A local county in Virginia is reckoning with what to do to protect a monument to Confederate soldiers and sailors that was placed on public land by private organizations many years ago. This is setting up a drama that has already played out in the Commonwealth’s capital, Richmond, with the very public removal of such monuments in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. The citizens of that county are concerned that someone might do harm to the monument.
Something that might not have been settled at Appomattox in 1865 seems to linger in the collective consciousness of the Nation. What seems hardest for some to deal with is what citizens of the same country owe to each other long after the guns of the Civil War were silenced, long after the failed Reconstruction period ended with the rise of Jim Crow laws and a shifting of political party allegiances in the south and north of our country, even two generations after the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. Is the U.S. Civil War over? If not, can it ever be resolved in a way that unites the Union as Abraham Lincoln had hoped?
As I am reading Donald Miller’s brilliant book Vicksburg, I am learning a great deal more of the actual social, political, and economic as well as military aspects of the war and this campaign that many historians believe was the one that truly broke the back of the Confederate states. What becomes clear, if one needed reminding, is that the 1862–1863 Vicksburg campaign was as close to total war as any experienced before or since in our country for the combatants and noncombatants alike. A key participant, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman, said that “war is hell.” He was not just remarking on the harsh conditions the soldiers on each side endured. The citizens of the Mississippi were among the first to experience the U.S. military instrument being used to destroy an economy, a way of life, based on a foundation of slavery. Positive views on slavery were not exclusive to the supporters of the Southern cause. Wars are rarely as simple as the division between two opposing sports teams and should not be treated as such, especially after the bullets stop flying.
But many of those who lost their way of life in the South eventually came to believe the myth of the “Lost Cause” as the “true” history of the war. I see the book Lost Cause of the Confederacy as like the thousands of social media efforts devoted to bending reality to one’s personal desires to gain something at the expense of another, creating a whole new virtual world of misinformation, myths, and “alternative facts,” each wielding its own caustic power in the minds of people. If we are unwilling to challenge historical myths with the best facts we can uncover and discuss, then the path forward as a society becomes unclear and potentially disastrous, as we have seen in the attack on the Capitol last year.
While some may seek to look only forward, I would offer that war—any war—leaves its mark on society and must be considered in everyday life, especially the unfinished work of the postwar period and any efforts to return to the prewar status quo. Today’s military and our recent veterans, with their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, know well what war and its aftermath look like. Our record is worth examining. Without doing so, the next war will likely rise out of the untended coals of the past. I offer, as others have, that the current Russian invasion of Ukraine is based solely on the myths Putin believes are true. As a result, these myths become deadly both at an individual level as well as at a global one. To some, making war is easier than keeping the peace.
Our Forum offers two engaging articles that ask us to consider what might happen next in the world of conflict. First, while much has been said lately about the rise of flying machines without pilots on board, Jonathan Bell provides leaders and planners the issues and options to consider when countering the growing swarm of drones in the air. Next, a relatively new but important word, lawfare, or the use of the law as a weapon of war, is increasingly a part of Great Power competition, and Stephen Schiffman assesses the readiness of the joint force to respond.
The 16th annual Secretary of Defense and 41st annual Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) Essay Competitions once again provided us with three outstanding student compositions for your analysis. The competitions brought the 31 faculty judges some 97 essays to consider, and the submissions were considered by the “ancient” judges as some of the finest student writing in recent years. As this year’s final judging was in person for the first time in 3 years, NDU President Lieutenant General Michael Plehn, USAF, was on hand to welcome and thank the judges for their efforts.
The winner of the Secretary of Defense National Security Essay Competition, Jeffrey Graham of the National War College, writes about how building up the relationship of the United States with India is key to securing that theater. Winning the Strategic Research Paper category of the CJCS Strategic Essay Competition, Ryan Tate of the U.S. Army War College advocates for more transparency in the use of deterrence in the cyber domain. Taking first place honors in the Strategy Article category of the CJCS Essay Competition, Kimberly Sandberg, Kevin Pickard, Jr., Jay Zwirblis, and Speight Caroon, a student team from the Joint and Combined Warfighting School at the Joint Forces Staff College, make a compelling argument for the use of health diplomacy in the current strategic environment.
As the one military journal dedicated to the joint force, we are fortunate enough to highlight the work of the combatant commands. This issue’s Special Feature brings the latest from the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM). For a view from the top of the command, my interview with General Jacqueline Van Ovost should help readers see the global scope and reach of USTRANSCOM in supporting national command authorities, the regional commands, as well as our allies and partners. Each of the command’s components and the staff offer their takes on how USTRANSCOM operates, starting with the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command’s Michael Minihan, who discusses airpower and its contribution to joint victory. David Bassett and James Regan describe the work of the Navy’s Military Sealift Command who work the heavy lifting for the joint force. Bruce Busler, who directs USTRANSCOM’s Joint Distribution Process Analysis Center, describes how the command has adapted to meet the demands of changing national defense strategies since the end of the Cold War. Completing the team discussion, Fred Teeter gives insight into how the Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command provides sustainment to the joint force. I want to thank General Van Ovost and her team for sharing their insights into this best of teams.
Features has three diverse and valuable articles that cover emerging areas of interest to the joint force. A constant concern for commanders and their units in any conflict, recent efforts to achieve Joint All-Domain Command and Control through experimentation are highlighted by James Richardson, as he details the Army’s efforts in Project Convergence. Food competition is often at the root of conflict, especially among the fishing fleets of the world, as Scott Apling, Martin Jeffery Bryant, James Garrison, and Oyunchimeg Young help us understand the issues involved when these activities violate international law. As longtime readers of JFQ will know, medical issues related to operations and strategy are found in these pages, and George Barbee offers a look into the future of military medicine and its impact on our planning and execution of the joint fight.
Rounding out this edition, Dagvin Anderson, Philip Buswell, and Andrew Caulk give us an outstanding Recall article that discusses their information versus kinetic operations as a part of their campaign experiences in Somalia. We also help you find the best books to read with three valuable reviews.
With this 107th edition of the Chairman’s journal, we invite you to comment on war, peace, and the in-between, as that is where you will always find the joint force. JFQ
—William T. Eliason,
Editor in Chief