News | Dec. 30, 2014

Executive Summary

By William T. Eliason Joint Force Quarterly 76

As we reach the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, the American joint force is closing one chapter but seemingly opening another. The rapid change of events in Iraq and the ongoing civil war in Syria cannot help but make us wonder if we are perpetually at war. I teach a class at the Eisenhower School on war termination, and despite the many and varied examples of how wars terminate (or not), the “school solution” is ever elusive. We seem to be somewhere between the near certainty of the geometric concepts of Antoine- Henri Jomini and the “it depends” school of such greats as Carl von Clausewitz as we seek to understand both the wars we are in and those we might face in the future.

In a recent Veteran’s Day speech at Georgetown University, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, USA, repeated an important thought for those who believe that military officers study war in order to create war. General McMaster told the audience that military officers are expected first “to study war as the best means of preventing it; and second, to help the American military preserve our warrior ethos while remaining connected to those in whose name we fight.” His view, which all who serve should share, is that the study of war allows officers to understand the costs in blood and treasure before recommending how to respond to threats or actual attacks when asked by civilian leaders. This is not a new requirement for military officers, but is increasingly seen as important for civilians involved in decisionmaking on the use of armed forces in war.

U.S. Air Force Captain Erica Stooksbury, a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft pilot with the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, adjusts cockpit lighting controls in C-17 over Iraq, August 2014 (DOD/Vernon Young, Jr.)

U.S. Air Force Captain Erica Stooksbury, a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft pilot with the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, adjusts cockpit lighting controls in C-17 over Iraq, August 2014 (DOD/Vernon Young, Jr.)

Joint Force Quarterly is here in part to support the idea that the study of war and all of its elements is essential to learning how to avoid war if at all possible, and to successfully and rapidly conclude combat operations as soon as practical and in a fashion that enables transition to a peaceful postconflict situation. This is the fundamental reason why Service and joint professional military education (JPME) schools, their curricula, and their faculty and staffs exist. Moreover, this is the reason General Colin Powell created this journal over 20 years ago: to spur an open debate on issues important to the joint force. Without these platforms to support learning, the intellectual power of the men and women involved in recommending military options would be greatly diminished.

An important part of the successful accomplishment of this education mission is you, the reader. You can do more to foster the study of war and promote the warrior ethos simply by reading, sharing, discussing, and, if so inclined, writing for this journal. Our mission supports your efforts to become better educated and to achieve a higher level of understanding and capability as part of the human dimension of the military.

In this issue’s Forum section, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Jonathan Greenert returns with his view on how the Navy does its part to achieve successful joint force interdependence. Of course, no single Service can sustain operations independent from the others, and in the CNO’s view, the Services must strive to work out the best ways to succeed together. Another continuing area of interest for the joint force is how to deal with emerging concerns over the potential for open warfare in space. James Finch helps us see the connections between space activity and strategic calculations of the major powers on the ground.

As I write this essay, the National Defense University (NDU) has just gained its 15th president, Major General Frederick M. Padilla, USMC, and the pace of joint professional military education continues fast and furious. So too is the pace of article submissions in the JPME arena, and the downloads from our JFQ Web site indicate that JPME Today has become one of the journal’s most popular sections. First, Burton Catledge analyzes what it takes to spur innovation with a surprise for some: it is not technical competency alone that makes it happen. Nikolas Gvosdev next provides a strong argument for the inclusion of policy analysis in professional military education. Those of us who have been subjected to advanced statistics courses in our academic careers are familiar with the standard caution that “correlation is not necessarily causality.” Andrew Stigler helps us work through what causality means, especially in national security issues. Adding the “what next” to the ongoing discussion of transformation in JPME, Christopher Lamb and Brittany Porro suggest how to complete the transformation effort at NDU and provide a range of options for all PME institutions to consider.

As you read the first article in the Commentary section on the topic of diversity in the joint force, you will see beyond the four-star rank of the author and simply see the power of his words. Working through the various social changes in the force, General Larry Spencer’s words become even more powerful as a means to get from good to great. William Marcellino brings us a different take on strategic communications, suggesting a new way to make it work by taking advantage of the fields of rhetoric and discourse analysis instead of the current focus on communications theory, public relations, and marketing. Continuing a robust discussion of all things cyber in this journal during my tenure, J. Marcus Hicks offers his perspective on the subject that adds some geographic context to one of the Chairman’s seven security issues (see General Martin Dempsey’s remarks at the Atlantic Council on May 14, 2014). As a side note, these seven issues and especially a focus on cyber have been an integral part of this year’s curriculum here at National Defense University. JFQ is interested in all of these issues, and I hope potential authors who read about them will take advantage.

Leading off our Features section, Linnea Duvall and Evan Renfro provide some interesting ideas on how to adjust our national strategic security perspective from a reliance on Cold War deterrence thinking to a more nuanced conflict management approach. Ofer Fridman brings us back to the nonlethal weapons discussion we had a number of issues ago by suggesting that we need to better refine our requirements. As this issue hits the streets, U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan are coming to an end, spurring many efforts to capture the “best practices” from our decade-plus of war. Along these lines, Robert Mabry outlines the challenges in improving the record-setting advancements in combat casualty survival rates from these wars.

Quick quiz: which disease has had as much as an 80 percent infection rate among deployed U.S. forces? Hint: the disease is generally more widespread and deadly than all other viral hemorrhagic fevers combined, including Ebola, Marburg, Lassa, Korean, and Crimean- Congo, as well as the deadly Yellow Fever. Mary Raum and Kathleen McDonald tell us the answer: dengue, for which there is no cure except to kill the mosquitoes that carry it. They suggest that a campaign to eradicate these deadly carriers would be fairly inexpensive and align perfectly with combatant command “shaping” efforts in affected areas. This article should be mandatory reading for those serving in or headed for U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Africa Command.

If you are looking for a way to be published in JFQ where the competition is not as fierce, try a history piece that relates to jointness. JFQ gets relatively few submissions in this area, but nearly all of them fit our Recall section. In this issue’s Recall, Del Kostka adds a great review of the combined campaign in 1943 to eject Japanese forces from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Never heard of this operation? Read on, as there is joint and combined knowledge to be gained in these pages.

Also in this issue, we have three excellent book reviews, as well as the Joint Staff J7 joint doctrine update and an important essay by Geoffrey Weiss on the Defense Department’s vision for integrated air and missile defense.

As you work your way through this issue, consider whether you agree with the arguments. Think about what these ideas can do for your situation or that of your organization. We are interested in your views on these or any other topic related to the joint force. What separates successful organizations from the rest is the degree to which the people in them learn and grow intellectually. JFQ offers you the chance to learn about your profession and at the same time help others learn what you know. That is a critical component of the warrior ethos, helping others learn. Let us know what you think. JFQ

William T. Eliason
Editor in Chief