News | July 24, 2019

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason Joint Force Quarterly 94

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This June, the world observed the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, which marked the beginning of the end of Nazi control in Europe. In what was probably the last time veterans of that combined campaign could meet in company strength, victorious and liberated nations alike honored their service and sacrifice. We all were reminded of the terrible costs of war as well as our collective responsibility to remember such experiences in hopes they will not be repeated. The awesome power of those young warriors, many of them civilians fresh out of school just months before, shows how well-trained and well-led troops, draftees, and long-serving veterans can achieve strategic ends. A friend sent me a link to a CBS Reports video from 1964 that featured Walter Cronkite interviewing President Dwight D. Eisenhower in England, and later Normandy, about the operation.

USS LCI(L)-553 and USS LCI(L)-410 land troops on Omaha Beach during initial assault on D-Day, June 6, 1944 (National Museum of the U.S. Navy/Naval History and Heritage Command)
USS LCI(L)-553 and USS LCI(L)-410 land troops on Omaha Beach during initial assault on D-Day, June 6, 1944 (National Museum of the U.S. Navy/Naval History and Heritage Command)
USS LCI(L)-553 and USS LCI(L)-410 land troops on Omaha Beach during initial assault on D-Day, June 6, 1944 (National Museum of the U.S. Navy/Naval History and Heritage Command)
USS LCI(L)-553 and USS LCI(L)-410 land troops on Omaha Beach during initial assault on D-Day, June 6, 1944 (National Museum of the U.S. Navy/Naval History and Heritage Command)
USS LCI(L)-553 and USS LCI(L)-410 land troops on Omaha Beach during initial assault on D-Day, June 6, 1944 (National Museum of the U.S. Navy/Naval History and Heritage Command)
Photo By: National Museum of the U.S. Navy/Naval History and Heritage Command
VIRIN: 190723-D-BD104-030

At the time of the interview, some 20 years after the landing, President Eisenhower visited those famous places he had not been to since the war. After describing the cost estimates and lack of complete certainty of even committing to the operation by his staff and fellow leaders, he recounted the story of how the hedgerows of Normandy were defeated by the ingenuity of a young sergeant. Ike recalled how Curtis G. Culin III, who after getting an idea from something a buddy of his said, invented a steel forklike device for Allied tanks to use to drive through the walls of dirt and trees. The general completed his “breakout of the bocage” story with the fact that Culin, a member of the 102nd Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, New Jersey Army National Guard, was later in the war invalided and evacuated home.

As Ike and Cronkite walked among the stones of one of the cemeteries above Normandy beach, with the reporter calling out names and units, the general responded immediately with the role of that Soldier’s unit in the battle and the results. What was stunning to see is the fact that after all he had been through, including several near-death health episodes while in office as President, at 74, Ike easily was in command of the facts of that campaign, down to the last detail. Watching the video, I could not help but see what those warriors meant to him, even 20 years later. We are left to wonder about the world he and his coalition were fighting to achieve, and the one he saw in 1964. We should reflect on how what we are doing today in the military ensures that our nation, allies, and partners can produce such a leader and such a generation as Ike and his “boys.”

Our Forum section in this issue opens with an interview of General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, USAF, commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. With arguably some of the most important responsibilities in the joint force, he discusses how his commands work to protect the homeland, defend the airspace above the United States and Canada, and how the joint force is working to achieve the Chairman’s Globally Integrated Operations challenge. Next, with the rise of social media’s use as a weapon, Glenda Jakubowski describes how these modern means of communication can be adapted to information operations as a force multiplier. Continuing one of our most important discussion threads issue to issue, James Kwoun discusses an interesting way to reimagine all-source intelligence analysis.

In JPME Today, we present two important articles that primarily speak to the professionals engaged in teaching in our staff and war colleges. As an early look at a chapter from an edited volume on professional ethics (NDU Press, forthcoming), Thomas Statler tells us how professional military education can renew its focus on the profession of arms and virtue ethics. Recommending the use of historical case studies in our teaching, Gregory Miller then offers us the keys to teaching our future senior leaders about an important but underappreciated civil-military relations moment in the immediate post–Vietnam War period, the Mayaguez Incident.

This issue’s Commentary offers two articles that also continue discussions we have had—and I expect will continue to have in future issues. After spending a considerable time in his day job and as a student at the Eisenhower School last year, Scott Hubinger provides the case for how the F-35 program will not meet the same end as the F-22. In one way it already has, with more than double the number of aircraft produced to date, but the debate continues as to its value. On the other end of the combat spectrum, Steve Hendrickson and Riley Post have developed a simple answer on how best to apply operations analysis to special operations.

Our Features section has a wide range of ideas that emphasize our shift in national security focus to the Indo-Pacific region. Dion Moten, Bryan Teff, Michael Pyle, Gerald Delk, and Randel Clark help us understand the problems surrounding combat casualty care if we were to go to war at sea in the Pacific and how to jointly solve them. Taking joint integration in a different direction, George Dougherty has an interesting view of how land forces can achieve overmatch through control of the “atmospheric littoral.” As nuclear issues and the renewal of our triad of nuclear systems come to the front of the national security debates, Ryan Kort, Carlos Bersabe, Dalton Clarke, and Derek Di Bello help us work through the results of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. With a refocusing on great power competition, Mark Miles and Charles Miller discuss the risks and opportunities the United States faces around the world.

In Recall, we present a fascinating look back at the American Civil War brought to us by two young officers and historians, John DiEugenio and Aubry Eaton, who offer a 155-year-old leadership lesson from the Petersburg Campaign of 1864. We also present two excellent articles in Joint Doctrine focusing on joint functions. Focusing on a growing area of interest to joint planners and operators, Kyle Ernest Goodridge, Kane Janek Kukowski, and Matthew Eric McCay recommend some answers on how best to integrate nonlethal and lethal effects across the joint functions. In an important review and critique, Thomas Crosbie sees the joint functions as needing adjustments to properly work to the joint force’s advantage. We also offer three valuable book reviews and the Joint Doctrine update to round out this issue.

For what it is worth, Ike was a product of our 20th-century American military education system. Before the war, one would have to agree that Ike was an unlikely leader of such an operation as the Normandy landings, so how did he manage it beyond the obvious “help” from senior leaders? Each time he was given an assignment, he learned what he could from it and later applied himself to achieving the best result possible.

What I am left to conclude is that despite the many faults of our very human past (and given the weaknesses of our professional military education system), great leaders have always emerged to help guide us through troubling times. The one clear lesson I take from Eisenhower was the power of history and memory to shape our world view and our vision of what lies ahead. Ike teaches us that our past must be revisited and compared to the world we see in order to bring about the future we want. In 1964, that view of both the past and the future must have been breathtaking for him. What have you learned from the past? What future do you see? Why not write about it and share it with us? You never know when history will come calling. JFQ

William T. Eliason
Editor in Chief