News | Jan. 16, 2023

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason Joint Force Quarterly 108

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Lieutenant General Charles J. Cunningham, Jr. speaks with Rear Admiral Ted C. Steel, Jr.

The joint force recently lost a quiet giant who not only was one of our nation’s most decorated fighter pilots and generals but also a lifelong learner and teacher of national and international strategy. Founding Joint Advanced Warfighting School Strategy Department Chair, Lieutenant General Charles “Chuck” Cunningham, USAF (Ret.), DBA, flew west, as we aviators say, in November. Others can detail how he came to the Joint Forces Staff College, and his military career is available to anyone who seeks his online Air Force biography—and you should. He was a determined but friendly man who always had time to explain a complex concept to students and faculty alike. Not exactly the typical fighter pilot we may envision, Chuck worked hard with his students to assure they became the best they could be. He supported his faculty teammates, so the instruction they gave hit the mark and assisted his college leadership to make the place he served better than it was. I am unaware of anyone who ever spoke negatively about him, and that is saying something.

Chuck would always help me and others, who often found the world of military education frustrating, find ways to move forward and get to a place where everybody wins. One of his biggest weapons was his huge smile, which was always at the ready. Another was his experience as a young captain on the ground and in the skies over Vietnam during two tours, where he flew nearly 400 fighter sorties and won many medals, including eight Distinguished Flying Crosses. His students were devoted to him as he sought to raise everyone’s knowledge and skills in dealing with the sometimes-mystical arts of strategy related to military planning. I had the pleasure of teaching my first strategy course under his leadership.

When I was selected to lead JAWS in a dynamic time of change under budget constraints, I am sure he was key to my success in the job and, in supporting me, along with our teammates, we put a solid first floor on the foundation the school’s founder, Colonel Fred Kienle, USA, and the team laid down. Chuck would continue to teach and mentor at JFSC until 2017, and he received NDU’s highest award for such service: induction earlier this year into JFSC’s Hall of Fame. He served the Nation and the world for nearly seven decades, a record I believe is not equaled and likely never will be.

Chuck called me a few years ago and what I remember from the discussion, he was recommending a student’s paper to me to consider for publication. I know Chuck wouldn’t have suggested it to me if he hadn’t already run the quality checklist, assessed the environment, seen the likely positive impact of the piece on the joint force and joint professional military education, and, most importantly, the positive impact of his student’s ideas on the world. I am certain the target was hit. I can see the positive and lasting impact the teaching Chuck and his teammates have had on joint planning staffs around the globe and, in turn, on the continuing strength of the joint force and our partners, wherever a JAWS graduate serves. I am proud to say I was one of Chuck’s wingmen as I throw a nickel on the grass in honor of him.

Our offerings in this issue’s Forum discuss and analyze world events and provide thoughts for all who engage in the art and science of planning in our government. Gigi Gronvall and Aurelia Attal-Juncqua have done some interesting work on Russia’s efforts in biological research and development. While written before the invasion of Ukraine, their work takes on even larger dimensions since last February, with continuing losses on the battlefield for Russia. In one of the more stranger-than-fiction events of late, Jerry Mothershead, Zygmunt Dembek, Todd Hann, Christopher Owens, and Aiguo Wu explore Havana syndrome, beginning with the 2016 reports of illness occurring among the U.S. Embassy personnel in Cuba. For the joint force to be successful—from the tactical to the top leadership—getting the story right and telling it well is essential, and Brent Lawniczak suggests this is best done when including the Narrative Policy Framework in the military planning process. In a refreshing look at how planners pursue the “ends” of the strategy of the commander, Michael Baker proposes seeing the future desired as one where problems will still exist vice one that is problem free, ultimately helping to develop a realistic and appropriate plan to achieve success.

In Commentary, Chad Peltier, Grace Hand, Nathaniel Peterson, Louis Deflice, Kyle Smith, and Justin Handy challenge us to consider how some popular cultural ideas such as tuition-free college and comprehensive health care could affect national defense. Looking at the growing mission set of security cooperation in the Defense Department, Daniel Ward suggests that the U.S. Coast Guard has a significant and valuable role to play.

Features this time has four excellent articles on how we might consider the current joint force’s structure and how it fights both physically and in the minds of the people we engage. Richard Hooker, my former boss at NDU and one of the long-time JFQ authors whose work first appeared in our inaugural issue in 1993, provides his take on how best to organize our special operations forces for future competition. Extending our ongoing look at Great Power competition, Curt Butler, Phillip Henrikson, Lisa Reyn Mann, and Palmer Roberts suggest ways to optimize the joint force beyond just the deterrence of future challenges. David Wilson takes us inside the ability of the U.S. Army to sustain the joint force in the Indo-Pacific region. Helping us navigate the world of information—the newest joint function—Daniel Hall details how best to gain and maintain superiority in the terrain of the mind.

Closing out JFQ this quarter, in Recall, Isaac Johnson, Erik Lampe, and Keith Wilson offer lessons from the British experience with Great Power competition in the 19th century. And, in Joint Doctrine, Thomas Putnam examines how the joint force needs to update its doctrine to better address the issues involved in post-combat “consolidation” from not only a military perspective but also to realistically mature the military’s approach to intra- and intergovernmental efforts to establish a working civil society after the guns go silent. We also have three excellent book reviews to keep you aware of new ideas and how they become a part of what the joint force accepts as valid ways of conducting our missions.

I look forward to helping you learn more so each of you can forge a path to success. I ask only that you take the time to reach out to your mentors and thank them for their support. Then find a way every day to pay it forward to those you work with, lead, and serve. JFQ

—William T. Eliason,
    Editor in Chief