News | Jan. 17, 2019

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason Joint Force Quarterly 92

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President Barack Obama meets with President George H.W. Bush in Oval Office, February 15, 2011
President Barack Obama meets with President George H.W. Bush in Oval Office, February 15, 2011 (The White House/Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama meets with President George H.W. Bush in Oval Office, February 15, 2011
President Barack Obama meets with President George H.W. Bush in Oval Office, February 15, 2011 (The White House/Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama meets with President George H.W. Bush in Oval Office, February 15, 2011 (The White House/Pete Souza)
Photo By: Pete Souza
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Those of us who have served in our nation’s uniform have a common and permanent bond to our nation and to service to others. We may get caught up in the seemingly overwhelming day-to-day tasks of life, but the longer we serve, the tighter the bonds of military service hold us together. Older citizens may remember a time when military service was not honored as it is today. As a society, Americans now separate the value of an individual’s military service from the debate over how the military is used to further national interest. One need only visit one of our nation’s national cemeteries to get a fuller appreciation of the breadth and depth of American military service since the Revolutionary War. One cannot help but feel the weight of history and the price paid for what we enjoy as a society today.

Two recent events helped remind me of how military service forms a central reinforcing part of our nation: the loss of two American giants of national and military service, Senator John McCain and President George H.W. Bush, and the nationwide nonprofit effort “Wreaths Across America,” which is supported by volunteers who place holiday decorations at military graves across the county.

American citizens took pause twice in recent months to honor these two military heroes from different generations and wars with the passing of Senator McCain and President Bush. We were reminded of the service and sacrifice each endured over the course of their remarkable lives. We were given time to reflect on each one’s contributions to our nation’s defense and, later, how they served in the political arena to forward their visions of a better America and our place in the world. Even those who may have had political differences with these men and their supporters were brought together to honor their service and their passing. During the course of their lives, Senator McCain and President Bush showed remarkable courage and unfailing drive to give back all they could to the rest of us.

For the past few years, I have participated in the annual laying of holiday wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. Some 60,000 volunteers came that rainy Saturday to help place some 65 tractor trailer–loads of wreaths. Rain may have limited the crowd but not the effort, as it took only a few hours to complete the task. At every stop we made during that day, I contemplated the history and service of thousands of Servicemen and women and their loved ones documented on those stones. As I was leaving the grounds, I inadvertently ended up at President John F. Kennedy’s memorial with its eternal flame. One cannot help but take a moment to consider what was or could have been. We have such a rich history as a nation. What a grand place to honor those who served for all of us. We will never know the full measure of their sacrifice, but all we have to do is look around in a sacred place such as Arlington National Cemetery to appreciate the value of service to the Nation. Lest we forget.

This issue’s Forum opens with my interview with the commander of the newest combatant command, General Paul Nakasone, USA, of U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland. The general and I discussed how he sees the command fulfilling its unique mission and the role his teams play in the joint force, the interagency community, and with our international partners. Focusing on dealing with the range of virtual threats the United States faces, General Nakasone believes his command now has the right people, technology, and, most importantly, the right policy guidance to deliver on its assigned mission. Expanding on the themes we discussed, General Nakasone provides a compressive look at the threats, activities, and joint operations the command is working. Continuing to help us understand the complexity of cyber warfare, Frank Sanchez, Weilun Lin, and Kent Korunka offer us a discussion of how the principles of irregular warfare inform how we might address conflict in this newest medium. 

As our JPME Today section returns, we offer the first of what will be a number of articles in response to the latest call, in the 2018 National Defense Strategy by Secretary James Mattis, to reform professional military education. Colleagues at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC), Chuck Davis and Fred Kienle, writing with a frontline JPME perspective, believe the best way to meet the Secretary’s challenge is to focus on the original purpose of JPME Phase II programs as provided in the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986. While on Active duty, Colonel Kienle was the leader with the insight and drive to successfully develop, execute, and lead the Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS) program at JFSC, where JAWS continues to graduate world-class “Jedi” joint planners for the combatant commands, the interagency community, and international partners. Our joint force owes him a great deal for his long service to JPME. Next, returning JFQ author and center of gravity expert Dale Eikmeier describes how simplicity can be employed to come up with effective solutions to a planner’s more difficult problems.

We have a pair of thought-provoking articles in this edition’s Commentary. Since serving on a combatant command staff provides one with a valuable perspective on how these commands are able to deal with 21st-century challenges, John Fawcett tips his hat to the Napoleonic-era staff model still in use today as he recommends some structural changes needed to finally bury the emperor’s legacy and organize our joint operations better. Jeffrey Zust and Stephen Krauss provide their insights on how to best help our joint force leaders protect their people from the invisible wounds of conflict.

The Features section offers interesting and useful ideas about a range of issues. First, Neil Hollenbeck, Arnel David, and Benjamin Jensen present their take on the age-old discussion of how business principles might offer some important tools for warfighting. Next, Sara Dudley, Travis Pond, Ryan Roseberry, and Shawn Carden team up to give us their expert views on how the joint force should be prepared to follow the money that threat groups use to fund their operations in a completely new way, through the use of virtual cash or cryptocurrency. As U.S. forces are employed more sparingly in areas of conflict through strategies such as “by, with, and through,” Jahara Matisek and William Reno discuss the political aspects program managers and field leaders need to understand for the effective deployment of security force assistance programs.

Our Recall article takes us back to a dark chapter of air and land operations—the 1943 debacle at Kasserine Pass in North Africa—where Leland Cowie helps us see how to best employ joint air in the 21st century.

In Joint Doctrine, Matthew Quintero welds together three different domain-based but synergistic concepts to recommend important new ways to achieve success in joint air operations. After 17 years of insurgency-focused warfare, the update of Joint Publication 3-24, Counterinsurgency, should provide readers with much to consider going forward, and we have a brief article discussing this new version. We also have four useful reviews on a range of books for you to consider reading, and, as always, the Joint Staff’s Joint Doctrine Update on where other joint publications are in the review process.

As the year closes, we tend to look both backward and forward. Each of us draws on the past to help guide us in the future. Please take the time to remember those who have served and those who are serving. Submit an article that will help the future joint force learn from your experience of service and sacrifice. When you have that lesson down, send it to us so we can pass it along. JFQ

William T. Eliason
Editor in Chief