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Joint Force Quarterly 111 (4th Quarter, 2023)
By | Oct. 30, 2023

Joint Force Quarterly 111
Joint Force Quarterly 111
Joint Force Quarterly 111
Photo By: NDU Press
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Click here to read JFQ 111 →

Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt (former Google CEO), and Daniel Huttenlocher (dean of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing) have been speaking to audiences on the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) and humans, the subject of their book The Age of AI (Little, Brown and Company, 2021). They believe we will soon reach a point where machines develop their own language and start communicating in a way we humans do not understand. It is then that “we pull the plug on them,” according to Schmidt. Kissinger suggests that a global discussion among governments and industry must occur soon and develop agreed-on limits to prevent AI from getting out of control.

History is full of such calls for global restraint of potentially dangerous machines, such as the 1921–1922 Washington Naval Conference, which hoped to limit the spread of naval battleships and constrain expansionist powers, especially in the Pacific. We also have the many nuclear arms control agreements, including the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which nearly all the world agreed to the peaceful use of nuclear power and swore to work together for the elimination of nuclear arms. Chemical and biological weapons have also been subject to such agreements with good progress toward elimination.

But have we not seen this movie before, that is, new capabilities that can seemingly overwhelm humankind’s ability to control them? While Schmidt doubts these machines could become truly conscious, they likely could develop a decisionmaking capability that could, when operating on the battlefield, advantage both the offense and defense to quickly overwhelm the opponent. In practice, Schmidt believes if sufficiently resourced the AI-supported offense wins, and the defender loses. But can warfare become so simple that the offense can overwhelm the defense simply by having better analysis and the ability to carry out such computer-assisted plans?

Kissinger and his coauthors are asking the right questions: Where does AI place our current military advantages as well as those we plan to have in the future? Does AI script us into an arms race of multiple types, both hardware and software? Maybe we have already been in one for years that will now accelerate. How does AI play a role in the Joint Warfighting Concept (JWC)? This issue brings both answers and more questions about how the United States plans to meet the future militarily.

Building on General Mark Milley’s discussion in JFQ 110 (3rd Quarter, 2023), our Forum section welcomes three articles that expand his discussion of future joint warfighting. First, Thomas Walsh and Alexandra Huber interview the Services’ vice chiefs about how the concept affects their efforts to implement Joint Force Development and Design in their plans for the joint force. Vice Chairman Admiral Christopher Grady offers his thoughts on how we can build the joint force in line with the JWC. In an exclusive to JFQ, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation Philippe Lavigne provides his perspective on how Alliance nations are adjusting national and NATO plans for modernization, especially during the extant threat of Russia to Ukraine and nearby nations.

As we do each October issue of JFQ, we present the winners of the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) Essay Competitions, held this past spring at National Defense University. With judges gathered from across the professional military education enterprise, over 90 essays competed and 4 were selected, with a dual winner in one category. In the Secretary of Defense Strategic Research Paper category, Karl Scheuerman of the Eisenhower School connects the dots between Russia’s threats to stop wheat exports and how that could impact the U.S. food supply. The first of two winners in the CJCS Strategic Paper category, Benjamin Donham of the U.S. Army War College writes about how AI could be applied successfully to joint medical operations. The other winner in this category, Nathaniel Peace from the Air War College, suggests a strategy to achieve space denial through deterrence.

In a first for JFQ, we offer a special section on U.S. Africa Command, featuring my interview with USAFRICOM Commander General Michael Langley, USMC, and three articles from his command staff. In an overview of the guiding principles adopted by the command, Melissa Stafford, Benjamin Okonofua, William Campbell, and Garth Anderson discuss the continuing value of diplomacy, development, and defense in the region. Looking more deeply into the first of these principles, Rose Keravuori, Peter Bailey, Eric Swett, and William Duval describe how USAFRICOM is working to implement the concept of Defense Diplomacy. With such a large geographic area of responsibility and a relatively small amount of assets to call on, Opher Heymann and Peter Yeager outline a range of opportunities for the command to make a difference across the continent.

Our Features section offers four articles from the field, including views on potential problems between China and Russia in the Artic, managing risk, understanding the history of Black Soldiers in World War II, and how modern military members can best learn from their industrial partners. Adam Lajeunesse, P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Sergey Sukhankin, and Troy Bouffard offer important insights into the challenges of Chinese and Russian use of the Artic. On managing risk, Bryan Groves, Jerad Rich, and Kaley Scholl educate us on how to best employ the joint force’s existing frameworks for successful outcomes. Returning JFQ alumnus Bryon Greenwald provides us with his take on how the experiences of Black combat Soldiers in World War II can help us best leverage diversity and inclusion efforts today. Michael Lima discusses Training With Industry and shares his perspective on why more such assignments would help both sides of the commercial defense industrial base.

Rounding out this issue, along with three outstanding book reviews, is our Recall article. Casey Miller, Carl Jappart, and Matthew Jackson offer their lessons learned from the Allied response to the German U-Boat offensive of 1942.

As the outline of the JWC begins to become clearer to the joint force and beyond, we hope to hear from you about how it relates to your vision of the future, AI, geopolitical issues, and more. While this world may seem increasingly complex and complicated, sharing your thoughts on how to deal with it is always of value to our nation’s leadership and your battle buddies alike. JFQ is always ready to air them out. JFQ

Click here to read JFQ 111 →

NDU Press produces Joint Force Quarterly in concert with ongoing education and research at National Defense University in support of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. JFQ is the Chairman's joint military and security studies journal designed to inform and educate national security professionals on joint and integrated operations; whole of government contributions to national security policy and strategy; homeland security; and developments in training and joint military education to better equip America's military and security apparatus to meet tomorrow's challenges while protecting freedom today.

Friction Points in the Sino-Russian Arctic Partnership
By Adam Lajeunesse, P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Sergey Sukhankin, and Troy J. Bouffard | Oct. 30, 2023

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Adam Lajeunesse is the Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Marine Security Policy and an Assistant Professor at the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government. P. Whitney Lackenbauer is Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in the Study of the Canadian North and Professor in the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University. Sergey Sukhankin is a Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation and an Advisor at Gulf State Analytics. Troy J. Bouffard is Director of the Center for Arctic Security and Resilience at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Russia’s icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy moves into ice near Sabetta, Tyumen region, Russia, April 4, 2021 (Shutterstock)

In 2018, China outlined its role and ambitions in the Arctic with a comprehensive white paper titled China’s Arctic Policy.1 In it, Beijing identified four key areas of interest: shipping, resource development, regional governance, and science. Underlying these specific priorities is an ever-present and overarching theme of respect and participation: respect for China’s interests in the Arctic and for the involvement of non-Arctic states in the region. In many ways, this policy announcement marked the high point of China’s influence in the democratic Arctic. Since then, China’s soft power in the north has suffered steady decline, as Arctic countries have digested the implications of China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang as well as its aggressive posturing in the South China Sea and against Taiwan.2 Chinese “wolf warrior” diplomacy tactics3 against some Arctic states have heightened a sense of distrust, making it difficult to separate Arctic dynamics from the principal challenge posed by China to long-term U.S. security and prosperity and those of its allies more generally.4

While the trend in the seven like-minded states (Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States) has generated a distaste toward engagement with China as an Arctic actor, Beijing has asserted a growing influence in Russia, where it has managed to consistently advance its Arctic interests in these four priority areas. Indeed, the Sino-Russia relationship in the north has tightened in the last couple of years, creating a mutually beneficial strategic partnership, an easy access point for China in the Arctic, and a willing financier and supporter for some of Russia’s key northern development projects. Western sanctions imposed on the Russian economy in the wake of Russia’s renewed invasion of Ukraine have only increased its need for Chinese investment, markets, and political support. And, in support of this partnership, China’s diplomatic messaging toward the Russian Arctic is defined by the same “win-win” narrative that it applies globally, with specific attention to the value of Chinese investment, shipping, and resource development in the Russian north.

Today, there is a broad policy consensus in Russia about the desirability of keeping Sino-Russian relations on a positive trajectory in political and economic terms.5 Chinese statements—and tacit acceptance of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—suggest that Beijing also sees strategic value in continuing to strengthen that relationship. This confluence of interest creates obvious dangers for the democratic Arctic states, which now openly recognize the economic, strategic, and military dangers posed by both authoritarian states in the Arctic and elsewhere.

Yet despite the seemingly close partnership, Sino-Russian relations in the north are not quite the friendly terrain of two like-minded states advancing a “friendship” with “no limits,” as described by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in February 2023. Arctic cooperation for the two authoritarian states remains a highly transactional partnership, underpinned by deep and abiding suspicion. China’s presence and activities in the Arctic have long concerned Russian leadership, and while the outward face of that partnership remains positive, the smiles and handshakes rest on an unstable foundation, riven by friction.

As the world has seen across the democratic Arctic, China’s polar ambitions are subject to pushback when Beijing’s ambitions conflict with local values and sensitivities. This article is an overview of Sino-Russian friction and points of vulnerability in their Arctic relationship. Downplayed by the Russian and Chinese governments and Arctic actors in those countries, each of these real or possible disputes has the potential to degrade the growing Sino-Russian strategic partnership in the region. In this article, we highlight three main areas of friction—navigation, resource exploitation, and infrastructure—that we see as exploitable gaps in the relationship. Western observers and commentators should not be neutral in observing this relationship; rather, we might benefit from shining a light on these issues that Beijing and Moscow have so assiduously sought to sidestep. In so doing, the like-minded Arctic states will be better positioned to address Russia and China as distinct regional challenges rather than an inherently unified front.6

China as a “Near-Arctic State” and the Role of Non-Arctic Actors

Chinese strategic messaging regarding the Arctic promotes an image of China as a peaceful and friendly world power seeking win-win economic cooperation.7 This narrative, common to Chinese messaging around the world, is designed to blunt foreign criticism while facilitating investment, scientific collaboration, and the entrenchment of Chinese facilities and programs in foreign states. In the Arctic context, this means securing access to shipping routes, Chinese direct foreign investment in energy and mining projects, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure projects, and (potentially dual-purpose) scientific research.8 Although the Arctic still holds the promise of resources and shipping routes that could one day be important as part of a global BRI as a “Polar Silk Road” (PSR),9 many of these remain economically unviable. As such, China’s short-term Arctic interests are more modest than many Western commentators suggest.10

As the region’s largest coastal state and the most capable Arctic power, Russia has long insisted that Arctic governance should remain the sole responsibility of Arctic states, and Moscow remains intent on protecting its dominant position in the region. Beijing, in contrast, seeks to alter the status quo by advocating a greater role in Arctic governance. For years, China has maintained that its interests and capabilities in the Arctic make it a “near-Arctic state” while promoting the perception of the Arctic as a global commons, rather than a strictly regional space.11 As Dmitri Trenin, former director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, has noted, “Russia is, in a word, a status quo power, while China is seeking to open up the region for the world and capitalize on that.”12 Disagreements over Arctic governance offer the most broad-based area for issues between the two states.13

In an illustrative article for the Guangming Daily in April 2021, Dong Yongzai, associate researcher at the Xi Jinping Strong Army Thought Research Center at the Academy of Military Sciences, echoes a common theme in Chinese political, academic, and media commentary: namely, that China “should play a constructive role in improving the rules of polar governance, promoting peace and stability in the polar regions, and safeguarding the common interests of all countries and the international community.”14 In so doing, it advances the community of human destiny in the polar regions.15 This phrase is an increasingly dominant frame in Chinese messaging, which encompasses the idea that China must be more active in global affairs as it seeks “to realize the ‘Chinese dream’ of what Xi Jinping refers to as the ‘great rejuvenation’ (essentially, China’s return to the center of world civilization).”16

Russia has naturally pushed back on this notion of Chinese rights, entitlement, and desire to internationalize the Arctic. Indeed, its concern about China’s emerging Arctic interests was a major impediment to Beijing’s application for an Arctic Council observer position, obstructing the process for 7 years. Moscow reluctantly approved China’s application to the council only after considerable pressure from Nordic nations and the drafting of the council’s “Criteria for Admitting Observers,” which required that new observers “recognize Arctic states’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the Arctic.”17

In June 2020, in a revealing statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special envoy and senior official in the Arctic Council, Nikolai Korchunov, stated that Russia is not interested in delegating its share of responsibility for the Arctic Region to other countries. Korchunov stated, “The Americans are not prepared for this, either. In this respect it is impossible to disagree with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s statement made in May 2019 that there are two groups of countries—Arctic and non-Arctic. He said so in relation to China, which positioned itself as a near-Arctic state. We disagree with this.”18 This statement—from one of Russia’s highest-ranking Arctic officials, dismissing China’s entire Arctic identity—is telling. It was surely planned to send a message and express a growing discomfort with China’s growing self-defined Arctic identity.

The manifestations of China’s near-Arctic state identity have also been unsettling to Russia. In the future, this may become more acute. While China’s military has no Arctic presence, its growing icebreaker fleet and commercial activities give it more capability and leverage in the region. China’s two icebreakers operate independently, and plans for a new nuclear-powered vessel comparable to the Russian Arktika-class, will give China the ability to match Russian access.19 This growing access capability is concerning to the Russians, as it gives substance to China’s broader claims to a near-Arctic identity.

There are also concerns within Russia that China’s civilian presence will support a longer term military presence, although these thoughts are rarely expressed through official channels. In 2016, Liu Huirong, dean and professor at the Ocean University of China’s College of Law and Political Science, highlighted such Russian concerns that he saw surrounding dual-use technology, specifically hydroacoustic research.20 Mapping the Arctic seafloor and studying ocean salinity and thermal layers as well as regional ice dynamics are all activities of China’s civilian research program and are prerequisites to a naval presence—particularly when considering potential submarine operations.

For Russia, this is a persistent fear that was dramatically brought to the fore in June 2020 when Russian authorities arrested Valery Mitko, a professor at the St. Petersburg Arctic Academy of Sciences. Mitko was charged with high treason for providing Chinese intelligence services with classified materials relating to hydroacoustics and submarine detection methods. While the details of his activities are not public, Chinese interest in co-opting an Arctic submarine expert must have provoked new concerns over its long-term objectives.

As China increases its Arctic presence and capabilities, it will likely become more strident about its rights in the Arctic and more unilateral in its approach. Russia has never supported such a presence and is explicitly opposed to any direct Chinese role in Arctic governance. This divergence in policy and philosophy can be papered over while China’s role in polar governance is limited by its minimal access and tempered ambitions. However, China clearly envisions its role expanding in the future, in lockstep with access capabilities and economic clout. As that happens, Russia will have to come to grips with increased Chinese say in a region deemed to be of vital economic, military, and psychological importance to the Russian state.

U.S. Army and Canadian soldiers practice and conduct tactical insertion on open ice skiway delivered by ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules of 109th Airlift Wing, New York Air National Guard, on frozen oceanic Arctic ice near Cornwallis Island, Nunavut, Canada, March 15, 2023, as part of exercise Guerrier Nordique 23 (U.S. Army/Mikel Arcovitch)

Arctic Sovereignty: Chinese and Russian Disagreements

When China became an accredited observer to the Arctic Council in 2013, it did so on the condition that it “recognize Arctic States’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the Arctic.”21 This mollified many existing Russian concerns over China’s Arctic objectives, and in the intervening years there have been no disputes over sovereignty or jurisdiction. This harmony has been facilitated by China’s relative absence from the Arctic, where its ships make up only a small percentage of the voyages across northern Russia.22 Beneath this harmony, however, remains deep disagreement on the question of sovereignty and jurisdiction, which strikes at the heart of Russia’s position in the Arctic. As Chinese shipping and activity increase, this disagreement may be exacerbated.

Central to Russia’s position in the Arctic is its assertion of sovereignty or control over the Northern Sea Route (NSR), or Northeast Passage. While the precise nature of that sovereignty remains somewhat ambiguous, Moscow claims to control key straits along the NSR as historic waters, while its published maps appear to extend its jurisdiction to the limits of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which Russia claims to manage in the same manner as its internal waters.23

As Russia’s strategic thinking has increasingly emphasized sovereignty, its national regulations related to shipping along the NSR have been strengthened. In 2013, an authorization procedure for ships to pass through the NSR was introduced, and between 2017 and 2019, Russia proposed further limitations. In December 2017, the amendments to the merchant shipping code of Russia granted exclusive rights to vessels sailing under the Russian state flag to transport hydrocarbon resources produced in Russia and loaded onto vessels located in the NSR. In 2018, Russia banned the use of ships built outside the country to transport oil and gas extracted from the Russian Arctic. The following year, Russia added a new notification procedure for foreign warships passing through the territorial sea of the NSR. The new procedure means that a foreign state needs to submit a notification concerning the planned passage no later than 45 days prior to the start of the proposed passage. It also (under specific circumstances) requires mandatory icebreaker piloting by Russian-appointed personnel in the NSR.24 Under international law, such regulations and requirements should be illegal.

The Kremlin, therefore, views the NSR as being firmly within its (ill-defined) sovereignty. It is central to its core national security concerns and an important pillar of its economy and future development. Given these views, the Kremlin is committed to protecting its position in the region and would almost certainly react strongly to any efforts that it perceives to threaten that position.25

China has not forcefully asserted its position on Arctic maritime sovereignty regarding the NSR but is unlikely to align with Russia’s views. China’s 2018 Arctic white paper and statements backed by senior officials stress that Arctic shipping routes should be open to all and governed by existing international agreements.26 That position is inflexible, given China’s commercial reliance on transit rights around the world. In Chinese expert circles, the Polar Silk Road is also of growing interest. In Chinese academic and media commentary, these northern routes (and the NSR in particular) are—by a wide margin—the most discussed elements of China’s Arctic interests. Of note, Chinese-language academic research and media commentary consistently assert China’s rights of passage.27

Historically, Russia has shown an aversion to a Chinese presence on this route. In 2012, Russia blocked Chinese vessels from operating in the NSR, causing China to suspend its research activities during its fifth Arctic expedition.28 As recently as the summer of 2021, Russia denied access to Chinese sailor Zhai Mo, a famous state-sponsored Chinese adventurer who was attempting to circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean (though access was later granted). While officially a private citizen, Zhai has a history of asserting Chinese state sovereignty in disputed areas, a fact that may have concerned the Russian authorities.29 To date, many Russian experts claim that their government does not accept the PSR moniker, which uncomfortably subsumes the NSR into a China-sponsored initiative.30 Despite misgivings, Russia has adopted a cooperative position, given its need for Chinese investment in the region.

While both China and Russia have sidestepped the question of sovereignty and jurisdiction, as Chinese activity increases these tensions will be harder to ignore. This difficulty will manifest for Russia if Chinese shipping comes to dominate the route—and particularly if China leverages its dominant economic and political position to deploy its own icebreakers in support. Increased shipping will also put China in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between continuing to implicitly (or even explicitly) respect Russian maritime sovereignty or adopting a clearer line on the freedom of the seas. The former flies in the face of Chinese Arctic and broader maritime policy, while the latter would seriously aggravate the relationship with Russia and highlight the considerable gap between the two on a political and legal issue of crucial importance to Russia.

USCGC Healy crewmember Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Edge stands bear watch from bridge wing during on-ice science equipment installation in Beaufort Sea, August 12, 2023 (U.S. Coast Guard/Briana Carter)

Marine Scientific Research and Chinese Encroachment

Over the past 20 years, China has undertaken extensive marine scientific research in the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas. Chinese narratives surrounding this research program center on questions of environmental research, geophysics, and other purely scientific pursuits. Despite this, automatic identification system tracking of the Chinese icebreakers Xue Long and Xue Long 2 demonstrates a serious interest in resource mapping and deep seabed mining. Historically, most of this work has been undertaken on the American continental shelf north of Alaska. In Washington, this was disconcerting enough to prompt a shift in U.S. marine scientific research policy surrounding core sampling.31

Because little Chinese survey work has been undertaken on the Russian continental shelf or extended continental shelf, this activity has not generated much friction. In 2020, however, that may have changed when China announced the research program for Xue Long 2’s maiden Arctic voyage, which centered on a survey of the Gakkel Ridge. This area of seafloor is suspected to contain sulfides, rich in copper, zinc, and other minerals. Just outside of Russia’s claimed EEZ, the ridge was in a section of ocean dubbed “the Area” by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), where access to resources is subject to governance by the International Seabed Authority and, through it, any state that applies for a mining license.32

Russian authorities reacted quickly in 2021 (before Xue Long 2’s voyage), altering their submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to include the area being surveyed by China. This was a clear reaction to China’s activities, representing concern over the Chinese presence there. Despite this new Russian assertion of jurisdiction, China followed through with its survey, collecting seafloor samples and geological studies that could facilitate later development.

Russia’s position on seabed mining and jurisdiction over the Arctic Ocean more generally is diametrically opposed to China’s. While both states accept UNCLOS as the governing structure for the region, Russia has long sought to maximize Arctic state jurisdiction while minimizing the extent of seafloor that might be considered “the common heritage of mankind” (Article 136 of UNCLOS)—open to exploitation by non-Arctic states. A central objective of China’s Arctic policy has been to maximize influence and access for itself and other non-Arctic states in the region. Its position has been that it should play a leading role in the development of deep seabed development outside of coastal state jurisdiction (as outlined in Part XI of UNCLOS).

While the economics and technologies for developing these resources are not yet sufficiently mature to render exploitation a near-term possibility, continued geological research by Chinese vessels on the Russian shelf will invariably generate political friction. To date, all Chinese resource development activities in Russia have been as minority partners and with the full cooperation of Russian state enterprises. Chinese research activities on the continental shelf, however, are independent, suggesting that Russian partnerships may not be required. As such, this research poses a direct challenge to Russia’s broader position that Arctic resources should be developed by Arctic states and, potentially, its direct control over what it declares to be its sovereignty and control over the continental shelf.

USCGC Polar Star transits south in Bering Strait, January 19, 2021 (U.S. Coast Guard/Cynthia Oldham)

Chinese Investment: Both Limited and Exploitative

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Crimea and the imposition of Western sanctions in 2014, Moscow has turned to China for the investment and markets needed to advance Arctic resource projects. Moscow has had some success, most clearly the Yamal liquid natural gas (LNG) project, of which 29.9 percent is owned by the China National Petroleum Corporation (20 percent) and the Silk Road Fund (9.9 percent). Yet despite targeted Chinese investments, this relationship has seen more rhetoric than real investment. While many joint projects have been announced, few have moved forward.

In 2009, Hu Jintao and Dmitri Medvedev announced more than 200 joint projects. Five years later, less than 10 percent were actually progressing. In 2014 and 2015, Russia created 20 special economic zones to attract foreign investment to its Far East. Only six have secured Chinese investment, which totaled a mere $38 million between 2015 and 2018. Genuine cooperation has often been held back by red tape, poor infrastructure (both maritime and land-based), and corruption.33 Some of the most promising Arctic infrastructure projects have also stalled. China’s Poly Group’s proposal to invest $5.5 billion in the port of Arkhangelsk is a clear example.34 Instead, China frequently opts to invest in infrastructure projects supported by other Arctic actors, such as Finland, Iceland, and Denmark.35 Moreover, given the high costs of natural resource extraction in harsh climates, Chinese investors have questioned the viability of investments with uncertain returns and frequently opt to conclude lucrative and long-term energy deals with other actors.36

Chinese capital is clearly not as anxious to rush into Russian projects as Russian state media makes it seem. Nor has Chinese investment in the Russian north been as beneficial for Russia as the state has advertised. The most significant business transaction was the construction of the Power of Siberia pipeline to export Russian gas to China. The pipeline began operations in December 2019, marking an important step in Russia’s economic pivot to Asia. While the project was sold to Russians as evidence of the country’s broader economic options and reduced reliance on the West, it does so on reportedly poor terms. When the project was negotiated, Russia was in a weak negotiating position, and China took advantage of this reality. In essentially all respects, China dictated the terms of engagement, including when to go ahead with the pipeline, after more than a decade of bilateral talks. The route of the pipeline closely followed Chinese preferences, and gas pricing has been extremely competitive, to the detriment of the pipeline’s profitability.

The Chinese were able to set the route of the pipeline and took advantage of Russian weakness on pricing as well. While exact pricing is not public, it was widely reported that an oil-linked price had been agreed on, with an effective slope of 10 percent. This suggested a price of $10 per million British thermal units at an oil price of around $100 per barrel.37 The linking of the gas price to oil was a major Chinese win and a hit to profitability, according to Sberbank CIB experts.38 Low returns on the piped gas must also be weighted against the project’s extraordinary capital costs, estimated at $55 billion (including resource development). Russian attempts to secure $25 billion in Chinese prepayments failed, leaving Russia to bear the full expense.39

In May 2018, the Sberbank CIB investment advisory group released a report questioning the profitability of the project and suggesting that its rate of return is likely to be lower than the cost of capital to Gazprom and to be unprofitable to Russia even though the government exempted it from the mineral extraction and property tax.40 Some analysts believe that when prices of oil fall below $60 to $70 per barrel, Russia may effectively be sending gas to China at a loss (when amortized capital costs are considered).41

Sitting at around 55° North, the Power of Siberia may only be a “near-Arctic” pipeline (to steal Chinese phrasing); however, it should be held up as a cautionary tale for future joint infrastructure projects. Moscow has already announced that the Power of Siberia 2 pipeline, drawing gas from Arctic fields, will replace Nord Stream 2 by delivering 50 billion cubic meters of gas per year to China.42 At present, these projects are used in Russian propaganda to bolster the relationship and build support for the Russian government. Western analysts have an opportunity to flip that script, highlighting the Power of Siberia 1 line (and potentially the Power of Siberia 2) as examples of China using its economic and political leverage to exploit a weakened Russia. Likewise, Chinese investment more generally should be looked at in a different light: from plentiful and productive to anemic and exploitative.

Following Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, many of these trends have become even more apparent as Russia has been disconnected from the global financial system. Despite continued public support for Russia, China has moved to limit its own exposure to the country. The Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank froze all its activities relating to Russia and Belarus, citing “adherence to international law” and the need to “safeguard the financial integrity” of the bank.43 Belt and Road Initiative projects have also been put on hold. According to the report published by the Green Finance and Development Center of Fudan University, no Chinese economic engagement regarding the Russia-related part of the BRI occurred in at least the first half of 2022.44 This decision likely relates to Chinese fears of secondary sanctions as well as the growing volatility and instability of the Russian market.45

Chinese support for Russian energy projects has also been thrown into a state of limbo. On the surface, the future of this business relationship looks promising, with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce openly stating that China will not support oil-related sanctions or jeopardize Chinese businesses.46 Behind such statements and implied support, however, this relationship faces growing challenges. Chinese multinational oil companies are loath to run afoul of Western sanctions, and China’s embrace of Russia has not stopped Chinese energy firms from discreetly pulling back from new projects. Despite its official position in opposition to sanctions, the Chinese government seems to recognize the difficulties that they can cause multinational companies. In March 2022, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reportedly summoned officials from the three major energy companies (Sinopec, China National Petroleum Corporation, and China National Offshore Oil Corporation) to review their business ties with Russia and “urged them not to make any rash moves buying Russian assets.”47

As a result, the corporate response has been one of caution. In March 2022, Sinopec Group suspended its talks with Russia’s Sibur for a USD 500 million petrochemical investment and a gas marketing venture. The reported reason for the cancellation was Chinese concerns over secondary sanctions that might impact Sinopec’s global operations. According to the Russian side, this caution was primarily motivated by Chinese producers’ fear of sanctions that could come from the side of the European Union.48 Sinopec also suspended talks over a gas marketing venture with Novatek over concerns that Sberbank (one of Novatek’s shareholders) is on the latest U.S. sanctions list.49 Construction of the Arctic LNG 2 project has also been dealt a serious blow by a Chinese yard’s decision to cease production on critical modules. As a result of this and other sanctions-related work stoppages, Novatek has halted construction on the two unfinished trains (of three) on the project. Production of LNG was originally due to start in 2023, but time schedules are now in flux.50

As the Chinese government and its state-owned entities digest the reality of Russia’s war with Ukraine and adjust its approaches, investment may yet begin to flow. The most likely scenario, however, is exploitation. As one of the only major markets remaining for Russian resources and the only clear source of investment, China will hold extraordinary leverage. One-sided oil or gas contracts or infrastructure agreements can be used as a clear demonstration of Russian subordination. The failure of Chinese investment to materialize, meanwhile, would be a clear indication that the Russian pivot to the east has failed. Either of these likely scenarios would belie the win-win Arctic narratives being advanced by both Russian and China.

Members of China’s research team set up ocean profiling float at short-term data acquisition location near icebreaker Xuelong, or “Snow Dragon,” in Arctic Ocean, August 18, 2016 (Xinhua/Alamy Live News/Wu Yue)


Russia and China’s cooperative approach to Arctic investment, shipping, and governance has been presented as a key component of those states’ growing partnership. In China, it offers a new source of hydrocarbons and demonstrates the country’s growing global influence, while in Russia, it channels funds to key projects and counters the impression that the country has been isolated by Western political and economic sanctions. More broadly, the Arctic has been presented as an area where the two Great Powers can demonstrate a degree of solidarity as part of their continuing economic and strategic conflict with the West.

In October 2022, the U.S. National Security Strategy noted the growing dangers of Great Power competition in the Arctic. Russian remilitarization and aggressive behavior represent military threats, while a rapidly growing Chinese regional presence presents longer term economic and hybrid security risks.51 Individually, China and Russia each represents dangers to the democratic Arctic states; combined, those dangers are far greater.

Yet this partnership remains skin-deep, transactional, and deeply vulnerable. Important disagreements over Arctic governance, sovereignty, and development have been successfully papered over in support of overarching economic and geopolitical objectives; however, these sticking points remain just beneath the surface. Conflicts between the two authoritarian powers are also likely to become harder to disguise, as Chinese activity in the region increases and its global ambitions expand.

From a strategic messaging perspective, these disagreements (both real and potential) offer a gap that could be exploited by the West. Reframing the conversation away from the win-win narrative being sold by Moscow and Beijing both undermines their own messaging and forces a reckoning that these governments would prefer to avoid. Chinese shipping and marine scientific research are facilitated by a policy of purposeful ambiguity toward Russian sovereignty. Simply put, Russia does not ask China to explicitly recognize its sovereignty, which allows Beijing to avoid telling Moscow something that might create a rift. This arrangement works because the question is ignored. Western observers have an opportunity to press the issue, highlighting the difference in positions and making that ambiguity harder to maintain. Likewise, questions of economic exploitation, pipeline routing, and research should be elevated in Western conversations to a strategic level. These issues have traditionally been relegated to footnotes or obscure technical publications, yet these points have broader implications that directly impact the ability of Russia and China to maintain their “friendship with no limits” in the Arctic. If China is exploiting Russian weakness to secure cheap Arctic gas, that is a point that should be amplified. When Chinese research vessels work on Russia’s extended continental shelf, Western observers should seek out clarification of China’s position on Russian jurisdiction.

As Chinese Arctic activity grows and Russia becomes more desperate for Beijing’s economic and political support, the opportunity to highlight these gaps will only grow. That relationship benefits from a lack of scrutiny, and the time is ripe for a more coordinated effort to reframe the conversation about Russia’s partnerships in the Arctic from that win-win friendship to something more accurate: an exploitative relationship built on fragile foundations. JFQ


1 China’s Arctic Policy (Beijing: State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China, January 2018),

2 This decline in soft power has been tracked across the Arctic by several surveys and studies in recent years. A sampling of these includes Laura Silver, Kat Devlin, and Christine Huang, “Unfavorable Views of China Reach Historic Highs in Many Countries,” Pew Research Center, October 2020; Jesse Hastings et al., Chinese Chess in the Wild West: How Icelanders View the Growing Iceland-China Relationship (Reykjavik: Institute of International Affairs, 2015); Steven Chase, “Eight Out of 10 Canadians Say China Has Negative Influence on World Affairs: Poll,” Globe and Mail, November 7, 2022; Pål Vegard Hagesæther, “Bought by China,” Aftenposten, December 9, 2021; Ties Dams, Xiaoxue Martin, and Vera Kranenburg, eds., China’s Soft Power in Europe: Falling on Hard Times (The Hague: European Think-Tank Network on China, April 2021).

3 See Peter Martin, China’s Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021).

4 National Security Strategy of the United States of America (Washington, DC: The White House, December 2017); Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America: Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2018).

5 Sergey Radchenko, “Driving a Wedge Between China and Russia Won’t Work,” War on the Rocks, August 24, 2021.

6 Adam MacDonald, “China-Russian Cooperation in the Arctic: A Cause for Concern for the Western Arctic States?” Canadian Foreign Policy Journal 27, no. 2 (2021), 194–210.

7 Focus 2020 (Oslo: Norwegian Intelligence Service, 2020), 70.

8 For overviews, see Linda Jakobson, China Prepares for an Ice-Free Arctic (Stockholm: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute [SIPRI], 2010); Anne-Marie Brady, China as a Polar Great Power (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017); P. Whitney Lackenbauer et al., China’s Arctic Ambitions and What They Mean for Canada (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2018); Nong Hong, China’s Role in the Arctic: Observing and Being Observed (London: Routledge, 2020); Justin Barnes et al., eds., China’s Arctic Engagement: Following the Polar Silk Road to Greenland and Russia (Peterborough, Ontario: North American and Arctic Defence and Security Network, 2021); Rush Doshi, Alexis Dale-Huang, and Gaoqi Zhang, Northern Expedition: China’s Arctic Activities and Ambitions (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, April 2021).

9 Henry Tillman, Jian Yang, and Egill Thor Nielsson, “The Polar Silk Road: China’s New Frontier of International Cooperation,” China Quarterly of International Strategic Studies 4, no. 3 (2018), 345–362; Yang Jian and Zhao Long, “Opportunities and Challenges of Jointly Building the Polar Silk Road: China’s Perspective,” Outlines of Global Transformations: Politics, Economics, Law 12, no. 5 (2019), 130–144; Camilla T.N. Sørensen, “Belt, Road, and Circle: The Arctic and Northern Europe in China’s Belt and Road Initiative,” in China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Changing the Rules of Globalization, ed. Wenxian Zhang, Ilan Alon, and Christoph Lattemann (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 95–114.

10 For sobering analysis, see Yun Sun, The Northern Sea Route: The Myth of Sino-Russian Cooperation (Washington, DC: Stimson Institute, 2018), 1; Frédéric Lasserre, “Arctic Shipping: A Contrasted Expansion of a Largely Destinational Market,” in The Global Arctic Handbook, ed. Matthias Finger and Lassi Heininen (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2019), 83–100; Adam Stepien et al., “China’s Economic Presence in the Arctic: Realities, Expectations, and Concerns,” in Chinese Policy and Presence in the Arctic, ed. Timo Koivurova and Sanna Kopra (Leiden: Brill-Nijhoff, 2020), 90–136; P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Adam Lajeunesse, and Ryan Dean, “Why China Is Not a Peer Competitor in the Arctic,” Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs 5, no. 5 (September–October 2022), 80–97.

11 Camilla T.N. Sørensen and Ekaterina Klimenko, Emerging Chinese-Russian Cooperation in the Arctic: Possibilities and Constraints, Policy Paper 46 (Stockholm: SIPRI, June 2017).

12 Dmitri Trenin, “Russia and China in the Arctic: Cooperation, Competition, and Consequences,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 31, 2020.

13 Jim Townsend and Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Partners, Competitors, or a Little of Both? Russia and China in the Arctic (Washington, DC: Center for a New American Security, 2021), 10.

14 Dong Yongzai, “Polar Security: A New Frontier for National Security” [极地安全:国家安全的新疆域], Guangming Daily (Beijing), April 25, 2021.

15 Sometimes translated to “community with a shared future for mankind” [人类命运共同体].

16 Stella Chen, “Community of Common Destiny for Mankind,” China Media Project, April 2021,

17 Hong, China’s Role in the Arctic.

18 “Russia Has No Intention of Delegating Responsibility for Arctic to Other Countries—Envoy,” TASS, June 16, 2020.

19 Liu Zhen, “China to Develop New Heavy Icebreaker for ‘Polar Silk Road,’” South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), November 13, 2021.

20 Liu Huirong, “Analysis of the Value and Significance of Arctic Sea Routes in the Context of the ‘One Belt One Road’ Strategy,” Strategic Study of Chinese Academy of Engineering 18, no. 2 (2016).

21 “Arctic Council Observers,” Arctic Council, n.d.,

22 S.K. Pestsov and A.B. Volynchuk, Strategiya razvitiya Dal’nego Vostoka: (ne)tipichnyy sluchay sovremennoy rossiyskoy regional’noy politiki [Far East Development Strategy: (Not) Typical Case of Modern Russian Regional Policy], Istoricheskaya i sotsial’no-obrazovatel’naya mysl’ [Historical and Social-Educational Thought] 10, no. 3/1 (2018), 82–92. In the most recent shipping year, there were no Chinese ships making the transit across the Northern Sea Route.

23 Lawson W. Brigham, “Arctic Shipping Routes: Russia’s Challenges and Uncertainties,” Barents Observer, August 12, 2022; Cornell Overfield, “Wrangling Warships: Russia’s Proposed Law on Northern Sea Route Navigation,” Lawfare, October 17, 2022; Vasilii Erokhin et al., “The Northern Sea Route Development: The Russian Perspective,” in Arctic Maritime Logistics: The Potentials and Challenges of the Northern Sea Route, ed. Igor Ilin, Tessaleno Devezas, and Carlos Jahn (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2022), 283–303.

24 Ian Anthony, Ekaterina Klimenko, and Fei Su, A Strategic Triangle in the Arctic? Implications of China–Russia–United States Power Dynamics for Regional Security (Stockholm: SIPRI, March 2021), 11.

25 Townsend and Kendall-Taylor, Partners, Competitors, or a Little of Both? 7.

26 China’s Arctic Policy.

27 See, for example, Guo Zhen, “China’s Ocean Rights in the Arctic—Based on an Analysis of UNCLOS” [中国在北极的海洋权益及其维护基于《联合国海洋法公约》的分析], Theoretical Studies on PLA Political Work [军队政工理论研究], no. 1 (2014); Wu Jun and Wu Leizhao, “An Analysis of China’s Ocean Rights in the Arctic—Based on the Perspective of International Maritime Law” [中国北极海域权益分析以国际海洋法为基点的考量], Wuhan University Journal (Philosophy & Social Sciences) [武汉大学学报(哲学社会科学版)] 67, no. 3 (2014).

28 Ling Guo and Steven Lloyd Wilson, “China, Russia, and Arctic Geopolitics,” The Diplomat, March 29, 2020.

29 Zhang Zhilong, “Chinese Boating Extraordinaire Sets Sail to Mark Claim Over Disputed Islands,” Global Times (Beijing), August 16, 2013.

30 Elizabeth Wishnick, “Will Russia Put China’s Arctic Ambitions on Ice?” The Diplomat, June 5, 2021.

31 Executive Office of the President, Proclamation 10071, “Revision to United States Marine Scientific Research Policy,” Federal Register 85, no. 182 (September 18, 2020),

32 Companies sponsored by United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea member states can receive 15-year contracts from the International Seabed Association authorizing exploration for polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides, and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in the deep seabed. The association may receive a request for such a contract applying to the Gakkel Ridge at any time and from any sponsored company. Normally, the first to ask receives the contract.

33 Mikhail Krutikhin, “Power of Siberia or Power of China?” Al Jazeera, December 19, 2019.

34 Wishnick, “Will Russia Put China’s Arctic Ambitions on Ice?”

35 John Grady, “Panel: China Investing in Infrastructure Near the Arctic,” USNI News, April 27, 2018.

36 Sergey Sukhankin, “Sino-Qatari LNG Deal: A New Phase for Doha-Beijing Relations?” Gulf International Forum, June 16, 2021.

37 James Henderson, “Russia’s Gas Pivot to Asia: Another False Dawn or Ready for Lift Off?” Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, November 2018, 6.

38 Ludmila Podobedova, “Profit for Contractors: How Much Gazprom Shareholders Lose on Construction Sites,” in Russian,, May 21, 2018.

39 Ibid.

40 Ibid.; Krutikhin, “Power of Siberia or Power of China?”

41 Hardy Graupner, ed., “Russian Gas Boost Fuels Moscow’s China Pivot,” Deutsche Welle, January 13, 2022.

42 “Moscow Says Power of Siberia 2 Pipeline to China Will ‘Replace’ Nord Stream 2,” Euronews, September 15, 2022.

43 Paola Subacchi, “Is Asia’s Development Machine Stuttering?” IPS, November 7, 2022.

44 Christoph Nedopil, China Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Investment Report H1 2022 (Shanghai: Green Finance and Development Center, FISF, Fudan University, July 2022).

45 Kirill Sokolov, “Investments in Russia Through China’s Global Project Fell to Zero,” in Russian,, July 25, 2022.

46 “FT: Independent Refineries in China Increased Purchases of Russian Oil,” Kommersant (Moscow), April 5, 2022.

47 Chen Aizhu, Julie Zhu, and Muyu Xu, “China’s Sinopec Pauses Russia Projects, Beijing Wary of Sanctions—Sources,” Reuters, March 28, 2022.

48 “Upstream: In China, a Number of Shipyards May Stop Work on the Construction of Modules for the Arctic LNG-2,” Rosbalt, May 12, 2022.

49 Aizhu, Zhu, and Xu, “China’s Sinopec Pauses Russia Projects.”

50 Atle Staalesen, “Biggest Arctic Construction Sites Could Turn into Ghost Towns,” Barents Observer (Norway), May 17, 2022.

51 National Security Strategy (Washington, DC: The White House, October 2022), 44–45. On China’s hybrid threats, see Rebecca Pincus and Walter A. Berbrick, “Gray Zones in a Blue Arctic: Grappling with China’s Growing Influence,” War on the Rocks, October 24, 2018.

Risky Business: Using the Joint Force’s Framework for Managing Risk
By Bryan Groves, Jerad M. Rich, and Kaley Scholl | Oct. 30, 2023

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Colonel Bryan Groves, USA, is Director of the Commander’s Initiatives Group at U.S. Army Forces Command. Lieutenant Colonel Jerad M. Rich, USAF, is Commander of the 28th Operations Support Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base. Kaley Scholl is the Deputy Director of the Strategic Assessments Branch at the Joint Staff J5, Strategy, Plans, and Policy.
Italian navy anti-submarine frigate ITS Carlo Margottini and command and control ship USS Mount Whitney transit alongside USS Harry S.
Truman in support of Neptune Strike 22, February 2, 2022, in Adriatic Sea (U.S. Navy/Hunter Day)

The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis presented President John F. Kennedy and his advisors with one of the riskiest strategic dilemmas of the Cold War. How could America force the removal of Soviet nuclear weapons from Cuba without triggering a nuclear conflict? In response, President Kennedy implemented a multidimensional approach. He showed strength and resolve through a naval quarantine around Cuba while creating room for diplomacy by promising Premier Nikita Khrushchev (via discreet diplomatic back channels) that U.S. missiles would be pulled out of Turkey if the Soviets removed their weapons from Cuba.1 Kennedy’s decision to implement a naval quarantine balanced risk of action against risk of inaction or “overaction” (that is, too great an escalation). Kennedy effected the removal of Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba while also providing an off-ramp to deescalate the situation.

Those 13 days in October 1962 were fraught with risk as President Kennedy aimed to reverse the Soviet’s emplacement of nuclear weapons 90 miles off Florida’s coast. While risky throughout, the decisionmaking and implementation were straightforward due to the bipolar international environment in which the United States and the Soviet Union were the two superpowers. The Kennedy administration assured military leaders that implementing the quarantine mitigated the severity and probability of risk appropriately through the specific policy directives issued and civilian oversight. The contemporary environment is not charged in the same way as during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The current multipolar world order that pits the United States, China, and Russia as Great Powers, however, complicates leaders’ risk decisionmaking and mitigation measures beyond that experienced during the Cold War.

Today’s multipolar dynamic means that risk and resourcing decisions must be made considering the signaling that actions against one Great Power are expected to have on another. Leaders’ risk assessments and communications must reflect the prioritization provided in strategic guidance.2 A prominent current example involves considering the effects on China of actions in Europe against Russia. How closely are Ukraine and Taiwan linked? What would be the best approach against China, America’s long-term pacing challenge, in the Indo-Pacific region and globally? Should the United States unequivocally support the Ukrainian resistance to buoy its credibility and signal to China what its fate might be if it invades Taiwan? Or is Taiwan a separate and higher priority matter for which America and the joint force should save resources? These are policy decisions. Yet senior military leaders involved in related discussions support policymakers with military advice to inform that decisionmaking.

In this environment, managing risk across regions and over time in accordance with policy priorities is an especially important imperative for senior military leaders. A shared understanding of and approach to risk facilitates a coherent decisionmaking process for the U.S. military. While following civilian policy direction, the joint force uses the Joint Risk Analysis Methodology (JRAM) to prioritize globally and across time in a multipolar environment, for strategic competition, during crises, and throughout armed conflict. Coherent, prioritized decisionmaking that properly accounts for diverse types of risk is important because lives are in the balance. Decisions made in peace to prioritize one threat over another, one area of the world over another, one Service or capability over another, or urgent operations today over important and longer term modernization efforts could facilitate either tomorrow’s success or its failure.3 Managing critical decisions regarding force posture, planning, modernization, and investments in ways congruent with long-term strategy is truly “risky business.”

This article provides the analytical basis for the JRAM, the framework for appraising and managing risk. It explains how risk informs national security decisionmaking. The JRAM is useful and flexible, within limits, to facilitate commanders’ decisionmaking regardless of level. This article, however, focuses on the Joint Staff level and above. Beyond education, the purpose is to illustrate key risk considerations, including impacts of mitigation measures to other regions and across time in a multipolar environment.

Lieutenant Isay Rapoport, left, directs F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to “Tophatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron 14, on flight deck of USS
Abraham Lincoln, March 13, 2022, in Philippine Sea (U.S. Navy/Javier Reyes)

Theoretical Underpinnings of Risk Methodology

To facilitate the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s military advice to the Secretary of Defense and the President, the Joint Staff J5 formally penned, and coordinated with all combatant commands and Services, the first JRAM, in 2016, to promote a common risk framework and lexicon to the joint force.4 Since then, the updated JRAM, dated October 12, 2021, prepares the Chairman and military leaders at every level to consider and handle risk appropriately in an environment where the Nation and its allies are faced with two Great Powers engaged in a “no-limits” strategic partnership.5 The 2021 JRAM represents an outcomes-oriented risk process that informs strategy and resourcing decisions, all the while nested in policy, doctrine, and practice.6 The JRAM is not a tactical one-size-fits-all approach to risk; instead, the JRAM represents a common methodology for the joint force to normalize risk appraisal and risk management processes, facilitate consistency across the Department of Defense (DOD), and enhance risk communication for national security decisionmaking.7

The theoretical underpinnings of the current JRAM originated from the Joint Risk Assessment System (JRAS), which was the product of over 8 years of development and leveraged 2 decades’ experience conducting the Chairman’s Risk Assessment, Quadrennial Defense Review risk assessments, and other risk assessments. This system was developed in collaboration with the major risk stakeholders, including the Joint Staff, Services, combatant commands, and Office of the Secretary of Defense. Additionally, the Joint Staff J5 conducted research and engagements with the private sector, academia, and think tanks. The Chairman employed the JRAS’s foundational risk governance framework from 2006 until updated in the JRAM in 2016.8 While the JRAS provided the joint force with a concept of risk governance based around risk analysis and risk management for senior leaders, it only viewed risk through the lens of the commander providing the risk assessment instead of an assessment of global risk to surmise impacts across the joint force over time. The new JRAM addresses these shortcomings, providing a framework to understand globally integrated risk.

The JRAM’s approach uses an index of severity (consequence levels) assessed for a harmful event (with various probability levels) that results in a risk level along a contour graph (that is, probability x consequence = risk), as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1. Probability and Consequence

The combination of probability and consequence levels determines the initial risk assessment for a potential threat, which then allows for risk judgment, or the qualitative effort to determine a decisionmaker’s final characterization of risk.9 This approach allows the decisionmaker (that is, military leader) to determine an appropriate risk level based on an objective assessment of probability and consequence while incorporating the commander’s judgment to account for various factors decisionmakers face.

Risk Assessments: Supporting Senior Leader Decisionmaking

Across Regions. Evaluating and communicating risk across regions is at the core of any successful risk appraisal and management effort. The JRAM strives to reduce misunderstandings between risk stakeholders despite the complexities and uncertainties in the dynamic global security environment by providing a common framework and lexicon. Leaders’ use of this framework and risk vocabulary is foundational in communications with partners and adversaries.10 For example, on March 15, 2022, the U.S. Navy conducted an air demonstration from the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Yellow Sea, using F/A-18 E/F and F-35C aircraft. The official press release reaffirmed the U.S. security commitment to Japan and the Republic of Korea. Leaders also designed it to signal the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to reconsider its ongoing intercontinental ballistic missile launches.11 These risk decisions, actions, and corresponding communications reaffirm security guarantees to Indo-Pacific partners while warning regional adversaries of the continued U.S. commitment to its Indo-Pacific allies and partners, despite its current focus on Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Across Time. A risk assessment should consider drivers of risk not only across combatant commands but also various time horizons.12 Assessing risk over multiple time horizons is a recognition that managing risk today affects future risk. The JRAM employs three time horizons gleaned from other DOD strategy documents: force employment (0–3 years); force development (2–7 years); and force design (5–15 years). By analyzing risk across various time horizons, decisionmakers can be intentional about their willingness to accept, avoid, mitigate, or transfer risk to ensure their choices reflect global strategic priorities (see figure 2). In a 2021 article, General Charles Q. Brown, Jr., USAF, and General David H. Berger, USMC, discussed the need for a new strategic readiness paradigm, and that risk appraisal completed on behalf of the Chairman must look holistically across the joint force.13 The 2021 JRAM supports the call to facilitate risk decisions that consider implications across multiple Services and combatant commands. Figure 2 and the corresponding vignette demonstrate one way this could play out.

Figure 2. Risk Across Regions, Services, and Time

On January 21, 2022, leaders directed the USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group to participate in Neptune Strike 22 exercises in the Mediterranean Sea amid pre-invasion tensions among the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and Russia. The participation of the U.S. carrier strike group was a signal of transatlantic unity but did divert assets from the Persian Gulf. However, the carrier had just returned to sea after three consecutive deployments in 4 years, spanning 56,000 nautical miles through the U.S. Northern Command, U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), and U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) areas of responsibility (AORs).14 The carrier was supposed to enter a rigorous maintenance cycle. Instead, leaders slimmed down the maintenance to minimize maintenance backlogs in the shipyard and met the demand for the Truman to return to the fleet.15

Analyzing the risk associated with this decision, we find that leaders accepted higher near-term risk in USCENTCOM AOR to drive down near-term risk in the USEUCOM AOR. Prioritizing select AORs to focus finite DOD resources on priority threats may necessarily raise risk elsewhere. For instance, if DOD prioritizes contemporary campaigning today in the USEUCOM and USCENTCOM AORs over modernization and maintenance, it may be accepting increased risk in a potential future fight in the Indo-Pacific region—if everything cannot be sufficiently resourced. Therefore, policymakers’ resourcing decisions drive the joint force’s ruthless prioritization of operations, activities, and investments consistent with policy guidance and long-term strategic aims—what some have referred to as “strategic discipline.”16 Again, because DOD resources are finite, policymakers must use the other levers of national power to compete with adversaries. President Joe Biden’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance highlights the use of diplomacy as the national security tool of choice, with the military being the tool of last resort.17 By articulating risk holistically across regions and time, while also considering impacts across functions and domains, senior military leaders can better understand and articulate risk decisions’ various implications.18

Commander’s Discretion in Risk Analysis

The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine represents an important inflection point for defense policymakers. One approach could be to shore up NATO and European partners and allies by refocusing departmental and national resources toward NATO’s eastern flank. A second approach could be to maintain discipline by allocating resources toward the pacing DOD challenge, China; in the Indo-Pacific region, globally; and toward related modernization efforts. As civilian policymakers decide on such policy and resourcing decisions, it will be incumbent on joint force commanders to mitigate risk with their campaigning, in crises, and potentially in armed conflict. Senior leaders must consider more than urgent force employment actions in these risk judgments. The JRAM presents a methodology to do just that. Yet it does so while realizing that actions taken today can also positively shape the future. Thus, it does not force leaders to forgo all operations or activities necessary to advance defense priorities today.


The United States no longer enjoys the strategic overmatch it encountered after the Cold War and now faces a multipolar security environment defined by two nuclear-armed Great Powers. To compete against these near-peer adversaries, joint force commanders must ruthlessly prioritize resources across regions and over time in accordance with global policies and imperatives. A foundational question addressed in each decision is how many resources to expend in each effort today versus apply toward another activity, hold in reserve, or invest for the future. The 2021 JRAM’s risk framework supports Service chiefs, combatant commanders, and military leaders at all levels and aligns with recently released and forthcoming strategy documents.19 There is still room for improvement.

Future iterations of the JRAM should consider applicability of the framework to assess strategy, analyze risk as opportunity, and apply the methodology to evaluate cumulative risk over time. In the meantime, its standardized yet flexible framework is a significant improvement in thinking and acting holistically about global risk to the joint force, across regions, elements, and time. Consistent use will facilitate senior leader decisionmaking in appraising, managing, and communicating risk throughout the tough decisions in our dynamic security environment. JFQ


1 Graham Allison, “Putin’s Doomsday Threat: How to Prevent a Repeat of the Cuban Missile Crisis in Ukraine,” Foreign Affairs, April 5, 2022.

2 National Military Strategy 2022: Strategic Discipline (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, 2022); Ian Bremmer and Preston Keat, The Fat Tail: The Power of Political Knowledge in an Uncertain World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

3 Michael J. Mazarr, “Rethinking Risk in Defense,” War on the Rocks, April 13, 2015.

4 U.S. Code 10, § 153(a)(4)(B), “Chairman: Functions: Comprehensive Joint Readiness,”

5 Brian Waidelich, “3 Possible Futures for China-Russia Military Cooperation,” The Diplomat, March 11, 2022.

6 Mazarr, “Rethinking Risk in Defense.”

7 See Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Manual (CJCSM) 3105.01A, Joint Risk Analysis Methodology (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, October 12, 2021). This document contrasts sharply with the assessment found in Neils J. Abderhalden, “Risk Hindering Decision Making: How the DOD’s Faulty Understanding of Risk Jeopardizes Its Strategy,” The Strategy Bridge, March 11, 2022.

8 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) 3100.01C, Joint Risk Assessment System (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, January 1, 2015), 2.

9 CJCSM 3105.01A, B5–B6.

10 CJCSM 3105.01A. This document contrasts with the assessment found in Abderhalden, “Risk Hindering Decision Making.”

11 Dzirhan Mahadzir, “U.S. Carrier Fighters Overfly Yellow Sea in Response to North Korean Missile Launch,” USNI News, March 15, 2022.

12 Abderhalden, “Risk Hindering Decision Making.”

13 Charles Q. Brown, Jr., and David H. Berger, “Redefine Readiness or Lose,” War on the Rocks, March 15, 2021,

14 Diana Stancy Correll, “Aircraft Carrier Truman Is Back in Norfolk After Extended Deployment,” Navy Times, June 17, 2020.

15 Megan Eckstein “USS Harry S. Truman Out of Maintenance After 10 Months; Material Challenges Caused 3-Month Delay,” USNI News, May 12, 2021.

16 Caitlin Lee, “The U.S. Military’s Force-Management Tug-of-War,” War on the Rocks, March 23, 2022,

17 Interim National Security Strategic Guidance (Washington, DC: The White House, March 2021).

18 CJCSM 3105.01A, B-11.

19 CJCSM 3105.01A. This document contrasts with the assessment found in Abderhalden, “Risk Hindering Decision Making.”

Absent From the Front: What the Case of the Missing World War II Black Combat Soldier Can Teach Us About Diversity and Inclusion
By Bryon Greenwald | Oct. 30, 2023

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Bryon Greenwald was the Deputy Provost of the National Defense University (NDU) and previously a Professor of History in the Joint Advanced Warfighting School, Joint Forces Staff College, at NDU. He is currently on sabbatical.
Soldiers with the 452nd Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion stand by and check their equipment during convoy in Belgium, November 4, 1944 (U.S. Army Signal Corps/Library of Congress)

The prevailing view of the U.S. Army’s White civilian and military leadership during World War II was that Black Soldiers were ineffective—that is, they “couldn’t fight.”

Although this assessment was obviously inaccurate, leadership wanted to maintain segregation and, despite a Presidential order to the contrary, took several administrative actions to prevent the organization and deployment of African-American combat units. While this article highlights the value of inclusion in changing perceptions and overcoming bias in the Army during World War II, its example points the way for today’s larger defense establishment as it struggles to recruit enough young men and women into its ranks annually. These recruits will be more diverse in race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation than their World War II predecessors. Many, however, will face similar prejudicial attitudes about their value to the force simply because they are seen to be in some way different. Appreciating the value of inclusion and how the mixing of racially different groups of Soldiers in World War II changed the attitudes of those White and Black troops encourages us to provide the same opportunity today.

Over 12 million Americans, including 900,000 African Americans, served in the World War II Army. While hundreds of thousands of Blacks deployed in over a thousand units to North Africa, Italy, Europe, and the Pacific, very few—only 3 percent of African-American units—were combat outfits, and even fewer engaged in combat. Why was there such a lack of proportional representation when even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt directed that 10 percent of all Army units would be Black?1

Immediately, the answer seems obvious. First, African Americans made up approximately 10 percent of the American population, but in 1940, 75 years after the Civil War and constitutional amendments abolishing slavery and establishing equality and the right to vote, the White American majority still did not consider Blacks as their equals in fighting spirit (or anything else).2

Second, while great strides had been made in the education of the Black population since the Civil War, and especially since World War I, the lingering effects of segregation, economic and social marginalization, and access to quality schools meant that Black intelligence, as measured by the Army General Classification Test, lagged behind that of Whites and reinforced U.S. military leaders’ belief that Blacks were not smart enough to fight a modern war.3

Third, these beliefs dovetailed with conflicted attitudes and tensions of racial subordination and superordination within the disequilibrated system of race relations present in American society at the time. And because the World War II Army consisted of mostly White men with decades of socially sanctioned prejudice ingrained in their psyche, the World War II Army systematically discriminated against African Americans and established an apartheid-like segregation of Black Servicemembers despite Presidential directives to do otherwise. While publicly the national attitude toward Blacks and other minorities may have been “separate but equal” as decided in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Army treated Black men and Black units as “unequal and keep separate.”

In short, as far as the U.S. military was concerned, World War II was a White man’s war; others need not apply.

Eye Opening

To understand this situation, however, requires some historical perspective. Despite African Americans having served with distinction in every war since the Revolution, when Congress passed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, there were 4,435 Black enlisted men, 5 commissioned officers, and 11 warrant officers in an Army of 269,023.4 Shortly thereafter, more than 2.5 million African Americans registered for the draft in 1940, and about half were inducted, 75 percent of whom went into the Army.5 During the war, the Army referred to the over 901,896 African Americans that served as “Negro personnel” and segregated them into “colored” outfits, which were delineated in some Army records by the parenthetical (Colored) or the abbreviation (Cld), as in 452nd Antiaircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons) Battalion (Colored) or 452nd AAA (AW) Bn (Cld).6 By modern standards, this policy seems extremely outdated, but it reflected the societal attitudes and norms of the time toward anyone but White people.

While not to the same degree, the Army treated women and other minorities similarly.7 The prevailing attitude was that White men made the best Soldiers and should provide the preponderance of combat forces. To the extent that Blacks—or Hispanics, Filipinos, or women—entered the force, it was both the result of political pressure and to relieve White men of less meaningful tasks, so they could fight at the front. The Army had no issue with enlisting Blacks, Filipinos, or Puerto Ricans if they were in separate units. In fact, in 1940–1941, with the Japanese occupying northern Indochina (today Vietnam) and preparing for a likely war with the United States, the Army went so far as to refuse to allow Filipinos to enlist except in the Philippine Scouts or in units stationed in the Philippines that would accept them.8 Los Borinqueños were sent to units in Puerto Rico, such as the 123rd Antiaircraft Artillery (Gun) Battalion, which the Army formed out of a Puerto Rican National Guard Coast Artillery Regiment and moved between Puerto Rico and Trinidad during the war.9 The largest and most politically active group, however, was African Americans.

At its peak in June 1945, the Army totaled 8,266,373 men, of which 694,818 (9.33 percent) were Black.10 During the war years, African Americans represented about 10 percent of the U.S. population. At a Cabinet meeting on September 13, 1940, President Roosevelt stated his desire to have Black Soldiers proportionally represented in all Army unit types. The next day, Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall dutifully directed Brigadier General William E. Shedd III, the Army G1, to prepare a summary of the Service’s ability to comply with the President’s directive.11

Two weeks later, at a meeting with Black political leaders including A. Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which Roosevelt unintentionally recorded, the President reiterated his position: “We are not, as you saw so much in the World War, confining the Negro into the non-combat services. We’re putting ’em right in, proportionally, into the combat services.” To the question of African Americans having “their own divisions and regiments, and the opportunity to prove their value,” Roosevelt suggested that White and Black regiments “in the same division” and artillery batteries working near each other would coalesce organically. “After a while, in case of war, those people get shifted from one to the other. The thing gets sort of backed into. You have one battery out of a regiment of artillery . . . that would be a Negro battery, with a White battery at the end, maybe a nearby battery . . . and, gradually working in the field together, you may back into it [integrated units].”12

Roosevelt’s desire for proportional representation notwithstanding, lower education levels, the lack of Black leaders to serve as noncommissioned officers and officers, and prejudicial attitudes about the worthiness of Black units prevented the Army from reaching this goal until December 1945, 4 months after the Japanese surrender.13 These factors—education, leadership, and prejudicial attitudes—also influenced the distribution of Black Servicemen among the Army’s various branches, driving the allocation of African Americans out of combat units (armor, cavalry, coast/antiaircraft artillery, field artillery, and infantry) and into service branches. For the reasons mentioned, there were few Black combat units. Historians, however, tend to understate the extent to which the Army purposely assigned African Americans to noncombat and support units. Even the most authoritative sources, including the National World War II Museum and Matthew Delmont’s Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities–supported study, Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad, note that “most” African Americans served in noncombat units.14 As the following demonstrates, those estimates do not come close to recognizing how few African-American combat troops there really were.

History Revised

The discovery of the Army’s July 1945 station list of all Colored units demolishes any claim by the Army of meeting Roosevelt’s 10 percent distribution of Blacks across combat, combat support, and Service units.15 A station list is a list of units by location. The Army kept monthly records, generally by theater. In June 1945, 73.4 percent of African Americans serving in the Army were overseas, compared with 63.4 percent of the Army’s total strength.16 An analysis of the 150-page station list confirms that not “the bulk” or “a majority” but virtually all African Americans ended the war in service units. First, theater commanders converted some units—infantry regiments of the 92nd and 93rd Infantry Divisions, antiaircraft battalions, and others—to noncombat duties. Second, 95 percent of all Black units deployed overseas were service units.17

Third, when one looks beyond infantry, armor, and artillery outfits to units often assumed to be combat units by their nomenclature—for example, engineers and aviators—and examines those units by their table of organization and equipment, only a few Black engineer units (15 of 325) were combat engineers or bridging units, and only 4 of 43 Black aviation units flew airplanes. Most Black Soldiers drove trucks that moved the unit’s aviation support equipment. Indeed, page after page of this station list documents African-American truck companies, salvage battalions, laundry and bath detachments, stevedores, and supply units. And while their contribution in service and support tasks was critical to the war effort, digging ditches, unloading ships, or driving supply trucks (even the famed Red Ball Express) do not make for rousing historical narratives, nor did it change the view of most White Soldiers about the value of Black Soldiers.

Soldiers of 92nd Infantry Division operate mortar near Massa, Italy, November 1944 (U.S. Army/National Archives and Records Administration)

Combat Brings Opportunities for Inclusion

Given the influence of segregation on their Army experience, Black Soldiers, unlike their White counterparts, focused more on equality than on winning the war. In March 1943, when asked, “Do you think this war is as much your affair as it is anybody else’s?” 86 percent White and 66 percent Black Soldiers matched by education, region of origin, and branch of Service responded yes. When asked if they were “fighting to protect free speech for everyone,” White Soldiers responded very positively (90 percent), Blacks less so (70 percent). When polled about what they might ask the President, 50 percent of African-American Soldiers stated they would ask about racial discrimination; less than 0.5 percent of White Soldiers responded similarly. Finally, and most important, to the question, “Do you think that most Negroes are being given a fair chance to do as much as they want to do to help win the war?” a majority of Blacks answered no (54 percent), 35 percent answered yes, and 11 percent were undecided. White Soldiers saw things differently, responding overwhelmingly yes (76 percent), with 12 percent answering no and 12 percent undecided.18 This vast difference in perception seen in the last question clearly stemmed from preconceived ideas about the worthiness of Black Soldiers, their purposeful segregation, and the task or duty separation that limited the ability of Black and White Soldiers to interact in a meaningful manner. This perspective carried over to how African Americans thought about serving in the same outfit or unit as Whites. Of 3,000 Blacks surveyed in March 1943, 37 percent indicated that “they should be in separate outfits,” while 36 percent opted to “be together in the same outfits.” Of that latter group, 15 percent voiced statements about democracy and equality and 5 percent believed that closer association would bring improved understanding between the races. Similarly, of those Blacks opting for separate outfits, 13 percent indicated it was due to the existence of prejudice that drove their choice. In other words, if the prejudice did not exist, they might have chosen “same outfit” instead.19

When researchers asked that same question of 4,800 White enlisted men, 84 percent responded that they wanted to be in separate outfits; only 12 percent stated that Blacks and Whites should serve in mixed units together. Some (14 percent), however, qualified their “separate” vote by including statements suggesting that expediency during wartime drove their belief; 7 percent were concerned that intermingling would lead to friction and trouble.20

Researchers conducted these surveys of men who were out of combat and in some cases had not yet deployed overseas. After being in close combat, fighting for their very lives side by side with Black Soldiers, White opinions changed significantly. Using a framework developed by the author, three examples from the campaign against Germany show how White Soldiers went from admiring Black Soldiers in the performance of their duties to desiring their assistance to requiring their help to stay alive and win the war.21

Admiring. Take, for example, the experience of White infantrymen and others watching the Black men of the 320th Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloon Battalion, VLA (Very Low Altitude), operating on Omaha and Utah beaches. The 320th Battalion was one of four Black barrage balloon battalions and the only battalion of its type (White or Black) to deploy to combat not once, but twice: first to Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, within four hours of the assault, and then to the Pacific. The men of this battalion were the first Black Soldiers and the first Black combat unit to set foot in France. Their mission was to float several 35-foot-long balloons or “silver sausages” to an altitude of 2,000 feet and create an aerial hazard to either snare unsuspecting enemy aircraft or force them to higher altitudes where Army antiaircraft units or pursuit planes could engage them. Despite being under continuous artillery and machine gun fire, the battalion got its balloons aloft, sometimes grabbing the wire tether and maneuvering them by hand.

Along with the other Black balloon battalions, the 320th Battalion was a “source of tremendous pride for black America” and received frequent coverage in both the African-American and the White press. When it left France after 140 days, the 320th had destroyed one Junker JU-88 and possibly two other German aircraft and received a commendation from General Dwight Eisenhower for its service at Omaha Beach. Moreover, the 320th captured the attention of Servicemembers across Europe and changed some, if not all, minds about the ability of African-American Soldiers. As Bill Richardson, a military correspondent on Eisenhower’s staff, noted, “It seems the whole front knows the story of the Negro barrage balloon battalion outfit which was one of the first ashore on D-day. [They] have gotten the reputation of hard workers and good Soldiers. Their simple earnestness and pride . . . [are] obvious to some of the most Jim Crow–conscious southerners.”22

One Black Soldier, however, beat even the first Black balloon crew to Normandy. Corporal Waverly Woodson, Jr., a medic from Philadelphia, was temporarily detached from his battalion and assigned to an early arriving landing craft, tank (LCT), with the 29th Infantry Division to treat wounded Soldiers regardless of color. As Woodson’s LCT approached Omaha Beach around 9:00 a.m., it struck a mine that disabled the motor and hit another mine that tore into the hull. An artillery round then landed in the jeep on deck, killing several men. Woodson suffered shrapnel wounds to the leg, his first of two, and soon found himself struggling to get out of the frigid water and ashore. Once on the fire-swept beach, he quickly set up an aid station and treated 200 wounded and dying Soldiers. Even after being relieved at 4:00 p.m. on June 7, after 30 hours of continuous action, Woodson gave artificial respiration to three White Soldiers who had gone underwater during their attempt to land their LCT before he collapsed from his wounds and sheer exhaustion.23

Woodson’s battalion commander, a White officer, recommended him for the Distinguished Service Cross, the Nation’s second highest award. Lieutenant General John C.H. Lee, the deputy commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, believed Woodson deserved the Congressional Medal of Honor and ordered the recommendation revised. Records indicate that the award even reached the White House, but it is lost to history whether the recommendation ever crossed President Roosevelt’s desk. Woodson’s personnel records burned in a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

Soldier with 12th Armored Division stands guard over group of Nazi prisoners, April 1945 (National Archives and Records Administration)

In recent years, some Black men have been belatedly honored, but during World War II Black men did not receive the Medal of Honor. Of the 433 Medals of Honor awarded during the war, none went to African-American Soldiers. In the end, Woodson received the Bronze Star, the Nation’s fourth-highest award for valor. Years later, when talking about racial relations and his service on Omaha Beach, Woodson remarked that when men needed aid, “They didn’t care what color my skin was.”24

The same feeling may have existed among other White combat units. White infantrymen and tankers appreciated the labor of Black (and White) men culled from across the force to serve as truck drivers in the Red Ball Express, which provided desperately needed fuel, ammunition, and supplies to forward combat forces as they chased German units across the Seine River following the breakout from Normandy. This situation was another case where White combat troops in the forward areas could appreciate and admire the work done by Blacks and others but did not necessarily need to interact with them in a meaningful way.

Desiring. The strict segregation of African-American Soldiers and units began to change as combat extended beyond Normandy and approached the German border in the latter part of 1944. Combat conditions in December 1944 in the Ardennes gave rise to the need for greater integration of units but not necessarily individual personnel. Indeed, the exigencies of close combat against the German attack that started on December 16 drove Black and White artillery units closer together than ever before.

In spring 1945, there were 238 separate field artillery battalions in the European theater of operations out of a total of 307 deployed worldwide; 9 of those battalions were Black, and all were in theater.25 Outside the underutilized 92nd (Italy) and 93rd (Southwest Pacific Area) Infantry Divisions (Colored), those nine African-American artillery battalions, less than 3 percent of those in Europe and less than 4 percent of the total, represented the largest concentration of African-American combat power in a single theater of war. Their mere existence and inclusion in combat operations underscored the American preference for overwhelming firepower. For when it came to the desire to pummel the Germans with devastating artillery fire, the Army set aside its prewar concern about having Black battalions and batteries provide artillery fire support for White troops and prioritized its tactical ethos.

Army artillery provided support at several levels. The first and most direct support came from the artillery battalions assigned permanently to an Army division. The next most proximate support came from a battalion or often several battalions attached to an Army division. The third level of support occurred when one or more battalions, often under the command of an artillery group, reinforced the fires of a division’s organic artillery battalions. Given the prewar Army’s taboo against integrating Black and White units within the division, all nine African-American artillery battalions were assigned to corps artillery commands and organized as part of field artillery groups to reinforce the fires of assigned or attached artillery battalions.

In most cases, Black artillery battalions fought as part of White artillery groups commanded by and consisting of White men. However, several times in the war, White artillery battalions worked under the command of a Black artillery group led by Black officers.26 And while this mixture of Black and White battalions occurred episodically in Europe, nowhere was this level of unit integration more necessary or the ability of Black and White units to cooperate more critical than during the Battle of the Bulge at the siege of Bastogne.

The European winter of 1944 was one of the coldest in nearly 40 years. Ice-cold rain turned dirt roads into rivers of mud that stopped vehicles in their tracks and then froze them in place when the temperature dropped. As the Allied armies approached Germany, the Ardennes forest, covered in a thick blanket of snow held in place by sub-zero temperatures, was one of the worst places to fight. In May 1940, the Germans attacked through what the French believed was the impenetrable Ardennes forest, overwhelmed a surprised French force, and reached the English Channel in weeks. In December 1944, Hitler intended to repeat the feat, slice through a weakly defended area of the Allied line, destroy the U.S. First and Ninth Armies and the British 21st Army Group, and recapture the port of Antwerp.

At 5:30 a.m. on December 16, the first of up to 27 German armor and infantry divisions—200,000 men in total—attacked across a 60-mile front, catching 83,000 men in six untested or refitting American divisions, most belonging to the VIII U.S. Corps, completely by surprise.27 Over the next 3 days, American divisions managed to hold the northern and southern shoulders and delay the German main thrust in the center. While bitter combat occurred throughout the salient, the battle devolved into an all-out fight in the very compartmented terrain to hold bridges and major road junctions—in particular, the junction of several major roads at Bastogne.

In December 1944, VIII Corps divisions received reinforcing artillery fires from several organizations, including the 333rd Field Artillery (FA) Group (Colored). The 333rd FA Group consisted of two Black artillery battalions—the 333rd FA Battalion and the 969th FA Battalion, both equipped with 12 155mm howitzers—and the 771st FA Battalion, a White battalion armed with 4.5-inch guns. Over December 16–17, the German onslaught overran elements of the 106th Infantry Division and portions of the supporting 333rd FA Battalion and drove them to the west. In the process of retreating, the 333rd FA Battalion lost seven of its guns and most of its Soldiers, including 11 Soldiers massacred in Wereth, Belgium, by men from the German 1st SS Panzer Division.28

Meanwhile, Eisenhower sent one of his two theater reserve divisions, the 101st Airborne Division—3 months removed from the failed attempt to bounce the Rhine in Operation Market Garden and only 3 weeks removed from leaving the British line after an additional 65 days in combat—to Bastogne to hold the vital road junction and slow, if not stop, the German attack in the center of the Bulge. To reinforce the division’s own artillery, VIII Corps placed the 333rd FA Group headquarters and the 969th FA and 771st FA battalions under the command of the 101st Division Artillery led by Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who by happenstance was also the acting division commander as Major General Maxwell Taylor was out of the area.29

As the 101st Airborne Division moved by truck to Bastogne, the Germans attacked from the east, north, and south, forcing U.S. units to retreat toward the town. By December 20, the 333rd FA Battalion, having suffered a direct attack by German panzers, had lost 2 additional howitzers, for a 4-day total of 9 guns, 34 trucks, 12 weapons carriers, and 6 officers and 222 men, either as casualties or prisoners. The remnants of the battalion folded into the 969th FA Battalion, the other Black artillery battalion, now in the vicinity of Bastogne. Concurrently, direct German pressure on the White cannoneers of the 771st FA Battalion drove most of the Soldiers off, leaving just 6 officers and 14 Soldiers to man two of their 4.5-inch guns. The 969th FA Battalion took control of these guns, creating a composite battalion, and the 20 remaining men of the 771st FA Battalion joined the 333rd Field Artillery Group headquarters. By the afternoon of December 21, with Bastogne now surrounded, the 969th FA Battalion was the only medium artillery to back up the division’s light 105mm howitzers inside the half-mile-wide defensive perimeter.30

From December 21 to 26, the Germans surrounded Bastogne. Some of the artillerymen were within 500 yards of the frontlines. Artillery rounds, however, were in such short supply that the 969th FA Battalion only fired on targets called in by observers. The infantrymen defending the town did not stop to ask what color the cannoneers were when asking for artillery protection—they just asked for help.

Despite the shortages and the constant German artillery, armor, and infantry attacks, cooperation between men and units was superb. Soldiers from the 969th FA Battalion recovered abandoned vehicles, carried messages under fire, and evacuated wounded individuals to aid stations. Several Black men received the Bronze Star for their actions. Some men, identifying with the way Airborne Soldiers wore their uniforms, began tucking their pant legs into their boots. One enterprising 969th Battalion cook, Technician 4 Broman Williams, even set up an improvised mess and fed a thousand men, White and Black, daily. Like the men Waverly Woodson treated at Omaha Beach, the tired, cold, and hungry men of Bastogne did not care who prepared the food, if it was hot.31

Just before Christmas, C-47 aircraft began dropping precious supplies and ammunition. At 4:50 p.m. on December 26, the first tank from the 4th Armored Division, attacking from the south, pierced the German lines and entered Bastogne. Before dawn on December 27, American forces had sufficiently cleared both sides of the road leading to town that they now had a relatively secure path to resupply and succor the 101st Airborne Division in the tough fighting that followed.32

On January 3, 1945, Major General Taylor arrived with lead elements of the 4th Armored Division and resumed command of the 101st Airborne Division. Taylor wrote to Lieutenant Colonel Hubert D. Barnes, commander of the 969th FA Battalion, thanking them for their “gallant support” in defense of Bastogne, attributing the success to the “shoulder-to-shoulder cooperation of all units involved.” He closed by noting that he was recommending the battalion for the Distinguished Unit Citation.33 On January 11, Major General Troy Middleton, commander of VIII Corps, wrote, “Your contribution to the great success of our arms at Bastogne will take its place among the epic achievements of our Army.”34

The 969th FA Battalion would leave Bastogne on January 16 to support French and American divisions in the Seventh U.S. Army in the reduction of the Colmar pocket in the Vosges Mountains. In February, along with units of the 101st Division, the battalion received the Distinguished Unit Citation. It was the second Black unit to receive the award.35 In its 10 months in combat, the 969th FA Battalion fired 42,289 rounds in support of units in all four American Armies and the French army. On May 3, 1945, the battalion was reunited with the 101st Airborne Division, this time supporting the infantrymen by trucking German prisoners to the 101st Division’s prisoner of war stockades.36

Requiring. Since the relatively light losses during the Normandy landings (2,499 killed in action), U.S. casualties had increased dramatically. Hedgerow fighting had decimated infantry divisions, in some cases resulting in almost 100 percent loss of infantry rifle company strength. By December 8, 1944, General George S. Patton’s Third U.S. Army was short 11,000 infantrymen, the equivalent of 55 rifle companies or enough riflemen to fill 2 infantry divisions; Eisenhower’s manpower specialists predicted the two major American forces, General Omar Bradley’s 12th Army Group and General Jacob Devers’s 6th Army Group, would need over 29,000 infantry replacements by the end of the month. The German attack in the Ardennes made a mockery of those estimates.37

Hitler’s desperate gamble to knock the Allies out of the war in the west failed miserably but caused over 79,000 American casualties and drove the Army to rush replacements from the States and rear area White units. In a bit of inspired leadership, Lieutenant General John C.H. Lee, the commander of American Service troops in England who had earlier recommended Waverly Woodson for the Medal of Honor, approached Eisenhower with the idea to take volunteer Black support troops into the infantry. Already planning to release up to 20,000 White men to undertake infantry and armor training, Lee now wanted to tap his reserves of Black manpower. He had coordinated with Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, then special advisor and coordinator to the Theater Commander on Negro Troops, and Brigadier General Henry Marchett, commander of the Ground Force Reinforcement Command, who supported the idea. Lee had even drafted a message to be read to African Americans throughout his command asking them to volunteer and take reductions in rank to private and private first class to fight as individual infantry replacements on the frontlines.

His initial proposal for Black support troops to integrate into White units on an individual basis, however, ran afoul of Eisenhower’s chief of staff, Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith. He argued that to follow Lee’s suggestion would not only violate Army policy but also encourage Blacks and their patrons to push for an end to segregation in the Army. Eisenhower, as was his way, found a middle ground, rewrote Lee’s message personally, and issued a request “to all soldiers without regard to color or race” to volunteer for combat assignments.38

While originally limited to 2,500 African Americans, 4,562 men came forward, eventually forming 37 overstrength Black rifle platoons, led by White officers and platoon sergeants. At the 16th Reinforcement Depot at Compiegne, France, these men received the same training White men had been undertaking since November 1944. The training staff noted that Black units had lower absenteeism and fewer disciplinary problems than nonvolunteer White Soldiers. After the modest infantry training concluded, Eisenhower’s headquarters sent 25 platoons to General Bradley’s 12th Army Group, which detailed them to the First and Ninth Armies and further down through corps to Army divisions, where they fought side by side with White platoons in integrated infantry companies. The other 12 platoons went to 6th Army Group and down to the Seventh Army, where they formed into Black companies and fought in White battalions. A bit later, a second group of 16 platoons arrived, with 12 going to the 12th Army Group and 4 to the 6th Army Group. These units remained infantry outfits until the war ended, whereupon the Army either returned them to their Service unit headquarters or discharged them. The platoons and companies, particularly in the 12th Army Group, won praise from their commanders and from White men in their units.39

Combat Soldiers on patrol near bombed buildings, somewhere in Europe, 1944 (Everett Collection/Alamy)

In the 12th Army Group, which had faced the brunt of the recent German attack, their gaining organizations did their best to welcome the arrival of the Black platoons. Division and assistant division commanders personally greeted them upon arrival, and in some instances, platoons received the division patch and a brief history of the division and regiment they were joining. As for their distribution, the platoons joined both veteran units (1st and 9th Infantry Divisions) and newer units like the 12th and 14th Armored Divisions and the 69th, 78th, 99th, and 104th Infantry Divisions. At least one division not immediately on the offensive put their platoons through additional training. As the assistant division commander of the 104th Division noted, “We wanted to make sure they knew all the tricks of infantry fighting. We assigned our best combat leaders as instructors. I watched those lads training and if ever men were in dead earnest, they were.”40

The 104th Division was rewarded for the efforts. A divisional report noted, “Their combat record has been outstanding. They have, without exception, proven themselves to be good soldiers.” The division G-1 told Brigadier General Davis during an inspection trip:

Morale: Excellent. Manner of performance: Superb. Men are very eager to close with the enemy and to destroy him. Strict attention to duty, aggressiveness, common sense, and judgment under fire has won the admiration of all the men in the company. . . . The men of Company F all agree that the colored platoon has a caliber of men equal to any veteran platoon.41

Black platoons assigned to the 9th and 1st Infantry Divisions were just as effective. One Soldier, Private First Class Jack Thomas, received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions with the 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. In the 1st Infantry Division, the most bloodied and experienced division in the Army, the platoons joined the regiments that landed in North Africa and stormed the beach on D-Day. As they fought side by side, the platoons’ proficiency climbed dramatically from 30 percent to 80 percent in 2 weeks. When casualties dropped one platoon’s strength too low for it to continue as a separate unit, the remaining men joined a White platoon as an infantry squad. In another platoon, when the White platoon sergeant was wounded, a Black infantryman stepped forward, worked closely with the other White platoon sergeants and leaders, and performed “all duties . . . in a superior manner.” More directly, a White platoon sergeant from South Carolina stated, “When I heard about it, I said I’d be damned if I’d wear the same shoulder patch they did. After that first day when we saw how they fought, I changed my mind. They are just like any of the other boys to us.” In so integrating at all but the individual Soldier level, these men began to reverse centuries of discrimination, bigotry, and racism.42

Soldiers surround farmhouse as they prepare to eliminate German sniper, near Vierville-sur-Mer, France, June 10, 1944 (U.S. Army/National Archives and Records Administration)

In June 1945, a month after the war in Europe ended, the Army surveyed 255 White company officers, platoon sergeants, and other enlisted men to determine their reaction to fighting in integrated units. The officers, sergeants, and men noted that African-American Soldiers performed well, with 84 percent of the White officers and 81 percent of the sergeants and enlisted men responding “very well” and 16 percent and 17 percent responding “fairly well,” respectively. Stated another way, 100 percent of the officers and 98 percent of the enlisted men responded positively that Blacks, fighting side by side with Whites, had performed well. When asked if “with the same Army training and experience, how do you think colored troops would compare with White troops as Infantry Soldiers?” 86 percent of White officers and 92 percent of White platoon sergeants and men stated “just the same” or “better than White troops.” Still, almost all officers and men felt that if the Army continued to use Black Soldiers as infantrymen, it should do so in separate platoons, companies, or even battalions.43

In a way, while touting the fighting ability of Black Soldiers, these responses confirmed the “equal and separate” policies espoused by the Army and American society at the time. While an emergency action during war, the integration of Black platoons into White infantry units nonetheless represented a small, if belated, step forward for actual equality. From admiring to desiring to requiring the support of Black Soldiers to win the war, White infantrymen and others in these vignettes gradually came to accept integration when their lives depended on it. And as Roosevelt predicted in 1940, they “backed into it.”

With Executive Order 9981 in 1948, President Harry Truman ordered the military to integrate, but it would take the Korean War to force the Army to eliminate separate African-American units and the Vietnam War before it became a cultural reality.44 Even then, changing attitudes and perceptions was exceedingly difficult. It would take a few more decades before the Army truly integrated Blacks into all levels of the force, from individual squad members to three- and four-star commanders, and longer still before the Defense Department promoted them to positions such as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense.

Lieutenant General George S. Patton, U.S. Third Army commander, pins Silver Star on Private Ernest A. Jenkins, of New York City, for his conspicuous gallantry in liberation of Châteaudun, France, October 13, 1944 (U.S. Army Signal Corps/National Archives and Records Administration)


So what does “the Case of the Missing World War II Black Combat Soldier” teach us about diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Warfare has always been and will remain a human affair. Despite ever-present improvements in technology and their influence on the conduct of war, the last two decades of conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and now Ukraine only reaffirm this conclusion.

The problem at the onset of World War II and the problem now is that the United States faces a shortage of qualified personnel to populate its Armed Forces. Recent reports highlight the dearth of American youth (18 to 24 years old) capable of meeting the Defense Department’s intellectual, physical, and moral standards for service. In 2019, out of 31.8 million military aged youth, 9.1 million met the minimum physical, mental, educational, aptitudinal, legal, and drug use qualifications, but only 435,000 were of high academic quality and were interested in military service.45 Moreover, civilian corporations worldwide are competing for the same shrinking pool of high school and college graduates. Given this situation, the U.S. military, both as a corporate business and as a combat organization, can ill afford to treat potential employees with disdain, discriminate against them, or exclude them because they are seen as different—for example, in race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

In World War II, the U.S. military systematically discriminated against African Americans, shunted those it allowed to serve into noncombat roles, and believed that winning the war was a job for White men only. In the end, particularly in Europe, where the Wehrmacht chewed up battalion after battalion of American GIs in epic defensive battles from Normandy to the Rhine, the Army ran out of fighting White men and had to rush in a hasty infusion of companies and platoons of Black volunteers from Army service forces units to plug the frontlines and continue the fight. This emergency inclusion of African-American troops fighting alongside White infantrymen changed a few attitudes about the fighting abilities and value of Black Servicemen and set the stage for the 1948 Presidential directive to integrate the Armed Forces and start the slow process of structural and cultural integration. Today’s force must not repeat the same mistakes; it must capitalize on our national diversity and include individuals from all communities into the defense establishment if we are to maximize our intellectual and physical abilities to defend the Nation and ensure our continued prosperity.

This article highlights the systematic discrimination against Blacks in World War II and through three vignettes showed how the perception of Black Servicemen changed as White men began to associate with them and gradually include them in their combat space, ultimately integrating African-American service troops among White battalions and companies in the later stages of the European campaign. The lesson this article offers for diversity, equity, and inclusion suggests that the assumptions a majority makes about a minority are often wrong, and when they are placed together and required to interact, attitudes can and will change. Actions speak louder than words. Advocates for the creation of African-American combat forces helped initiate steps that led to Black troops being available in Europe and elsewhere, but the act of fighting together, of placing Black platoons and companies within White units, created the opportunity for change to take root. Going forward, we must actively engage in making our organizations better by welcoming all highly qualified and competent Americans into the Armed Forces. We must not settle for President Roosevelt’s passive approach. Our humanity, our professional ethics, and our dire personnel (recruiting) situation require us to do more than back into it. JFQ


1 The first Presidential directive on proportional representation occurred in September 1940. “Reports on presidential intention regarding publicizing Black participation in the services,” cited in Morris J. MacGregor and Bernard C. Nalty, eds., Blacks in the United States Armed Forces: Basic Documents, vol. 5, Black Soldiers in World War II (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1977), 25. On June 25, 1941, President Roosevelt also issued Executive Order (EO) 8802, Reaffirming Policy of Full Participation in the Defense Program by All Persons, Regardless of Race, Creed, Color, or National Origin, and Directing Certain Action in Furtherance of Said Policy (Washington, DC: The White House, June 25, 1941), which prohibited ethnic or racial discrimination in defense industries. It was amended four times by Roosevelt and Truman: EO 8823 (July 18, 1941), EO 9111 (March 25, 1942), EO 9346 (May 27, 1943), and EO 9964 (December 15, 1945).

2 Specifically, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.

3 Shirley Star, Robin Williams, and Samuel Stouffer, “Negro Soldiers,” in The American Soldier: Adjustment During Army Life, vol. 1, ed. S.A. Stouffer et al. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949), 489–492; Ulysses Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1966), 244.

4 “The Negro Soldier,” Extension of Remarks by Honorable Helen Gahagan Douglas (D-CA), February 1, 1946, in Congressional Record 92, pt. 9, appendix (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office [GPO], 1946), A428–A443.

5 Michael Lee Lanning, The African-American Soldier: From Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell (Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group, 1997), 173.

6 For African-American number of 901,896, see “Research Starters: U.S. Military by the Numbers,” National World War II Museum,

7 Although one will find occasional discussion of African Americans and women where appropriate throughout the Army’s multivolume history of World War II, both groups have separate volumes devoted to in-depth coverage of their contributions and the policies surrounding them. See Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops; Mattie E. Treadwell, The Women’s Army Corps (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1991). The terms subordination, superordination, and disequilibrated are drawn from Star, Williams, and Stouffer, “Negro Soldiers,” 486–487.

8 Robert K. Griffith, Jr., Men Wanted for the U.S. Army: America’s Experience with an All-Volunteer Army Between the World Wars (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982), 212.

9 The name Borinqueños came from the Puerto Rican island’s original name of Boriken, meaning Land of the Brave People, created by the Taino-Arawak people, a highly advanced race dating to 4,000 BCE.

10 Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops, 415.

11 Douglas MacArthur, “Memorandum, Chief of Staff for General Shedd, 14 September 1940, CCS 20609-79,” National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) II; MacGregor and Nalty, Blacks in the United States Armed Forces, 25.

12 Memorandum, Chief of Staff for General Shedd (G1), September 14, 1940, CCS 20609-79, “Reports on Presidential Intention Regarding Publicizing Black Participation in the Services,” National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) II; MacGregory and Nalty, Blacks in the United States Armed Forces, 25.

13 In December 1945, the Army had 367,630 enlisted African Americans on the rolls out of a total of 3,572,577 enlisted men (10.29 percent). When officers are added, the percentage drops to 8.81 percent. See Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops, 415.

14 Matthew F. Delmont, Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad (New York: Viking, 2022), viii. For additional examples, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans notes that “most African Americans serving at the beginning of World War II were assigned to non-combat units and relegated to service duties.” One of the best military history texts available also notes that for the reasons mentioned in this article, “most blacks could serve usefully in labor units.” See Allan R. Millett, Peter Maslowski, and William B. Feis, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States from 1607 to 2012 (New York: Free Press, 2012), 383. Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett’s masterful A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), a strategic, operational, and industrial history of the war, has an excellent chapter on “Peoples at War” that includes five pages on women in war but mentions Black Servicemen only once in passing despite their numbers eclipsing those of American women in the U.S. Army. Even scholars focused on African-American Soldiers generalize about the numbers of Blacks in service or combat support units. Bryan D. Booker, African Americans in the United States Army in World War II (Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 2008), 3, uses the phrase overwhelming majority. Jeremy P. Maxwell, Brotherhood in Combat: How African Americans Found Equality in Korea and Vietnam (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2018), states 15 percent as the number that “secured combat assignments,” a figure he cites from Lanning, The African-American Soldier, 173.

15 “T/O Colored Units Continental and Foreign as of 7 July 1945, STN-122,” War Department General and Special Staff, G-1, RG 165, Decimal File 1942–June 1946, 291.2, Box 443, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

16 Star, Williams, and Stouffer, “Negro Soldiers,” 497.

17 The author acknowledges that not all units are the same size. Also, the author did not attempt to inventory the exact size of every Black unit as of July 1945. Such a task would require access to countless unit records, many of which do not exist or only contain fragmentary information.

18 Star, Williams, and Stouffer, “Negro Soldiers,” 504, 508, 511.

19 Ibid., 573–576.

20 Ibid., 577.

21 The following examples are illustrative and not meant to be inclusive of all White and Black relationships in World War II. The author developed this framework.

22 Cited in Linda Hervieux, Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War (New York: Harper, 2015), 238.

23 Ibid.; Elliot V. Converse et al., The Exclusion of Black Soldiers from the Medal of Honor in World War II: The Study Commissioned by the U.S. Army to Investigate Racial Bias in the Awarding of the Nation’s Highest Military Decoration (Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 2008), 79–80.

24 Hervieux, Forgotten; Converse et al., The Exclusion of Black Soldiers, 80.

25 Booker, African Americans in the United States Army in World War II, 113.

26 Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops, 644.

27 Charles B. MacDonald, The Mighty Endeavor: The American War in Europe (New York: William Morrow, 1969), 388–394, 397.

28 Raymond E. Bell, Jr., “Black Gunners at Bastogne,” Army 54, no. 11 (November 2004), 49–53; Denise George and Robert Child, The Lost Eleven: The Forgotten Story of Black American Soldiers Brutally Massacred in World War II (New York: Caliber, 2017), 272–300. The book’s cover mistakenly shows Black Soldiers manning a 40mm Bofors antiaircraft gun. Besides the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only Black 40mm antiaircraft battalion in the European theater of operations was the 452nd AAA Automatic Weapons (Mobile) battalion, which was part of Patton’s Third Army and protected XII Corps artillery units during this period. Although one of the most effective AAA units in Europe, it was not at Bastogne. “452nd AAA Battalion History, 1 January to 31 December 1944,” CABN-452-0, 452 AAA AW Bn, NARA.

29 Bell, “Black Gunners at Bastogne,” 51.

30 Ibid.; Converse et al., The Exclusion of Black Soldiers, 77–78.

31 Bell, “Black Gunners at Bastogne,” 52–53.

32 S.L.A. Marshall, Bastogne: The Story of the First Eight Days in Which the 101st Airborne Division Was Closed Within the Ring of German Forces (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Army History, 1988), 172.

33 Cited in both Booker, African Americans in the United States Army in World War II, 120, and Bell, “Black Gunners at Bastogne,” 50.

34 Booker, African Americans in the United States Army in World War II, 121.

35 Converse et al., The Exclusion of Black Soldiers, 75–77. The first unit was Third Platoon, Company C, 614th Tank Destroyer Battalion, for action on December 14, 1944, near Climbach, France.

36 Booker, African Americans in the United States Army in World War II, 125.

37 “The World’s Most Complete Account of D-Day Fallen,” National D-Day Memorial Necrology Project,; Gordon Harrison, Cross-Channel Attack (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1954), 330n, estimates a total of approximately 10,000 casualties (killed, wounded, and missing) for the Allies on D-Day. For infantry casualties in the 2 months following the Normandy invasion, see Booker, African Americans in the United States Army in World War II, 274–275.

38 Lanning, The African-American Soldier, 181–182; Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops, 695–705.

39 Lanning, The African-American Soldier, 181–182; Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops, 695–705; Booker, African Americans in the United States Army in World War II, 277.

40 Booker, African Americans in the United States Army in World War II, 279.

41 Ibid.

42 Ibid., 279–280; Stouffer et al., “Negro Soldiers,” 592.

43 Star, Williams, and Stouffer, “Negro Soldiers,” 589–591.

44 For an excellent discussion of the period following World War II, see Jeremy Maxwell, Brotherhood in Combat: How African Americans Found Equality in Korea and Vietnam (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2018).

45 Data from the Army Marketing Research Group, cited in Inspired to Serve: The Final Report of the National Commission on Miliary, National, and Public Service, Report to Congress (Washington, DC: National Commission on Miliary, National, and Public Service, March 2020), 32–33,

Training With Industry: Integrating the Commercial Defense Industrial Base
By Michael K. Lima | Oct. 30, 2023

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Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael K. Lima, USA, is a Training Developer with Officer Leader Development Branch. He is assigned to the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps and Ordnance School under Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Gregg-Adams, Virginia.
Navy Lieutenant Mayra Perez, Tours With Industry fellow, speaks to George Washington High School students during Navy Promotional Day in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 11, 2022 (U.S. Navy/Diana Quinlan)

I’m a proud United States Air Force veteran, and when I look across Raytheon Missiles and Defense, I’m not alone. The defense industry is full of veterans because we connect deeply with the mission of defending our nation and our allies’ interests around the world. It’s what motivates me to come to work every day.

—Wes Kremer
President, Raytheon Missiles and Defense

This article examines Training With Industry (TWI)’s impact on the joint force, and it assesses and reviews the perspective of the World War II–era historical TWI program and contrasts it with today’s version. The article uses three research methodologies: assessment of the author’s experience with the first-ever TWI program at Raytheon Missiles and Defense (RMD), review of other Department of Defense (DOD) TWI programs, and examination of research on the correlation between TWI and promotion. The program can connect DOD to the commercial defense industrial base (DIB) through Servicemembers participating in it. The aspects evaluated here include the origins of the program’s history, the skills TWI participants gain for the future force, and disadvantages to senior-level promotion. Recommendations are made to incorporate TWI training objectives into the Joint Learning Continuum, ensure individual TWI lessons are captured in the Joint Lessons Learned Program, and modernize the TWI program as a fellowship to address strategic level gaps.

In February 2020, Raytheon Missiles and Defense signed a gratis agreement with the U.S. Army Human Resources Command TWI coordinator. The signed memorandum formed a mutually beneficial agreement for a new TWI position at RMD headquarters in Tucson, Arizona. RMD, a Raytheon Technologies business, agreed to provide annual on-the-job management training for mid-level Army Soldiers to gain experience and training that a military or civilian school cannot replicate to meet the objectives of the Army and DOD.

Today, each military department participates in the TWI program except for the Marine Corps. The Air Force’s program is called Education With Industry (EWI), and the Navy’s program is called Secretary of the Navy Tours With Industry (SNTWI). The DOD program has well-intentioned objectives, but it has had problems.

In 2012, the Senate directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review DOD’s use of fellowships and TWI programs to determine the statutory provisions and oversight for these programs and the extent to which the Services benefit from these programs.1 The GAO concluded that the benefits of participation in these programs could not be ascertained because:

  • not all the Services conduct periodic or sufficiently comprehensive program reviews
  • there is no clear guidance on what qualifies as a post-program assignment that uses the skills and knowledge developed during the program
  • the Services do not know their overall program costs to determine cost-effectiveness
  • some Services do not have memoranda of understanding with the non-DOD host organizations.2

In response to the stated GAO findings, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness led an effort to revise DOD Instruction 1322.06, Fellowships, Legislative Fellowships, Internships, Scholarships, Training-With-Industry (TWI), and Grants Provided to DOD or DOD Personnel for Education and Training, published on October 12, 2016.3 Before these revisions to the modern-day TWI program, the program looked quite different than it does today.

Historical TWI Program

The program dates to the early U.S. War Manpower Commission, the War Production Board, and the Department of War from 1940 to 1945. The purpose was to meet the high demand for wartime materiel from a small workforce whose experienced personnel were being drafted during World War II.4 The shortage of trained and skilled personnel challenged the defense industry. The U.S. Government acted and created the TWI program (then called Training Within Industry), a decentralized program carried out throughout the country in defense industrial areas. To meet the supply shortfalls, TWI aimed to improve job training methods by emphasizing job progression (or upgrading), trade apprenticeship, and supervisory development.5

The former TWI program established a nationwide network of industry professionals. These professionals comprised volunteers and full- or part-time employees from private industry on loan from their companies.6 The network taught valuable techniques to the manufacturers of war materiel. The TWI’s training program, which focused on learning by doing, trained primarily in:

  • the five needs of a supervisor: knowledge of the work, requisite responsibility, and skill in instructing, improving methods, and leading
  • the “J” programs: job instruction, job methods, and job relations.7

Although the original TWI program has long been gone, its lessons can be seen in modern management practices, such as the Japanese Kaizen (continuous improvement) method, one of the most recognized methods in the Toyota Production System.8 Currently, the civilian TWI Institute provides organizations with a TWI certification process with an expansion of each module and applies job instruction, job relations, job methods improvement, job safety, and problem solving to organizational culture and excellence.9

Current TWI Program

Despite its tremendous usefulness at the time and lessons learned that have endured for more than half a century, the TWI program of World War II was far different than that of the current DOD TWI program. DOD Instruction 1322.06 states that the purpose of the TWI program is to provide selected DOD personnel the opportunity to gain career-broadening experience while working in a commercial industry environment.10 The program provides the participant’s organization with the needed skills or expertise to accomplish its Service mission more effectively. In the Army, the TWI program is nondegree-producing and provides training and skills in best business procedures and practices that cannot be obtained through military or advanced civilian schooling programs.11 For the Air Force, the EWI program’s ultimate goal is to develop leaders with greater business acumen and empathy and with the expertise to implement innovative practices after the assignment.12 Finally, the Navy program (SNTWI) offers Servicemembers a chance to learn from (and with) leading industry partners to improve their leadership, management, and communications skills.13

Each Service participates with commercial industry leaders. However, these assignments offer more than training and skills in the best commercial business procedures and practices; they also provide a vital link for each Service to have key personnel with the training and skills necessary to integrate the commercial industrial base. The Army’s TWI program was initiated in the 1970s in response to a critical need for skills in industry practices and procedures that could not be obtained through routine military education. These skills were mainly related to materiel acquisition and logistics management.14 The Air Force’s EWI program dates back to 1947 and returns to the Air Force (and, as of 2021, the Space Force) an individual trained in industry best practices.15 Today, DOD’s TWI program has evolved from enlisted-only participants to include noncommissioned and commissioned officers from most branches and training that is conducted throughout the country with major companies, including Amazon, Apple, Boeing, FedEx, GE Digital, LinkedIn, Northrup Grumman, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, SpaceX, Tesla, and USAA.16 To that end, the TWI participants’ skills in industry practices and procedures enhance the ability for unified action. The comprehensive approach focuses on the cooperation between the U.S. military and other interorganizational participants toward common objectives.17

The term interorganizational refers to U.S. Government departments and interagency partners; state, territorial, local, and tribal agencies; multinational partners; nongovernmental organizations; and the private sector.18 The most notable private sector is the commercial defense sector, which comprises the defense industrial base but is separate from DOD’s organic industrial base. The DIB includes DOD, government, and private sector worldwide industrial complexes with capabilities to perform research, development, and design and to produce and maintain military weapons systems, subsystems, components, or parts to meet military requirements.19 The TWI host companies are composed of many program sponsors that provide essential services and products for DOD. For example, in the weapons programs, significant consolidations in the 1990s reduced competition, with the total number of U.S.-based prime contractors declining from 51 in 1993 to 5 in 2000.20 The consolidation makes the TWI program even more critical for DOD as the right companies must be selected and the participants must be placed in the correct business units within the company.

Army Captain Pablo Mendez Adorno, Training With Industry banking officer student, helps customer at Armed Forces Bank, Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas, March 23, 2022 (U.S. Army/Mark R.W. Orders-Woempner)

Defense Contractor and Military Support

One such business unit is RMD, which provides the industry’s most advanced end-to-end solutions, delivering innovation to detect, track, and defeat threats. The business cuts across each military Service’s mission area, mainly focusing on airpower, land warfare and air defense, strategic missile defense, naval power, and advanced technology. These mission areas accounted for $15.3 billion in 2020 sales, with slightly more than half of these in domestic business sales.21 RMD has 15,000 engineers and 30,000 employees across 30 states and 28 countries.22 With its headquarters in Tucson, Arizona, this diverse business unit presents an excellent opportunity for TWI participants to interact with various employees and understand their business processes.

Raytheon Missiles and Defense headquarters is located near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, a critical air combat command installation. The 355th Wing serves as the host unit and provides combat search and rescue capabilities. Most notably, the Davis-Monthan installation is known for the mission and facility of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, called “The Boneyard,” an aircraft storage and maintenance facility.23 The Davis-Monthan Welcome Center is a one-stop shop for new arrivals, with access to the Military Personnel Flight (same as the Army’s Military Personnel Division), Comptroller Squadron (Finance), Traffic Management Office (Transportation), and the Medical Group (Medical Center). The Davis-Monthan Welcome Center can also provide information and contacts for the School Liaison Officer, Exceptional Family Member Program, and Military Housing Office. While not technically assigned to Davis-Monthan, Army Servicemembers attending TWI will receive all necessary support from the Davis-Monthan installation, which adds to the joint environment of the position while assigned to TWI with RMD.

Training Assignment

The TWI program enhances DOD personnel’s professional, technical, and executive management areas in the commercial DIB. At the same time, experiences may be different for each military Service and various occupational skills. The Land Warfare and Air Defense division of RMD is the assigned mission area that provides day-to-day responsibility for the TWI position. The 1-year assignment additionally requires the completion of a 2-year mandatory follow-on utilization tour for the Army, concurrent with a 3-year Active-duty service obligation upon program completion.

As a nonimitative assignment in the highly selective and competitive career development program, officers who want to participate in the TWI program must submit applications to their respective branch managers.

Army TWI participants are administratively assigned to the U.S. Army Student Detachment at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, a small contingent of military and civilian personnel that provide support at various levels to more than 2,400 students.24

Training Objectives

The rotational-style training implemented by Raytheon provides the TWI participant with a uniquely tailored experience that goes in depth into the techniques and industrial procedures of the various RMD directorates. Within the first month, the host TWI company and the TWI participant submit a training plan to the proponent office. The training plan provides a detailed outline for desired training and general learning objectives in partner management practices, acquisitions, technology, and mechanical engineering.

TWI participants are exposed to modern technologies and business practices in the commercial industry. These skills are needed to support new Army technologies such as the Integrated Personnel and Pay System–Army and gain exposure to industry software such as Oracle’s PeopleSoft, software engineering and testing, business analytics, and how data science is applied.25 Participants’ ability to see the industry leverage artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities enhances DOD efforts to modernize Joint All-Domain Command and Control. The 2022 National Defense Strategy calls for an integrated deterrence using every tool at the Defense Department’s disposal to develop, combine, and coordinate our strengths to the maximum effect.26 Training and engagement offered in the TWI program is an untapped resource to build the future force. The RMD TWI billet and the DOD TWI program deliver the needed expertise to successfully integrate the commercial sector into U.S. defense strategy.

Benefits and Disadvantages

The recently conducted RMD TWI program fulfilled the initial general learning objectives focused on partner management practices, acquisitions, technology, and mechanical engineering. This training included participation in the Diné facility in Farmington, New Mexico, which proudly boasts a workforce of which 90 percent are members of the Navajo Nation. The Raytheon Diné Facility stores and generates parts for 12 missile programs, such as the Tomahawk cruise missile, the Javelin weapons system, and the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile,27 that provide critical experience in the munitions commercial industrial base. Participants gained insight into the intricate work required to build a weapons system at mass and understand all required inputs—as well as the internal actions for lot acceptance—before sending it to government representatives for approval.

In another example, an Air Force captain who participated in a recent EWI at SpaceX was assigned as lead manufacturing engineer for the first time from the West Coast.28 The participant completed tasks aligned to host TWI procedures to understand the flexibility to solve uncommon problems that DOD may ask of him. Additionally, the officer was selected for transfer to the Space Force, which will allow the officer to bring some of the most advanced knowledge of the space domain back to the newest and most relevant department in DOD.

Other significant experiences include that of a Navy lieutenant commander, a maintenance officer, who participated in the SNTWI at Amazon headquarters in Seattle. This position placed the officer as a senior program manager in the customer excellence department, working on a small team project to improve Amazon’s customer service.29 The officer saw how the commercial industry handled supply problems and applied innovative solutions at a national level that could not be accomplished within government bureaucracies.

One major drawback for participants of the TWI program is that it does not provide a direct correlation for promotion. In a Naval Postgraduate School research project, the authors concluded that there are no major positive or negative effects on an officer’s promotion or career after completing a TWI program.30 The assessment was based on data from 12 TWI participants’ promotion histories where the TWI participants were promoted within their “in-zone” period.31 While the sample size was small and the outcome was not favorable, the assessment shows no correlation in not getting promoted, which led this author to conduct additional research on the correlation to promotion.

Table. Review of General and Flag Officers’ Official Biographies

The author completed an in-depth review of 200 general and flag officers’ official biographies of the three Services that have a TWI program: Navy, Army, and Air Force (table). The assessment discovered that not one of these officers mentioned the TWI program as part of his or her military service. The vast majority listed a fellowship program (40.5 percent), followed by not listing a broadening assignment (38 percent), and the next highest listing was an assignment as an instructor (9 percent).32 A few conclusions can be drawn from the assessment. Many of the officers had experience serving in program executive/management offices in their field, and those with highly technical backgrounds (doctors, aviators, engineers, and others) opted to receive additional certification or professional training. From the research, a conclusion can be drawn that the performance of operational assignments must be strong enough for promotion to support a broadening assignment that will have a Servicemember perform work outside of his or her functional area.

TWI produces Servicemembers with insights into the commercial sector that can provide necessary linkage to the DIB to inform joint doctrine and to integrate and synchronize the actions of the joint force to conduct globally integrated operations with interorganizational cooperation against priority challenges and achieve national strategic objectives.

Technical Sergeant Jules Ponton, former 316th Force Support Squadron manpower analyst and now Education With Industry fellow at
Deloitte Consulting, poses for photo at SparkX Cell Innovation and Idea Center on Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, March 4, 2022 (U.S. Air
Force/Bridgitte Taylor)


The first recommendation moving forward with the TWI program is to incorporate the training objectives of each Service into the Joint Learning Continuum, a fundamental systematic approach to ensure professional development throughout an individual’s career,33 and aligning the individual training with organizational training within the Joint Training System Methodology, a four-phased methodology that aligns joint training strategy with assigned missions to produce trained and ready joint organizations.34

Individual joint training is considered one of four pillars for joint officer development across the Joint Learning Continuum. Specifically, the joint force must evaluate current TWI training objectives through the Joint Training System Phase I, requirements initiated by assessing current capability and identifying gaps to determine if they can be closed through training.35 Each Service in the joint force must receive the desired training to leverage cross-organizational capabilities for unified action during war. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 3500.01J, Joint Training Policy for the Armed Forces of the United States, already states that individual joint training “can be delivered through various methods, depending on the requirements of the learning organization,” including commercial training programs.36

The second recommendation is to mandate all organizations with a TWI position to submit their reports to the Joint Lessons Learned Program for validation.37 The validation is a submission of observation into the lessons learned process for the best practices and issues to proceed to the resolution phase.38 The resolution would solve any collective issues across the Services with utilization tours that may need to be aligned with organizations with Tier 1 national- and combatant command–level training, which is training designed to prepare national-level organizations to integrate interorganizational partners in highly complex environments.39 Additionally, even the authors of the Naval Postgraduate School research project called for further research into the benefit of assigning specific utilization tours.40 The resolution processes would allow for further analysis by a potential office of primary responsibility and subject matter experts, along with developing solutions to address any root causes.41

The third recommendation is to incentivize the program to our most talented personnel by realigning the TWI program as a fellowship. Currently, military personnel are selected by their branch and left to the host organization as a participant to train for the gaps identified by their organizations. Instead, create a fiscal year cohort across the Services and with the same career field into a fellowship sponsored by DOD organizations that deal directly with the commercial industry in that field, such as the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, and Joint Program Executive Office Armaments and Ammunition, and their respective project offices. The fellowship would allow for collaboration among Servicemembers across the joint force to solve challenges faced at the strategic level. TWI fellows could explore problems and focus their training experience to provide solutions—linking individual and organizational training objectives to gaps and ensuring that the individual lessons are captured for evaluation and provide direct value.

The Russo-Ukrainian war has proved that U.S. defense supply chains are susceptible to war demands that unexpectedly shift from crisis to armed conflict. To prepare for large-scale combat operations, the joint force will have to support ground, maritime, and air forces on a scale not seen since World War II, further complicated by the introduction of the new space and cyberspace domains. The Defense Department must urgently integrate a whole-of-government approach and modernize the TWI program to ensure unified action and foster interorganizational cooperation. Servicemembers who have trained with commercial industry partners and share what they have learned with their respective Services and the joint force are critical to closing gaps and strengthening our deterrence against hostile nations. JFQ


1 Military Education: Improved Oversight and Management Needed for DOD’s Fellowship and Training-With-Industry Programs (Washington, DC: Government Accountability Office, April 2012), 1,

2 Ibid.

3 Department of Defense (DOD) Instruction 1322.06, Fellowships, Legislative Fellowships, Internships, Scholarships, Training-With-Industry (TWI), and Grants Provided to DOD or DOD Personnel for Education and Training (Washington, DC: DOD, October 12, 2016),

4 Jim Huntzinger, “The Roots of Lean. Training Within Industry: The Origin of Japanese Management and Kaizen,” Lean Enterprise Institute, 2001, 4,

5 The Training Within Industry Report, 1940–1945 (Washington, DC: War Manpower Commission, September 1945), 5,

6 Huntzinger, “The Roots of Lean,” 5.

7 Ibid., 11.

8 Ibid., 17.

9 “TWI Certification,” TWI Institute,

10 DOD Instruction 1322.06.

11 “TWI Eligibility and Application Requirements,” U.S. Army Human Resources Command, July 13, 2023,

12 “Education With Industry Program,” Air Force Institute of Technology,

13 “FY20–21 Secretary of the Navy Tours With Industry Announcement,” U.S. Navy,

14 “TWI Eligibility and Application Requirements.”

15 Josh Tarrant, “EWI Fellows Creating Tangible Results in a Virtual World,” Air Force Institute of Technology, February 19, 2021,

16 “Training With Industry,” U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center, 2023,

17 Joint Publication (JP) 3-0, Joint Operations (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, October 22, 2018), x.

18 Ibid., xi.

19 JP 3-27, Homeland Defense (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, April 10, 2018), GL-8,

20 Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, State of Competition Within the Defense Industrial Base (Washington, DC: DOD, February 2022),

21 Wes Kremer, “Raytheon Technologies Investor Day 2021,” Raytheon Technologies, 2021, 48,

22 Ibid.

23 “About Davis-Monthan Air Force Base,” Davis-Monthan Air Force Base,

24 “U.S. Army Student Detachment,” U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command,

25 Gregory S. Johnson, “Train With Industry to Retain and Develop Army Talent,” U.S. Army Human Resources Command, February 7, 2022,

26 2022 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America (Washington, DC: DOD, October 27, 2022), iv,

27 “Raytheon Completes New $5 Million Warehouse at Diné Facility Near Farmington,” Raytheon Technologies, April 24, 2017,

28 Tarrant, “EWI Fellows Creating Tangible Results in a Virtual World.”

29 Meghann Myers, “Navy Officers Start 1st Industry Tours at Amazon, FedEx,” Navy Times, October 14, 2015,

30 Melissa S. Flynn and Amphay Souksavatdy, “Return on Investment for the United States Navy’s Training With Industry Program” (master’s thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, June 2017), 69,

31 Ibid.

32 Author researched professional information about DOD general officers and flag officers from official military Web sites.

33 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) 3500.01J, Joint Training Policy for the Armed Forces of the United States (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, January 13, 2020), A-2,

34 Ibid., B-1.

35 Ibid., B-2.

36 Ibid., B-6.

37 Author researched Joint Lessons Learned Information System and found only one TWI Lessons Learned Observation.

38 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Manual (CJCSM) 3150.25B, Joint Lessons Learned Program (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, October 12, 2018), B-1,

39 Ibid., B-5.

40 Flynn and Souksavatdy, “Return on Investment,” 70.

41 CJCSM 3150.25B, A-4.