps a number of futures our joint force may have to confront and what should be done about them. As the idea of multidomain battle gathers momentum across the joint force, Kevin M. Woods and JFQ Editorial Board member Thomas C. Greenwood discuss how joint experimentation can greatly improve our fighting effectiveness. Stressing the value of partnership, Thomas Warren Ross returns to JFQ to discuss how security cooperation and logistics combine to create success in our efforts to help our friends around the world. These days it seems the Internet has taken over our lives, so you may find what William D. Bryant has to say about warfighting in cyberspace essential to your future success.

The JPME Today section features both a JFQ-veteran voice and a new one, each with important considerations. From the U.S. Naval War College, Milan Vego has been writing for a long time on operational art, strategic thinking, and the history of warfare. I think you will find his latest article on American military decisionmaking to be another useful discussion on how our senior leaders develop plans and execute joint operations. After having spent a considerable amount of research and development of her thinking, Elizabeth M. Trobaugh continues our discussion of the ongoing integration of women into combat roles in our military. While her work will not be the final word on this issue, I think she will help all of us understand how far we have to go to level the playing field in a way that improves the effectiveness of the joint force.

In Commentary, General David G. Perkins, commander of the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, and General James M. Holmes, commander of the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command, discuss how Service concepts have been combined to create a joint solution to the multidomain battle the force now faces. Suggesting the U.S. military needs bring its game into the 21st century, Steve F. Kime offers his ideas on how military doctrine should be updated. And Richard B. Davenport advocates for a new force structure to advance our joint psychological warfare capabilities.

Chance A. Smith and Steve W. Rust begin our Features section with an interesting set of ideas on how our geographic combatant commands can update their targeting methods to better confront hybrid threats. Seeing a need to simplify our approaches, Gabriel Almodovar, Daniel P. Allmacher, Morgan P. Ames III, and Chad Davies offer us a different way to look at our integrated air and missile defenses. Helping us operate in a world where the joint force’s every move might be available to stream on the Internet, Adam G. Lenfestey, Nathan Rowan, James E. Fagan, and Corey H. Ruckdeschel suggest ways secrecy and surprise can still be achieved. Recent events in Africa underscore the need for the joint force to conduct a range of missions on the continent, and Andrus W. Chaney offers recommendations for achieving success in U.S. Africa Command’s security cooperation efforts.

Our Recall section welcomes a team effort that takes us back a long time before the Goldwater-Nichols Act. Kenneth T. Klima, Peter Mazzella, and Patrick B. McLaughlin offer their views on joint planning and center of gravity analysis in the Second Punic War.

We also offer three interesting book reviews along with an expanded Joint Doctrine section. If you read the article about centers of gravity in the Second Punic War, then you are ready for Jacob Barfoed’s article on how to see them as more than just a part of winning tactically. I honestly had not heard of the Department of Defense Terminology Program until George E. Katsos sent us an article about this important effort. Getting joint operations right is just the start of the effort needed to be successful in today’s world, and Charles W. Robinson helps us see how to win when involved in multinational and coalition operations. Closing out the issue, the Joint Doctrine Update lists the latest developments in joint publications.

The next edition of Joint Force Quarterly will feature a number of important articles from the Joint Staff and U.S. Central Command that continue to explore where the joint force is today and where we should be headed. Given the talent we have, I am certain we will find new ways to continue to improve and bring our A game to every place we go. JFQ

William T. Eliason
Editor in Chief