News | July 7, 2023

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason Joint Force Quarterly 110

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Marine assigned to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, conducts high altitude, low opening parachute jump from Air Force C-130J Super Hercules assigned to 36th Airlift Squadron, over Yokota Air Base, Japan, December 13, 2021, as part of weeklong joint training using Air Force and Navy aircraft (U.S. Air Force/Yasuo Osakabe)

Since Vietnam and importantly over a decade later—with the establishment of the requirements for joint operations, the joint force concept, and the idea of jointness with the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986—we have witnessed a slow but important shift in how the United States and its coalition partners address conflicts locally and globally.

Having grown up in the post-Vietnam-era U.S. Air Force, riding in the most high tech aircraft of the day, interoperating with multiple Services and multiple nations as a daily part of our tactical operation that had a strategic impact, I had a front row seat to what could be done if Service- or Nation-dominant positions were set aside to see how each participant could leverage everyone else’s strengths to positive mission accomplishment.

Despite the obvious size and influence of the Services on the development of weapon systems and the organizing of their warfighting capabilities, their separate cultures have not fully prevented those who can see the requirement to better integrate these Service formations, from the command level all the way down to the tactical, from advocating for true jointness. The largest and most successful parts of jointness to date can be seen in the combatant commands and their daily control over joint operations, in the success of joint professional military education in helping foster an understanding of the value of working together as a joint and combined team, and in the growing efforts at the Department of Defense to bring industry, government, and warfighters from all the Services, as well as our Allies and partner nations, together to innovate both technological solutions and human development for the benefit of all.

Jointness isn’t just an option. It is essential and required for mission success. Jointness enables successes like Operations Desert Storm and Allied Force. Even in crisis, joint and combined efforts ultimately result in the best outcomes when victory isn’t possible in a classic sense. We all might value the capabilities of the Service we signed up for, but each is only a part of a bigger and much more powerful force when we all work together. I would offer that jointness is what our military needs more of to assure our success in the future. Each of us should see our role as an advocate for jointness because to do otherwise lessens the value and contribution of our own Service teammates and those from the other Services, our allies, and our partners. Most importantly, you will see that the Chairman, after 43 years in the U.S. Army, sees jointness as the only way to go.

Our Forum section welcomes four separate cutting-edge articles on 21st-century warfighting led by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, as he provides the joint force his views on the evolving Joint Warfighting Concept and its place in the soon-to-be-released accompanying joint doctrine. His call for the establishment for a Joint Futures Command and for increased jointness by design is certainly a welcome development to this veteran of the former Joint Forces Command. With the rise of increasingly autonomous weapons systems, Steven Sacks provides his take on how they fit into a conceptual framework of deterrence. After a series of encounters with unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs, as UFOs are now known), Luke Herrington helps us sort through how to improve interagency coordination in dealing with these events. Following on to several articles JFQ has recently published, Doug Quinn, Patrick Wolverton, and Scott Storm suggest quantum computing as one of our advantages in our competition with China.

We offer the ideas of two professors in this edition’s JPME Today. With the distinct buzz globally about the rise of artificial intelligence, the Army Cyber Institute at West Point’s Iain Cruickshank helps us learn the best way to recruit the right people into the military who can best take advantage of this brave new world ahead. Seeing a distinct advantage in diversifying the gender of JPME faculties, Magdalena Bogacz describes the positive and lasting impact this change will have on national security. In my own tenure teaching at NDU, I can see the slow but positive climb in female faculty and the definite positive impacts this is having. How could it not?

This edition’s Commentary articles take us to all parts of the military experience, from space to intelligence to the battle against HIV/AIDS. If you are wondering where the U.S. Space Force needs to go in order to wage the Nation’s battles on the ultimate high ground, the Service’s “Two” who leads their intelligence staff, Gregory Gagnon, discusses the need for better integration of all allied and joint force capabilities, leveraging and relying on military space forces primarily more than in past conflicts in part due to the challenges that China poses in all domains, but especially in space. Career intelligence professional Eric Daniels provides us with his thoughts on how to improve intelligence training across the joint force. Although many of us have long ago forgotten about the HIV/AIDS crisis, the team of Joseph Cavanaugh, Clinton Murray, David Chang and Julie Ake describe how the Department of Defense is still actively involved in preventing and combating HIV/AIDS.

In Features, the focus is on the human dimension of the joint force and strategy, with both new and familiar authors. First of two returning JFQ alumni, Kevin Stringer brings his wealth of experience to help us understand how to move from an operational approach to employment of special forces in security force assistance operations. Once again, we welcome internationally known strategy expert Beatrice Heuser, who offers her views on how we can assess a country’s position in the global strategic environment. Seeing women as the frequently overlooked “secret weapon,” Barbara Salera provides a positive approach to security cooperation, which many of our allies have already adopted. Closer to home, Benjamin Bryant offers a studied critique of the Defense Department’s Exceptional Family Member Program.

Rounding out this issue of JFQ, our Recall article takes us back to the Civil War as David Gompert and Hans Binnendijk tie how the rapid development and experimentation in naval operations and armaments then have significant and useful concepts for today’s force. In Joint Doctrine, Ari Fisher believes there is a better way to help commanders assess how ready their force is to fight. To these excellent articles we add four book reviews, and we hope you will find useful new ideas to add to your professional understanding and development.

Your voice in how best to move the joint force forward can only help achieve both the mission of this journal and the goals of the new Joint Warfighting Concept. Every successful leader at every level knows the wisdom of how to bring diverse talents together to achieve the mission. The Chairman and JFQ are looking for your ideas on how to achieve success together as we deal with the world today and in the future. JFQ

—William T. Eliason,
    Editor in Chief