News | April 14, 2022

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason Joint Force Quarterly 105

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Medal of Honor recipient Army Captain Humbert Roque “Rocky” Versace
Medal of Honor recipient Army Captain Humbert Roque “Rocky” Versace
Medal of Honor recipient Army Captain Humbert Roque “Rocky” Versace (U.S. Army)
Photo By: U.S. Army
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On a rainy spring day here on the Potomac, the war in Ukraine rages on, and what can be done is being done. Ukrainians are showing the world what real courage is as Russia wages a brutal war against them. While Thomas Hobbes told us that life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” war is certainly all those things and more. The pain of war spreads out widely in the obvious ruins of lives lost, cities leveled, homes and businesses destroyed, and futures denied. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on February 24, 2022, will be remembered by millions of people, like some of us remember 9/11 or December 7, or the fateful early July days of 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

After the end of the Civil War, the names of Confederate leaders eventually graced 10 Army installations, which until recently was not really questioned. The rationale was both political and a part of where we were as a society. But today, after nearly 160 years, attitudes are changing. I see an obvious issue that is soon to be resolved by the Department of Defense (DOD), which will likely be disputed despite the diligent and careful work that has been done to make a positive change: renaming military bases. By law, these bases must have new names by January 1, 2024. While some say vestiges of our Civil War are heritage that should be respected, DOD has already settled that part of the issue, and these bases will be renamed.

If you study our country’s history, you gain perspective, and that viewpoint is not always validating to your beliefs. Hopefully, you see the need to do better as a citizen. Those once seen as heroes were only men who sought to achieve what they wanted to hold on to, including other humans whom they did not see as equals.

One of the 87 names recommended by the Naming Commission (a congressional commission that “has the important role of recommending names that exemplify . . . U.S. military and national values”) caught my eye: Captain Humbert Roque “Rocky” Versace, the son of an Army officer and West Point graduate, himself a 1959 West Point graduate, who eventually served as a special operations intelligence advisor in the early days of the Vietnam War. As a POW, he took command in a hidden jungle prison of cages exposed to the elements and did all he could to resist, a truly awe-inspiring example of courage as he dealt with unspeakable acts of torture. His body was never recovered but was announced as being executed by his Vietnamese captors.

He was awarded the Silver Star but deserved the Medal of Honor, which was eventually awarded posthumously by President George W. Bush in 2002. His fellow POWs who witnessed his courage, bravery, and faith returned home and established the first Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training organization to help others deal with similar situations in future combat. His friends also erected a permanent memorial to Captain Versace near Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. You should know his story. He was the first Army POW in Vietnam so awarded a Medal of Honor.

If you know Rocky’s story of courage and the stories of the other people on the list, and you know why these bases were named such, can you honestly say an officer who took up arms against the United States deserves such an honor? Especially now, as we see others fighting for the same freedoms that we often take for granted. Our Civil War must end, lest we continue to repeat the mistakes of the past. We do not want to end up like Russia, with an “alternative history” that just leads to more bloodshed.

The Forum brings a wide range of ideas, from the future of the Internet to security cooperation training to dealing with China’s navigation satellites. Looking at the Internet in the years ahead, Lubjana Beshaj, Samuel Crislip, and Travis Russell describe how the quantum Internet is arriving, what that means, and what DOD should do to prepare. As the U.S. military has found itself engaged in many conflicts short of war in a conventional sense, Patrick Paterson discusses how the joint force, which tends to follow the Law of Armed Conflict, can best assist our partners who are likely using procedures in line with criminal and human rights laws. After launching BeiDou, China now has its own GPS-like satellite constellation, and David Millner discusses the impact on the global use of such systems.

Often the stuff of blockbuster movie plots that tend to overdramatize the intense and focused missions of special forces, we bring you a Special Feature focusing on today’s U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). In my interview with General Richard D. Clarke, USA, the 12th commander of USSOCOM, we discuss where this unique combatant command is today and where it is headed. A key part of the command’s mission is training and education, which General Clarke has focused on in a reset of the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU). The new president of JSOU, Isaiah (Ike) Wilson III, and coauthor Anthony Pfaff of the U.S. Army War College, offer a perspective on the importance of today’s special operations as a part of our nation’s defense. While the Services contribute forces to USSOCOM to perform its missions, Dr. Wilson and Dr. Pfaff describe how individuals in these special operations forces should consider such work as a profession within the profession of arms. Unique within the combatant commands, USSOCOM has an educational institution that is transitioning from primarily being a short-course training mission to becoming a member of the U.S. joint professional military education institutions. David Dudas, Bethany Fidermutz, and Amie Lonas take us inside JSOU for a closer look.

As each issue of JFQ is developed months in advance of publication, events sometimes outpace what our authors write about, as is the case with the Russian war in Ukraine. In Features, we have an important article on the Chinese budget and two pieces from the European theater that still hold up as important reads. There is an old saying—that to understand a nation’s intent, simply look at its budget—and Frederico Bartels helps us see the difficulty in doing so with China’s defense spending. Two experts from U.S. European Command, Jon-Paul Depreo and Scott Raymond, help us see that infrastructure planning within the command is aligned with European Allies and other partners. As we are seeing play out, these efforts are showing value as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defends against Russia. The title of Andrew Underwood, Andrew Emery, Paul Haynsworth, and Jennifer Barnes’s article that discusses how NATO would defend against Russia might seem off a bit, but from a warfighting perspective the Alliance is holding its own.

Recall and Joint Doctrine respectively bookend the past and the future of U.S. joint warfighting. In Recall, Nathan Jennings examines the Mexican-American War and provides a pre-historic view of joint operations, one I would offer that then Captain U.S. Grant, who was in that campaign, would have in mind during the Western Campaign of 1862–1863 culminating in the victory at Vicksburg, a very joint affair. Andrew Crabb next offers his critique of Joint Publication 5-0, Joint Planning, in terms of operational design. We close this issue with three valuable book reviews and our Joint Doctrine Update.

In these difficult times, I hope each of us can see new ways to work together to seek a better world, both at home and around the world. JFQ

William T. Eliason
Editor in Chief