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Nov. 19, 2020

Rightsizing Our Understanding of Religion

The world of religion consists of various belief systems that influence humanity in numerous ways. Religion is global. It is powerfully influential everywhere that the joint force currently operates and extends to every corner of the globe. Religion is part of the fabric of every nation—including those that take a position against it. For governments that identify as secular or atheist, religion remains a present factor that they work to account for or control both internally and externally. Every government invests time and energy in controlling, influencing, or seeking to exist alongside religion.

Nov. 19, 2020

Decision Superiority Through Joint All-Domain Command and Control

I have had the honor to lead both U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and the binational North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) for the past 2 years. During that time, the commands have undergone a critical transformation to ensure their collective ability to deter and defeat the very real threats posed by peer adversaries. In order to accomplish this no-fail homeland defense mission during a time of crisis, we must be able to perform a number of critical capabilities, which in their most distilled form are maintaining domain awareness, exercising command and control (C2) of assigned forces, and defeating adversary attacks. These capabilities are not new but rather have existed since each command’s inception and have been key to providing a credible deterrent against our adversaries for many years.

Nov. 19, 2020

Artificial Intelligence: A Decisionmaking Technology

With the release of its first artificial intelligence (AI) strategy in 2019, the Department of Defense (DOD) formalized the increased use of AI technology throughout the military, challenging senior leaders to create “organizational AI strategies” and “make related resource allocation decisions.”1 Unfortunately, most senior leaders currently have limited familiarity with AI, having developed their skills in tactical counterinsurgency environments, which reward strength (physical and mental), perseverance, and diligence. Some defense scholars have advocated a smarter military, emphasizing intellectual human capital and arguing that cognitive ability will determine success in strategy development, statesmanship, and decisionmaking.

Nov. 19, 2020

Pardon the Paradox: Making Sense of President Trump’s Interventions in Military Justice

Army captain and attorney Aubrey Daniel III wrote a blistering letter to President Richard Nixon in April 1971. The lead prosecutor in the court-martial of First Lieutenant William Calley, Captain Daniel had convinced a military jury at Fort Benning, Georgia, to convict Lieutenant Calley for the murder of at least 22 Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai on March 16, 1968. A day after Calley began serving his sentence of life imprisonment, President Nixon reacted to the public outcry against the verdict and ordered the Army to release Calley and return him to his apartment on post.3 In his letter, Daniel wrote that the President’s intervention had “damaged the military judicial system and lessened any respect it may have gained as a result of the proceedings.

Nov. 19, 2020

Competition Is What States Make of It: A U.S. Strategy Toward China

China today represents the “most consequential long-term challenge we face as a nation.” While many actors and trends present challenges to U.S. interests, only China has the potential to challenge the United States across so many aspects of national power—to challenge its economic influence and technological lead in key sectors, to challenge its military in scenarios in which it has long held dominance or assumed sanctuary, or to present an alternative governance model that undermines the norms and values that the United States has sought to preserve at home and promote abroad. To be clear, China faces many headwinds that may inhibit its rise. Yet China has signaled ambitions to be a dominant global power; its economic trajectory, if it continues, would provide significant means to pursue its aims. As a result, today China alone can contend with the United States for hegemony within a region and has the potential to mount a serious challenge to the U.S. ability to shape the character of the international system.

Nov. 19, 2020

The Strategic Potential of Collected Exploitable Material

In November of 2007, I was commanding an infantry battalion in the Eastern Paktika Province of Afghanistan. One of our convoys was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) on a routine mission in the border district of Bermel, just a few short miles from Pakistan. A brilliant young troop commander (Captain David Boris, USA, age 30) and his dependable and tough driver (Sergeant Adrian Hike, USA, age 26) were killed in the explosion.

Nov. 19, 2020

Space Operations: Lines, Zones, Options, and Dilemmas

While there is considerable literature available on both the strategic and tactical aspects of space operations, there is surprisingly little that discusses the linkage of tactical space operations to the achievement of strategic objectives through operational art. In addition to government documents such as the National Security Space Strategy, influential academic works have largely focused on the strategic and political aspects of the space domain.1 Much of the professional literature produced by military practitioners, on the other hand, has focused on the tactical exploitation of space systems.2 While this collection of works sometimes hints at the possibility of synchronizing tactical action to achieve strategic ends, none provides a practical explanation of how commanders and staffs might achieve such a feat.

Nov. 19, 2020

Recruiting Cyber Specialists: Why the Services Must Modernize Qualification Standards

Hardly a day goes by without another data breach concerning peoples’ sensitive information—such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and payroll information—making the news. Billions of dollars are lost each year to data breaches and theft of intellectual property. Unfortunately, there is no end in sight. Despite our best cyber security efforts, criminal hackers seem to be one step ahead. Playing catchup to hackers is an infinite game of wits, brains, luck, and patience.

Nov. 19, 2020

Social Media Weaponization: The Biohazard of Russian Disinformation Campaigns

In a renewed era of Great Power competition, the United States is faced with adversaries engaging across multiple domains without the traditional distinctions of war and peace. America’s competitors are regularly operating below the threshold that would warrant a military response, including on the information battlefield. The blurred red lines that result from covert information operations waged by foreign actors on the Internet will force a change in how the United States operates and how its society consumes information. Russia used tactics of influence and coercion long before social media allowed for nearly ubiquitous access to its targets and a prolific capability for controlling a narrative and manipulating the hearts and minds of a population on a range of sensitive societal issues, including public health.

Nov. 19, 2020

Executive Summary

In an address in Cape Town, South Africa, on June 6, 1966, Senator Robert F. Kennedy stated, “There is a Chinese curse which says, ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.” As it turns out, we ourselves are living in interesting times: from the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic to racial strife, wildfires to record numbers of hurricanes, contested politics to economic crises, and more.