An early conversation I had with Admiral Mike Mullen just after becoming the Editor in Chief of Joint Force Quarterly centered on a crucial request: “Bill, I need you to make sure I can read what our next generation of senior leaders are thinking about, what matters to them. At my level, it is very hard to hear what they have to say.” It is important to note that every Chairman, beginning with General Colin Powell in 1993, has encouraged in JFQ a range of topics they may not necessarily agree with, yet nonetheless state they need to read these ideas. With the words of General Powell and Admiral Mullen as guidance, our team has constantly sought out the best ideas and the best way to communicate them to you. While we have been successful over the past 100 issues, we must continue to remain focused on what you need us to be: the voice of the joint force.
In JFQ 1, General Powell wrote, “Don’t read the pages that follow if you are looking for the establishment point of view or the conventional wisdom. Pick up JFQ for controversy, debate, new ideas, and fresh insights—for the cool yet lively interplay among some of the finest minds committed to the profession of arms.” After 100 issues, this continues to be our informal mission statement.
While you will find many articles that reinforce the military status quo, our authors and readers have done their best over the years to sound off on what they see as the “facts on the ground,” which often clash with conventional wisdom. Success in furthering any profession comes from seeking to do better than was done in the past, through careful examination, debate, and refinement of arguments and facts, ultimately leading to revising and renewing techniques, tactics, procedures, process, policies, and doctrine. A constantly evolving and ever-changing environment moved forward by people and ideas, both good and bad, which are seen through the lens of time.
Journals like JFQ allow our rising leaders to express themselves in a way that is often not available any other way up the chain of command. Military journals continue to help move the profession of arms forward in ways that rapid-fire, light-speed mediums cannot. And it is hard to say what will endure in this instant gratification, 24/7 news cycle, Twitter-driven world. We should not abandon our more traditional means to read, process information, and make lasting decisions on important issues. Industry data show that despite the promise of paperless offices and e-readers wiping out traditional print media, readers of all ages, and especially “digital natives” under 35, continue to use both, and for different purposes. Digital natives still read physical magazines and books to gain the deeper learning experience those media provide. Electronic media is proving to be useful for quick bursts of information that may be interesting, but not something the reader needs to hold in long-term memory or study as one would for an academic examination. In print, you do not have the distractions that accompany an online experience, but we are there as well for those who need to have Google or Twitter at the ready.
As we begin the first of our next one hundred issues, our Forum offers four important views on current national security issues: defense of the homeland, military planning, diversity inclusion, and gray zone conflicts. Discussing military issues in defending the homeland, the commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Air Defense Command, Glen D. VanHerck, gives us a tour of his unique responsibilities. To improve military planning, Daniel Rauch and Matthew Tackett offer their ideas on using design thinking to enhance our chances of developing better operational and strategic choices. Long a subject of strong opinions, Monica Dziubinski Gramling and Warren Korban Blackburn provide their research results about the impact of integration of women in the military profession. While the focus has been on peer competition in recent years, Heather Bothwell helps us do a better job dealing with the “in between” or gray zone conflicts that have become endemic these days.
JPME Today has two excellent articles that discuss leadership, long a valuable and lasting conversation from our JFQ authors. The military has often incorporated business lexicon into its concepts, and with interesting results. Helping those in leadership positions understand who “gets a vote” and why they matter, Alexander Carter discusses the ways to learn about how best to manage one’s mission stakeholders. As military officers rise up in responsibilities, so do temptations to do the wrong thing, potentially damaging a career and more importantly risking the lives of those they lead. For those of you in the field grades, long our target demographic, Clinton Longenecker and James Shufelt have some practical advice to keep you on the right path to success.
Looking for a lively debate? In Commentary, classic operational to strategic reporting on wars we have fought has been hard to come by. There are a few notable exceptions, such as the research of one of our veteran JFQ authors, Benjamin Lambeth, who brings us his view on how the initial war against the so-called Islamic State was fought.
Planners know the universal truth of planning: you always have to plan for areas you do not have the expertise to do properly. In Features, we offer a great selection of articles on medical force issues, strategic logistics, and a look inside the Iranian national command during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. Mixing operational art and medical force structure considerations, Joseph Caravalho, Jr., and Enrique Ortiz, Jr., discuss how best to meet that challenge. A team of researchers from the Netherlands, Paul Christian van Fenema, Ton van Kampen, Gerold de Gooijer, Nynke Faber, Harm Hendriks, Andre Hoogstrate, and Loe Schlicher, offers their views on how advance innovation in strategic logistics in the military. Helping us to look more deeply into Iranian strategy in one of the longer and more horrific wars of the Middle East in modern times, Spencer Lawrence French breaks down their national security strategy from 1983 to 1987.
In Recall, Justin Lynch furthers our understanding of how the Great War of 1914–1918 can still provide lessons on the importance of adaptation for today’s joint force. In Joint Doctrine, George Katsos returns with his views on how the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been influenced by U.S. joint doctrine development. As always, we offer three excellent book reviews and the Joint Doctrine Update.
In 1993, General Powell encouraged members of the joint force to “Read JFQ. Study it. Mark it up—underline and write in the margins. Get mad. Then contribute your own views.” What do you think? How do you read JFQ? How can we make it better suited to the world you find yourself in? We are soon posting up a way for you to provide us more feedback. Watch this space. In the meantime, read on!
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NDU Press produces Joint Force Quarterly in concert with ongoing education and research at National Defense University in support of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. JFQ is the Chairman's joint military and security studies journal designed to inform and educate national security professionals on joint and integrated operations; whole of government contributions to national security policy and strategy; homeland security; and developments in training and joint military education to better equip America's military and security apparatus to meet tomorrow's challenges while protecting freedom today.